Are Organic SERPs on Google Manipulated to Increase Ad Revenue?

Oct 22, 2007 • 9:55 am | comments (11) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine

WebmasterWorld members have gotten into a heated discussion about whether Google is manipulating organic search results to increase ad revenue. The idea is that they're making a lot of money when the organic results are irrelevant, according to forum members.

While Google says that organic ads do not have any correlation to paid ads, forum members contest that this may not be true.

I am thinking that there IS a strategy to the madness and to me it seems that whatever they have in their Ad inventory IS effecting the SERP's. If you can't find what you are looking for on the first pages you are more likely to click on one of their ads, because the ads sure seems to be accurate!

However, not all members feel that this is the case. These observations may not be intention on Google's part. Other reasons discounting the original claim include the following:

- They don't have to, SEOs do it for the sake of AdSense, affiliate and other such programs
- They must not do so, otherwise the first semi-official insider comment on this would be the end of their public company
- They can't do it because their infrastructure doesn't allow them to do so
- They don't really wanna do it, because it'd hurt those who work at Google.

The debate is rather heated with many members taking extreme (and not so extreme) stances on this idea. What are your thoughts?

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld.

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10/22/2007 04:44 pm

Although yes they would make money via advertising by doing this they would lose a lot of custom if people found that the search results were too off the mark, they would eventually move elsewhere. Surely that is how Google became so popular, because they returned better results!

John Clinebell

10/22/2007 04:47 pm

I've often wondered about this myself. I wonder if they have an algorithm that changes the way the organic listings are presented based on the amount of money they make off of the term.. perhaps it skews results for more lucrative (from a PPC POV) searches?

Jaan Kanellis

10/22/2007 05:33 pm

Imagine the credibility hit Google would take if such an action were true. I highly doubt they manipulate organic placement for the sake of driving PPC traffic.


10/22/2007 06:06 pm

I see this more with Yahoo results (as incorporating Paid Inclusion appears to affect your organic rankings in Yahoo although Yahoo refutes this, I have seen it with my own clients...) not so much with Google. Google makes enough money off of the ads as is... They don't need to manipulate the organic listings to entice more clicks. They are not that greedy. They don't have to be.


10/22/2007 08:22 pm

"... we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers." I didn't say that, Larry and Sergey did.

David Payne

10/22/2007 08:40 pm

JLH, They were talking about a specific example having to do with a particular cell phone query and that the 1st result was one that an advertising based search engine wouldn't want to be shown. (A result that discussed the dangers of driving while on the cell phone.) You took it out of context, IMO.

Matt Cutts

10/23/2007 05:07 am

(insert debunk statement here) From the discussion: "If you can't find what you are looking for on the first pages you are more likely to click on one of their ads, because the ads sure seems to be accurate!" That's not the strategy Google pursues. Google pursues the "try to make the results good so that people want to come back" approach.

Christopher Regan

10/24/2007 03:24 pm

The SEO/web adv. world has consistently produced conspiracy theories. Let me echo the insistence that Google stays popular, in great part, by consistently increasing its SERP quality.

ben leefield

01/23/2009 10:32 am

Anyone who believes Google manipulates their organic results vs the ppc results is insane. Why would they risk their $150 billion company for some short term financial gain. Its about staying on top in what you do as well as capital value.


04/14/2009 03:00 am

Personal experience shows some kind of interference with organic listings. Generally to get results from a search term or phrase example (crystal glass) you need to have a crystal-glass.html page with the words crystal glass appearing once in the meta title, meta content, alt tags, body title, and a few in the body text, for your page to do ok. I call it a dedicated page for 1 item. I did this in Australia and it worked very well for two or three months. I had 20 dedicated pages for 20 different products in the first10 - 40 results then one day they were all gone not to be found at all. A crystal bead would show up on a search for crystal glasses but not one dedicated page of mine. My feeling is my domain has been somehow weighted down in the organic listings.


11/17/2009 11:28 pm

Google manipulates public opinion in Brazil In 2010 there will be an election in Brazil and one of the candidates, the governor of Sao Paulo, Jose Serra of the PSDB - Conservative Party, a rival of President Lula - has always been protected by the media (TV's, newspapers and magazines in Brazil are in the hands of conservatives). On 13/11/2009 there was a serious accident in one of the works of the governor, called Rodoanel (like “Ring Road”). There are many allegations of corruption in this work. I saw on a site that Serra had ordered to Google to not publish the accident in the Rodoanel. At first, I thought that's a joke. I like Google and did not believe there was this kind of manipulation. I always knew of the manipulation in newspapers and magazines, but in Google? I could not believe it... Well, try to find a picture of the Rodoanel accident there. I tried but I could not find anything. Not a single image. The complaint is on this site (portuguese): This is not scary? (sorry my poor english)

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