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Search Engines Take Their Time Disclosing Paid Links 194

An anonymous reader says "This CNN.com article talks about how most search engines have not disclosed the difference between a paid ad and an 'objective' result. The one exception of course is every geek's favorite search engine, Google. Once again, hooray for Google!" We mentioned the FTCs Mandate that search engines be clear about who's paying for what. Apparently all the non-google engines are on vacation ;)
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Search Engines Take Their Time Disclosing Paid Links

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  • Are you worse off for it?
    • Yes and no. I mean, it's free, so you get what you pay for, but a paid link may not be the most accurate hit on your search. What is your time worth to you, especially if you have to wade through paid links to get to something more accurate (and therefore useful)?
    • No, but you might get a link which somebody paid for instead of a better hit. Perhaps if they hadn't of "paid off" the search engine, then you would have got the other site, which was what you actually wanted..
      The only thing lost I believe is time, and the fact that you have to read a few extra hits everytime..
    • I could be worse off for it. If I want to search for used car reviews [google.com] to find out which cars hold up in value and reliability best, then I don't want to even look at the first two links. You know the ones that are paid for. I am not interested in looking to apply for a car loan right now. Perhaps later after I have made a decision, but then I will look up car loans not until. Google makes my life easier by clearly showing me the paid links allowing me to look for what best matches my query, not what best matches the advertisers demographic.
  • by Telecommando ( 513768 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @11:32AM (#3886103)
    It's not like they're required by law to do it.

    • I would say that ethics requires them to do so, but then I turned on the latest finacial news.

      Ethically they should disclose who pays them to sponser links, but will they; not unless forced too.
      • This is about advertising. There are no ethics in advertising. It's a business. They probably feel like disclosing who paid for the ad is the same as devaluing the ad.
        • This is about advertising. There are no ethics in advertising. It's a business. They probably feel like disclosing who paid for the ad is the same as devaluing the ad.

          This is about business. There are no ethics in business. (Except to enrich executives.)

          They probably feel like if you knew who paid for the search result you wouldn't click it and so you would be STEALING!!!
        • by bravehamster ( 44836 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @11:57AM (#3886309) Homepage Journal
          This is about advertising. There are no ethics in advertising. It's a business. They probably feel like disclosing who paid for the ad is the same as devaluing the ad.

          That's a load of crap. Just because something is a business doesn't mean that ethics are thrown out the window. This is sadly too often the case, but there's a reason you have to take a class called "Business Ethics" to get an MBA. As for disclosing who paid for the ad, that's not what we're talking about here at all. This is about telling people that the link they're clicking on is an ad! In order for the internet to maintain it's usability, Search Engines must be trusted sources of information. That's not the same as saying they aren't allowed to make money. They can make all the money they want, just so long as they aren't screwing with the results to favor someone who dropped some cash in their laps.

          • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @12:31PM (#3886559)
            I'm very close to advertising. I've watched some of the decision making. It's not ethical.

            Ever see a picture of strawberries? Chances are, that strawberry is covered in lipstick to make it an appealing shade of red. Everybody knows that McDonald's burgers look nothing like their picture. Car commercials feature locations that nobody'd ever take the car too. Heck, one showed a Jeep outrun a helicopter up a mountain. Ads, as a general business, are deceptive. Ever see that popup that looks like a message box saying 'you have 1 new message'? Heh.

            If advertising was ethical, products wouldn't be held in such a ludicrously high light. They take whatever means are necessary to get people to come visit, with no regard to whether or not they're being deceptive. This is why search engines must disclose paid links.
            • I am reminded of a Dudley Moore movie called "Crazy People", where Moore's character was sent to an insane asylum for suggesting that advertising use the truth....

              Such gems as "Volvo: We're boxy but we're safe." and "Don't go to France, the French are rude. Come to Jamaica, we're nicer."

              Of course, I am also reminded of the time I ordered food at Denny's and asked for the burger that looked just like the one on the menu. The waitress laughed.


            • An advertising fad I find interesting is that practically every wristwatch ad I ever see has the watch dials set at 10 and 2. Apparently it's so that the watch appears to be smiling at you.

              Of course, doesn't work for digital watches...

            • I've been occasionally kicking around the idea of setting up a website that shows how much of a tangent the ads are skewed from the real thing these days. I was thinking about putting up a picture of the ad right next to an equally-arranged picture of the real thing... I wonder if this would be of any interest?
            • If advertising was ethical, products wouldn't be held in such a ludicrously high light. They take whatever means are necessary to get people to come visit, with no regard to whether or not they're being deceptive. This is why search engines must disclose paid links.


