Google claims that their goal when generating search results is to provide users with the best possible experience. Most people accept that the advertisements are a necessary part of the business, and that they even do a fairly good job at displaying ads related to the search query. According to a new blog post by the co-founder and CEO of Tutorspree, Aaron Harris, however, Google’s results are becoming more and more dominated by ads and other Google owned sites.
In the SERPs of many queries you might find two or three advertisements at the top, combined with some going along the side. Then within the ‘organic’ results you’ll see YouTube videos and maybe Google Maps, both owned by the search giant. Other searches might include Blogger pages too, just one more Google owned web property.
According to the blog post only 13% of the ‘above the fold’ space was taken up by actual organic search results for the term “Auto Mechanic”, the rest was advertisements, Google maps and white space. Other search queries return similar results with advertisements and other Google properties taking up the majority of the first page. The queries were done on a Macbook Air with a 13-inch screen.
The problem gets worse when using a mobile device to do a search. A query for “Italian Restaurants” on an iPhone produced four full pages of advertisements and results from Google owned properties like Zagat and Google maps with local results. On the 5th page the actual organic search results start to be shown.
While the blog post specifically focuses on Google, it appears this is a problem with all the major search engines. Bing displays advertisements and results from Bing Maps, though the fact that they don’t own quite as many popular sites means there are typically additional search results from non-Bing related sites.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the user experience is poor because many of the ad results as well as Google owned properties are often useful to the actual user. The concern is whether or not Google is giving priority to their sites because they believe it is actually the best result for the user, or because they want to keep the traffic (and therefore money) on their own properties.
You can see the full blog post HERE.