I’m on debunking duty

Suppose you have a friend Isaac. Isaac makes the statement: “No one will ever be able to beat me at Dance Dance Revolution, no matter how hard they try.” What would it take to prove that statement false? It would take a counterexample. If you see anyone beat Isaac at Dance Dance Revolution, you know the statement is false. Isaac may protest: “Look at my DDR high scores!” or “Here’s video of me beating 10 people in a row in Dance Dance Revolution.” That doesn’t matter; a single counterexample proves Isaac’s assertion is false.

Why am I mentioning this? This is all obvious, right? Well, go read this (really really long) article that claims Google is doing something evil by buying ads on Google. The article is 1500+ words (!), so I’ll boil it down to one claim. The claim is that “if you are trying to advertise a product that is competitive to Google, then you’ll never be able to receive the Top Ad Position, no matter how much money you bid and spend.” I know what you’re thinking–you’re angry. Damn that evil Google for repressing its own advertisers! In fact, that exact soundbite helped the article receive more than 450 diggs.

There’s just one problem with that claim: it’s not true. At all. Here, first go read the official post on this on the AdWords blog. The fellow that did this post, Blake, is one of the finest Googlers I know. I’ve worked with off and on with him for years, and he genuinely cares about communicating with advertisers. If Blake has any flaw, it’s that he’s too polite. So I’ll give the slightly-less-polite response. ;)

I don’t know how long it took Isaac to write that 1506-word blog post, but it just took a few minutes for Google Blogoscoped to debunk it with counterexamples like this one:

Search for desktop

See, another advertiser ranks above Google for the search [desktop]. This counterexample query and multiple others were mentioned by Ionut Alex. Chitu, who runs a great blog called Google Operating System. By the way, Ionut Alex. Chitu, you need to bring this uneducated Kentuckian up to speed on how to abbreviate your name so that I feel comfortable citing you more often. :)

Doing a few queries finds several counterexamples, so this bold claim is clearly false. Go back and read the polite post by Blake if you want more info. Case closed, right? Nope. Isaac (the author of the original article) shows up to respond on the Google Blogoscoped forum. Here’s how the conversation went, pulling out the interesting bits:

Philipp Lenssen: And Isaac, while your screenshots may illustrate why you reached the wrong conclusion, you should also be able to admit that you were wrong… PROVIDED Ionut’s screenshots are real. Anything else is like saying “because this dice rolled a 4 twice in a row, it can only roll 4s”.

Isaac Garcia: whatever makes you happy

Philipp Lenssen: …. Isaac, wonder if you’ll update your post with a correction (e.g. using <del>…</del>), not to make any of us happy, but for the sake of serving your readers the truth (as far as known & possible).

Isaac Garcia: While it may appear that international results may vary and differ (probably related to whether or not Google offers certain proucts in localized languages) I’m satisfied with the materials that I’ve provided that inspired me to write what I wrote last night.

Kevin: You’re satisfied with sensationalist inaccuracies?

/lk: Isaac, Even though what you wrote is wrong?

The discussion is a hoot if you want to read it for yourself.

By the way, I’m playing around with the idea of doing a “day of debunking.” Let me know if that sounds like fun. Should I do straight debunking, or try to mix it up? I could shoot for the shortest possible debunking. Or I could debunk entirely in haiku. What do you think?

79 Responses to I’m on debunking duty (Leave a comment)

  1. I would say it depends on what you want to debunk. How much misinformation is actually being passed around about Google…oh, wait.

    Never mind.

    Yeah, dude. Go for it. I’d love to see what comes off the top of your head. Surprise us.

  2. I think google has the right to advertise anywhere it wants on their webpage, so excuses are not needed.

  3. How ever long it took for him to write those 1500+ words he has earned himself some high quality links ;)

  4. mc

    I would love to see
    A nuanced stance achieved via
    Debunking haiku

  5. Matt,

    I certainly don’t believe Google are doing anything ‘evil’ or manipulating the paid search results to rank in top spots. But at the same time I don’t really believe this part from the inside Adwords blog;

    As does any advertiser, we aim to give our campaigns a budget which is in line with their value to us in terms of the increased traffic we might see.

