ColourOfSpring - 8:58 pm on Apr 14, 2013 (gmt 0)
Exactly, and keeping visitors happy by providing the results they're looking for (whether we think there's something "better" they could show or not) is a much healthier long-term, profitable business plan with sustainability than sacrificing organic results to try and make a buck now. They know that. They've stated it a number of times. Their plan is very "long-term" oriented.
I suspect the truth lies between their official public-announced policy that you wholeheartedly and earnestly believe and the various conspiracy theories out there. As I mentioned earlier, I am very sure it's in Google's interest to split-test between what they would deem accurate result sets, and varying degrees of accuracy - even if merely to see how searchers react. Do they resort to ads? Do they go for a 2nd search? How does the keyphrase change from the 1st search? There's much to be learnt from those kinds of tests.
My second point was as the internet grows, Google's filters need to make ever more brutal decisions, with many more false positives caught in their nets. When I see host crowding results over at least 2 pages, I feel almost like Google have thrown up an "under construction" sign for that keyword - it's Google saying "we don't know really know how to give the best results for this keyword just yet, but we certainly trust this domain name".
Many visitors will accept "good enough" results because searching on Google is such an engrained part of their way of browsing online. Peppering big brand names in the SERPs will no doubt help create that "quality feel" in the SERPs.
The suggestion they need to (or would) manipulate the organic results to keep people happy and coming back to them by forcing them to click the ads is very short-term thinking and not a path I can imagine they would go down, which, as I said previously, is apparent (to me at least) in the results, because if they really wanted to manipulate the organics to make more money, Mom & Pop and those whom had not indicated they could/would pay for advertising is what they would show in the organics, not the "big brands" and/or others who have indicated they have a budget to advertise with.
It's not like Adwords is utterly valueless to the searcher - they're not simply there for Google to make money, so you can bet Google are testing - and have thoroughly tested - searcher behaviour between organic and ads, based on varying degrees of accuracy in organic. It might be in the searcher's interest to actually focus more on ads for certain commercial searches for example. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be only focusing on organic as bringing value to the searcher. I'm very sure Google would want to shape visitor behaviour if it benefits the visitor. And if it benefits Google also, well hey they might call that a "win win".