• http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Murky waters indeed. I feel like paid inclusion is counter to all the changes Google is making to improve the search results. Why worry about Panda or Penguin when you can have a “partnership” that helps your website do well organically?

  • http://profiles.google.com/mail987 Chris D

    On my screen contrast I can no longer tell the difference between the Ads and the Organic results

  • matthieucatillon

    this is the most vicious advertising product of all. the “trusted feed” is back…

  • http://twitter.com/DanielDeceuster Daniel Deceuster

    Two things. One, after Penguin all those who said you were a Google fanboy who never spoke ill of them should read this. Second, you labeled the screenshot for hotel results as financial results.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    thanks, got it fixed!

  • http://www.postlinearity.com gregorylent

    i often start with page two of any search

  • http://www.q2im.com/search-engine-optimization Brian MacDonald

    Very interesting, especially from the anti-trust perspective. I’ve noticed increased ads from Ask.com which I found curious that they would literally pay for a presence on a competitor’s search engine…or is ask not considered a search engine anymore? 

  • fjpoblam

    Do you reckon we may still find a search engine that is *not* based on “paid inclusion”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ktripathi Kamal Tripathi

    I am not sure I may have lots of relevant points to make on this. But Google’s explanation of financial understanding to have more data is not totally an absurd one.

    Unless we find a way to say that in context of a particular search, free search was pushed down compared to paid search despite being “more relevant”, vertical specific paid campaign may not be of much attention.

    So when I go to google flight finder, some data may be shared between airlines and google, say more about hospitality, bars, special deals (which may be run during specific times) and others which are subject to change at last moment and operators may not want to wait for google to index it. After all fair indexing policy has its waiting time. So now if I search google.com for a plane ticket from New Delhi to Bangalore (in India), should Google not tell me the cheapest price or special packages?? In this its relevant to me.

    Yes paid inclusion is a bad bad word in publishing/editorial context but a limited overlap may actually be beneficial to everyone. It certainly would be bad if Google charges someone to be even included in search.

  • http://sparkplug9.com/ johnkoetsier

    I find it hard to believe Google couldn’t have structured those data deals a pay-for-performance deals, in which companies pay for clicks. It would be cleaner, could be more easily justified, and would follow the model upon which Google has built its ad empire.

  • arminla

    “the Google executive who oversees all of Google’s search products, earlier this month at our SMX London conference, he explained that Google needed to have paid relationships to gain some data:

    Fundamentally, time and time again, we started noticing that a class of queries could not be answered based upon just crawled data….We realized that we will have to either license data or go out and establish relationships with data providers.”

    I am confused by that paragraph. It seems to me that he (Amit) is saying that Google is the one paying to gain the data, and they are still marking it as sponsored, not the other way around. So in a way Google is marking a listing that they (google) themselves are paying for, as sponsored. which is different than paid inclusion, when it’s the other way around (merchant paying), no? Who is paying who?

  • Carlos Fernandes

    They have been doing this albeit as a trial for banks / financial institutions for well over a year Danny – as per Google Advisor. Started off free and we were contacted by Google to get bank clients in. Then after about 6 months or so they turned it to a paid model. The results were shockingly poor though and even worse than PPC.

    I dont think I would consider this Paid Inclusion though…. not in the same league as Yahoo of 2002-2004 when the paid inclusion was done through Inktomi / Ineedhits. We used to use that quite effectively back then but the issue was that searchers couldn’t tell the difference between the paid results in the SERPs and ones that hadn’t paid. We work for 4 banks that all tried Google Advisor / Google Comparison tool (went through a few name changes at least with their sales people) –  none of them stuck with it. This may go the same way for a lot of paid advertisers- although I think it has more potential in the arena of flights / hotels etc.

  • http://www.isoosi.com/ Carlos Fernandes

    I guess it is then totally different to the Google Comparison / Advisor scenario for financial institution - since they certainly aren’t paying any of those players. They (Google) offered to help with the cost to setup of feeds using 3rd party approved companies – but then once rolling it was a paid model.

  • http://www.walterelly.com/ Walter Elly

    Danny, your post got me fired up. I kept thinking about Google’s original paper “Anatomy of a Search Engine” and the strong words Larry and Sergey had regarding paid inclusion. So I blogged about it: Can Google Save Itself From Paid Inclusion? http://www.walterelly.com/the-internet/can-google-save-itself-from-paid-inclusion/

  • AJtheDJ

    “We realized that we will have to either license data or go out and establish relationships with data providers.”
    Wait.. if Google is the one licensing the data, how it that Google is the one getting paid?  Financial data on Google Finance is probably licensed, but that doesn’t have or need a “sponsored” tag cause Google is the one paying.