    In reality Google don’t have to work under the same cost, budgeting or return constraints as other advertisers. Google own the product & the money will effectively just be going back into the company – bidding can be as high as needs be to rank.

    In this way, its probably not an overly fair bidding landscape.

  6. JLH

    Put in one vote for Iambic Pentameter for me.

    Vanessa Fox debunked some myths herself today at http://videos.webpronews.com/2006/12/06/vanessa-fox-clarifies-the-role-of-google-sitemaps/

  7. Hahaha. I read the first part of the article “Suppose you have a friend Isaac. Isaac makes the statement: “No one will ever be able to beat me at Dance Dance Revolution, no matter how hard they try.”” and immediately knew where this was going. I’ve only been following it on Google Blogoscoped, so I’m amazed to see all these “high power” bloggers (Adwords Official Blog and you) weighing in. That article must have stirred up more controversy than I thought, even though a few easy searches (as you an Ionut demonstrate) proves it wrong.

  8. Yeah, thats right! You can create a theory (that he is the best dancer) but this theory will never be affirmed because you can’t know if there is someone all over the world who can beat him. If you proof a theory very often the best you can say that this theory is “possible” but this status will only last till this theory is proofed wrong, then you have to create a new one… sorry i didn’t read the rest, too excited about the first lines ;)

  9. The conclusions reached and logic used could benefit from some reanalysis. ( this is nothing personal)

    There are at least TWO ways to define NEVER:
    The technical, literal way and the REAL way it is used in the real-world.

    In the real-world, NEVER means very very rarely. Technically, it would only take ONE instance to debunk it, but spiritually, it would take much more.

    There are ethics at stake that are NOT being addressed, just because one is able to find a few counter examples of a strong trend or tendancy.

    Should Google Ethically compete with their Adwords Advertisers????

    Someone could lose out on a page one position. Would it be more ethical to simply have another link dynamically added and appearing (depending on the search term) where the other links are (beneath the search form)

    If Google added a Sponsor link as opposed to an Adword (the party on the 1st organic result, could lose some traffic)

    Google has so many outlets on its vast properties to market their products or services, it really is not that hard to understand why an advertiser might be less that pleased to be constantly outbidded on a term.

    Oh, SearchEnginesWeb :-o

  10. Oooh haiku
    Fun, but a little short
    Perhaps?

  11. “By the way, Ionut Alex. Chitu, you need to bring this uneducated Kentuckian up to speed on how to abbreviate your name so that I feel comfortable citing you more often.”
    > just call him “Ionut” ;-)

  12. I love the term debunking! its going to be implemented into my vocab for sure :D

    I think day of debunking sounds great! Will be good to take a read through and find out what rubbish i have brought into over the years

    dooo it! ill bring cake!

  13. Hi Matt:

    Go for it! I have been dealing with the fact that “if you are not careful you will learn something new every day” for a while.

    Cheers,
    Ted

  14. A day of straight debunking sounds like fun. At this point, I think I know more Google rumors than facts.

  15. Search Engines Web:
    > In the real-world, NEVER means very very rarely.

    Isaac’s post derived a generalized theory from a data set — it was not aiming to be everyday private chatter, but a public accusation backed up by a long explanation, and accusations as we all know need to be double-checked (as opposed to praise, which you can hand out without any fact-checking!). But for the sake of argument let’s say you’re right, then I should add that Ionut provided *several* screenshots that were showing Google ads in secondary positions… and I was able to reproduce this relatively easy, too. We all know Google AdWords campaigns can target different times & locations, so maybe from Isaac’s perspective it looked fishy that night… but he also should know as much about Google AdWords campaigns. But, in fairness to Isaac, he did finally update his post, so I think that’s OK now.

  16. Hi Matt, is simply not true. I’ve been a fan since I was a beta tester for Google, many, many moons ago.
    Despite many, many opportunities to become self-serving, commercially biased and/or ad-based, Google’s remained true to it’s forte; rendering great search results.

    ‘Nuff said, i hope…

  17. Probably Isaac is just very clever in marketing his site and not so much complaining about Google at all.

    His article is a prime example for good link baiting! He got many people and quality sites hocked.

