Late last week, the European Commission (EU) proposed a series of new rules that could require search engines, online platforms and e-commerce websites to publicly reveal how they rank pages in their search engine results.

Google would be the main player affected by these rules if they go into effect in April, but other search engine operators like Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple would also need to provide in depth parameters explaining a website’s search engine ranking.

The rules would also enforce a minimum of 15 days notice for any changes to a search engine’s terms and conditions (as opposed to retroactive notifications which are the norm today) as well as provide businesses with a detailed description about why they have been de-listed from their search engine or why certain content been suspended.

While this would be enforceable in the EU, there is no mention as to whether these same rules may be implemented in North America and beyond.


Why These Changes Could Be a Good Thing for Small Businesses

The Internet is a-buzz with thoughts and theories about how, if these transparency rules are enforced, their websites and content could be impacted.

One clear benefit is that search engines would need to explicitly state why a website or a web page has been banned from their search engine ranking results rather than simply stating policy.  Small businesses may also gain greater insight into how they can better compete with larger corporations online, though they should still continue to practice well documented successful strategies like:

  • Having a local and community-centric focus
  • Engaging in personal social network interactions
  • Creating content that is educational, entertaining, and authoritative


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