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Study: "Is Google degrading search? Consumer Harm from Universal Search"

     
11:56 am on Jun 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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As with all studies, it's always good to read into the detail, but this looks as if it's a major dig at Google over antitrust.
While Google is known primarily as a search engine, it has increasingly developed and promoted its own content as an alternative to results from other websites. By prominently displaying Google content in response to search queries, Google is able to leverage its dominance in search to gain customers for this content. This yields serious concerns if the internal content is inferior to organic search results. To investigate, we implement a randomized controlled trial in which we vary the search results that users are shown ­ comparing Google’s current policy of favorable treatment of Google content to results in which external content is displayed. We find that users are 45% more likely to engage with universal search results (i.e. prominently displayed map results on Google) when the results are organically determined. This suggests that by leveraging dominance in search to promote its internal content, Google is reducing social welfare ­ leaving consumers with lower quality results and worse matches. Study: "Is Google degrading search? Consumer Harm from Universal Search [slideshare.net]
12:13 am on July 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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With billions of dollars at stake, I wouldn't be surprised if there was more funding for this type of research. I wouldn't be surprised if Google starting donating to some researchers to find the opposite is true.
12:31 am on July 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Why would anyone need to do a "study" on something as obvious as this?
12:32 am on July 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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He who pays the piper...
What "researcher" in receipt of "donations" from Google, would "find" "evidence" that SERP quality was being reduced by Google in order to favour it's own properties..

Remember Google continuously tweaking the placements for Google shopping until they got what suited them, and especially Google's bottom line, despite the "users" that took part in the tests preferring SERPS which did not have Google shopping in them..especially not above them..
1:11 am on July 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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No business is a saint. Google, Bing or whoever all have an agenda to push. This often turns into researchers being funded by special interest groups. Studies like this could theoretically be used as evidence in potential anti trust case but much more likely used by lobbyists when pushing for laws and regulations or their removal.
1:26 am on July 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Actually there are quite a large number of ( saintly , if one wishes to use that word ) "ethical businesses"..

I invite you to search ( using the search engine of your choice ) for "ethical investments" , "ethical stocks" , "ethical mutual funds" , "integrity investments " etc ..

None of them have "Don't be Evil" as their motto though..

To paraphrase Mathew 7.16..
"thou shalt know them by their deeds , not by their words"..

Also the bad things that Bing ( or whoever ) does , do not make what Google does ( when it does bad things ) right..

Two wrongs do not make a ...
1:41 am on July 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Last time I checked the Vatican has not canonized any companies.

Are you honestly trying to claim that each business is not pushing their own agenda and that sometimes they fund research to do that? I'd like to say on topic and skip the Google whining.
1:58 am on July 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Last time I checked the Vatican has not canonized any companies.

What has the Vatican got to do with ethical companies ?..or ethics for that matter..and " saints" are not exclusive to the catholic religion..
Are you honestly trying to claim that each business is not pushing their own agenda and that sometimes they fund research to do that?

No..not trying to claim anything of the sort about "each company"..
You are inventing straw men..putting words into my mouth..that I did not say ..
I'd like to say on topic and skip the Google whining


The topic is that Google have been found by "non Google sponsored" researchers..to have been favouring their own properties and not applying their own algos to their own properties ..on more than one occasion..

Pointing out facts and research concerning Google ( even when it does not show google in a good light ) is not whining..
Why do you seem so determined to dismiss anything which is not pro Google, especially when it is factual, as "whining"..
Ahh..one must only praise Google then..all "non praise" is "whining" ?
5:29 pm on July 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Not that it is important to this discussion, but I thought that Google dropped the "Do No Evil" motto back in 2009?
3:18 am on July 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The so-called "study" was paid for by Yelp (a Google competitor) and is credited, in part, to the "Yelp data science team."

You might as well have a "study" of Microsoft funded and co-authored by Apple, or a "study" of Amazon funded and co-authored by Wal-Mart.
12:46 pm on July 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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There's no need for anyone to do a study to see that Google has degraded the web. This is so obvious that anyone except a nincompoop can see it.
2:21 pm on July 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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has degraded the web. 

well, it is a "cesspool"
3:10 am on July 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Not that it is important to this discussion, but I thought that Google dropped the "Do No Evil" motto back in 2009?


Kinda hard to stuff that cat back in the bag.
We got the message loud and clear.

Anyone that can't follow the money trail and put 2 and 2 together has got to be intentionally blind.
Google places their own content ahead of millions of sites and makes billions per quarter (over $2,000 per second every day) to prove it.

In the process, they have fleeced millions of previously successful webmasters into paupers.
It should be illegal....but in this world it's cold capitalism.
So much for the "free" internet.
4:30 am on July 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Empirical science can't be implemented with disinterest. Bias is inherent in it. The trick is to try to overcome inevitable bias with good methodology and repetition.

Today (and always?) those who want to surpass bias and get closer to understanding are inhibited by a lack of resources to accomplish that. Such people seem to be in the minority. (They do exist, but only on a continuous scale, not a discrete one. They're more, but only more, interested in knowing for knowledge's sake.)

Those with available resources are the vast majority. They're the ones who blatantly want certain results. In fact, just having available resources (money, connections, decision-making power, etc.) means their wants are given more weight - their biases, in other words, look more legitimate. Not just legitimate - hegemonic. These are the studies we see. They look very honest, very fair. But no matter the sophistication of the analysis and the impressive statistical nature of the data, they are little more than data-backed opinions.

It's a bemusing paradox. The scientific method uses all these techniques to make the actions of inherently subjective beings approach objectivity. But every time you step back to look at things objectively, your subjectivity rules your actions, ad infinitum. A blogger, a doctor, a physicist, Google. All of 'em.
4:24 am on July 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@Lapizuli - so you're the one posting nothing but goobly gook words to our comment forms. Lorem Ispum.
5:44 am on July 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@samwest: Like to hear myself talk, don't I? Yup, I have no techie knowledge, so it's all I got for ya, 'cept for Foo.
12:12 pm on July 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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^ lol - Here's the type of quality Google is looking for...

This means winter is close to. Alternativel, these people end up being the saltines of our unusual beast who is phsical appearance are a sizable layer involved with sailing african american nast. Socket department shops are prepared to make customers good deals as well as mone saving deals. Dedicated to internet business creation, whole wheat bags happens to be emploing commercial communit burden,Coach Factory Store public-spirited internet business.

(actual post in my askimet spam folder...but probably ranking well somewhere on Google)
12:34 pm on July 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I have no techie knowledge

Neither do 99.9% of the people posting here and elswhere about advising their "clients" re SEO..and what or why Gooogle does or does not do things...so don't worry..at least you are not taking anyone's money under false pretences..