Is Google being hypocritical?

At the end of last week, Google announced that they had made a change to their algorithm that harmed sites that contained too much advertising above the fold (the content visible without scrolling when a webpage first loads) and not content. On the surface this is a great move. While they state it will only effect 1% of the search results, it is another clear move to reduce the efforts of content farms. But that wasn’t my first reaction.

Beware of quick reactions

My first reaction to this over the weekend when I read it, was outrage and how hypocritical Google was. Doing a search for insurance here in NZ (a popular term) you can see from the screen capture below that only two organic results are showing while there is 7 paid advertising results showing.

In the US, I understand that this same search wouldn’t show any organic results above the fold on my Macbook Air 11 inch. Clearly Google are guilty of the same crime there are now punishing site for, right?

Is it that simple?

As google puts it “… users want to see content right away.” In the case of google the organic results have always been deemed the content while the paid search results the ads. Having ads that take up most of the space above the organic results is definitely wrong according to Google now. But getting those ads isn’t just a case of paying the highest price for a click (though it helps a lot). Google does put some of the search ranking data into determining whether your ad and site deserve that placing. Could you consider these ads content when it comes to Google? I mean, people click on these ads as a way of finding what they are looking for and therefore have used Google for what it is meant for. So can you argue that Google’s ads are content too?

Public opinion

Judging by the rash of initial comments on the blog, many people believe this is another example of “Google is evil”. But on reflection, I’m not convinced. Yes Google are doing a lot of evil-ish things right now but in this case, I think that they’re ads are content, as quite often they do a better job of giving you good information than the organic spam that seems to happen quite often. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not defending Google here. I firmly believe that the ads above the organic results is deceptive and misleading. Very keen to hear what others think on this one so please leave a comment below.