Google has started to bring up comparison results for credit cards and finance in a very controversial move. Has Google just become the most powerful affiliate site on the web?
Don’t be evil
Google has a mantra ‘don’t be evil’ but do they practice what they preach?
The reason so many people use Google above other search engines is the quality of the websites they display and relevance for particular keywords. A lot of people trust Google to give them relevant results and won’t display sites that are untrustworthy.
Organic results in Google’s search engine are crawled and their positions are determined from relevance for particular keywords. You can also see sites that get good positions using Adwords, this is a sponsored campaign where the site is bidding and paying per click, however some relevance is put down to the quality and relevance of the site, but the more you bid the better your chance of displaying high up in Google’s listings.
So these are ways in which sites can be displayed in Google’s search engine pages, of course Google local, shopping, image and news all play a big part but these are also determined through some sort of relevance.
Some of the recent updates, such as Google local and Google shopping feed, are essentially copying business models of other websites and knocking them out of the running. This trend seems to be getting worse, not only are Google’s results skewered at the moment from recent updates, but now we are seeing comparison results being pulled straight into the organic pages.
These results are coming straight in below the sponsored ads and completely dominate any organic listings, which on my computer are below the fold.
This in effect is acting as the most powerful comparison site on the web, normally you can Google the keyword ‘compare credit card’ and you would see plenty of comparison websites that offer the best deals and earn money from these referrals and commissions.
By showing these comparison results in the search engines this makes the need for comparison sites obsolete as customers can eliminate one click and improve conversions. This is a great way for Google to make additional money but not great for comparison websites and everyone employed by them.
Do as Google says; not as they do
There have been many updates to Google‘s algorithms and the sites that have been hardest hit have been affiliate websites and sites that make money through above the fold advertising.
The reasons behind these penalties, were, that adverts do not enhance the user experience therefore any site with above the fold advertising should not do as well in the search engines. That is a really good explanation as to why all the affiliate websites are now struggling but why then can Google justify so many above the fold ads in its own pages?
I guess it all comes down to money!
Has Google gone too Far?
No body really thinks that Google is ‘evil’ or worse than any other privately owned company but this move looks like it could be the start of complete dominance. Google is wiping out the competition and this will cause job losses. You cannot blame Google for wanting to make money but is it doing so at the loss of its own reputation?
At the moment this comparison scheme seems to just affect credit cards and finance but how long before they roll it out to all sorts of other products like insurance and energy? Will they stop there and start comparing supermarket prices?
By using their position as the leading search engine, they are in fact taking advantage of consumers by providing this service in return for compensation. I am not sure if people will realise this move and stop using Google or this move will just cement the companies position as one of the most successful businesses in the world.
I will leave you with this one thought though…
Over the years there has been opposition to News Corporation having control over too much of the press and media; but if most people use Google, who can control what websites, news, businesses and even images are displayed and not displayed, should we not be a little nervous?