              Also, refer to the same rules which apply to text ads...

              Ever see those ads in Newsweek/Time/etc that look like they're editorials or "cool new product" blurbs but then you notice at the bottom of the page in small, but readable text it says "Paid Advertisement"?
          • there's a reason you have to take a class called "Business Ethics" to get an MBA

            Isn't that class just so MBA's can't plead ignorance (you know, covering the school's legal ass and the like)?
    • I recommend that corporations disclose their true performance in their accounting and sec filings.
  • by MORTAR_COMBAT! ( 589963 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @11:33AM (#3886108)
    ... of a law we just don't need. why does it take the FCC to mandate such a thing, let the market decide. Google is already the defacto search engine, not just because of its tech. but also because of the way it does ads and not being "sold out" as far as search placement goes. why does the government feel this kind of thing requires legislation? if people want a search engine which doesn't sell search result positions, they'll use one. if they don't care, they won't. what's the big freaking deal. save the legislative branch for getting rid of all the stupid laws, not passing new mandates.

    • the big freakin deal is that the average joe user is not able to distinguish search engines which have sold out, and will take any search result they're given to face-value. FCC's effort is to ensure consumers to have the information they need to make the informed choice to go to google.
    • AHEM (Score:3, Informative)

      It's the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission not the FCC (Federal Communications Commission).

      The FTC handles trade, commerce, tariffs, advertising and business practices.
      The FCC handles radio & telephone communications policies, standards and practices.
    • Bottom line: The market (ie, consumers) are idiots. Now I don't mean that in a really bad way... but honestly, when was the last time you saw consumers en masse have any objections to the actions of a corporation stronger then "aww shucks, that's too bad."

      A very large amount of education is required for the market to realise exactly how much power it has in this equation. Too often people assume that business & capitalism is about the big corporations making decisions... but it's entirely controlled by the market. If people would stand up and use that power, 99% of our corporatism problems would go away.
    • another example ... of a law we just don't need. ... save the legislative branch for getting rid of all the stupid laws, not passing new mandates.
      Uhh? No one is discussing a new law here. All the law is in place. Nothing is taking up the time of the legislative branch. This is a FTC issue - they have the mandate and the ability to impose such things. Learn how the system works before you go about criticising it.

    • The FTC is chartered to decide what constitutes fair trade practices in the United States. Since it has been determined that stealth advertising in searches is unfair and deceptive, the FTC is stepping in and making that go away. System is working as designed. (for a change.)
  • is this really a suprise? part of the idea behind what some of the search engines have done with paid-for ads has been to keep the user unaware that they are being targeted. of course, if you are smart enough, you could probably pick the paid-for ads out of the list.
  • Teoma also distinguishes between paid/not paid
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Slashdot them out of buisness! Follow these instructions.!

    Search on paid sites with terms like
    bulk email
    email marketing
    opt in safe lists
    and so on.

    Click on all the paid links. Then do it once every 24 hours. If all the slashdotters do this then a tremoundus 'slashdot effect' will cost the spammers potentionally millions of dollars! Do it now! Spread the word!
  • Credibility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TibbonZero ( 571809 ) <Tibbon.gmail@com> on Monday July 15, 2002 @11:37AM (#3886135) Homepage Journal
    I think that search engines really get users on credibility.
    I know that with Google, I won't get popups, not too many banners, no porn ads.
    More importantly, getting what you search for is important. I know with google, I can find anything almost, and their Cache and Translate features really help out. I know with confidence that Google will give me the results I want.

    So, why are these other Engines killing their credibility by jumping on this bandwagon, and not telling the users what they are getting? Less people will use it, and the service will die.

    In addition: Check out this. [google.com]. It's google's beta of their answer service. Ask a question, and Pay for the answer. Kinda cool if you have a complex or hard to find problem.

    • Re:Credibility (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nyquist_theorem ( 262542 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .mehgellebm.> on Monday July 15, 2002 @12:32PM (#3886566) Homepage
      In addition: Check out this. [google.com]. It's google's beta of their answer service. Ask a question, and Pay for the answer. Kinda cool if you have a complex or hard to find problem.

      Am I the only one that's rather impressed by this? The quality and depth of some of the answers provided to some pretty straightforward or simple questions is remarkable.

