View Full Version : Google Payola

12-02-2003, 01:39 PM
An in-depth article from Search Engine Watch explianing how Google is now manipulating search results to encourage webmasters to use AdWords for certian high paying keywords:


12-02-2003, 03:18 PM
Thanks for a great post :)

I'm certainly not ready to conclude that G is intentionally manipulating their latest and every changing algo to specifically force/encourage folks to pay new money for Ad Words.

Thats not to say it couldn't happen :). Danny Sulivan is perhaps one of only 5 geeks on planet mouse that I trust and actually believe what he says.

My preliminary findings using http://www.scroogle.org/

A 3 word term with about 4 million lisitngs and lots of AdWords advertiser and it's in the webmaster space. G elimnated 2 of my "duplicate listings" which were ranked 4 and 32. The home page is still ranked 5 BUT a another site has duplicates still appearing in rankings 1 and 2 meaning the same site. If they eliminated the indented duplicate I would move to 4 in theory. Iv'e maintained a top 3 through 6 position on this term for over one year.

This seems fine to me and indicates on a very preliminary basis that G still has some clean up to do and a facotr for cleansing is duplicate site listings.

A 2 word term with about 5 million lisitngs and only 2 AdWords advertiser in the webmaster space. It looks like G elimnated a few duplicates and obvious trash/spam sites.

Unfortunetly the scroogle.org tool does not accuretly reflect current ranking for this term. Perhaps they update once per day or it's a data center glitch.

Iv'e held rankings of 4 through 16 for this term over the last 2 years and currently rank 11 so it's hard for me to draw anything conclusive and given the ever shifting rankings for this term, I'm not the least bit concerned.


12-02-2003, 04:11 PM
Thanks Steve,
It does look like Google is using their AdWords data to determine which keywords to target. This article entitled Prepare to be Monetized, Punk: Google Plays Sherriff with Commercially-Oriented Search Listings (http://www.traffick.com/article.asp?aID=152) offers some scroogle examples attempting to prove this. The author makes some excellent points and theororizes about how Google is trying classify sites as informational, naviagtional, company, store or affiliate and cut traffic to the stores and affiliates to force them to buy AdWords while at the same time bumping traffic up to informational sites and further monetizing the results through the AdSense program.

12-07-2003, 06:05 PM
I have trouble buying that Google is manipulating SERPs, in an attempt to benefit AdWords.

The same people who are making these types of claims are also complaining about how Amazon and Ebay are listed at the top of many SERPs now. If Google was going to manipulate results why would they give free listings to one of their largest supporters (eBay)?

12-07-2003, 06:55 PM
Originally posted by hobbnet
If Google was going to manipulate results why would they give free listings to one of their largest supporters (eBay)? I have no reason to believe the conspiracy theories as yet either, but I think you've answered your own question here. Amazon is also one of Google's biggest advertisers, as well as one of their most important distribution partners. If any companies were to benefit from a deliberate manipulation of listings on Google's behalf, it would be these companies.

12-07-2003, 10:15 PM
Sorry, I may be a little confused here but...

That was my point Czar, I wasn't really asking a question. Google Adwords does not seem to benefit from this new algorithm since it could be argued that Amazon and Ebay don't need a lot of their pay listings anymore, since they are at the top of most SERPS.

(Of course, I am of the opinion that if the ROI is there, who cares if you are buying Adwords AND you are at the top of the free SERPS)

12-07-2003, 11:30 PM
My mistake. I'm suffering from sleep deprivation yet again, and phrased the last post poorly.

I didn't mean that having high rankings would eliminate the need for these companies to purchase advertising through Google. I meant that if the conspiracy theories were true, then these companies would have high rankings because they are amongst Google's biggest advertisers. Call it a value-add for the old boys.

In this scenario, the advertisers would know that culling their paid campaign would not result in them netting an influx of new, free traffic, but that cutting off the cashflow pipeline could affect both their paid and free listings adversely upon the next algorithm update, since both placement models are directly inter-related.

As mentioned, though, I don't believe the conspiracy theory as yet. In fact, I haven't even bothered to look into this in any great depth as SEO doesn't interest me as much as it should.

