An independent SEO study found claims of Google's anti-competitive practices are exaggerated, contradicting a similar report released earlier this year. The findings suggest good search engine optimization practices offer businesses the chance for top SERP positions.

A joint study from the International Center for Law & Economics and George Mason University professor Josh Wright found that claims that Google’s search results are biased may be exaggerated by competitors and critics. The research suggests businesses with solid SEO campaigns still have the opportunity to achieve top rankings for their content pages.

Wright found that Google’s algorithm produces a Google-related result in the first organic search position for 6.7 percent of relevant queries. While the authors maintain that major search engines do not show significant favoritism for their own companies’ sites, the study shows that Bing yields a Microsoft product as the No. 1 result for more than 14 percent of relevant queries.

Still, it is Google (not Bing) that has been criticized by the Federal Trade Commission for a series of issues, and antitrust and anti-competitive charges may be the most damaging.

Wright’s findings present a much difference picture of Google than a study released in January by Harvard professor Ben Edelman. As Brafton reported, Edelman found that Google manually places its results first. Wright conducted the same study and found Edelman’s results to be incorrect – or at least different when Wright did the same analysis.

However, Wright’s primary conclusion is that these “biases” are not enough of an issue to pose any legitimate threat to competition. Essentially, both Bing and Google yield the best possible search results based on their algorithms far more often than not. Should a Google product land first in a Google search, it’s less a function of manipulation and simply the nature of the algorithm, which suggest SEO presents a fair shot for any white hat marketer.

While Google and Bing are inevitably compared in this study, there isn’t much of a competition in the search market. Brafton reported that Google is far-and-away the leader in search, accounting for more than 66 percent of the current market.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.