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December 18, 2011

Is Google’s Advertising Destroying the Sanctity of Search Results? – A SPN Exclusive Article

A few months back, I wrote an article titled Google’s Panda Update: Haters, Cheaters and Consequences. The article was my defense of Google’s constant algorithm changes. In that article I naively wrote the following:

“Unlike a lot of cynics out there, I believe that Google is trying deliver the most relevant and useful search results possible.”

Well, I’ve always been a big enough man to admit when I’m wrong. And I was wrong about Google. Dead wrong. Like so many others, I too was fooled by Google’s clever sleight of hand. Let me explain.

Google’s Clever Sleight Of Hand

Over the years, Google has had numerous algorithm changes:

* 2003-05-01 “Fritz” update
* 2003-05-16 “Florida” update
* 2007-01-25 Googlebombs “defused” update
* 2009-02-20 “Vince” update
* 2010-05-01 “Mayday” update
* 2011-02-24 “Panda” update
* 2011-05-10 “Panda 2.1” update
* 2011-06-16 “Panda 2.2” update
* 2011-07-23 “Panda 2.3” update
* 2011-08-12 “Panda 2.4” update
* 2011-09-27 “Panda 2.5” update (Source:

Obviously, with so many major updates, it would be reasonable to assume that Google was working hard trying to deliver a superior product – provide users with a better search “experience.” It would be reasonable to assume that, but it would be the wrong assumption.

Show Google The Money

Why? Because Google has strayed far away from its original search roots. Today’s Google is first and foremost a greedy corporation – a powerful advertising company that generates 97 percent of its income from its advertising programs – namely Adwords. And while Google may have made its name in search, it made its fortune from advertising.

And when 97 percent of your income is coming from advertising, guess what your overriding priority is going to be? That’s right… how to make more money from your advertising programs!

So how did it come to this? How did Google lose its way?

In a word…greed. Google makes a lot of money from online advertising. How much is a lot? In the twelve months ending June 30, 2011, Google made $33.3 billion in revenues. Of that, 97 percent ($32.2 billion) was from advertising.

You Gotta Pay To Play

WordStream, a provider of software for keywords and pay-per-click marketing campaigns, has done research to discover which keywords receive the highest costs per click (CPC) in Google AdWords. Following are the top 20 keyword categories that fetched the highest costs per click:

1. Insurance – $54.91 per click
2. Loans – $44.28 per click
3. Mortgage – $47.12 per click
4. Attorney – $47.07 per click
5. Credit – $36.06 per click
6. Lawyer – $42.51 per click
7. Donate – $42.02 per click
8. Degree – $40.61 per click
9. Hosting – $31.91 per click
10. Claim – $45.51 per click
11. Conference Call – $42.05 per click
12. Trading – $33.19 per click
13. Software – $35.29 per click
14. Recovery – $42.03 per click
15. Transfer – $29.86 per click
16. Gas/Electricity – $54.62 per click
17. Classes – $35.04 per click
18. Rehab – $33.59 per click
19. Treatment – $37.18 per click
20. Cord Blood – $27.80 per click (Source:

Can you believe the cost-per-click of the top 20 keyword categories? Not only is Google thumbing its nose at searchers, it’s also kicking small advertisers to the curb as well. The same small advertisers who helped Google become the dominant advertising force that it’s become. At those prices, it’s impossible for small advertisers to compete. The playing field is tilted decidedly towards the side of big business.

One Man’s Rant?

So, is this article one man’s rant, or do others feel the same way I do? I can assure you, I’m not the only one condemning Google for its irresponsible actions and greed. Here’s what SEOBooks’s Aaron Wall had to say in his article Forget about SEO. To be visible in Google today, try Adwords.

“Some of Google’s new search results look quite alarming in terms of every single link above the fold is either a paid ad, or links to yet another Google page wrapped in ads.

I have a huge monitor & it is impossible for me to click *anywhere* above the fold on some search results without going through Google’s toll booth or clicking off to yet another Google ad wrapped page.

Those who coddled Google & gave Google the benefit of the doubt now have egg on their face, and the industry as a whole is poorer for their poor judgement & lack of stewardship.”

And here’s what NetSpeak Solutions Stephen Dow had to say in his article Google Panda: Hurting SEO and Search Results for Increased Ad Revenues?

“All during the ‘Panda mess’ one thing has been positive for Google, their ad revenues! They’ve grown to record levels (especially this last quarter). Why? I believe it’s simply because desperate business owners (and SEO marketers) don’t have sure answers to make-up for lost rankings and traffic. So, they decide to ‘punt’ by using more paid advertising – even going as far as pointing ads to home pages (now that’s desperation)!

As Google continues with its Panda ‘search engine redesign,’ let’s all just sit back and watch them continue to mess up organic search and the Internet marketing industry.”

So, am I and others criticizing Google unfairly? Or, am I right to ask the question: Is Google’s Advertising Destroying the Sanctity of Search Results?

What do you think?

David Jackson is a marketing consultant and the owner of – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business!