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Google assigns dollar value to search results?
Screen shot of what search results look like to adwords sales team

 5:17 pm on Oct 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Another website has this image:

valleywag [valleywag.com]

They say this is what an adwords sales person sees when they run a search on google looking for potential adwords clients. They speculate that the GG cost is the value that organic position is worth, but I don't think so. If that was the case, the higher position would be worth more.

I think PV is clear. Anyone want to speculate on what the GG score is?

[edited by: jatar_k at 1:28 am (utc) on Nov. 1, 2007]



 7:43 am on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts says
Our organic search results have always been completely independent from our paid advertisements. We consider the objectivity of our search results to be paramount to our success and would never compromise that in any way.

The screenshot shows a tool that is not used by the search quality team in any way. It is a tool used by members of our AdWords sales team to help prioritize new customer acquisition. We are strongly committed to maintaining the integrity of our organic search results.

Fair enough, except for one thing. Those dollar figures show up next to existing customers, not just possible new customers, and I'm not aware of Google approaching ANYONE directly to start up with adwords so having a "GG" score on potential new customers makes no sense. OK, thats two things.

The most likely other scenario in my opinion, if Matt isn't being 100% honest which i'm not suggesting here, is that it is an estimate of what it will cost per unit (1000 clicks) through adwords.

Is the site an adwords customer? yes. What sector? recreation. What's our take be from this guy per 1000? (his minimum bid - adsense payout %)x1000

This is just personal experience but when I gather data on stuff, I gather it and focus on what benefits ME, not what benefits someone else.


 7:48 am on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Oh and the other things that struck me?

If its not part of organic results Matt, whats it doing built into organic result pages?


 5:30 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

The accusations over any connection are nonsense in my opinion but...

Haven't you noticed?




There's one for business, and one for recreation at the least.

<edit>except that it's most likely a fake, thanks for pointing out that as Matt probably haven't really confirmed this.</edit>

[edited by: Miamacs at 6:22 pm (utc) on Nov. 1, 2007]


 5:40 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

The 'evidence' is this blog post (in French)


I am not sure I really understand why it was photoshopped and why it is so blurry. They say they did it, but why? Surely any screenshot is going to look perfect... Maybe the blurriness makes it look like it was sneaked out, but even modern camera phones can get a better shot. If its to protect the innocent then why not just do a mockup of what you see on the phone, but make it look right (ie. get the line spacing right and lose the blur)

Also interesting is that there is an edit at the bottom saying that Matt Cutts has responded formally but there is not link to this formal response. His blog just shows his halloween costume, the response sounds like a generic quote he gave ages ago (can anyone else find a recent link?). The official Google blog shows nothing.

It all looks a bit fishy to me.


 6:02 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Okay I'll calm down now.


This is a different screenshot.
No, this is the 'complete' screenshot.

This has the text in question way too close to the listings, and off the baseline. Not to mention it's 1 pixel upward on the first result.

OK, this is an obvious fake.

And then I suppose the one I got happy about is fake too, since it's the same with but the first result edited out... so it'd look less fake.

Bummer... I like that vertical sign though...

Maybe I'll add it in iGoogle.
It's there (just not called 'vertical'), and if this was for real, it'd have been a good education tool for people on how to check relevance.

[edited by: Miamacs at 6:07 pm (utc) on Nov. 1, 2007]


 6:20 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

i don't think it's fake, they explain why they changed lines, it is to avoid displaying real info of that website, so they sort of switched data...

what strikes me most is the pageview indicator... could they possibliy get that from analytics?
using internal stats of a website to better market adwords to the owner IS disturbing...


 6:20 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

It really is a fascinating concept though. There is some value to every click made, to every site, every day in the organic serp’s. You just don’t get charged for it, but from an economic impact perspective its there; business is being driven. Now calculate that today, then calculate that tomorrow, when a few knobs have been turned. Then calculate if there has been a shift, toward clicks paid for in Adwords. (or possibly a retreat) Is there even a relationship? Maybe not.

