Daily Mail sues Google over search rankings

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The parent company of the Daily Mail, Mail Online, Metro and several other UK publications has filed a lawsuit against Google claiming the search giant manipulates search results on its site.

According to the lawsuit which was filed in New York, Associated Newspapers has accused Google of exercising too much control over online advertising as well as downgrading links to the Daily Mail's stories while promoting those from other news outlets. The lawsuit also alleges that the company “punishes” publishers in its search rankings if they fail to sell enough advertising space on its marketplace.

In a new report from the BBC, a Google spokesperson has responded to the claims of the Daily Mail's lawsuit calling them “meritless”, saying:

"The Daily Mail's claims are completely inaccurate. The use of our ad tech tools has no bearing on how a publisher's website ranks in Google search. More generally, we compete in a crowded and competitive ad tech space where publishers have and exercise multiple options. The Daily Mail itself authorises dozens of ad tech companies to sell and manage their ad space, including Amazon, Verizon and more. We will defend ourselves against these meritless claims."

Associated Newspapers decided to file a lawsuit against Google after its coverage of the British Royal Family was downplayed in the company's search results earlier this year. 

The Daily Mail owner claims that when UK internet users searched for comments about Megan Markle made by Piers Morgan following her and Prince Harry's interview with Oprah, that they were more likely to see articles from smaller, regional outlets as opposed to its own coverage of the news. This stuck out to Associated Newspapers as at that time, the Daily Mail was writing multiple stories per day about the topic while also employing Morgan as a columnist.

On BBC's Today program, former Daily Mail editor Peter Wright accused Google of being anti-competitive while also suggesting that the site's news pieces ranked lower on its search engine after it had used advertising techniques which allowed the news outlet to “divert advertising traffic away from Google to other ad exchanges, which paid better prices”. The Daily Mail claims that in turn, Google punished the site by having its stories rank lower.

We'll likely find out more if and when the lawsuit goes to court though that is certainly a possibility as Google has said that it will defend itself against the Daily Mail's “meritless claims”.


Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.