ColourOfSpring - 7:59 pm on Apr 17, 2013 (gmt 0)
ColourOfSpring, I don't have the impression that TOI simply believes Google is run by angels who are incapable of telling lies or doing anything nasty. He's offered solid logic for why, in this case, he just can't see a benefit to manipulating the algo to keep the brands up top.
diberry - as soon as Google introduced the very first rule for the algorithm right at the beginning, they were manipulating it. Manipulate, shape, influence, direct - all of these words. The more rules and signals and tweaks, the more complex the algorithm, the "fuzzier" things get. Nobody can say for certain either way that Google are or aren't balancing things in their favour when it comes to the algorithm, but for certain they are the only ones shaping and influencing and manipulating it (for whatever reasons). Certainly the end orangic results can't tell you one way or the other. It's all in the eye of the beholder.
As Str82u points out :-
They don't compete the same but haven't you (any you will do) ever thought "why'd they do that?" or "What are they using for...?"
If the SERPs look weighted in one direction, there's any number of plausible reasons to explain it. Google are always going to say their motives are wholesome when it comes to algo changes - we know that. It doesn't mean it's 100% true. It might be though - you choose your faith on that one.
However, the SERP layout is something nobody can deny. It's like boiling frogs the way they've slowly expanded the ads. Now I get 5 ads and 1 organic result above the fold on typical commercial searches. The ads are becoming ever more disguised as organic results. And yet we are to believe that something that can never be truly scrutinised by outsiders (the algorithm) would not be used by Google to maximise their profits even if it gave searchers no further harm. Remember, it's the users (the searchers) that matter, not webmasters (see latest Image search updates).