Thursday, December 28, 2006

No thanks for the tip

One of the founders of Firefox has taken issue with how Google Tips work, pre-empting natural search results (blog post here). Take a look at the result for "Wordpress blog" below:

Fairly certain the Wordpress team wouldn't be too excited to see an ad for Blogger better placed than their top natural search result and #1 paid-search link. More amazing still is that comments on Slashdot about this issue aren't all completely behind Google.

What makes Tips faintly nefarious is that they're not algorithmically derived (like the rest of Google results, both natural and paid). It's a fairly blatant marketing decision to drive traffic to contextually relevant Google products. Normally this would be a non-issue, since any company staffed with at least one marketer would attempt to do the same.

But Google's famous "do no evil" stance, and the trust users place in Google that the site will represent the most relevant results for specific keywords, aren't aligned with Tips. Simply put, if a Google product is actually not as relevant or popular as measured by its own algorithm, it shouldn't have top billing over those results (Wordpress blog as a keyword is a great example since the only relevant result should be Wordpress or results related to Wordpress).


Blogger Jeffrey McManus said...

In fact, Matt of Wordpress was a bit distressed by this.

It's always going to be a challenge to figure out whether they're doing evil or just doing business.

10:18 AM  

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