    This seems to be a horrible justification for paid inclusions.

    If certain datasets are hard to crawl, specify a schema that data providers can publish specific datasets in so that you can crawl it peacefully without being evil.  Let your algo then determine what data their is meaningful…

    Google, sometimes it’s ok to say that you need to increase revenue, and these search verticals present opportunities to earn $$ beyond ads.  But don’t bullshit users with lame excuses…

  • http://www.neotrucks.com/ Yanbo M

    Same here. But such behavior is expected. At the end of the day Google is answering to its investors not it’s users.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

    Hmmmm, give somebody a problem (Panda, Penguin), then give someone a solution to the problem….not exactly subtle, Google.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

    Exactly. And that’s what they do with Google Shopping – data that’s hard to get and classify? We’ve made a schema for that!

    So now Google say that some forms of data (somehow) can’t be got at for free, and that Google need to be paid to get the data? Makes no sense at all.  Anyone wanting traffic would work hours of their time to conform to any kind of schema Google come up with.

    This is just a lame excuse by Google to make more cash through paid inclusion.

  • Flashman_I

    “Fundamentally, time and time again, we started noticing that a class of
    queries could not be answered based upon just crawled data….
    We realized that we will have to either license data or go out and establish relationships with data providers.” Amit Singhal

    All I can say is what several of you have already said: That this is utter rubbish. I know for a fact that the vast majority of travel providers would give Google free access to their API. They wouldn’t need to crawl, and they can get a lot of real-time data directly from the providers’ servers.

    This is about making money, which is in stark contrast to Google’s usual practice of trying to provide the end-user with the cleanest and best search results.

  • Gagool

    Confusing? Not much surprise there. Google is, after all, a manipulative, public relations driven company whose executives you can never expect to explain anything in an honest fashion.

    (Danny Sullivan’s constant obsession with the “don’t be evil” stuff is getting tiresome; this company has been evil for quite some years now, so realize it finally and move on…)

    As long as the explanation, disingenuous as it is, holds up for the 95% who don’t care to look deeper into it, it works just as fine for Google as any algorithm change that works 95% of the time (it only flushes a couple of thousands of decently run, rule-abiding websites, the 5%, down the drain, but why should Google, the Scale-Worshipping Company, give a sh.. about it).

    There is even a pattern to the self-justifying bullshit Google (through Amit Singhal, Matt Cutts and the triumvirate) treats us to:

    1. Emphatically mention what a huge internal debate Googlers had in the Plex before the decision and how seriously they took all the possible implications

    2. Give a sanctimonious self-quote summing up the Google attitude as “let’s be super/extra/totally cautious/forthcoming/honest/playing-by-the-rules etc.” when introducing the factor that should let Google off the hook

    3. Admit that you can change anything in any way, discard any of your principles any time in the future, but package it as “looking for what’s best for the user”, “best possible model”, “constant innovation” etc.

  • http://am22tech.com Soan

    Thats a nicely written article. Google should not go for paid inclusions as it will simply harm its intdgrity over which it has built its search empire.

  • http://www.educationalgamesguide.com/science-games.html Cacey Taylor

    Google has earned the right to do whatever they feel is correct. But if it isn’t broke than don’t fix it. 

  • stevewalsh1

    it’s a one way slope we are one here and it seems to be getting steeper…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VDEOOOCY27JEVJLBIGKEF6TQRY Mehan

    You need to make clear that Google Does Not Accept Paid Inclusion In the Organic Results.

    This article is what is called “Yellow Journalism”. 

    You are injecting hesitation towards Google.

    The article is so long that the average user will judge based on the title of the article.

    If you are trying to attract readers, fine, but Don’t Be Evil.

    This kind of journalism will only make readers go away in the long term.

  • roger_erickson

      blowback from searchers feeling manipulatedpossible degraded separation of search & product evaluation

    http://marketingland.com/once-deemed-evil-google-now-embraces-paid-inclusion-13138lots of products & services don’t allow their web data to be crawled;  negotiating with them on how to present their data to the public counters open democracy; a delicate subjectimagine the tobacco companies?true, it might work out in truly open markets, where there’s enough pressure to freely advertise & compare distributed feedbackbut …. there could be glaring failures in specific instances where vested interests with enough concentrated power could skew allowed feedback patterns;   campaign finance?  as just one example

  • http://www.facebook.com/phil.chavanne Phil Chavanne

    Exactly a point I was thinking of reading Danny’s article. Google lowers the opacity of the yellow hue over the years to make paid results appear as organic. Monitors are becoming brighter as a trend, and Google’s engineers couldn’t but notice that lower contrast could be exploited in this way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nikoinc Niko Stanford

    This may be true, but I doubt that the little guys will be able to play.

