ColourOfSpring - 12:12 pm on Apr 17, 2013 (gmt 0)
We'll have to agree to disagree on the definition of objective. There are many.
Many definitions of objectivity? Anyway, here's a definition that applies to the context of deciding the rules of an algorithm: undistorted by emotion or personal bias. As I mentioned before, Google's algorithm can never match that definition simply because its rules are determined by the biases and motives of Google themselves. Maybe there's another definition, but I don't see how that "other" definition applies when we're talking about human bias here. Human (or "corporate entity") bias most definitely shapes the algorithm.
And, you still cannot (or refuse to) draw a distinction between design/layout and the order the organic results are displayed in (meaning the way the page looks, ads, where, and even how many organics are on the page is one thing -- the order of the organic results displayed (1 thru N) is another.)
I was illustrating just how important ad clicks are to Google, and that one team alone do not decide the general direction Google move in. Design is an obvious one to highlight because it's visible and undeniable. The algo is not "visible" in that you cannot ever prove one way or another that the algo at any given time gives the best results possible regardless of clicks it may deny the ads around organic. What we can deduce though is that the design changes show just how determined Google are to keep those ad clicks as high as possible without eroding their stranglehold over search. If we can deduce that, then it's perfectly feasible that Google are also tweaking the algo to help maximise ad clicks - again without eroding their position. It's called a "balancing act".
TOI, as I mentioned, reality is somewhere between Google's official view of itself (that you fervently believe) and the wild conspiracy theories out there. And if they balance their needs with searcher's needs - even when determining the very subjective algorithm they shape - then they're just like every other company out there - trying to keep their customers happy and maximise profits.