Google Blogoscoped

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Organic Results for Spam Neighborhood Keywords

Out of curiosity how well the big three search engines – Google, Yahoo and MSN – cope with keywords often found in spam neighborhoods*, I searched for “mesothelioma”, “viagra”, and “debts.” After seeing that quite a lot of screen-space at Yahoo was covered with advertisement instead of organic search results, I switched to a screen resolution of 800x600 (putting the Windows taskbar below the browser).

*If you wonder why I call them spam neighorhood words, try a Google blog search on “mesothelioma.”

Indeed, not a single Yahoo search result page offered any organic search result without scrolling. Instead, it offered sponsored results or Yahoo’s editorial content, like news short-cuts, or special Yahoo Health links. (Admittedly, 800x600 is not the average resolution anymore, nor are the three sample terms by any means representative, but this goes to show how sometimes Yahoo puts a lot more focus on paid results than the organic ones.)

Google in all three instances showed the most organic listings, from three to four. MSN was always showing two results on this limited screen space without scrolling. All sites did quite well in bringing relevant, non-spam information to the top of their organic results.

But see for yourself:

It’s interesting to note the top organic Google result was also the top paid result in Yahoo – both point to Clearly, paid results aren’t per se better or worse than organic results. Still, organic results – or simply, “web results” – are what Yahoo themselves call “the most relevant web pages” in their search basics help. This means they admit on average sponsored links aren’t the most relevant. Also, Yahoo short-cuts can be said to be highly relevant to the term at hand. Still, they lead to yet another Yahoo page, which often contains more Yahoo advertising.

The question here is never whether or not the search engine is greedy (they are all highly commercial ventures); the question is always wether they’re putting a priority on the best possible results, whatever the search engine considers that to be (and just having organic listings obviously doesn’t mean the listings are good). And in that respect, it seems, Yahoo often fails.


Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About


This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!