      EG, for $20, you can ask "abc television had a story on a lady in cambodia who set up a orphinage and her relationship with a cambodian pilot" and get this [google.com]. Or, for two bucks, you can ask why your site isn't listed on google and they'll tell you [google.com]. Lastly, if you're wondering how to help American businesses expand into Romania, for $30 you can find out [google.com].

      The best part is that they even give you the search terms they used on google, as well as any other resources they used. For those of us that have been using search engines since Altavista was good, feeding a search engine a balanced diet is pretty straight forward - but if you've seen someone new to the net try to work a search engine, you can understand how useful this is - the whole "teach a man to fish" bit, I suppose.

      • Check out Google Labs.. [google.com]
        It's got some pretty cool things, but let's not ./ the voice search.
      • It somewhat reminds me of "The Circuit" from the Greg Mendel trilogy.

        The difference here is the asker sets the price.

        I think this service could have more merit if there was some kind of feedback mechanism, or a bid/ask type mechanism.

        I could see a question I know how to answer, but I'm sure not going to do it for the $5 the people ask. Researchers should have to compete for answers, and then someone should correlate it all and make sure everyone gets paid.

    • Re:Credibility (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Broccolist ( 52333 )
      Google answers was a nice idea, but it's a failure. There have been only 4000 questions since the project started a month ago -- even though for some time it was advertised on every google search result! At an average of (say) 5$ a question, that equates to 20,000$ of total cash transactions, only a fraction of that being revenue for Google. The buying market is obviously too small for this to work. If they have an ounce of business sense, they'll drop the thing soon.

      Lots of similar services have popped up in the past, and they all failed. The problem is that although you have plenty of sellers with too much time on their hands and looking for a cheap ego-boost, there are very few people willing to dish out any money to random people for information they could just as well find themselves.

  • www.gewgle.com [gewgle.com] follows regulations as well... But then again, it just uses google's search :)
  • Well, the story link is taking forever to load, so while I wait to read it I tell you people bout the new search engine I found:

    http://www.alltheweb.com [alltheweb.com]

    Not as fast as google here, but returned me some good links. It makes paid links go on a "sponsored links" session just like google.
    • I've found that alltheweb generaly has more results than Google, but Google is much more accurate.

      ATW works well for those very obscure searches.
    • slashdot has a post about alltheweb a couple weeks ago. quite informative and interesting. although many tried to knock it, being google loyalists, i now find that for the rare strange searches that don't show up on google, or have not-so-great results, altheweb can be the answer.

      alltheweb basically has more sites searched, although google still defends that they have a better algorithm. depends on what you're looking for.

      i must also defend some of the selling of spots. they market to what you want to buy, for the most part. search for pr0n, you get pr0n ads. search for a textbook on hyperconvoluted differential equations, you get a calculus search on amazon. not perfect, but close enough, really.

      • i believe they are the best search engine out there... as I said to the other guy sometimes alltheweb returns me better results but I much more used to googles clean/easy layout, there is thousands of information on alltheweb pages and they are not always clear to understand...

        well, i must agree with you, sometimes those selling spots are kinda usefull, much diferent from those on geocities websites that I rarely look at! :))
    • ATW isn't exactly new. The people behind it, FAST, started out in the late 90's. 1997?
      • well, i just found it last week... :)))

        altough I believe many searches I did on it returned better results than google, I cant get used to its "heavier" look... i mean, google has a much cleaner layout that pleases me much more! :))
  • So, If a porn site pays enough money, the next time i search the words how-to linux I'll be bombarded with pictures of penguins in sex postions. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
  • For I has decided that I would never use any other search engine than Google. I dont know what I would do if they go out of business (touch wood).

    But seriously, I have never found any of the other search engines out there who could hold a candle to google.

    Have you searched for anything on Ask Jeeves recently ?? All it does is split up your question and show you links based on each word. Terrific!

    Its hightime they all decided to splurge some cash on them pigeons.
    • I still love google as well, but Teoma [teoma.com] is decent and fast. Like Google, they don't shove banner ads down your throat, and the prominantly display sponsored links. They also have some cool unique features to refine your search to relavant areas, rather than you having to manually choose the narrowing keywords yourself. Give em a gander.
  • Well, I was pretty sure that Teoma [teoma.com] clearly labels the paid results at the top of their results pages, but when I went to confirm, there was no server there! I guess you're right-- they must be on vacation.
  • Yahoo, although it's format is more limited than Google, also distinguishes between their "sponsored" in the directory listing. However, a lot of the time, many of the top "sponsored" sites are the same that are in the "cool links" category. As a consumer, I'm happy if they just tell me that the search result is due to the fact that a company paid to camp on my keywords.
  • silly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tps12 ( 105590 )
    This whole "debate" ignores a basic truth about the web. Put simply, there is a whole lot of cr*p out there.