12-08-2003, 12:57 AM
Damn... I was using it before to check things out but seems google has blocked http://www.scroogle.org/ from getting the results....


12-08-2003, 11:55 AM
scroogle is NOT the previous rankings.

It is just rankings with the filter off.

'books' vs 'books - asdsf' is all it is comparing.

12-08-2003, 01:26 PM
Call it a value-add for the old boys.

Yea, I thought of that argument as well...Seems hard to believe though because Adwords was thriving as is. Why would they feel it necessary to give added value to the big spenders. A previous company I was with, we spent in the 7 figures annually with adwords and we wouldn't dream of dropping them and this is without any added value, I'd assume the big boys would feel the same.

12-11-2003, 08:20 PM
After looking at numberous sites I don't believe that
Google is cheating anyone. They are still moving and
changing though so who knows what will eventually
surface. This is fun!

It is mostly the new and terrible stemming methology they
have employed. Most people search for information so the
stemming is pointing them to more content and authoritive
type sites and the businesses with ample relevant content
and not overoptimized are having little problems with the
current google changes as a whole. On the other hand, most
business web sites exist on a shaky foundation with self made
keyword laden hyperlinks using the same phrase, or just playing
the tag game, are suffering the most. You have to earn your
listing on Google now, not force it.

So if you built a real content rich website and employed a
conservative and realistic optimization approach, then you
should have a winner on your hands.

12-12-2003, 01:35 PM
Yea, I am hearing a lot of people refer to stemming.

To be honest I am not really familiar with it.

Know of any good (and not too academic) websites that explain it?


12-12-2003, 01:37 PM
Its all about long term.

If you built for the user in mind, not the search engine, your site should be fine :)

12-12-2003, 07:35 PM
Excellent statement Ahmedf and so true.

Stemming can be put just as simply as that,
instead of thinking in terms of keywords... instead
think in terms of relevancy...

12-12-2003, 09:11 PM
Yep, I have relied almost completely on the advice of Geek/Talk veterans (Steve, Jack, Czar, others) and my site has recently benefited.

12-13-2003, 12:24 AM
Long term sites with only users in mind is great, I don't doubt it one bit (I have some sites like this).

But, nowadays I ALWAYS have SEO on my mind and I would never design a site from now on w/o implementing strategy/techniques.

SEO is a way to get sites to the top the same way long term sites do, in the short term.

Algorithms change, so a short term site's ranking can greatly change with it.

Creating short term SEO'd sites is like rolling the dice, but if you roll enough some of them are going to win.

The only difference with long term sites is that your odds of winning are improved, but you can't roll as often.

12-13-2003, 12:32 AM
No no .. forget about SEO :)

What I do now (might not work for you!):

1. Make sure the design and clean. Overloaded with graphics go straight ---------------> <Trash Can>
2. Make sure the sites are valid. XHTML 1.1 trans + CSS-P [testing in mozilla 1.5, IE6, IE5, Opera, and get a friend to test on IE6 on Mac OS X].
3. Logical flow of items. Because with CSS I can align, I basically have:

<h1>Page Title</h1>
<content + h2 for subtopics>

I then pop into SSH and use lynx to see it as pure text. Or I disable the CSS to see it in pure text basically.
4. I make sure the content itself is 'useful' to someone at least :). I then [this is where 'contacts' can help] get press releases out and about, get a few handy dandy link exchanges, and submit to directories.
5. Choose a new topic, and back to #1

Its what I do. The only SEO considerations I have in there is the structure of the website, but that is what you would have done in 1995 for a structured website :)

Oh ... no popups, and I basically eschewed banner ads and even obvious 'advertising spaces' for embedded ads. You can easily make .... nice money PER visitor without expending too much effort :)

To add: Other 'SEO' stuff like <table summary='xxx'> or alt tags or title tags - I only use them where it makes SENSE. Image links I always use ALT text. Images themselves only if its a large enough image to contribute to the site itself. Title tags only in nav bars, and not with any key anchor text, but stuff that makes sense [ie - <a href="/" title="Back to home page">Home</a>].