Originally published September 7 2013
Google's search results favor big brands
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) If you're like me, you think Google is a double-edged sword: Very handy search engine when you're looking up a product, searching for a football fact, referencing a news story or trying to find a recipe, but a site that returns far too much useless "noise" when you're trying to, say, conduct research for a term paper.
Ever wonder why?
Part of the reason is that tech gurus and Internet experts have figured out how to get their sites placed at the top of web search results. That's why when you're searching for scholarly articles to use as sources for your research paper commercial sites that tend to sell "research papers" to students dominate the first several pages; they spend tons more time with keywords and phrases designed to make their sites stand out than do universities.
But there's another reason as well.
Part of the reason could be tied to allegations that the search giant may be manipulating results to favor big brands over small businesses or academic sources, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which is recommending the government sue the search giant after conducting the most far reaching anti-trust investigation of a corporation since the Microsoft investigation in the 1990s.
FTC smells a rat at Google
"The agency's central focus is whether Google manipulates search results to favor its own products, and makes it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page," The New York Times reported recently.
The staff recommendations will be contained in a 100-page memo, the details of which are still being worked out. But, the paper said, quoting officials familiar with the investigation, what is taking place now is mostly fine-tuning the language; the crux of the allegations is not expected to change.
Google, which says it will answer any of the FTC's questions, is being accused of using its incredible search power and market domination to give an unfair advantage to key advertisers, most notably big-name shopping sites and companies they own, along with discriminating against small business Adwords advertisers who are competing in the same verticals.
In the Times and other media, this is being portrayed as a recent development. But in reality, Google has been perfecting this technique - manipulating search results - as far back as 2004, all under the excuse of "providing a better search experience."
In December 2004, immediately prior to the big seasonal Christmas rush for online shoppers, Darren Rowse of Problogger.net lost some two-thirds of the traffic to his digital camera website, Infowars.com points out, adding that Rowse is "one of the most respected bloggers on the Internet." Google claimed that his site had "quality issues," but that's like saying Drew Brees is an average quarterback or that Frank Sinatra had an "okay" voice.
Since no one suspected Google of manipulation at the time, Rowse just accepted the circumstances.
Name brands replacing "brands," period
Then, on Feb. 25, 2009, Aaron Wall of SEOBook.com published something quite revealing. After another of Google's now-famous updates, the company's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, was asked about Google's agenda regarding brands and just generally policing up the Internet.
"The internet is fast becoming a 'cesspool' where false information thrives," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday. Speaking with an audience of magazine executives visiting the Google campus here as part of their annual industry conference, he said their brands were increasingly important signals that content can be trusted.
"Brands are the solution, not the problem," Mr. Schmidt said. "Brands are how you sort out the cesspool."
"Brand affinity is clearly hard wired," he said. "It is so fundamental to human existence that it's not going away. It must have a genetic component."
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