    A few companies have put great, useful sites together (Amazon comes to mind...note they're one of the few sites to turn a profit...coincidence?). But for every gem you will find hundreds of ugly, useless pages designed by high school kids between games of Quake and rounds of marijuana smoking.

    When I'm searching for something, one of the best ways to seperate the cream from the crop, as it were, is using a simple rule of thumb: if a site's owner is not willing to invest a few dollars to get it listed in the major search engines, then he has probably not put in enough effort to the site as a whole, and I shouldn't bother.

    For this reason, I love Google. I always ignore the general results and go straight to the sponsors, who by definition have some confidence in their own worth. If a search engine were created that only listed paid advertisers, then it would replace Google, not only for myself, but for most sensible web users.

    In short, this is nothing to get upset about. Search providers that list advertisers in their top search results are doing their users a favor, and should be celebrated with open arms.
    • Re:silly (Score:4, Insightful)

      by liquidsin ( 398151 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @11:59AM (#3886333) Homepage
      You, sir, are high. Or drunk. Just because someone springs the money for more advertising doesn't mean they offer superior products/services/information. The beauty of the web lies in the basic idea that it's a medium for everyone. Anyone can get a message out on the internet. The more that diminishes, the less useful the web becomes.
    • I certainly hope that commment is simply sarcasm, but I have this feeling that it's not. First off I have to agree that there is a lot of cr*p out there, but a good search engine (like google) will help you sort through it.

      There's no reason that some company paying to have their site listed higher means that they have better content. In fact I often search for things such as published computer science papers and random pop-culture facts which no company would pay to rank. When I do search for something like software, which a company may have posted, I often find that free alternatives (which may be unsponsored personal projects) are often good enough, or even better. Rarely do I end up choosing the big companies product (which in your sort of search engine would be listed higher).

      Any search which was solely based on the payment of the listed sites is subject to manipulation by any entity with enough cash. This means that hits which are actually closer in content to what I'm searching for will not be ranked as highly simply because they're personal or University projects.
  • by Anonymous Custard ( 587661 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @11:44AM (#3886209) Homepage Journal
    Is it fair to call yourself a search engine if you're really just an Ad database? What if a company offers their site as a search engine, but actually only retrieves relevant Advertisement-links frmo their own paid sponsor database, and never searches the rest of the web?

    I think we need an official definition of 'Search Engine.' Just like a product can't be certified as "100% Grade-A Beef" without meeting some set standards of ingredients and production process, a 'search engine' should have to meet certain standards as well. Isn't it false advertising if they say they search the web but really search their own Ad databases?

    For now, it'd be useful if each search engine had an About page which describes the type of search they do; be it a monthly crawl, a live search of popular sites or info services, free and paid submitted links, etc, or any combination.

    The only question that should be debated in congress is where the responsibility lies for user-education, sort of a consumer responsibilty clause or free speech thing. Should the sites tell you, or should you figure it out yourself?
  • Here is a snip from an article just written called Google's Integrity [focuseek.com]:

    "This means that with PageRank-sorted results, to be better linked is more important than to contain the search therms -- even though the search therms ultimately have to be there.

    "A hypothetical high-PageRank page that contained the most popular search therms in the title could appear very often in the top 10 pages. We might call this a catch-all page.

    "This is significant because a badly linked page, perhaps a new page, might be popular within the community of pages with the same topic, but eclipsed by the score of an extremely well linked page (linked from pages not containing the word) that also happens to contain the word."

    Read more... [focuseek.com]
  • There's search engines other then google? That's news to me.
  • You mean other search engines besides Google still exist? I have been using Google for so long I can't remember the last time I used another.

    heck.... a lot of my forum posts on various boards are "Google it" when a poster asks a simple question.

    - HeXa
  • Pretty much. Yahoo is a distant second from the last polls I saw. Kinda makes me a bit worried that we have all our eggs in one basket, but I think this and most other of their actions have shown them to be worthy of our trust.

    For now.

