As you begin the online holiday shopping orgy, ask yourself whether Google is manipulating your search for the product of your dreams and driving you to places that it wants you to go (and away from other things that might interest you).That's the topic of this article by Grace Nasri. Here's an excerpt:
In a recent OpEd in the Wall Street Journal, CEO of Nextag Jeffrey Katz wrote, “[Google] has used its position to bend the rules to help maintain its online supremacy, including the use of sophisticated algorithms weighted in favor of its own products and services at the expense of search results that are truly most relevant. “Google * * * has shifted from a true search site into a commerce site – a commerce site whose search algorithm favors products and services from Google and those from companies able to spend the most on advertising[.]” Katz said. * * * While NexTag was able to increase the budget it allocated to Google ads, other small businesses that also get the majority of their traffic from Google can’t afford to follow suit. Tim Carter, who runs AskTheBuilder.com, said in less than two years, daily traffic to his site dropped 87 percent – from 60,000 to 8,000. “Google has decided, in their quest for higher profits, to put lower quality content on page one of their results. Much of the content now being served up on page one of Google results is either content created by advertising partners who are just interested in selling more of their products, or it’s content mashed up by work-at-home non-professionals who are feeding the gapping maws of the content farms,” Carter said. On a Google search results page, the average click-through rate (CTR) for the first, second and third positions are 36.4 percent, 12.5 percent, and 9.5 percent respectively. That means the top three listings attract more than half of all click-throughs in a given search result. [emphasis added] Companies whose listings don’t even make the first page better be destination sites, or have a strong flow of referrals from prominent sites, because they won’t likely get any substantial traffic from Google. And while this hurts businesses, the larger implication is that it hurts consumers.
So ... One way to get around Google's manipulation (if any has occurred) is to make sure you look beyond the first page of search results.