Montreal SEO - Local Search Engine Optimization

by Montreal's SEO specialist, Gabriel Goldenberg aka Bookworm-SEO.

Montreal city skyline graphic Montreal translucent city skyline graphic Montreal SEO's city skyline graphic part 3
Monday, June 19, 2006
Is Google Creating Unfair Competition?
Is Google creating unfair competition?

That's what many in the SEO world argue when they complain of Google's dominance over other search engines, but the unfair competition I have in mind is something entirely different. I'm talking about Google advertising through its own Adsense networks. Strange as it may sound, Google's Portuguese (Spanish? I see some Spanish I'm familiar with, but other words look Portuguese to me) BlogSearch is advertising on Adsense for the phrase "Business Blog" (without quotation marks; for some reason, including the quotation marks drops the ad out of the results entirely).

Now, you may be thinking, "So what if Google advertises through Adsense?" There are two main problems with this that I can discern, namely that such advertising places Google in a position of conflict of interest, and Google's ownership of the ad system means it can unfairly "buy" top rankings.

Unfair Competition Dilemma 1
First, Google advertising through Adsense puts it in a position of conflict of interest. Google needs to serve advertisers and allow for the market to determine which ads climb to the top of Adsense, yet Google itself is competing for that same top spot. This might encourage questionable practices, such as tampering with the Adsense ranking algorithms to place its own ads above others.

The fact that Google's ad is indeed in the top spot compounds the issue and creates an extension to the problem. This ranking indicates that Google's advertising strategy is indeed to compete for prime advertising position (and no, that isn't the only strategy around). While it might have been possible for Google to dismiss the notion of a conflict of interest with regards to high ranking if its ad were ranking last, the top ranking eliminates this defence.

Unfair Competition Dilemma 2

Second, Google's Adsense system ranks ads from top to bottom partly according to a bidding system. The more you're willing to pay per click, the higher your ad will rank. Thus advertisers set a bid ceiling for what they're willing to pay, and Google's system ends up having them pay only five cents more than their next competitor.

Now, since Google obviously need not pay for the advertising on its network – this would be akin to taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another – it can get top ranking for any term or phrase it wants. The current most expensive keyword on Google (keywords actually: mesothelioma lawyer) costs $50. Google could bid $1000 on its own system.

In a more sinister use of this advantage, Google could use its knowledge of competitors' bids to get them to pay their ceiling bid. For example, if Google knows A has a bid ceiling of $5.00, Google could bid $4.95 to ensure A pays $5.00 every time his ad is clicked. This isn't what is currently taking place, with Google at the top, but it's a possibility. Indeed, while there is a conflict of interest with Google ranking at the top of its ad display, ranking lower would simply create another conflict of interest.

The conclusion is that regardless of where its ads rank, Google is in a position of conflict of interest when it places ads for its own products on Adsense.

So where does Google go from here?
First and foremost, Google needs to immediately cease advertising on its own network. Even if none of the issues named above were actually an ethical problem, the fact that there could be perceived problems hurts Google’s reputation just as much. This in turn puts its future revenues in doubt as advertisers think twice about using Adsense, and obviously would make shareholders, employees and others nervous about dealing with Google.

Once the ads have stopped running, Google needs to identify what caused them to display in the first place. If it was a machine error, the software/hardware needs to be repaired or replaced. If the error was human, the employees in question should be dealt with according to whatever system Google has in place for dealing with disciplinary questions. If such a system shouldn’t exist, Google will need to give the employees responsible a stern warning, some continuing education in ethical guidelines, and of course establish a system and explain it to all employees.

If you want to keep up with ethical issues in the search engine industry and in the search engine optimization industry, take 30 seconds to subscribe to my free newsletter.

Related articles are archived in the topical categories , , , .
Is Google Creating Unfair Competition? posted by Bookworm SEO @ 10:29 AM  
0 Comments on this SEO article:
Post a Comment
<< Home

Montreal SEO Newsletter

SEO Montreal RSS

The Montreal SEO newsletter and RSS feed share great SEO tips!

SEO - Search Engine Optimization:

Bringing search engine traffic to a website by making it rank high in the engines (Google etc.) for its keywords.

Publications, Citations etc.

Quoted in Marketing Sherpa's Marketing Wisdom for 2007? (PDF)
Look at tip #27.

Published on Sitepoint: The 5 Most Common SEO Mistakes

Published by Pandia: Linkbait's Characteristics

Published on BrandCurve: Best Practices in Search Engine Reputation Management

Optimized and Ranking: Montreal SEO Archives

Related Specialists:

1. Freelance copywriting specialist Bill Hilton

2. Politics and the Web by La Presse's Tristan Peloquin

3. Google Maps and Yahoo Local by Mike Blumenthal, local search specialists

4. Legal Marketing Blawg by popular speaker Larry Bodine

5. SEO by the Sea by patent guru Bill Slawski

6. Brand Curve and Marketing Blurb by marketing expert Susan Gunelius

7. Mike the Internet Guy by Denver local SEO pro Mike Belasco

8. Here's What I Think by professional socialite Paris H Muhammad Saleem

9. Phil's Blogservations by blogosphere expert Phil Gomes

10. SEO Specialist Brent David Payne.

11. Gabriel Goldenberg

12. Gab Goldenberg

Best of Montreal SEO:

Google Maps Ranking Factors
Google Sucks
Political Campaigns: Slacker Marketing
Local Search Engine Submission

Google Maps and Local SEO:

Google Maps Mania
Google Maps API blog
Google Maps Advertising
Bill Slawski on Local SEO
Sharon Fling, Local SEO

Resources for SEO specialists:

1. Aaron Wall's SEO research extension for firefox.

2. Google Adwords keyword research tool.

3. Nichebot Multi-Engine Keyword Research Tool

4. SEOMoz's PageStrength Tool

5. The 80/20 of SEO - my first readings on the topic.


Request a Quote!
Visit my new site, SEO ROI Services to hire me.
About Gab, aka Bookworm-SEO
Qualifications, prices, services...

View Gabriel Goldenberg's profile on LinkedIn
About SEO Montreal

SEO Montreal is a Montreal-based local Search Engine Optimization consulting company. Nous sommes une agence spécialisée dans le référencement. It is part of the SEO ROI family.

Le blogue partage des conseils sur le référencement et surtout sur le Local SEO.

My SEO Consulting
1. Established Websites For Sale

#7 Google, #5 Yahoo: Established Websites for Sale.
#11 Google: Websites for Sale.

SEO Consultant in Summer '06.

2. Montreal Hotel

#1 Yahoo: Downtown Montreal Hotel #3 Google, #8 Yahoo: Hotel Montreal.
SEO Consultant Since November 06.

3. Montreal SEO Specialist

#1 on Google, Yahoo and MSN: Montreal SEO.
#2 Google, #1 MSN, #3 Yahoo: SEO Montreal.
#1 MSN, #5 Yahoo: SEO specialist.

SEO Consultant since May 06.

4. Dogs for Sale - October 2007 1 Hour SEO Consultation

5. Dental Seminars - My dad's dental CE site.

Previous SEO writing
1. Montreal Local Search Engine
2. Find it in Canada Search Engine
3. Google Canada
4. US Local Search
5. Google Local Search
6. SEOmoz Pro Membership Review

SEO Montreal is part SEO ROI Services; consider its seo services offering.

City SEO template by Isnaini's Free Blogger Templates