Google Under Investigation For Manipulating Search Results

Google is being investigated by the state of Texas for manipulating their search engine results to favor or punish certain websites, especially its own services which were developed to compete with existing websites. Google has been under investigation in Europe for some time.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jVhFlOlMfklCSJqdk4xENQ7NfoYgD9I0R58O2

We all know what Google is like. You can rank well one day and be completely out of the search results the next day for no reason. And what really burns me is when you rank well then tumble to page 3 or 4 behind irrelevant results.

We can sit here all day and argue about which website should be ranked #1 or not. However, I think most of can agree that a decent website with good information should rank above irrelevant results. Am I right? It is supposed to be about relevance, isn’t it?

The fact of the matter is that Google makes $0 from its search engine and makes the bulk of its revenue and profits from its advertising service. When Google refers a visitor via its search results, Google makes nothing. When a webmaster drops in Google and has to pay them a minimum of $0.10 per visitor for traffic, Google makes a killing.

I launched a site in November 2009. Its traffic was building slowly but steadily until April 2010. Then out of nowhere, Google traffic dropped. In July 2010, the traffic dropped even more. In total, my Google traffic dropped 85% - 90% from its peak. I signed up for Google’s webmaster tools within a few weeks of my traffic dropping in April 2010. In July 2010 after the second drop in traffic, Google sent me an email offering me $100 in free Adwords credit if I purchase advertising from them.

Do you see the conspiracy? Google tanks website traffic then tries to get webmasters to pay for traffic. That is their business model and it is crooked! That is how they have managed to maintain their impressive growth in revenue the past few years.

I have experienced unexplained drops in Google traffic with every website I have ever created. In 2008, I rose to the #1 position in a niche. Then overnight, I dropped from #1 to below 600 for no reason for the most competitive search term–behind hundreds of completely irrelevant results–and my ranking for other less competitive search terms dropped from page one to page three or four, also behind irrelevant results. I never recovered.

I am hopeful something is going to come of this. If Google isn’t busted for manipulating their search engine results to drive advertising revenue, then hopefully they will not be allowed to use their search engine to drive their traffic to other services. In the end, the more competition there is on the internet the better it is for us all.

Google is becoming another Microsoft. The difference is that while Microsoft failed to dominate everything they tried enter (except for their programming tools like Visual Studio), Google is succeeding. It is in Google’s financial best interest to manipulate search results and force webmasters to pay for traffic.

Google is evil.

Texas are well known for passing rather silly laws (like the one which lead to Microsoft Word not being able to be sold there due to an absurd patent). As for Google, I side entirely with them. Google are a business, not a charity, they should be entitled to promote their goods and services. Regardless of their success, why should they be forced to promote other peoples products? If they want that to happen it should be made that every business in existence that has a competitor should disclose all of them when trying to conduct sales (or are we in a society where “special” rules only apply when we want them too?). Singling out Google for an ethical business practice is absurd. Google are not evil, there is no conspiracy, most people are ignorant and if you don’t like them, go play with Bing, easy. :smiley:

Apples and oranges.

Neither do they owe you a living, If they want to run a completely biased system that’s their choice and you don’t have to use it but they don’t, everything about Google is built around providing a quality product and once you see that you’ll suddenly understand everything they do, it all makes sense in that light. If on the other hand you have a big brother complex about them , like so many people who’ve grown up with Google seem to, then you’ll never be able to see anything but conspiracies and lies because you’re going to see them whether they’re there or not.

Yeah, Microsoft spent years being perceived as crooked and unfair and it almost drove them to bankruptcy!

But there are also rules that they have to abide by, such as not abusing their position as a near-monopoly supplier. Just like Microsoft has been stopped from bundling its free IE software as the default and de facto browser on new builds, because they were using their position as a near-monopoly supplier to further promote their own products at the expense of their competitors’, it would be unfair for Google to give undue promotion to their own services in what is supposed to be an impartial list.

“Google being crooked and unfair” != “Google being perceived as being crooked and unfair”

Just because they retain the biggest market share does not mean that they are behaving honestly and fairly.

The funny thing about this is that after a decade of dominance, Google is now expected to deliver on organic results. For some reason webmasters and web site owners now feel that they are entitled to have some form of result in the SERPs.

Expectations in PPC I can understand - you’re paying money and are entitled to a result. Organic listings are a different story - Google can (and should) do ANYTHING they like, whenever they like. It’s their index. The ONLY motivation for them trying to do the best they can in terms of relevant results is to maintain the market position for which they leverage their search advertising product. If the organic listings start to become as useless as Bing’s, then their revenue is at risk.

It’s their “sandpit”, so it’s their rules. If you don’t like it, then play in another sandpit.

I just got an AdWords $100 credit in the mail myself, and wasn’t sure why…

I don’t want regulation of Google. If you don’t like Google block their bot and move to the next search engine. I seriously don’t think the state of Texas understands how hard it is to be as Google is at search. Most companies can’t compete with Google and if they do it’s usually larger web companies that have been around for a while or a company called microsoft that can dump piles of money into it.

Technically speaking Google is not a “private” company. There listed on the stock market and you can purchase shares. Their entitled to make money for their shareholders.

Johnathan

Wow, how refreshing to see such a lack of mindless Google bashing. So many people think Google is a public service or Big Brother, it’s like a syndrome or something.

Stevie, if Google are perceived as being crooked and unfair then they’ll lose reveneue and users and we won’t have to worry about them achieving and abusing monopoly status so your argument is counter intuitive. Either they’re honest and deserve to be where they are or they’re crooked in which case their fall from grace is imminent. So really, no problem huh.

I don’t have a problem with Google - I haven’t personally seen any evidence that they are unfairly manipulating search results, my posts in this thread were about what would be right or wrong, rather than what I believe actually is the case, sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

Let me recap:
So far, I have been very happy with the services Google provides, especially given that they are free. I haven’t seen any evidence that they are interfering with search results to unduly promote their own services or to increase Adwords revenue at the expense of user experience. But if they were to do either of those things, that would be wrong and a breach of their position as monopoly supplier. Just because a service is provided for free does not mean that it can ignore the law. If Google were to start abusing their position as the silverback of the internet jungle, it would be right that they were corporately punished for doing so.

Heh heh, I can understand your frustrations, but to be honest, I don’t feel that Google owes me anything. IMHO, they can do whatever they like—in terms of how they deal with searches. It’s their search engine, and it’s their business. They are not a public service that owes anyone anything. The internet is a place where you can place a website. Search engines are there for convenience, but no one is obliged to use them. People DO use them because they are handy, but they are private enterprises, there to make a buck for themselves, so I don’t see why they can’t do what they like, to be honest—apart from breaching privacy etc.

Google sends out free adwords coupons all the time, don`t be reading too much into it.

:lol: Thanks for the laugh and the comparison to the sandpit. I could not agree more. I think there are too many people that fail to understand that Google is STILL a private company and they can do as they please. They can rank whomever they want and can pick and choose from the box of strawberries the sweetest berries or the bitter ones. IT IS up to them. Sure, we are required to do some work in order to compete for those top spots, but ultimately the main thing they care about is PPC and revenue. Simple as that!

I agree with ralph_m, it is their search engine. IMO They do what they wan to the search results.