Google’s Head Of Search: Google Does Not Give Brands A Bias

Google’s head of search, head engineer, and Google fellow, Amit Singhal told Fast Company in an interview that Google Instant does not have a brand bias. Google Instant, the search predictions that Google gives searchers as they type a query, is not influenced by any brand bias, Singhal said. He said, “we didn’t want to introduce any bias into the mathematical modeling–our modeling is predicting, given a letter, what’s the probability of completion.”

This is in response to ComScore search evangelist Eli Goodman sharing data at a recent search summit event that suggested Google Instant results are 15% more likely to have ads because more of the results are brand terms. But Goodman doesn’t think Google is manipulating their own results, nor does he think Google is being gamed.

Singhal explains that when someone types in T, mathematically “most people typing T will go to Target. That’s the probability model. If you add R to it (“Tr”), most people are looking for a translation system. It’s actually just pure mathematical modeling.” It is just math, he says, not a bias.

Historically, Google has come under fire from webmasters for giving brands a boost. The most recent cases were with the Vince search update and the Google brand refinements.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: AdWords | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • John Trimble

    This may be true of ‘Google Instant’ bug clearly big brands are still given a bias in SERPS

  • Levi Wardell

    What a load of crap. If I’m a small business owner and trying to leverage one of the few spaces I have to fight against major businesses, the “most people are looking for” statement could very easily be seen as brand bias.

  • Michael Martinez

    It’s a latent bias, not an intentional bias. Amit Singhal feels the sting of criticism quite a bit, I am sure, but he seems to be responding to a very specific conspiracy theory. Maybe he’s just answering questions put to him by Fast Company.

  • Kyle Lelli

    This seems correct, though unfortunate. If the algorithm is set so that it is strict probability, of course the SE results are going to trend towards big brands. It almost seems that Singhal is admitting that the algorithm is set towards brand bias strictly due to mathematical probability. It has nothing to do with searcher intent, which is a shame.

  • PPCSwede

    I work for a company with a strong brand and significant search volume and the notion that G Instant has given us a boost is simply false. Target may receive more impression post G Instant implementation but I doubt it has resulted in incremental lift. If you’re in the process of typing in a search query, the likelihood of you stopping to look at the results of each letter being typed, is minimal. Let’s not forget that search is and always will be about intent, and the person who is looking for information about anything starting with a T, is not going to abandon his or her search and decide, “heck, I do need to go to target”. I think that’s a fallacy and I have no empirical evidence that backs that theory up.

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