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New ranking guidelines to make online search more transparent

08 December 2020, 22:50 CET
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New ranking guidelines to make online search more transparent

Search - Photo Pixabay

(BRUSSELS) - New ranking guidelines for online searches, published Monday by the EU Commission, allow online platforms to improve the transparency of their ranking parameters and help businesses to compete fairly online.

Algorithmic ranking determines visibility online, which is seen as crucial to the success of millions of businesses, especially as one consequence of the current pandemic is that it has moved more business activities online.

The guidelines - the first of their kind globally - are complementary to the ranking transparency requirements under the EU Platform-to-Business Regulation (P2B).

"These guidelines set the standard for algorithmic ranking transparency and will increase fairness in the online platform economy, which drives innovation and welfare for millions of Europeans," said EC vice-president Margrethe Vestager: "Transparency is the European way to go, and we are putting the final touch to rules for all digital services to cooperate with regulators and for the biggest platforms to provide more information on the way their algorithms work."

The guidelines address requirements for online platforms identified in the EU's P2B Regulation, from the need to identify key algorithmic parameters behind ranking to their communication to businesses. The Commission says they will help online platforms make the right information available to businesses so that they in turn can consider how best to increase and manage their online visibility, enabling consumers to ultimately receive the highest quality goods and services. They will also provide valuable support for the adequate and effective enforcement of the transparency requirement to ensure online platforms are acting fairly in their ranking practices.

The guidelines are not legally binding, but they are expected to help assist platforms and search engines in complying with their obligation to be transparent on how ranking works on their services. The EU's P2B regulation, which aims to promote fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services has applied since 12 July 2020.

Since then, online platforms and search engines are required to include a description in their terms and conditions of the main parameters which determine how prominently goods and services appear on their services.

Guidelines on ranking transparency pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2019/1150

Platform-to-Business Regulation

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