    We already pay to play by outsourcing most of our work to reach the top of the search engines,

    So all in all were double screwed.

    This will only be for the really BIG Companies that can fill the
    Panda and the Penguins Bellies.

    (They have huge appetites!!!) Obviously.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2KD3KYWFFQISMOCK762F6EHZTY david mowers

    At the end of the day if your company has dominant market share you are answering to the public, or you are going to be shut down.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-N-Fran-Farrell/100002337622505 Jack N Fran Farrell

    Seems like it would be a piece of cake for the search industry to adopt a bold green headline for paid stuff, and keep ads on separate columns like newspapers do.

  • steelsil

    It’s evil.  Did you know that google has been giving millions of dollars to ultraconservative causes? That was the harbinger of evil.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anono-Mouser/100003175943008 Anono Mouser

    Evil thrives in an environment of absolute power.  So good luck with that, Google.

    I have noticed that in the last few months the Google search results have become less useful.  Google is still pretty good for looking up HTML authoring information, but all else has become an exercise in frustration.  And the Google shopping results pages have become absolutely useless.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Paid inclusion is a program where you allow payment to be listed in search results without a guarantee of being ranked well. Google does this. It does this within Google Hotel Search & Google Flight Search, where the results are a mixture of free and paid inclusion listings. It does this exclusively with paid inclusion listings for Google Advisor and soon for Google Shopping. The headline is 100% accurate, and I expect any reader who really cares about this issue will appreciate that we’ve covered it in depth.

  • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

    $20 a year to get honest search, anybody? I do a job that was really helped by the pure Google of five years ago. But today, their search really is no better than anyone else. I’d pay for the old Google search. You could even show me ads on the margins. I don’t read them because I don’t have to. I have found a locality in France by a poorly-pronounced phrase in an actor’s line. If they pronounce it badly, how do you find out how to spell it? The old Google would get you the scientific result. Now they seem to be in charging for more and more. I’d rather pay money than watch Internet ads.

  • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

    They’d have a lot of friends in the marketplace if they respected any other business. They start taking photos of the world’s books — yay — but they make a serious move towards authors only when a lawsuit arises. Oh, those old-fashioned copyright trolls! But look, the world’s current literature will be mostly in bits and bytes. And we’re still better off if authors have rights to their work.

  • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

    What I don’t like is that there’s only faint changes in color behind the results. Otherwise, they look like Google’s search results. And they’ve been on top.

  • Breton Slivka

    HAHAHAHAHAHA what a wonderful fantasy world you live in. Can I come live there too?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QV4NTQIVJHHKS3PPCNPMWNWXWI Gordon

    ok – so instead of skipping the 1st 2 links at top of search page – I skip 1st 6 links?  No biggie.  But I may look for another “pure” search engine.  

  • alexpeerenboom

    My comment can apply to both this post and the one on SEL, so I will just make it here. My definition of paid inclusion will forever be the same as Google’s.  I actually used to work for a company that managed paid inclusion through Yahoo Search Submit Express and Search Submit Pro – these were paid inclusion models.

    It really comes down to what is considered search results – everything you see on the page, or just the traditional organic results. So when I read the FTC rules, I see this:

    “Paid inclusion can take many forms. Examples of paid inclusion include programs where the only sites listed are those that have paid [every single result is paid, there are no organic results...at all]; where paid sites are intermingled among non-paid sites [what Yahoo did]; and where companies pay to have their Web sites or URLs reviewed more quickly, or for more frequent spidering of their Web sites or URLs [again what Yahoo did], or for the review or inclusion of deeper levels of their Web sites, than is the case with non-paid sites.”

  • http://reelseo.com/about/grant Grant Crowell

    When it comes to paid inclusion disclosure, I’d also like to see blog hubs (including search-related and other marketing blogs), disclose which non-staff contributors are getting paid for their submissions; or have been compensated by the publisher or parent company in other projects or events — financial or otherwise. (This can also include being paid to speak at the parent company’s conferences, workshops, or other events.) CMP.LY has a good set of graphic tags that can clearly distinguish those kind of professional relationships.

  • http://twitter.com/farhathtweets Farhath

    Awesome share! We Webmaster’s know that Google is genuine even though it crushes with many updates