BRUSSELS, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Investigators in Europe are asking Internet advertisers if search giant Google has ever promised to manipulate their search ranking in exchange for business.
In a questionnaire sent to companies as part of an antitrust investigation, officials from the European Union asked companies, "Please explain whether, and if yes to what extent, your advertising spending with Google has ever had an influence on your ranking in Google's natural search," the International Herald Tribune reported Thursday.
Investigators are also asking if Google ever "mentioned" that a company's ranking would improve if it spent more money on advertising, the newspaper said.
Google's advertising guidelines state it will not alter a company's ranking based on how much business that company provides.
A spokesman for the search engine giant, Al Verney, said Google, "worked hard to do the right thing by our customers and our industry … ensuring that ads are always clearly marked, making it easy for users and advertisers to take their data with them when they switch services."
Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for the EU competition commissioner, said the questionnaires were sent out in late December.