Forced Verticals: You Are Not Spam if You Are the Only Option Available

Google opts to not show AdWords ads above the search results unless they deem them exceptionally relevant to the query, with the ads proving that relevancy with a high CTR. With Google's other verticals, they have a database of options which is

  • much shallower
  • spammier
  • less efficient
  • with fewer signs of relevancy and trust

Markets start out ugly then you try to make them more efficient as they develop. Google tries to make some of the verticals become relevant by pricing them at free and forcing exposure upon them, front and center at the top of the search results - hoping competitive market forces and market feedback will drive the new verticals toward relevancy, and a market leading position they can charge for. You rarely see Google charge for basic level usage of something if they are the #2 or #3 player in the market. First they want to buy the market leading position by giving it away, then start charging for it.

In some cases they are willing to hold these new verticals to a much lower standard than their paid ads in an attempt to win marketshare. Google tracks CTR on Google accounts and knows most of the people searching for SEO Book click on, but they still show their product search ads for that query:

While some marketers paying Google for traffic can not pay enough to keep their ads live, here Google is giving away traffic. As a marketer I see this more as an opportunity than a reason to pout. How hard is it to get inside these other verticals? Probably a lot easier than you think, and many people who are just entering the PPC game will be too lazy to enter the other markets until they are proven. When you see Google rolling out other projects know the early bird gets the worm.

Published: December 19, 2007 by Aaron Wall in


December 19, 2007 - 5:54am

I'd be kind of ticked that they were doing this on my own sites, especially for branded searches, which most of the SEO book ones are, if we're honest with ourselves.

BTW, off-topic, but when was the last update to the book? I downloaded my copy last December and am wondering if I've missed any important updates?

Edit: It kills me how accurate and intelligent your business strategy analysis is on these things. I can't find all the examples I've read here, but once again, you're spot on Aaron! (I was actually just crediting you on this post about using UGC to get pages out of the supplementals.)

December 19, 2007 - 6:32am

Hi Bookworm SEO
I last updated SEO Book this November.

Thanks for the kind words on business strategy stuff. I think it is just a bit of history repeating itself. A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History is not an easy read, but after I read that book, I became a guy who saw patterns in everything. I really need to start reading more books again soon.

December 20, 2007 - 4:39am

Aaron, I've seen you mention A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History a few times. I'm not afraid of a difficult read and you may have just convinced me it's time to put together a wish list at Amazon. Is increased pattern recognition the main thing to get from the book?

I'll echo Bookworm's compliment to you about business and marketing strategy and analysis. These have been my favorite posts since I fist started reading here. I like the mix, but the more theoretical (I guess that's the best word for them) posts are the ones that have the most impact for me.

Igor The Troll
December 20, 2007 - 5:07am

Aaron I see this as a possible exploit as well.

Someone Website selling electronics, cloked a keyword PHSDL, and Google was serving PHSDL elictronics for that Website. When I went to that Website, they did not have PHSDL for description for their product that they are selling. But there was PHSDL keyword at the buttom of the page.

When I refreshed the page the PHSDL keyword was gone. So apperntly PHSDL keyword is inserted to the page only when Google is the refering Website.

Now I had these Adsense ads rank higher than PHSDL Website.
Being that the violating Website likes PHSDL so much, I just retaliated and placed their domain on PHSDL Malware domains list.

A few days later the Adsense disapeared. Guess they do not like PHSDL list so much..:)

Anyway the moral here is that, yes you do get free advertising for niche verticals, but it can also be exploited by unscrupelous people.

To you it would not cause harm because you have a high ranking PR Website, but for someone with a lower PR can be costly.

If a site with a higher PR than yours puts SeoBook on their page, they will steal the trafic from you...

But what would happen if it was Gorilla Warfare Attack, where your competetor wanted to smeer your Evangelical image?

They can place SeoBook keyword on a very negative site, right?

So, there is no free luch!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


December 20, 2007 - 6:38am

Hi Steven
I don't think that book aspires to be exclusively about pattern recognition, but it tries to compare the history of launguage, economics, and societies to states of energy and matter.

December 20, 2007 - 6:44am

Hey Aaron, this is Gab Goldenberg - we've been chatting and emailing on and off, just fyi. It's late so I can't go through all the notes you have on the book, but it sounds like a good read.

Speaking of good reads, you'll probably enjoy Small Giants, by Bo Burlingham (formerly of Inc and other magazines).

December 20, 2007 - 7:23am

Hi Gab
Welcome to the site. It has been nice chatting via email too. :)

December 20, 2007 - 9:20am

Thanks Aaron. Now that I see you say it here I remember you saying the same before about the book. Sounds pretty interesting. I generally enjoy reads about the history of anything. Long, long ago I earned my way to a degree in history.

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