Short Take on Google’s Ad Bias

by Gary on September 22, 2011

in Online Marketing,Search Engines,Search Marketing,SEO Tips

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Google’s penchant for giving advertisers even more help in increasing their paid link’s click-through-rates may be irritating some (actually a lot) of people, but the truth is that Google’s days of being a “sales engine” as Aaron Wall put it, is something we just have to get used to. After all, Google is still a company and what matters in the end when it comes to big corporations is profitability. This may be a far cry from the once goody two-shoes image of Google, but then almost everyone has seen this coming as Google evolved slowly right before our eyes. But to say that Google is on its way to becoming the next Microsoft, is something I haven’t really decided on.

Going back to the subject of Google and Ads, the latest show of bias towards its advertisers is the lack of delineation between premium Adwords and organic results in its results page. If you look at the image below, you will see that there the background colour for the paid results and the organic ones are the same. Aside from the tiny “Ads” at the top right of the page, there is no easy way of telling at a glance which results are organic, and which are ads. In fact, the “Ads” disclaimer at the top might even lead to more confusion since it only appears in one line, which a lot of users would take to mean that it is only the result beside it that is an ad, when it fact it the next couple results could be ads as well, as is the case in the results for the “smartphone” search I performed.

While I personally have nothing against ads, I do have to agree that this is very misleading and points to Google’s shifting priority from being a champion of users to a champion of their advertisers. However, instead of raging about the fact, I prefer to take a more practical approach by advising clients of Google’s obvious growing bias towards Adwords advertisers. This way, they can at least benefit from this fact instead of having to claw their way to the top purely through organic SEO.

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