  18. Well I guess somebody has to point this out, sure Google can be outbid but only if they let themselves, and there’s really no risk in doing so. If google bids $50 on a keyword and somebody visits google.com and clicks on the ad google pays google $50, essentially the ad costs them nothing there’s no risk. What’s interesting is in the example you provided for ‘desktop’ a Google ad appears on Google but not on ask.com or aol.com, so Google must not be willing to take the risk or is averse to actual paid advertising since ask or aol gets a piece of that pie

    http://www.ask.com/web?q=desktop

    One could bring up that Google does have to monitor and maintain these campaigns so someones time is money and it’s not entirely free. However if I only had to factor in my time and not the actual cost of the click I’d be a lot more profitable, something to think about …

  19. Dear Matt,

    I have a question about your screenshot. About the first result of the search. Sometimes when you do a search you see a result like in your screenshot. The indexpage of a site and directly below you see a few sublinks of that website. In this case that is:
    Previous Versions
    Descarga de Google Desktop
    Gadgets
    Features

    I was wondering is that autogenerated by google? Or can you also help google create a listing like that with the sitemap tool? Or with dmoz.org? Or the robots.txt or in any other way? I did a search in google many times to find out how you can make such a sublist but never found it. I hope you can help me out….

    Kind Regards,

    Coen

  20. debunking sounds fun
    could you do it in haiku?
    I don’t think you can

  21. 10 years ago some protesters were upset that company X had deferred taxes as a liability item. The TV news was airing their story. They were upset that a big company with big pockets got to choose to defer taxes, while the rest of us Canadians had to pay on time.

    Later, I studied accounting. And learned that deferred taxes are really a difference in opinion between GAAP and Revenue Canada (the tax man) on what taxes are due. In this case, GAAP felt more taxes were going to be due in later years.

    The story is to illustrate how easy it is to get the wrong end of the stick.

    I went and read the story and it did not sound as definitive as Matt made it out.

    “Well, that’s exactly what Google is doing with certain keywords.”
    I think finding an example of it not happening does not take away from the spirit of the above statement.

  22. And, BTW, isn’t Google inserting ads a heck of a lot better than Google messing with the organic results?

  23. I often harp on treating SEO as a science and while this isn’t exactly an SEO issue I think it also benefits from being treated like a science. The problem is of course we all took different roads to get here, not everyone was a science or math major even. Many out there just don’t understand sound scientific principles, like the scientific method, and like the fact that while you can have hundreds, thousands, or millions of examples showing a theory to be correct, it only takes one counterexample to prove it wrong. You run into this issue all the time with people harping on a sandbox or over optimization penalty, but there are always counterexamples.

    Anyways, I on another issue, I was just Googling for a good paper to link to that talks about this, and under my search terms “prove theory wrong with one result” there was a whole bunch of spam. Get to work Matt.

    I did find this quote by Stephen Hawking.

    According to Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time, “a theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements: It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations.” He goes on to state, “any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis; you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single repeatable observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.”

    Anyways, yes, a day of debunking would be nice.

  24. What’s interesting is in the example you provided for ‘desktop’ a Google ad appears on Google but not on ask.com or aol.com, so Google must not be willing to take the risk or is averse to actual paid advertising since ask or aol gets a piece of that pie

    http://www.ask.com/web?q=desktop

    Same with searches for ‘news’, ‘blogs’ or ‘maps’ on Google.co.uk

    Surely Google endorses using their search network?!

    Its obviously not profitable for them….
    ;)

  25. Or you can burry the story on Digg ,-)

  26. kb

    I’d like you to debunk the myth that bigfoot lives at one of the googleplexes. I hear he hangs out for free lunches mostly.

  27. Debunk the official 9/11 story spoon-fed by our government! Using Google!

    Wait…

    Spooky.

  28. Agreed; I did my own test with amusing results:

    http://www.itwriting.com/blog/?p=74

    Tim

  29. I definitely vote for a debunking day. MIght want to attack the bold claim that all major SEOs have joined a boy band while you are at it too.

  30. Todd

    Wait….so if someone clicks on the Google (Google) ad, does Google owe itself money?

