TheOptimizationIdiot - 2:52 am on Apr 12, 2013 (gmt 0)
Ever since the Adwords program first launched, webmasters have assumed that Google was doing this and Google always said it would defeat their long-term business and they won't do it. I know of several people over the years who have hoped to prove Google was favoring Adwords buyers in the organic part of the SERP, but no one could do it. And they were collecting a lot of data.
I've even seen a study since Panda - and no, it didn't prove any duplicity on Google's part.
I've been working on a site that got tanked to 1 page indexed in a Panda update. Right now today it's reindexed, +15% over last week and +10% over last year and the day isn't even over. It uses 0 AdWords. The issue wasn't easy to find and fix, but it was on site, and there's no indication of an AdWords correlation.
There's another I've worked on recently that uses AdWords and the owner contacted me because they weren't ranking like they should. It's starting to again, but still no AdWords correlation.
It might seem as simple as "pay to play", but it's really not in any of my experiences, recent or past.
Do I think "big brands" have the "upper hand"? Sure I do.
Do I think they should?
Yes I do, and I have my reasons for my thinking that way. (One of the reasons is along the lines of "can't please all the people all the time". And there's also a question of accountability and reliability of information raised in this thread: the short version for my thoughts being: they use an algorithm, so should they favor a "trusted, reliable source" like the Mayo Clinic or try to figure out which of the "obscure sites" present reliable and valid information for their visitors? I think most visitors are fine with generally accepted information over other information that may or may not be "cutting edge and accurate". It seems like it would be very difficult to tell the difference between cutting edge + accurate and bullsh*t to get people to buy a new idea/product algorithmically, to me anyway.) I also have no problem with it, for the preceding and other/expanded reasons. And, no, the reasons don't have anything to do with owning or working for a "big brand" in any way.
What issues do I have with Google about "big brands" having an advantage? They don't just come out and say it.