GOOGLE has agreed to change the layout of its search page and how it prioritises results in a bid to settle an investigation by European regulators.
The European Commission yesterday outlined a raft of proposals the internet giant has made in a bid to head off a case that has threatened to swamp Google in Europe.
Among the changes being proposed, Google is offering to more clearly mark its own services when they come up in search results, while it will also push up results from other companies' services when it is appropriate.
If the EC accepts the deal, it is likely to be deemed a significant success for Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. The changes are much more far-reaching than what regulators forced on Google in the United States last year.
There, regulators effectively cleared the company of anti-competition breaches.
In Europe, however, it has been a different story. On the back of complaints from rivals, such as Microsoft, the EU opened an investigation into Google's practices three years ago.
The investigation has focused on Google's alleged favourable placing of its own services in its search results, and its apparently unauthorised use of data from other websites without their consent.
The company is also alleged to have forced advertisers to commit a majority of their marketing budget to Google.
According to the EU, Google has a market share of over 90pc in the European Economic Area.
"Google has had a strong position in web search in most European countries for a number of years now. It does not seem likely that another web search service will replace it as European users' web search service of choice.
"In this context, it is important for the commission to intervene in order to ensure that Google's prominent market position in web search does not affect the possibility for other competitors to innovate in neighbouring markets, including in the long-term," the commission added.
Meanwhile, scientists have found that studying patterns on Google search can help predict market movements.
The study, revealed in the journal 'Science Reports', found that as generic search terms such as "debt" and "portfolio" fell, markets tended to go up and vice versa.
Shares in Google were little changed in New York, trading at $811 (€623) a piece.