  31. Coen, those are called “Sitelinks” – also see http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2006/09/information-about-sitelinks.html and http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=47334

    Top advertisers can add them in the private beta Adwords interface.

  32. I’d love to see some of the debunking, if only to read the humour you have when you debunk… This post is a classic example of that humour.

  33. Y’know, stuff like this actually makes me feel sorry for Google sometimes. Matt, you’re doing a sterling job trying to use logic as an argument here, but I think the best retort would have been :

    “It’s our website! If you don’t like what we do with it, go play with YSM, or MSN AdCenter, and see how hard they suck”

    I know that’s not really your style, but I bet there’s a tiiiiny part of you that thinks it…

    What irritates me most about this kind of thing though, is that a few years ago, when Google were the blue-eyed boys and could do no wrong, the exact same behavior would have won you plaudits for your innovation – using your primary product to promote other products people may not be aware of, and which they may even find useful (!). But now you are a multi-billion $$$ corp, OF COURSE anything you do is evil…

    You were never as blue-eyed as all that then, and you’re not as evil as all that now. Remarkably, as a publically-listed corporation, I have the nagging feeling that you have a duty to your shareholders to make them some money. I’m fairly sure that before the IPO there were a couple of people in the organisation who didn’t spend their whole working lives in a code-induced trance, but actually tried to squeeze a few bucks out of the products the techies were creating.

    I’m sure you would all have happily lived in barrels, and dined at soup kitchens for the opportunity, nay, the privelege, of being employed by the mighty G, but sometimes, not often but sometimes, it’s nice to earn a huge stack of cash for being good at your job. Why do people have a problem with that (other than jealousy, LOL)?

  34. Chris_D

    So what about the Adwords landing page quality score “minimum bid penalty”? Probably won’t actually make any difference to Google’s own ads – will it? Maybe that explains how the Google ad can be #1 for a search on photo sharing
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&q=photo+sharing
    When the word ‘sharing’ doesn’t even appear on the landing page… http://picasa.google.com.au/

    Same for ‘pictures’…. same for ‘digital pics’ – the words don’t appear on the landing page – that would usually spell ‘minimum bid penalty’ death for any normal advertiser….

  35. Excellent post, now what I want to know is does Google actually pay Google or is there soem type of override where it gets the high positions and is charged $0? Does Google’s own adwords campagin use the same tools as the rest of us or do they get special stuff to look at? Who manages the adwords campagins for Google and how much does that job pay?

  36. Ben

    I think he simply did it for link baiting. Matt is trying to correct him, meanwhile he doesn’t give a damn about the issue at all, and simply trying to gain links.

  37. Matt,

    Debunking is going to be a HUGE job for you. I’m not sure how you’ll handle that.

    However, for Google’s brand and image, someone WILL have to come to the table to contribute to debunking efforts…and who better?

    I think it is a good idea. Keeping them as brief as possible is always best.

  38. If you are interested in regularly debunking information you may like to refer for inspriration to John Grubers ‘Jackass of the Week’ columns at Daring Fireball (mainly Apple related).

    The articles regarding a supposed Airport Wifi exploit has a similar resonance, and it obviously takes alot of effort to deal professionally with the fallout:

    http://daringfireball.net/2006/09/lies_damned_lies_and_macbook_wifi_hacks

    Regards

    Liam

  39. Dude, there are only two ways you should be debunking:

    1) Da Ali G (respek!)

    2) BORAT! (Or better yet, get him to answer questions.)

    Seriously, I keep hearing that theory and the one about Adwords being tied into Google and both are insane. The first one can be debunked in one sentence:

    Every ad placement Google reserves for itself is a loss of potential revenue that could be gained from another advertiser.

    Bang. Debunked.

    Conspiracy theorists, anti-Google-types (who are starting to get as lame as the anti-MS-types), and other assorted hellraisers, please stop and think before you make up crap like this. Come on, really.

  40. It’s true that Google paying Google is a part of this picture. However, Google is a large public company at this point. The people in the AdWords division have their own goals, and their compensation and advancement is in some way dependent on their meeting these goals.