  • Although some people have trully altruistic motivations to do things for free (such as GPL'd software) everybody requires at least some kind of income in order to survive and have time to develop and offer free software/search engines/whatever... If you are getting pertinent results, even if they are a bit skewed due to payed "links , you are still beter off than searching for a site unaided. It hasn't bothered me at all. After all it's a business, just like any other, or would people prefer subscription based search engines?
  • Searching for integrity in a dog eat dog world where everyone is scrambling for money is hard. I don't blame the preferential treatment of certain firms, given the state of their revenue streams. Most people block ads, which makes it tougher for ad companies to get through online, and further more, tightens the noose on companies surviving on ad revenue. As long as they give me good search results, why should I bother what ads they show?

  • I mean when you search for something like "decorrelated linear transform" and get the first 10 links to volvo/gm/ford/toyota and that stupid X-cam thingy you can be fairly certain they are doctored results.

    If the search engine you use doesn't return real links, guess what, just guess, oh common guess,


    There are plenty out there [hint: you can probably do a search for them!]

  • You're telling me that search engines get paid to list certain sites higher than others? All these places that have no revenue other than advertisements are doing this and have been all along? Whoooooaaaaaa...I smell a Microsoft conspiracy.
  • Speaking of Google, did anybody else see an ad on Slashdot linking to the Google Appliance [google.com]. It seems like Google is trying to figure out a way to actually make money. Shocking!
    • You can make google even more money by daily searching for such keywords as "mass marketing", "bulk email", "bulk advertising", and then clicking on all of the sponsored links that look like spamcorps. I've used google's adwords feature, and based on how much it's told me it would cost for some keywords, I'd guesstimate those links cost the companies they link to at least a dollar per click for those near the top...
    • Actually they've been in profit since August 2001, over $50 million.

      Their google appliance was their big idea- the google search engine is a loss leader for this, and they make 50% of their profit this way. The other 50% is from advertising.

  • I'm not surprised at all. If I can't find what I'm looking for in Google I assume its not there or I need to be more specific. With yahoo, unless what you are looking for has its own term-matching domain name, the whole first page is paid. If you hang out on the internet long enough, you can catch the "append search term - lather - repeat" links pretty easy.

    Knowing that google is the best out there, why do other users continue to use services like Yahoo and MSN search? Why subject themselves to the pain of never finding what you are looking for?

    The answer: business. How many portals and default home pages send you to a paying search site unless you explicitly change the setting? How many searches does MSN get out of the new versions of IE by default?
  • by 5h4k4-2u1u ( 587853 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @11:55AM (#3886291)
    Apparently all the non-google engines are on vacation ;)

    You mean there are other search engines?!
  • "Apparently all the non-google engines are on vacation"
    I'm assuming you mean "engineers?" (Of course, the engines may as well go on vacation, too. It's not like anyone actually uses AltaVista/Yahoo/etc.)
  • its amazing what running an honest business can do for you (Google), which just happens to work out nicely in the current market... hmm.. I wonder if others will catch on
  • Wouldn't it be even more worrying if the reverse happened. If a search engine was paid to NOT display certain links? The internet is supposed to be this free haven of information, but the only way to find anything is through someone elses search engine, most of wich apparantly for money are willing to be selective in their searches.

    Just how much would bill pay to have a links to bug tracking lists sorted at the bottom?

  • This is the old question of doing business with Integrity. It looks like for many companies it is more efficient to spend marketing dollars on building a good image while maintaining business practices which would shame a used car salesman.

    On the other hand, Google builds their entire model on integrity...
    - Indicated paid links
    - Ad words shown are based on user's interest
    - The main service, fast and accurate web search, remains #1 priority and revenue model is built as a helpful supplement to rather than an obstacle to meaningful results.

    ... and is currently the number one in the world of web search engines.

    Meanwhile statistics show that users close pop up windows before they load, and almost never click on ad banners.
    For once, statistics are correct.
    • I agree ideally integrity should/will lead to long term success and stability. Many corporations have build substantial businesses by making a good quality product year after year. That is where I invest my money BTW.

      However when company execs can make a fortune quickly by hyping stock and making good quarterly returns they do. Why slog away year after year and have a good stable business, when you can make just as much in a few years bending the rules and acting irresponsibly?

