It’s a well known discussion: does Google favor their own sites above others in their rankings? And do they change these results manually instead of letting the algorithm decide? That kind of discussion has been around ever since Google is dominant in search, so almost for the entire last decade.
In the last couple of weeks however there seem to have been an increase in these kind of ‘rumors’. More and more competitors are complaining about Google changing the results in favor of their own. There is the law suit in Europe where the EU is looking into anti-trust matters (which by the way is instigated by a competitor which is owned by Microsoft) but that case has been going on for years already. Then there was the Harvard study which seemed to prove Google was putting their own links on top.
And last week there was the issue with Tripadvisor who’s reviews were not showing anymore on Maps, but it was unclear whether or not Tripadvisor had pulled these temselves. Now again, Tripadvisor comes forward. As one of the ‘competitors’ complaining about Google’s rankings. Together with amongst others health site WebMD.com and local-business reviews sites Yelp.com and Citysearch.com they are complaining that their links are being pushed lower on the results page in favor of Google sites.
“There is no denying that today Google is competing for the same Web traffic and the same advertising dollars,” said Jay Herratti, chief executive of CityGrid Media to the Wall Street Journal this weekend.
TripAdvisor LLC Chief Executive Stephen Kaufer even claims the traffic from Google to Tripadvisor dropped by more than 10% in the last period. He says: “Google does seem to be chasing us and I don’t like it one bit.”
Tripadvisor apparently is in talks with Google to discuss this situation, which shines another light on the whole review matter which popped up last week.
Google’s response to this is what we know of the search giant:
“We built Google for users, not websites, and our goal is to give users answers. Sometimes the most useful answer isn’t ’10 blue links,’ but a map for an address query, or a series of images for a query like ‘pictures of Egyptian pyramids.’ We often provide these results in the form of ‘quick answers’ at the top of the page, because our users want a quick answer.”
No news there.
But should we care about what these companies are saying? After all, they are competitors of Google so they have extra reason to complain. But then again, they also rely on Google for their business a lot. But also: Google is a business. Would it be strange that they favor their own sites above those of others? We discussed this matter also two weeks ago in our radioshow.
It wouldn’t be strange to be honest, as long as they would be transparant about it. Like a box with “Google results” on top maybe. But then again, if Google sites are more relevant, why not put them on top? I’m curious about what you have to say about this…