• http://docsheldon.com Doc Sheldon

    Patently ridiculous, IMO, that Google should have to defend itself against such claims, as it would be very detectable if they were showing favortism. I guess people are just fearful of any organization that gets so huge.

    Whatever happened to the burden of proof being upon the plaintiff?

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    The idea that “suggested that buying ads would boost someone’s natural results” comes from the various pay-for-play and payola types of corruption. I agree with you that Google has never been touched by that. But I think any legal investigation would need to *ask* about it in terms of doing due-diligence, if only to report that they had checked out the possibility and Google was clean there.

    However, having the world’s dominant search engine deciding that, umm, algorithmically, its other properties just happen to give the best results – well, that’s another story.

    Note, while Matt Cutts is personally a very nice guy, in this context I don’t expect him to ever say anything much different from Google is powered by magic unicorns which defecate rainbows.

    The time to pay serious attention is if the investigation can pry out internal Google documents which are NOT for public consumption. Otherwise, it’s just shadow-boxing.

  • http://techgeeks-online.com Techie

    I don’t understand why people don’t understand the simplicity of, “It’s impossible to pay for better rankings.”

  • http://thenoisychannel.com/ Daniel Tunkelang

    Can someone explain to me what is wrong with Google openly favoring its own properties on its own search engine?

    If I search for GOOG on Google, I get a Google Finance OneBox at the top. The same search on Bing gives me a Bing Finance result at the top. Yahoo gives me a Yahoo Finance OneBox at the top. Same with other standard search engine properties.

    These other properties are *part* of the search engine. It’s not like Google is leveraging its search properties to favor Chrome or Android. Rather, it’s trying to provide users with a holistic search experience, just like Bing and Yahoo. I don’t understand the controversy.

    Full disclosure: I worked at Google. But now that I’ve left I feel more comfortable sharing my opinions. :-)

  • Yves

    Google seems to become the new microsoft in terms of bashing. If you search for places, facebook is before google places. So they not even putting their own services on top. In fact they make adwords sdvertising for their own products.

  • http://mauricewalshe mauricewalshe

    Doesnt say much for Googles C level Team that Eric, Larry OR Sergi are not the ones doing this.

    If i was Matt id be wanting a serious raise for doing the boards job for them.

  • http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    “Can someone explain to me what is wrong with Google openly favoring its own properties on its own search engine?”

    Given that Google controls the placement of its own properties in a system that otherwise requires everyone else to compete for placement on the basis of undisclosed factors, Google has an unfair advantage over anyone who was already offering a robust solution for the user experience.

    If you still don’t get THAT, come play poker with me. I’ll be the dealer and look at all the cards in advance, moving them around to my advantage. You can continue to play whatever hand you’re dealt.

    While I don’t believe Google is charging for placement in its search results, putting its own content first irrespective of the overall value of other sites IS an unfair practice.

    I have not yet formed an opinion on whether that should be regulated. The U.S. and EU governments haven’t demonstrated any competence when it comes to managing search engines.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Don’t Seth, please don’t. Santa, the Tooth Fairy, so much has been taken from me. Unicorns and fairies don’t power Google?

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    It does seem absurd. If I started my own “search engine” that was “George’s favorites” — a ranked selection of my favorite sites for any given search — and that got popular, would I be in trouble?

  • http://www.know-what-im-sayin.com/ eric garrison

    Google does favor some of its own properties in select scenarios. Boutiques.com? Aggregated sites such as ehow and demand media sites? These are all ad sense arbitrage sites.

    Alternatives such as blekko look to be providing more clean and unbiased search results (for now)

  • http://jadedtlc.blogspot.com JadedTLC

    Here’s where I get frustrated. It’s not a black and white issue. Google shouldn’t \erase all of their own properties from search\. That would be both childish and silly. On the other hand, I do not want lousy eHow or Boutiques.com (not labeled as google) flooding my results. If it’s a worthy eHow link, fine, but to white list the entire domain is frustrating. (Just because I sign up at Demand Media, doesn’t mean I’m a writer.)

