Google's Paid Inclusion Model

Jan 13th

BusinessWeek published an article about small advertisers being priced out of AdWords. Given quality score adjustments that may boost ads for sites which have strong trust associated organic SEO, it is prohibitively expensive for many businesses to use AdWords unless they are already well trusted in organic search.

What Types of Sites Rank?

The sites which are already well represented in organic search typically fall into one or more of the following groups

  • old

  • has many signs of authority (new and old links, repeat visitors, brand related search queries)
  • associated with a rich powerful offline entity
  • unique & remarkable

News Sites as God

News sites tend to fit all 4 of those categories, plus get additional easy linkage data by writing about current events and being included in select indexes like Google News, and have many other advantages. The bias toward promoting large trusted sites which are already overrepresented in the organic results starts to look even uglier when news outfits are

From the WSJ:

Britain's famously competitive newspapers have a new battleground: Google. ... Newspapers are buying search words on Google Inc. so that links to their Web sites pop up first when people type in a search. ... Paying to put their stories in front of readers by buying Google ads -- a practice the papers say has intensified in recent months -- is different from past marketing efforts

In spite of Google claiming otherwise, there is a direct connection between buying AdWords and ranking in the organic search results. If a news article is read by a few more people and gets just a few more links off the start it will become the default article about that topic and acquire many self reinforcing links.

Why Would Google Trust News Sites so Much?

  • Most news sites have some type of editorial controls and are typical hard for the average webmaster to significantly influence.

  • Most people think what they are told to (and the media is who tells us what to think about). Thus if Google returns a rough reflection of what we should think they are seen as relevant and unbiased.
  • Most news sites are associated with economic macro-parasites - not micro-parasites. Google is far more afraid of death by 1,000s of small cuts than by trusting any given domain too much.
  • It is mainstream media which makes up a large foundation of Google's index and power. Google is killing off many of the inefficient monopoly based business models, and is thus trying to throw the media scraps to keep the media bought into Google's worldview.
  • It is easier for Google to organize information if they allow their algorithms to cause their search results to parallel offline authority structures.

Crawl Delay Has Cost:

Danny Sullivan recently commented about how Digg outranked him for his own headline because his website is newer and less trusted than Digg.

Google has become less willing to regularly crawl and rank sites unless they are aged or have a significantly developed editorial link campaign associated with them. If your site gets indexed slower then your content needs to be much more remarkable to be linkworthy, thus if have not built up significant trust this is a penalty / cost you need to overcome.

Sure Google may say they do not offer paid inclusion, but requiring a huge authoritative link profile or years of aging is associated with costs. They may not have paid Google directly, but Google's algorithms do require that most people pay, in one way or another.

And if you can't get past that crawl delay problem, you can always buy AdWords.

Published: January 13, 2007

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Comments

January 13, 2007 - 2:50am

"If a news article is read by a few more people and gets just a few more links off the start it will become the default article about that topic and acquire many self reinforcing links."

I would call that an INDIRECT connection between buying AdWords and Ranking... and I don't think it applies to most AdWords buyers, but it is pretty smart for the newspapers to do...

I don't think they really need or care about the links, they just want page views because they can buy some views at a lower price than they sell them at.

"Google is killing off many of the inefficient monopoly based business models, and is thus trying to throw the media scraps to keep the media bought into Google's worldview."

That's rather convoluted. Craigslist is much more harmful to the media, and the overall march of progress is the biggest factor hurting media. But it is tempting to add that Google is killing off the "inefficient monopolies" in order to take their place as an efficient monopoly.

Besides, you are part of the consipiracy on this, cause I can't figure out a way to get a link on ThreadWatch ! :)

January 14, 2007 - 2:17am

Spot on Aaron. I agree 100%.

January 15, 2007 - 8:29am

I got hit really hard by the quality score. It's not just quality organic results, it's also HUMAN editors going in and deciding whether a site is a spam site or not. I appealed several times for a redefinition of my site, but I still need to pay $10+ for very specific keywords.

But now I advertise on Yahoo and life's much better.

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