  • We'll all be doomed if the rumors of Yahoo buying Google [economist.com] (last paragraph) turn out to be true!
  • now wouldn't that be a new low
  • liberal nonsense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by groves ( 584036 )
    "It's important for people to know whether or not their search results are being bought by big business," said Gary Ruskin, the group's executive director.

    how is this harming consumers? the very notion of profit is evil to these people.
    • "It's important for people to know whether or not their search results are being bought by big business," said Gary Ruskin, the group's executive director.

      the very notion of profit is evil to these people.

      Well, Google is the most popular search engine, and they don't rank results by advertisement and that in itself should tell you something. And Google is very profitable indeed.

      how is this harming consumers?

      Tons of ways:

      - its a form of lying (the best MATCH is supposed to be at the top, not the most expensive advertisement)

      - it loses the best match in a forest of advertisements, reducing the usefullness of the engine

      - its to do with fitness for purpose; a search engine should search, not advertise

      - its to do with not pissing off your users

      - its to do with making bigger profits from having more users - its to do with not going broke (Google has been very profitable since August 2001, hence they're more likely to stick around)

      - it's to do with cluttering the screen, poor readability, adding advertising lies and bullshit

      Don't get me wrong, profit is essential. But so is water. Drinking water is good, drinking more water is often better. Drinking too much water will kill you and stop you drinking ever again.

      Past some point, too much pursuit of shortterm profit will reduce your longterm total profit. You reach a local maxima, and you get stuck. The people behind Google were able to see past the 'raising the link for money idea' and see where the real money can be made. It's nothing to do with liberalism at all.

  • Of course, the amusing thing is that according to the previous story, "The FTC said it will send the letter to AltaVista, AOL Time Warner, Direct Hit Technologies, iWon, LookSmart, Microsoft and Terra Lycos." That means that Google never got a letter telling them to comply. Of course, they already complied anyway.
  • by Outland Traveller ( 12138 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @12:27PM (#3886535)
    In the last few weeks I've noticed a disturbing trend when using google. I'll search for something using keywords, and the page that google spits back is 50% full of links to third-tier sites that read "Advance search for [your keywords]". If you go to those pages they are full of ads and do not have the information you're looking for. It looks like someone found an unfortunately effective way to poison google's results.
  • (standard disclaimer, flamebait, karma to burn, yadda yadda...)

    The yellow pages (commercial phone directories) have been doing this since forever. If you want a big ad for your business in the directory that everyone uses to look up businesses in their area, you pay for it. Pay for your listing - people see it. Why should search engines be any different? They're not public services, they're businesses. This isn't 1995, when altavista was just some research project or something. People need search engines, companies provide the service, and they have to pay for it somehow. I don't see the problem.

    That being said, Google kicks ass, and I'd love to see more companies use their model, or at least their sense of utility and aesthetics.
    • You can easily tell when someone buys an add in the yellow pages, they always look different to the regular listings (usually bigger, or in a different colour). When newpapers run 'advertising features', they have to mark this because it's not so obvious - you have something which the uninformed might think is a regular page. That's exactly what the FTC is asking for here. It's ok to advertise, but it's not ok to hide the fact.
  • It's nice that the FTC mandated distinguishing paid results from metasearches, but the worst problems with search engines are phony metatags. Frequently searching for CDs, MP3, Music, or anything other than porn brings back a porn site at the top of results. It's deception. I could mention an offender which I got delisted by writing letters, but that would only give them free advertising. The FTC should treat use of phony metatags an act of fraud, and respond accordingly.
  • by bareman ( 60518 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @01:25PM (#3886906) Homepage Journal
    Lately using Google I've been more annoyed to find advertisements at the top of the results list when I have been searching for a quoted string.

    Try searching for the following quoted string: "building your own electric car"
    and the first link returned today is for autoweb.com. Now, if Autoweb had a resources for building an electric car I would have no problem with their paid ad showing up. Hell, make it first on the list and make animated arrows to it if you like.

    BUT you see, autoweb has nothing on the page about ELECTRIC cars, much less about BUILDING a car of any type. No, all they have is a paid advert that hits on the word CAR.

    Come to think of it (yep) I just tried "Baby you can drive my car" and there they were. Top-o-the list.

    Here's more; you can't even defeat the advert buy specifically trying to exclude the ad by "-buy" or even "-autoweb".

    Please GOOGLE gods, return to the good old days where a quoted string only returns sites that have the entire quoted string.

  • One of the big problems with slashdot creaming over google all the time (such as dismissing alltheweb's crawl size) is that Google pays for banners on slashdot. Do we have a conflict of interest?
  • I want to know which of those yellow page entries are paid for, damnit!

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!