    Similarly, people in other departments that advertise on Google AdWords have goals, and are compensated in some way related to their performance against those goals. So when they write a check to Google AdWords, it’s just as real as a check to Yahoo Search Marketing. It makes no difference to that team. They had better optimize their return on that investment.

    I don’t work at Google, so I am making some assumptions here, but they are rock solid assumptions. Public companies all have forms of internal accountability on a department by department basis, and Google is no exception to this rule.

  41. In the midst of Matt’s debunking and gloating it would have been nice if Matt had also included my full response in the comment dialogue as well.

    Here it is:

    “Update: This post was originally written around midnight 12/05/06. Perhaps my search queries for the keywords listed above yielded Google Ads in more premium positions b/c other Bidder’s AdWords accounts were largely used up throug the bulk of the day? It’s 9pm 12/06/06 and Google is consistently appearing in the 1st or 2nd ad position (mainly 1st) for all of the search queries listed above with the exceptions of “start page”, “dining” and “restaurants” which are not yielding any Google Ads at all.

    I think many of you are missing the point completely. My concern lies in the fact that Google is trumping top bidding ads with their own product ads. This is unethical and potentially an abuse of power/position. Think of it as “AdWord insider trading.” This does not occur on any of the other major search engine.

    Sure, I’m free to take my business somewhere else (I’m not though b/c Google continues to yield positive results for us), I understand that. But the point is not about what I’m able to do….but everything to do with the false-sense of security that many naive advertisers (and from the likes of the comments I’ve received, naive users) might have about how the system works.”

    I’m glad there are still those of you who do see ethical issues with Google buying AdWords against its advertisers. I’m satisfied that the word got out and I believe it says something that Google responded to the rumours.

    As someone else put it, “The House is playing against its paying players.”

    You can read additional comments here:
    http://blog.centraldesktop.com/comments.php?y=06&m=12&entry=entry061207-215146

  42. oops, disregard that last line of mine :-)

  43. Well…

    Up to a point Matt.

    There is as someone pointed out the ethics question. Also Google biding on keywords doesnt cost it as its just shuffeling money from one acount to another.

    Another problem Google may face is one divison may have been bonused to achive say x users of spreadsheets and they may not care about the effect on the bigger and longer term picture.

    MCI had Major problems like this with the way they bonused thier sales team a few years ago customers and company got screwed salesman made masive bonuses and left for a new job before the shit hit the fan.

  44. Coen, those are called Sitelinks. You can read more about Sitelinks here, but the short answer is that they’re created algorithmically. No one at Google can force them on for you.

    Paul Avery, I agree that buying ads where other people can outbid you is much better than hard-coding the search results page to favor someone. That’s what Yahoo does with searches like [online advertising]. If you click, you’ll see that Yahoo hard-codes links with a logo just above the search results: “Online Advertising Solutions on Yahoo! Small Business.” So instead of buying an ad, Yahoo just takes the screen real estate with no possibility of competition.

  45. Isaac Garcia, that response was already in the article that I linked to, but I’m fine with you posting it in my comments too.

    By the way, I saw that in a newer post you ask whether Google provides some scoring boost for its own products, so that a search for [scholar] would return Google Scholar. I posted in your comments that that is also not true: Google does not provide any scoring boost in web search for our own products in order for them to rank higher.

    I think it’s funny that if you do a search on Yahoo for the word “Google” that Yahoo hard-codes a special search box above the result for Google that says “Search the Web with Yahoo!” MSN does this as well. Isaac, why don’t you go ask them some of these hard questions? ;)

  46. “Isaac, why don’t you go ask them some of these hard questions? ”

    Because I don’t compete with Yahoo nor does it appear that I will in the near future Matt.

    At the very least, I’m glad you admit that these are “hard questions.”

  47. Isaac, other search engines are doing exactly the things you’re complaining about, but you only worry about Google? That’s your right, but I’d want to hold every search engine to high standards, not just Google.

  48. Matt I only call this a 50% debunk since you unfairly summarized the argument as “Google’s always the top bid” rather than “Google’s got non-competitive home court advantages” which does appear to be the case. However I agree with those here who say that Google has a right to place ads whereever they choose. I also suspect that the Google bidding algorithm would be considered “reasonable” if we knew the details.
    Graywolf’s point is very important.

