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Google Hard Coding Results....to their product benefit
tangor




msg:4230846
 4:58 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

In a still-simmering Google antitrust complaint, UK-based vertical search outfit Foundem accuses the Mountain View web giant of using its search monopoly to unfairly favor its own services over those of its competitors. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt denies the accusation, arguing that the company's search engine always delivers "the best end-user outcome." But Harvard professor and noted Google watcher Ben Edelman believes otherwise.

He says he's found a "smoking gun" that indicates Google's search engine does in fact favor the company's own services.

Edelman says his evidence shows that Google may "hard-code" its own links to appear at the top of certain algorithmic search result pages, including links for Google Finance, Google Health, and other Mountain View-operated web services. In other words, these links appear independently of Google's search algorithms, undermining the company's off-stated claims that its search results are unbiased and completely automated.


Long article. In part an update to earlier Foundem charges, in part an exploration of the "smoking gun"...

[theregister.co.uk...]

 

tedster




msg:4230861
 5:42 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just finished reading this. It's a very well-done bit of research. I was considering how to begin a thread and then I found that you beat me to it ;)

I also recommend that people read the original source article by Edelman [benedelman.org], rather than just the Register's second-hand report. Also remember, as Google responded, that "Ben Edelman has been a paid consultant for Microsoft".

tangor




msg:4230882
 6:23 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think most of us have been following this for some time:

[webmasterworld.com...]
[webmasterworld.com...]
[webmasterworld.com...]
[webmasterworld.com...]
[webmasterworld.com...]

And more. Doing search for Foundem and Google produces OTHER then Webmasterworld reports. Interesting reading and---perhaps---a cause for consideration among webmasters.

And Ted, I wasn't looking to "get there first". I've seen this all too often in Google results in some of my biz sites (not the hobby site I list here) that some concern is warranted.

tedster




msg:4230895
 7:00 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

You know, I never doubted that those particular types of links (for Google Finance, Google Health, and other Mountain View-operated web services) were hard-coded. I don't think Google ever said otherwise, either, for these particular verticals.

Particularly interesting is Marissa Mayer's comment in this video from 2007 [youtube.com]

"When we roll[ed] out Google Finance, we did put the Google link first. It seems only fair, right? We do all the work for the search page and all these other things, so we do put it first...That has actually been our policy, since then, because of Finance. So for Google Maps again, it's the first link."

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4230924
 9:05 am on Nov 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Particularly interesting is Marissa Mayer's comment in this video from 2007

Yes but the following year ...

As Edelman points out, his findings run contrary to Google's age-old description of its search engine. "No manual intervention," Google Fellow Amit Singhal said in a 2008 blog post. "The final ordering of the results is decided by our algorithms…not manually by us. We believe that the subjective judgment of any individual is…subjective, and information distilled by our algorithms…is better than individual subjectivity."

micklearn




msg:4231279
 4:49 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've found/suspected the hard-coding to be highly plausible.

Also remember, as Google responded, that "Ben Edelman has been a paid consultant for Microsoft".


Point taken, but all three of the big search destinations seem to be hard-coding their own properties/pages into SERP's.

panicbutton




msg:4231299
 5:52 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's not really surprising, is it?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4231325
 8:14 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

No.

indyank




msg:4231326
 8:16 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Which is not surprising? the hard coding or the lies or both?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4231337
 9:14 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Both. ;)

Shaddows




msg:4231356
 10:24 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Stop the presses. Publicly traded company maximises profits for shareholders.

Of course they promote their own services. They would be remiss if they didn't. However, I might suggest they give themselves free adword positions, rather than take "organic" space.

graeme_p




msg:4231358
 10:45 am on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

All his examples are essentially when something is added above the organic results. Its more a case of Google providing content directly rather than sending users to a site.

His other point is that Google puts its own site first within a list of more info links within that content. I still think this is entirely different from the organic SERPS.

Also, its interesting that Google at least provides these links to multiple sites: the same search on Bing returns a simply SERPS with content on top result, but with only a link to MSN (with two news links to MSN underneath it as well!).

rustybrick




msg:4231386
 12:45 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

For the record, I agree with graeme_p.

OneBox results, imo, are not algorithmic organic search results.

tedster




msg:4231411
 1:48 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just checked one of the "health" SERPs from the article - the search on [acne]. There are still 10 organic results, with 3 Google properties {Health, News, Books] added, for a total of 13.

networkliquidators




msg:4231459
 3:42 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

We all know Google is the world's leading researcher on acne.

"Rolling Eyes"

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4231517
 5:16 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

OneBox results, imo, are not algorithmic organic search results.

Isn't that precisely what this is about?

BradleyT




msg:4231569
 6:59 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Isn't Google's job to return search results that best match a query? Who cares how it's generated? If the results are poor users will leave - that's why Google has all the search volume, other engine results are poor.

rustybrick




msg:4231650
 9:50 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

BeeDeeDubbleU, no, if you read Edelman's study, he says the algorithmic results are hand coded. Technically that is wrong.

Plus, Google is not the only engine that does this. They all do.

If I search for weather in san jose, I want a onebox, not a web page.

mrguy




msg:4231702
 11:55 pm on Nov 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

that's why Google has all the search volume, other engine results are poor.
That may of been the case a year ago, now it's not. Bing is every bit as good as Google results and in some instances even better which is why Bing is my default search. (at least for the things I search for).
indyank




msg:4231773
 4:35 am on Nov 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just checked one of the "health" SERPs from the article - the search on [acne]. There are still 10 organic results, with 3 Google properties {Health, News, Books] added, for a total of 13.


I don't see any of the google properties in my part of the world.

frontpage




msg:4233048
 4:03 pm on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

This finally puts Google's claim that they don't manipulate search results to a lie.

tedster




msg:4233080
 6:41 pm on Nov 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think you would need evidence that the "ten organic results" are manipulated or hand coded - and this is not that kind of proof. Clearly, the rest of any "universal search results" on the page are not ranking organically and they never were.

After a week of consideration, I think this whole bit of research is just a bunch of BS - smoke and mirrors designed to confuse the public for use in the legal battle. It's a battle in a business war, and not real research.

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