walkman - 3:37 pm on Sep 19, 2011 (gmt 0) [edited by: walkman at 3:41 pm (utc) on Sep 19, 2011]
It's not clear cut but it can easily be almost confirmed (by following the smart money) if we had the data on how much a 'mortgage' click costs. Again, it's not 100% sure and we're talking about 'more likely' or 'probably' but these very smart advertisers would not be willing to pay $xx a click for that keyword if not enough people wanted to check mortgage rates and apply for one.
In fact, you and google seem to have agreed that the single word "mortgage" is equivalent to "mortgage provider". Which is interesting in its own right. If you do a one-word search for something that can be bought, will g### always assume that you are looking for vendors of your search term?
You look at the serps and you cannot really say much bad about it, it's not like I got a dog walking page or anything, but something seems fishy. One can defend this, but it's very odd since the ads do not match the SERPs. Considering how insurance and mortgage are the biggest money making keywords /fields I smell bias. Not overt one, but one that's hidden and cannot really be proven [webmasterworld.com...] . Remember, we may be talking about $40 for each click they add up like crazy.
The fact that a calculator page was #1 in organic is extremely fishy too, since that popular site (Bankrate) also has a mortgage lead and rate site, why wasn't that page #1? What this does--if done by design--is that it makes the first organic rank useless for most visitors that are looking for a good rate. Wiki is next and by then we're talking about #7-#8 when you add the ads. Or very few clicks since #1 alone gets about 35%.
[edited by: walkman at 3:41 pm (utc) on Sep 19, 2011]