    Sorry, but for me I think this is just another case where transparency seems to be getting replaced by clever rationalizations and manipulations. As a capitalist guy I’m OK with businesses doing business but I tire of Google yelling about how virtuously THEY do business.

    Ha – take a page from the Yahoo book and every once in a while say “wow, we really sucked on that one!”. Just don’t take too many pages(!)

    I don’t mean to knock you personally Matt because you are one of the most sincere and honest folks I know working on internet stuff. Sorry for the rant.

  49. Counterexamples are righteous and I support anyone who goes “out on a limb” to go against anything Diggnation is spewing at any moment.

    Google has to be careful and is lucky to have people like Phil and others who know more about Google than Google does of itself.

    But I am from the 1% who is not so sure Bush messed up in Iraq and I believe very little of what I read online these days.

    Nice work Philipp!

  50. Matt, you might want to avoid using the search results for “desktop” as an example, it’s somewhat embarassing. For Google that is. The results Google shows aren’t exactly what I’d think of when I hear the word “desktop” anyway. I even see porn showing up in result number three. That’s just sad.

  51. True or not, that guy sure found a great way to get a load of links to his site. I say you let him have his opinion and stop sending people over to his article. I wouldn’t even have known about it if it weren’t for your blog. Good for him for knowing how to piss people off enough to give him links. I should try that….

    Debunking day would be fun. Just don’t do it in haiku or I may have to come to California and wait for you outside the front gates at Google.

  52. sysadmn

    I guess I’m with the “debunk early, debunk often” crowd. Much of the tempest in the blogosphere (echo chamber?) is forgotten five days later – except for the sensational conclusions.

  53. Newspaper guy

    Let’s face it, Google is a media company. All other media companies advertise themselves on themselves. Ever seen an ad for the nightly news on that TV station? It’s the same thing. Sheesh. Lighten up, Isaac

  54. Scooner

    Matt,

    I would love to talk about the myths or have you debunk once and for all the value of Page Rank and how it plays apart or doesn’t play a part in SEO.

  55. Nick, the guy got on the front page of digg and Slashdot, so he was getting attention without my help. I just wanted to respond.

  56. Todd

    Does Google actually bid on these phrases?

    I think I would be more comfortable with Google simply ranking it’s own services higher in the natural results like Yahoo does.

    I’m having a hard time trying to figure out why Google would “bid” on this real estate anyways. (unless it’s to force other advertisers to bid higher) Being there takes away from their ad revenue. Plus when does google NOT rank #1 in the natural results for it’s own products? It may happen but most of the examples, here, show them #1.

    The only other possible scenario that I can come up with is to get an idea of the nature of users who click on paid ads vs. natural results (e.g. following through with a purchase/download etc.)

    Is there a reason? I would like to know…

  57. Dax

    If you’re going to do a day of debunking, you gotta do it to a beat.

    Who wants to see Matt rap.

  58. JLH

    It’s pretty hard to divine intent of the searcher from a single noun like “desktop”

  59. “Sure, I’m free to take my business somewhere else (I’m not though b/c Google continues to yield positive results for us), I understand that. But the point is not about what I’m able to do….but everything to do with the false-sense of security that many naive advertisers (and from the likes of the comments I’ve received, naive users) might have about how the system works.”

    I find it interesting that in his updates, he refers to those who disagree with him as naive.

  60. I’d like Matt to comment on the numerous comments pointing out that Google’s PPC budget is going right back to Google. No one else has this edge.

  61. I agree with “FunnyGuy” in that Google is Google’s site. Not allowing their own ads is like saying I can’t put up something on my website because other people will not be happy. Or even worse, it is like saying I rent out a house, and allow the people to put up “vote for…” signs, and getting in trouble when I put up my own on my property. It is ridiculous, Google should have full control of their website, of their service, and of their content.

  62. I might be in the minority here, but I’d rather see Google hard-code it and take the top ad position outright rather than being part of their own system. It puts advertisers in a tough spot to be buying advertising from the partner that is bidding up the price. Quality scores are irrelevant here for Google.

