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In order to comply with the EU’s newly enacted Digital Markets Act (DMA) across the European Economic Area (EEA), Google has started to roll out a number of changes to search results. The DMA is designed to ensure fair competition and improve user experience across the digital market in Europe and came into force on 6 March 2024 introducing a number of constraints surrounding preferential rankings and targeted advertising.

The DMA’s main objectives include: 

  1. Countering anti-competitive practices used by Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs), like Google and Meta
  2. Minimise the monopoly VLOPs have on the digital landscape in Europe
  3. Making it easier for European startups and SMEs to compete in online marketplaces

If this sounds all very corporate and litigious, then you’d not be wrong, but it could affect millions of online shoppers and webstore owners across Europe. Let’s take a look at what the new changes could mean for you and your e-commerce store.

Google’s DMA Compliance Report

The DMA report has named Google as one of several ‘gatekeeper’ companies, which means it must provide users with more control over their online experiences. As a gatekeeper company, Google is required to submit compliance reports detailing the steps that it has taken to adhere to the new regulations. The report contains a number of changes that are being made to search results in the EEA, including:

  • Implementing new controls to support personal data exchanges across services
  • New policy compliance training for Google employees
  • Boosting data portability capabilities
  • Introducing vertical search services

Alongside other gatekeeper companies including Meta, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, Google will continue to refine its services and products to ensure DMA compliance, which means that users within the EEA should expect additional changes to digital experiences.

Changes to Google Search Results

In response to the DMA report, in February 2024, Google provided some details to prepare publishers for the upcoming changes to search results.

Carousel Rich Results

Rich results generally utilise structured data, however there are also now carousel rich results for local, travel and shopping queries. These new carousels contain tiles that share things like ratings, images and product prices for entities on a page. Additional entities can be seen by simply scrolling horizontally.

Aggregator Units

Aggregator units feature links to aggregator sites and allow users to quickly see the top results for their query. There are several different aggregator unit types, including jobs, flights, and product sites.

Products and Product Sites

Google has also, somewhat quietly, introduced two new default tabs. The new products tab contains organic merchant results from a variety of qualifying sites, whereas the new product sites tab contains a markedly narrower selection of pages featuring a range of products.

Multi-Platform Reviews

Google is testing the ways in which it displays customer reviews in business listings by incorporating reviews from other platforms, such as Trust Pilot.

How This Could Affect your E-Commerce Store

Any changes made by Google have implications for all online businesses, especially those so reliant on search engine traffic as e-commerce stores. If you are an ecommerce store owner, here are some things to keep in mind.

Diversify Your Online Presence

The aim of the DMA is to open up the digital landscape, across the EEA, to more businesses. This will make it harder for digital giants like Google to dominate the space. Now is the ideal time to diversify your online presence and look beyond Google when it comes to enhancing your online visibility.

So, use this opportunity to start utilising things like Apple Business Connect and the WhatsApp Business Directory, which will help you to ensure that your audience knows you exist and where to find you. Other platforms will become increasingly relevant and may present relatively untapped sources of significant traffic, so don’t ignore them and just go all in with Google. 

It may also be valuable to encourage your audience to provide reviews and testimonials about your store across multiple review platforms, such as Trust Pilot, Yelp and G2.

Create Enhanced Online Experiences with Consented Data

All users of Google’s publisher products, such as Ad Manager, will be required to use a consent management platform (CMP) which has been certified by Google. This enables brands to collect consent from users under the GDPR requirements, which align with DMA requirements.

CMPs can be used to optimise rates of consent and build trust with your audience through the establishment of a consistently transparent user experience.

If you want to get a deeper understanding of how these changes could affect your search traffic, as well as the opportunity they could present, then why not book a call today for a chat.