I do believe the screen shots a fake, but when you contemplate there’s probably more economic value each day being generated through free clicks in the organic serp’s, than in Adwords; if it was your search engine wouldn’t you at least want to know the numbers and dynamics of all that, as it plays out against the back drop of algo tweaks?

Maybe they just want to know; whats the total value in advertising put forth, every single day, from our search engine (paid for or not)

I don't think it its unreasonable for G to wonder; Whats the value of each click that occurs in the organic serp's.

[edited by: randle at 6:24 pm (utc) on Nov. 1, 2007]


 6:24 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ok, it's just that I don't know french... sorry for being so worked up. Again and again. ( I feel real funny right now )

The screenshot was photoshopped so I couldn't help but think it's fake.


Here're some comments from Matt on Google Blogoscoped [blogoscoped.com]. Also, some official looking Google replies which probably the OP knew about just didn't share *grin*

So that vertical sign IS real then...(?)


[edited by: Miamacs at 6:29 pm (utc) on Nov. 1, 2007]


 6:29 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

If they are hiding the price information then why didnt they put X's or something over the original figures but not the labels?

The entire line has been put in over the top which means the labels could have been changed too...

None of that explains why it is blurred like it is... Its like it was converted to jpeg and then back to png, a camera phone would have reflections of the screen and everything would be at an angle. If it were me I would explain all of this and not patch in large opaque chunks over the top where not necessary. Its a very unprofessional job at any rate.

Wheres this official explanation from Matt again? Its used as the official denial to lend weight to the story, but its nowhere to be found.

EDIT : Thanks for the link, it makes things seem a bit more legit - the blurred screenshot is still wierd though...


 6:43 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

It may not be buying Adwords which gets you back in Google's good graces, but the reverse. Adwords puts your organic listing in bad graces.

I've seen this happen. Can't prove it was intentional on the part of Google, but it seems to make sense. Having top listings in Adwords as well as organic listings seems to be repetitive and takes up a lot of space on the first page.

The sites which get top organic listings are the ones who may be able to afford top Adwords positions. What would happen if certain sites began to dominate the first page results? Over time, you could have results with multiple duplicate listings over time.

It seems like in this situation something would have to be done. If they blocked people from Adwords it would be shooting themselves and would be a disaster from a business perspective. The only thing left is to tweak the organic results using a formula like what we see in the screenshot.

[edited by: ispy at 7:22 pm (utc) on Nov. 1, 2007]


 6:52 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

The blurring is easy to explain:

For some inexplicable reason they have reduced the size to around 95%. This creates exacly the type of blurring that you see on the example.

As for what it all really means, who knows? I bet Google won't be keen to document what lies behind those abbreviations.


 6:55 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

OK so, back on topic.
Let's suppose this is real ( gosh I'm tired! ).

Then, ( and only then ) PV would be CTR in my opinion, or perhaps the number of times the listing was displayed on SERPs. Either way, it needs to be something Google has access to and is not guesswork. Probably the same data available in Google Webmaster Tools.

Rubbing that badly photoshopped image out of my eye, I still have this word on my mind:


We know Google classifies sites based on themes, topic, subtopic... relevancy in sort of 'directory style'.

If this isn't fa... uh, ok, this could be a reference to that categorization.

I mean I don't know why I care this much, for I've been working assuming that they do this regardless of any proof and it really did pay off. But let's say they just confirmed a screenshot that uses categories designated by their algo. Perhaps using trigger words ( like buy/sell ), or matching up phrases... either way, they do a relevancy check on the site, and assign it to a category/subcategory in DMOZ/Yahoo! fashion.

And if in this semi-fictional application, PV can't be the actual traffic ( for it'd go blank for every other site ), Vertical can't be a listing in an already existing directory either for it would... more often than not, blank out.

