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Google Engages in Unethical Site Discrimination

Jeff Williams [PersonRank 0]

Saturday, August 25, 2007
15 years ago3,446 views

Please report the company in this article:

As a provider of quality search results, the belief has been held that Google's loyalty comes first to those searching for information and second to businesses advertising their wares through the engine. We have all heard stories of sites banned from the engine for spamming. With no means of contesting such a decision, removal from the Google index can destroy a business all but eliminating the majority of traffic instantly. In most of these cases... THATS A GOOD THING.

But what happens when Google discriminates and allows advertisers at large companies to get away with these same spamming strategies while banning their smaller brethren from the engine? What happens when these firms stuff the engine with thousands of links making it more expensive for smaller sites to compete? Would Google, the benevolent lord of the Internet, allow such anticompetitive and seemingly unfair conditions to exist?

In a word....YES

Don't believe it?

Perhaps the best example of this is Wolseley PLC. A multi-billion dollar building supply distributor with the web presence Improvement Direct and their "network" of stores engage in wholesale search engine stuffing. That lovely practice of creating multiple sites that all sell the same products, stuffing Google with indexed pages for your products and reducing links for competitors as a percentage of search results.

In many instances, customers probably do not even know they are price comparing and shopping the same companies wares.

Want to buy a kohler sink?

The same Kohler sink on and

http ://
http ://

Lighting? The same Kichler Lamp on and

http ://
http ://

Even the same images, categories, text and layout on... and

http ://
http ://

How about a tankless hot water heater?
The same Rheem tankless unit on and

http ://
http ://

You dont have to look very closely to see that between all the stores in their "network" there are more than 150,000 duplicate products. Just for lighting products they have three sites selling the same products in the same categories with the same brands and the same user interface. Indeed, it is one of the best examples of Google engine stuffing on the web.

This begs the question.... Why would Google allow such spamming to continue?

In a word? MONEY

Searching on the google engine, you will find that these guys are heavy Google advertisers, probably spending hundreds of thousands of dollars anually. Why would Google ban such a profitable customer?

The truth is that in many instances it is easier for Google to simply take the money, ignore the spamming and continue to talk out of both sides of their mouth by punishing smaller sites for similar spamming. This actually makes it nearly impossible for smaller advertisers to compete unless they engage in similar unethical behavior. Even if they do, they will probably be banned, so this discrimination is actually anti-competitive.

As investors in this medium of commerce we can only continue to file complaints against unethical companies and try to pressure Google into changing their policies and enforcing them fairly.

(make sure to find more unique examples to let them know how bad these problems are)

[Unlinked links, just in case. -Philipp]

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