According to a Harvard analyst Ben Edelman, Google is hard coding it own links to get the top positions in algorithmic search.This new study gives weight to the opinion held by many people that Google favours its own sites over others. If what Edelman is saying is true then this raises serious trust issues, moving Google from benign dictator to greedy despot.
The main areas in question are Google’s Finance and Health services. The report states that if you add a comma to the end of certain terms e.g “acne” or “csco” it will alter the results. Here is a screen shot taken from businessinsider.com.
You can clearly see that without the comma you get google.com/health and with the comma the google result gets pushed off into obscurity. Edelman writes:
By directing users to Google services, Google can make its offerings take off in a broad class of services – be it health, finance, maps, video, travel, or otherwise. Any Google business that needs “algorithmic” traffic can get it, free, in huge quantity. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs recognize and anticipate that Google many bury their results as it favors its own services – blunting the incentive to build a business that competes with Google or competes with a service Google might plausibly develop. With Google already putting its Health and Finance sites first, even when user consensus is that other sites are preferable in these categories, it’s easy to envision a future where user preferences and genuine excellence are less important than Google’s rote power.
Now this is all well and good but lets take an objective view of this. Here are Web and Rank’s results for the same searches.
Either Google has quickly removed the hard-coding or Edelman is wrong. It is a well known fact that Mr Edelman is on the Microsoft payroll and maybe be acting out of bias. At the same time it is easy to envision Google taking advantage if its role.