On April 13th, 2020 I reported Google to the FTC Technology Enforcement Division. I’m publishing the letter I wrote and sent below. I slightly edited the original for brevity.
I’m writing to report Google (“Google Inc.”) for engaging in conduct that violates antitrust laws.
Google threatens and penalizes independent website owners who sell advertising in the form of “links”. In Google’s “Guidelines” they specifically tell website owners that “exchanging money for links” is a violation.
Buying links from website owners is an online advertising strategy used by businesses in order to optimize their website’s search engine position for specific keyword results. This practice directly competes with AdWords – Google’s core product and main source of revenue.
AdWords allows advertisers to display advertising on any page across Google’s search engine above specific keyword results. By penalizing independent website owners for selling links and advertisers for buying optimization on their results pages outside of AdWords, Google is restraining trade and participating in unfair competition.
Help My Rank is a company I founded in 2014. We’ve sold thousands of links to businesses as an intermediate for website owners. My company and many others have been restrained due to Google’s practices.
I support Google penalizing companies and websites that participate in linkspam. That is something we’ve never done and won’t ever do.
However, threatening and penalizing entrepreneurs and website owners when they independently buy and sell advertising that runs counter to their guidelines can’t go unchecked.