    I’ve also seen Google competing for high volume PPC keywords with sites that are Google “partners” and not Google proper (confirmed). I’m seeing the same type of bidding irrelevant of quality scoring and minimum bids – very dangerous ground I’d think…

  63. Debunking in haiku….ROFL

    That’s very funny!

  64. David

    Hey Matt,

    I can also confirm that Google doesn’t always hold the top spot for keywords they bid on. I was a little surprised at how quickly Google’s ads rose to the top of the listings overall, but I can confirm that the Google ads I compete against don’t always win top spot.

    If you guys are competing fairly from an algorithmic standpoint I’ll stay one happy advertiser :)

    -D

  65. This is possibly one of the best responses I’ve ever read: “You’re satisfied with sensationalist inaccuracies?”

    pure gold!

  66. Jeff

    OMG, some people have too much time on their hands. Reality check here. Who really cares about this article? The only ones who might have a right to speak up would be the advertisers of those keywords.

    If they were dissatisified, then they can opt out of adwords which I doubt would be the case.

    Matt, I would not defend this or even feed this guy any debunking things. Honestly, it will just fuel him to write more and before you know it, you will be debunking things for the next year.

  67. I think many of you are missing the point completely. My concern lies in the fact that Google is trumping top bidding ads with their own product ads. This is unethical and potentially an abuse of power/position. Think of it as “AdWord insider trading.” This does not occur on any of the other major search engine.

    So Google trumps an advertiser that bids $1.00 per click by putting its own ad in place.

    And the advertiser just saved a buck a clickthrough, which he/she can presumably spend somewhere else…say on a PPC engine or other site offering PPC advertising. Or maybe on some cheaper keywords and phrases they thought of after Google took the original click.

    There’s another one-sentence debunk waiting to happen. Are we ready, kids? Wait for iiiiiiiiiiiit:

    If an advertiser feels slighted by Google taking a PPC position they feel entitled to, they can purchase PPC advertising from another source such as Yahoo!, MSN, Overture, Kanoodle (for those who like to think off the board) and others.

    I believe the corporate-types refer to this as “competition”, but I’m not 100% sure. Could someone in the corporate world please verify?

    If anything, big G is shooting itself in the foot by doing this. And if they want to, I say let ‘em. As TallTroll put it, “it’s Google’s engine, and they can do what they want with it.” If they want to put two giant hooters in the Os of their logo, that’s their right…it’s a stupid business decision, but it’s their right.

    Quitcherkvetchin’.

  68. If you’re going to do a day of debunking, you gotta do it to a beat.

    Who wants to see Matt rap.

    No way, dude. He can’t bust. He grew up in Kentucky. There’s a leaflet for an airplane, eh? Famous Kentucky Rap Legends.

    I’m thinking Matt should get in touch with his roots, grow a Kentucky waterfall and debunk Billy Ray Cyrus-style. It’d be good PR for Google, since it would appeal to the lowest common denominator. Marketing…gotta think of the marketing. “And in other search news, Google has made great strides among the 486-using AOL crowd…”

  69. “Yes, I’ve killed dozens of people, but just the other day I gave a cookie to a little boy and pick a flower and gave it to my mommy. See, these are examples that show I’m not evil”. So, just because there are examples that say otherwise, this does not prove the general idea – one way or the other. It could be that a smart googler said ‘We shouldn’t take all the top positions, otherwise people might thing we are evil’. If so, the general assertion is still true (google is being sneaky). But, on the other hand, if I ‘step on a daisy flower (evil) to plant a field of roses (good)’ – am I evil?. No! Really, it’s google’s right to do what they want with their website to progress THEIR business as they see the need.

    But, back to the abstract. A solid ‘see it’s not true’ example does not prove anything. And a ‘see how bad they are (they stepped on my daisy)’ example would just be snapshot and not reality. Finding an algo to prove ‘evil or good?’ is not as easy as both sides have presented.

  70. Hi!

    Matt if you want to debunk something, please begin with this stuff:

    on http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=34432&hl=en

    Google says: In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.

    I say thats lie through elision!

    because the right batch should be:

    webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages if google will accept them.

    for month and month I increased the high-quality-backlinks, but google ignore this.

