Interesting post from Blake Ross regarding Google Tips. It seems that Google is pushing its own content in search results even where it is completely obvious that the user was searching for non-Google content. As you can see, my search for ITP Weblog below yields a “tip” suggesting that I try Google’s Blogger product.
I suppose my thoughts are mixed about this. The “tip” is clearly a tip and is not displayed within the search results. On the other hand, I have always felt that Google was premised on the idea that the most relevant search results would appear at the top. To me, most relevant could mean most linked to or best product. In any case, the most relevant result should be what the searcher was most likely looking for rather than the most similar Google product or service.
Google is a business and a publicly traded company. At some point, it has to show that it can make a profit. They also have a corporate philosophy posted for all to see. While I love Google, I have reservations about how their new tips fit into numbers 1 (”Placement in search results is never sold to anyone”), 4 (”Democracy on the Web works”) and 6 (”You can make money without doing evil”).
As a small business owner, believe me, I understand the concept of promoting my business at every opportunity and I certainly don’t think doing so is “evil.” Nevertheless, misleading users will not enhance Google’s reputation nor smooth over any of the recent bad press it has experienced. Google has a virtual monopoly on web searching. They gained that position, despite many competitors, and one of the primary reasons they did is because users trust Google results.