So this classification would be assigned by Google.
It'd be the category the site moves comfortable in.


From which if any of its parameters ( link profile, content )would deviate too far from...

...and I know no one remembers me stressing this part...

... it would end up -950 even if it has no other problems.


And that's just one 'hot topic' this could affect.
IF... *yawn* this was real.
Let's say it is, just for the fun of it...?

'k, bye.

logs off. too much shame.


 6:59 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's real, it got commented on by Matt Cutts.

It's also photoshopped, the GG dollar value doesn't belong to the site you see it on because the guy moved the numbers around for whatever reason. Its blurry because it's enlarged and "saved for web". Forget about the image because it doesn't matter, the extra data is realy there next to YOUR serp results but you don't see it. Any other ideas on what it might be?


 7:01 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the fact that the image was modified is moot.

Mr. Matt Cutts of Google never denied the existence of such tool.

He confirmed it.

It is a tool used by members of our AdWords sales team

Now to verify Mr. Cutts' comment. ;)

... then on to a wild goose chase to pretend we know what Google uses the tool for.


 7:32 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don’t know if its real or not, but if it is, you have to derive that along some lines G is spending time looking at organic placements in their serp’s, and assigning monetary values to them.

It is a tool used by members of our AdWords sales team to help prioritize new customer acquisition.

Guys that are high up in the serp’s they don’t sales call? The higher the GG $ score, the less likely to buy Adwords?


The higher the GG $ score the more dependent they are on high numbers of clicks and might want to think about backing that up through Awords?

If they say its a tool, just what does it actually do?


 7:42 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Interesting... I'd love to see some keyword values in my industrys.

As for adwords bumps to serps, I've seen it. And what I've found is that when your in a competitive niche people tend to have scraped sites, MFA what not and those ads do end up in the serps of other search engines (apparently Google didn't share the trick on how to not read its ads). When those ads show up in other search engines Google eventually ends up with the the same ad text and url. How do I know this is true? I use unique urls and strings that have only ever been used for adsense. Same works true with adcenter and yahoo ads.

They'd be really stupid to tie anything in their own free system to adwords paid listings ...But heck I guess we've all seen that kind of stupid online and else where huh?


 10:29 pm on Nov 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think there is a strong correlation between the organic listings and paid ads. The better natural listing are the less clicks for adwords. I think these values are used to see how much revenue google is missing out on. Plus when someone is searching for red widget it makes economical sense to put youtube with a thumb as a first result then wiki as second result and paid ads to buy red widget. Just think about it: if first natural listing was red widget 20% off, free shipping, buy now, or read user reviews.

Our organic search results have always been completely independent from our paid advertisements. We consider the objectivity of our search results to be paramount to our success and would never compromise that in any way.

Unfortunatly i think it is not entirely accurate.

Evidence: just look at all the youtube pages getting first natural listing these days with a video thumb. No tweaking for economic purposes right…
As google CEO said just before youtube acquisition we have the golden ticket: traffic. (meaning we can and will use natural listing to promote our properties such as youtube.


 6:39 am on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think you can argue the youtube situation either way. It is valid to have some video content in SERPs. (Although I think very little revenue, relatively speaking, will be generated by youtube.)

In any case this is the biggest leaked Google "document" (screen capture) I've ever seen! Was it leaked by someone at Google who felt (read: knew) something wasn't ethical? I can't imagine any other reason at this point. Does the French site explain how it leaked?

Ironically this screen shot and discussion reminds me how lucky we are to get free advertising from Google, or any SE, for that matter.

PC World has picked up this story (and refers to this thread). It seems no matter what Google says, even via Matt Cutts, it's impossible to remove all doubt. Google should have known how easily a screenshot could leak and how damaging it could be. But foresight has never been its forte.

While it was nice to get a quick response, I'm not convinced its in Google's best interests for Matt Cutts to explain away the screencapture since he doesn't work in the AdWords dept but seems very familiar with this tool that isn't used by the Search Team.