    Google should have to compete for results, just like every product does. And we’ll all have to acknowledge that they will get a boost because they are Google, just as The Fortune 500 get a boost because – as in every where else, it’s \who you know.\

    I think the reason everyone gets angry is because Google represents itself as a democracy or fair, etc. That’s how they BRAND themselves, when in fact they are no different than Yahoo or Bing, and just trying to make a buck. If they’d turn off the \don’t be evil\ or we’re the good guys branding, I think less people would read into their actions as negative. Hypocrisy is what tarnishes their image – eliminate the hypocrisy, then they can proceed with their current plans.

    my 2 cents

  • http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    \ It’s not a black and white issue.\

    I agree. I am often satisfied by the Google-only results, even though as an SEO I know that Google is siphoning off traffic from long-established sites that already provided that information quite robustly.

    Thing is, I chose to use Google to get that information because Google lends itself to third-party site navigation so well. I would be just as satisfied if Google simply listed those old sites first instead of scraping data and showing that first.

    I want a ubiquitous browser experience that gives me what I want when I want it. A search engine comes closest to accomplishing that. Google and Bing are doing most of what I want for me.

    But I also want to earn a living from the Internet. I don’t want Google and Bing taking my hard work and making money off it — especially if they are not going to compensate me.

  • http://www.sokmotorkonsult.se Magnus Bråth

    “It does seem absurd. If I started my own “search engine” that was “George’s favorites” — a ranked selection of my favorite sites for any given search — and that got popular, would I be in trouble?”

    If you were big enought to be considered having a monopoly you might definately be. Microsoft pushing Internet Explorer over Netscape is a good example.

  • http://rachelleking.wordpress.com Build Ur Brand

    Yup, I remember paying for paid inclusion urls and I had to dig up your Paid Inclusion article from 10 years ago :o)
    http://searchenginewatch.com/2163971

    I will admit though that I have sometimes been curious myself about the correlation of higher ranking pages within the natural results of Google for AdSense publishers.

    Since keywords in content are semi important to positioning then I wonder by adding in keyword rich content ads into a page, how much these ads can impact the value of the page in the serps, if at all of course.

    The question has always been in the back of my mind anyway and only comes to the front of it when I click on the top fold results and get pages full of no value and tons of AdSense ads.

  • http://mauricewalshe mauricewalshe

    @Michael Martinez by that argument my employers job related sites should get free placement on say the Telegraph, Times and Guardian job advert sections.

  • http://www.nocommunism.com No Communism

    It’s AMAZING that the government would think it can stick it’s nose in the business of a private company. Why did we allow the government to get so big and claim so much power over us? The government poses a far greater risk of abuse of power because the ruling-class politicians can make laws and legislation that will send us to prison if we fail to “obey.” With a private business we can simply refuse to buy their product. But the government forces us to fund them via taxes at the threat of prison.

  • http://thenoisychannel.com/ Daniel Tunkelang

    @Michael Martinez By your argument Bing and Yahoo are unfair in the examples I cite. Of course, Google has far more traffic, but that doesn’t seem material to your argument.

    The major search engines exist to serve users, not content creators or even the advertisers who foot the bill by paying for user attention. Do the search engines have an advantage over content creators on their own sites when they publish their own content? Absolutely. But is this unfair? I’d say no — they publish this content as part of their value proposition to users.

  • http://www.seopros.org Webmaster T

    hehe tempest in a teapot… SEO’s don’t like it cuz it takes away opportunities for most of them. They act like they are shut out from that when in reality… all that is needed is getting the ability/knowhow to place in the Google Verticals like they can in the main index. Learn YouTube video and Google News and the other verticals. I see opportunity. Botttom line is Google wasn’t driven to Universal SERPs to get their proerties in… they were fulfilling user wants and needs… Their properties just happen to be some of the best… if they weren’t then… they’d but the best.

  • evilnoitan

    That NYT article really sent the dogs off barking up the wrong tree… I wonder if google paid to have it written.

    The issue is not integrity of search results; it’s that search companies can significantly impact large portions of the economy via subjective changes in the name of ‘quality’.

    Search co business practices should reflect the responsibility of providing a free public service and offer recourse/accountability when legal businesses are impacted by changes based on a subjective notion of ‘quality’. They could also
    offer preview releases (like google did for caffeine – but not for Mayday, which caused big damages).

    Providing such recourse would impact profit margins of these companies, so they continue to act irresponsibly. The smaller companies, who must actually compete, must offer recourse (eg microsoft’s’blocked’ indicator).

    So, it’s business practices, not search algorithms, that need to have integrity here.