    Google hides themselves behind a broken-down: link:www.light2art.de
    test it and you will see, only one correct backlink, the three others are
    URL’s from my own page and there absolutly wrong.

    No artistsoline.biz, no dexigner.com,glassartists.org, chinaoilpaintingswholesale.com or dart.fine-art.com! Should I think this are all spam sides?
    If I ask your engine: link +light2art.de they all there!

    The other way to hide the faults is in the connection to DMOZ/ODP. For years I am unable to get a listing there, and them are not
    be in position to send a automatic e-mail back or a bot to test my index.
    How can a #1 Searchengine depend a organisation which says for weeks (or more):
    We apologize for the inconvenience while we resolve technical problems.

    if I try to suggest a URL?
    This seemed to me as a system to get alibis for bad work or worse thinks.

    PS: I am not afraid that you may rank my down, because this happens in the past and on some terms and products I am farther top and my time will comes, dead or alive.

    Greeting Karl Heinz

  71. Greetings Karl! It’s true that Google shows only a sample of the backlinks that we know of. Originally that was because we only had enough machine capacity to show that many links externally (even though we had them all stored internally).

    Also, there is no special “ODP boost.” The PageRank value of a link from an ODP page is solely because that ODP page has high PageRank.

  72. RE: Original Nick’s comment about giving things like this ‘legs’

    While it’s true that giving attention to some claims does perpetuate an idea perhaps beyond it’s merit. The other side of the coin is that by ignoring them, often your very lack of a response fuels the fire just as much -if not more.

    Good or bad, right or wrong, sometimes some stories take on a life of their own as people come down on one side or another in their interpretations. Heck, we were guilty of picking this one up too:
    (http://www.webpronews.com/insiderreports/searchinsider/wpn-49-20061208YesIsaacGoogleUsesAdWords.html)

    That said, I guess I’d just like to offer that just because everybody’s talking about something it doesn’t always follow with necessity that the subject is really something worth talking about. but if you’re a Google or a Yahoo – or any major brand, it’s generally not a bad idea to weigh in on popular issues… it’s just reputation management – which is not necessarily the same thing as damage control.

  73. Hi guys,

    I did some of my own investigative work on this matter and created a set of screen shots discussed in this blog post on my blog.

    http://www.flexewebs.com/102.html

    Please let me know what your thoughts are.

    Thanks,

    Jason

  74. THX Matt 4 the answer!

    But I think what you wrote is only half of the truth.

    If backlinks are “the” method Google mostly look at, the question link:www.xxx
    must be the most important for all webmasters. This Google had disobeyed for years
    because of a lack of capacity ? And second: in my case this question shows
    4 links and three of them are the wrong advice. And at last there are no effects of all my links at my PR2, and this for month I added several new links. ODP/DMOZ would be the biggest link I can get, and the absence of it has a big impact to my PR and my live.

    Search for “fanfare mp3” or “free trumpet fanfare” and you will find (in many different countries) my download page with its bad PR, but if you would search for “agate lamps” you would find some of my products at glassartist.org on this term, but never my index_en.html!

    All this tell me that more wrong with Google than you will concede to us,
    it’s just reputation management – which is not necessarily the same thing as damage control :-)

    Greetings

    Karl Heinz

  75. Matt,

    How do you explain the fact that Google are always No. 1 for ‘IE7′ in AdWords?

    http://www.google.com/search?q=ie7&gl=us

    I refresh this search result about 25 times and never got anyone else above Google.

    Plus it is worth noting that when Google ‘bet’ on AdWords, they are paying money to themselves, hence it is not a fair competition as they could be paying themselves as much as they like per click.

    Thanks,

    Jason

  76. Karl, serving link: queries was surely less important than websearch queries, and in the early days, that was the sort of choice we faced. We opted to support websearch queries, and I think that was the right call. I do agree that it would be nice to show more backlinks to site owners.

  77. B&Y

    Matt,

    I have done a lot of research on whether a website paying Google AD will get top ranking, the result is “no”. I certainly don’t believe Google are doing anything ‘evil’. If you are selling products/services similar to Google, then you will still get good ranking. Ex. when I type in “email” googling all email providers, yahoo has better ranking than others.

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