Is it Monday yet?
The purpose for this post is to attempt to demonstrate Google's Ad creep on page one search results that some members say is not happening, or that others say they are not seeing. Some of the observations I'm going to present are scathing so I think in this instance a disclosure would be appropriate: I have no financial interest in Google in any capacity. I DO NOT, directly or indirectly, own Google shares nor am I trying to influence their bid and ask prices. I am NOT in a short position for Google shares. I acknowledge Google's right to run their business as they deem necessary. Freedom of expression also entitles me to expose greed and/or corruption in our collective international society.
This is going to be my best attempt at trying to explain the pattern that has been unfolding on search results for page one of Google. These observations are based on local search. They may or may not apply to regional, national, or international results, I don't know because I have not devoted enough time to that aspect. Regardless, local business results is what Google is aggressively going after in many ways in the last 6 months or so (coincides with that event that has become known as Panda). Google's has also recently begun giving away free websites, or, in their words; "improving existing ones", to local small business owners so they can sell them advertising services afterward (handing out free crack to the kids in the alley -- gybo.ca). They have also for some time now been tilling the ground of page 1 to enable them to plant future AdWords spots and paid (monthly recurring cost) Places Tags there. They have been doing this in very subtle ways to make it ALMOST unnoticeable.
I want this post to be able to stand up to scrutiny, tedsters in particular because he feels very strongly about this matter. And why is it lately that the term "conspiracy theory" comes up so frequently in many posts by members? Is there an attempt to discredit members who are hot on the trail to make them look like fools that they are not? That would be a good tactic to discredit their observations in other members' eyes. Someone who feels as strongly as that, in my thought, must have evidence to counteract my observations. I look forward to a healthy debate of opposing points of view. And, Netmeg, if you aren't seeing it you should begin warming up to the idea because nobody is going to be immune to this stuff except for Google's own properties and those on their payroll. If your focus is local it will be coming to a town near you sooner or later. Oh and speaking of payroll, if anyone comes back with a very strong and apparent bias in favour of Google would it be asking too much to state your financial interest in the matter? Just so we can get an official ether record to add to inventory.
On to the matter. Let's begin at the root. When there is no change in a search engine's page structure there is generally very little tweaking or long term planning happening. When page structural changes begin happening it is indicative of INTENTION (of something maybe yet unrecognizable). A few minor structural changes over time may still not reveal INTENTION. Eventually a tipping point is reached, then the foghorn of INTENTION blows their cover. In this case Harper Seven alerted me that time has arrived for me to begin my work of exposing the poison of greed. Oh the waxing poetic drama, born in the 7th month, in the 7th hour, carrying 7 and some odd pounds, she arrived squealing whoa whoa whoa! What a beautiful symphony, it brings joyful tears to my (singular) eye. Sing it with me lucy (in the sky with diamonds) of thought provoking expressions!
For a long time Google displayed EXCELLENT on-topic results in their SERP but alas not enough people were clicking through to page 2 or 3 because they were finding it right there on page 1 -- less opportunity to display ads, dread! The structure during that time was non-paid results (organic) in the main body with supporting AdWords ads in the right hand column. It was a beautiful symbiotic relationship between content borrowed from website owners (because Google doesn't have any of their own for consumer eyeballs) for the purpose of building an advertising empire around that borrowed content. It was very successful and Google enjoyed respectable healthy "don't be evil" profits. Then at some point ads crept into the top 3 spots above the non-paid results (organic). Still no problem there in my opinion, it's their page and they are entitled to do as they please but at this point one should begin to notice the creep (of ads that is).
At some point during that time more page real-estate was expropriated from non-paid results (as if those websites didn't pay through hard work of bringing meaningful information to the public) for the purpose of displaying Places Pages. Many listings in the Places Page spots don't even have websites even though they could have populated those spots with existing local businesses that did have websites. How thoughtful of Google -- an Internet advertising monopoly going out of their way to reach out to businesses who don't even have a website! Such a helpful bunch, falling down over themselves, trying to rush to the aid of poor unfortunate local businesses who cannot afford to set up a website. I'll bet that would look good on the resume they present to the FTC wouldn't it? But for the binary technical minds it screams unusual BEHAVIOURAL change. Hmmmmmmm, what's going on there, I wonder what's brewing?
Then the map to the right began moving and floating over the top of ads. Hmmmmmmm that's a strange BEHAVIOURAL change, what's going on there? Nothing I guess (wrong, INTENTION is brewing), but wow my attention is sure drawn to that area more now :) oh and look at those pretty red markers. And then some time came to pass and behold! some of those markers are now blue (paid recurring monthly fees for Places Tags). Hey you Google guys are you trying to train me to recognize contrast?! Are you trying to train those business owners to whom you have given Places Pages (crack), the ones without actual websites, the ones that have seen an increase in business because of your (seemingly) helpfulness? Oh wait a minute, I get it, when Places Pages Tags eventually catch on and all the non-paid red markers are replaced with blue ones those same business owners are going to notice a drop in business. I guess many of them will now jump on board your free websites for businesses offer huh? But of course they won't be SEO friendly so they'll show up at -100 or something. No big deal I guess they can always buy AdWords. I hope you didn't forget to tell them that in your free crack, I mean websites, offer. You don't have something underhanded in mind do you because my intuition tells me you are up to no good. Bah, it's probably just my delusional mind playing tricks on me right? How could anyone take a fool like me seriously.
Then a new day dawned, I performed a new search and behold 3 sons were shining in the results, all belonging to the same entity. Hmmmmm more unusual BEHAVIOURAL change there -- 3 results stacked on top of each other without having to expand any buttons, all from the same website. Even though those 3 results belonged to me I thought hey my friends below me are disappearing! I don't want them to be left behind on page 2 or 3 because they were the very souls that gave me strength to make it to the top by constantly challenging me to work harder to achieve higher placement than them in results at the pinnacle. I got to #1 on their shoulders. Come back guys! there's room enough for everyone here. We can share the wealth, except that there is a beast between me and them eating it all. Ah nuts I'm going to have to abandon my comfy perch for a while again, climb back down below the fold, kick the beast's ad$, and go looking for them.
And when I find them, next Monday in part deux of this posting, I'll going to dissect the new useless page one results (not the WW member!) and explain in vivid detail why the results that are appearing on page one are like they are. It's extremely insightful and should stand up to any logical challenges, but maybe not emotional ones. And mister beast -- you are going to develop a bad case of indigestion.