ColourOfSpring - 8:13 am on Apr 15, 2013 (gmt 0)
The publicly stated policy just makes more sense than the conspiracy theories.
I am interested in objective truth itself rather than simply taking at face value the carefully-worded public announcements of huge corporations. It's simple due diligence, and I encourage everyone to scrutinise their words rather than just accept them. When a big corporation speaks, its words tend to refract, rather than reflect, the truth. And perhaps you find it mere coincidence, but their version of the truth - even if it subtly deviates just a little bit from objective truth - always seems to put them in a good light. However, I can only know if they are telling the exact truth or not by measuring their words with evidence. The evidence suggests that Google - in the last 12 months or so - have been much more brutal with their filtering as we have all seen, while relying on big brands as a crutch for many commercial searches where crowd hosting takes over not just the 1st pages, but multiple pages. These are a couple of examples, but there are more changes that have been well discussed here. I don't believe Google would make such strident decisions if it would hurt their bottom line. I also don't believe that such changes have benefited the searcher, but inertia is on the side of Google (just as inertia is currently on the side of Facebook when it comes to social networks) - Google don't make such strident decisions without extensive and exhaustive bucket-testing such big changes and monitoring searcher behaviour. If searcher behaviour is "sticky" after a change i.e. they stay on Google, apparently like the new results via bounce rate measurements, then such changes can be made with confidence it won't hurt Google's bottom line.
Again, why do you focus only on organic when considering the searcher? The searcher just wants a page of results. That page consists of Adwords and organic results. If Adwords gives them the best result for a particular search, why do you consider that a bad result? As I mentioned before, Google may be encouraging more Adword clicks, but the searcher is still happy. Google Shopping is moving to paid only in the UK on 30th June (has moved in the US already), so you think Google Shopping will be bad for searchers because it's paid only? Google would disagree with you. Paid results can still be good for the searcher, but they're far from being the best they could be. If Bing and Yahoo! are still far behind from delivering what you can do on a "good" level, why do you need to dial up your organic results to a "great" level when "good" makes you more money? You hold back because holding back gives you a greater profit. You hold steady on a certain accuracy level that keeps searchers and analysts satisfied that Google is still the best (and they wouldn't be wrong), and Google profit better than if you dialled organic up to "best" and organic steals too many clicks from Adwords.
The dilemma for Google is to deliver better organic results than the competition (to be the best in class), and at the same time not outshine the Adwords results (your cash cow).
We've noticed a direct correlation between the quality of sites and AdWords spending so today we've incorporated the presence of an active AdWords campaign as a "quality signal" in the main algo. This means while you have an active AdWords campaign running your organic quality score will be given a "boost" which may help you in the organic results as well.
All they would have to do is announce there's a boost in organic quality score indicated by AdWords spending and they would drive people to advertise.
TOI, seriously - if Google came out with such a ham-fisted statement, they'd be toast in 5 minutes. That's one way for Google to ruin their reputation beyond repair. It would say outright: you can't trust the organics any longer - they're pay to play. The press would be all over that. Google Shopping got bad enough press but at least Google WERE straight-up about it - they said it would be pay to play. If Google attempted that ploy to get Adwords useage increased, by "hinting" that you will rank better in the organics if you did use Adwords - well....let me just put it blandly: it would be very very very bad press for Google.