 7:24 am on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's been obvious for some time that Google has tainted the natural search algorithm by adding the dollar sign into the equation.

I have customers who spend quite a bit on Adwords, and also were spending on SEO.

Several months ago I told them that I feel there is no longer anything to gain from doing SEO work to improve ranking for commercial sites on Google -- that I was convinced that Google is doing exactly what this "tool" suggests.

The search engine / advertising honeymoon is over.

If you want to play (Google), you gotta pay (Google).


 8:33 am on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

could it be that the Pageviews PV estimate is derived out of a combination of analytics and google toolbar data?


 6:31 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

the biggest leaked Google "document" (screen capture) I've ever seen!

I agree, whats amazing to me is the lack of interest, you would think there would be more discussion about this.

I'm also curious as to why this thread was quietly removed from the front page of WebmasterWorld?


 6:36 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

You can bury it, but you cannot hide it.


 7:22 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

you would think there would be more discussion about this.

Boy you sure would; pretty amazed myself. We have been hearing about this iron curtain between paid and organic results for a long time (which I still believe in) but if this image is real clearly they are at least “looking” at them together. Where do you go from there?

could it be that the Pageviews PV estimate is derived out of a combination of analytics and google toolbar data?

Could the Page Views simply be the number of times your cached entry (title and snippet) is viewed? Like an advertising impression? Pretty easy for them to count that.

I'm also curious as to why this thread was quietly removed from the front page of WebmasterWorld?

Maybe their not convinced its real.


 2:28 am on Nov 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Very interesting indeed. And very easy to start whipping up conspiracy theories. Being a big adwords user myself, I have a few ideas/insights you may be interested in.

We all know that Google is now a public company. They need to make money to keep shareholders happy...and more of it year over year. If I were Google, you better believe I'd be interested in knowing what my potential revenue loss is by having "free" organic listings there instead of paid ones.

While I don't think Google would ever blatantly blur the lines between paid and free listings, I do think they could stretch things a little. For example, as Adwords advertisers, we all love being in the coveted "blue" ad positions above the organic listings. We know they get HUGE Ctr and if it's a good converting keyword, you can make a killing.

Right now a maximum of three (I think) ads show up in the blue positions above the organic listings. Sometimes there are none. What if Google determined that they would make #*$! Million more per quarter if they allowed four..or five...or six "blue" ad positions above the organic search results? Of course they'd want to know beforehand how much more they'd make...and whether it would be worth it on a keyword by keyword basis before they implemented such a change...interesting eh?

I'm not too sure about the advertising/organic theory which suggests if you advertise on "widgets" and you show up on the first page for "widgets" that over time your organic rank would drop...

However, even if this was true...Let's say you rank #1 for 100 phrases in your industry. Why not prop up your traffic, or sales by bidding on keywords that you DON'T rank for? That way, if you are worried, this would be one safe option so as not to affect your organic ranks.

Food for thought anyways. I'm sure Google does far more research than we think they do (which was never intended to be known about)...And you know what? If we were in Google's shoes, it would make absolutely good business sense to do the same thing...In order to grow further into the future...you have to know what changes you can make (very slowly) in order to be more and more profitable each year.


 5:26 am on Nov 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

However, even if this was true...Let's say you rank #1 for 100 phrases in your industry. Why not prop up your traffic, or sales by bidding on keywords that you DON'T rank for? That way, if you are worried, this would be one safe option so as not to affect your organic ranks.

My theory (speculation) is that when you are into Adwords for a particular keyword (or set of keywords), your chances of getting high natural rankings for these keywords in the future are much harder to achieve. Google's algo relies heavily on your site and keyword's history; if a keyword associated with your domain was used as paid advertisement in the past it means your site is more likely to use paid advertisement (Adwords) in the future than a site that has never used Adwords. It makes a business sense - it's easier to sell something to an old client than to find a totally new client.

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