The business of search engines

The internet is a world of information, which we rely on search engines to help us find. But does this free service come with a catch?
 
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03.The challengers

ACCC takes action

In 2007 the ACCC took legal action against Google, alleging they had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by failing to adequately distinguish ads from “organic” search results and by allowing advertisers to use the names and trademarks of their competitors in their ad headlines. The ACCC lost their action against Google, but an appeal will be heard this month.

“The role of search engine providers as publishers of paid content needs to be closely examined in the online age,” says ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

“Specifically, it is important that they are held directly accountable for misleading or deceptive paid search results when they have been closely engaged in presenting and publishing those results.”

The competition

Apart from the big three, other search engines make up just 6% of the online search market. That small sector is made up of a rag-tag collection of smaller or more specialised engines, and several up and comers do provide good alternatives.

Exalead, a search engine based in France, comes highly recommended by Henninger for those looking for more reputable results from official sources.

DuckDuckGo is a search engine powered by Yahoo! that doesn’t store personal information, and thus doesn’t use personalised search. Henninger says it’s a good way of getting more organic search results.

WolframAlpha calls itself a "computational knowledge engine" - in layman's terms, it's a search engine that doesn't just scour the internet for web pages, but rather answers your questions. It does maths, performs conversions, and presents facts and statistics, among other functions.

 

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