It’s hard to answer this question – is Google monetizing its search results too much? I’m not sure. On the one hand, it’s definitely something to look at as a question. On the other hand though, we have to wonder, is this really an issue an SEO specialist has to worry about?
I mean realistically, Google isn’t there to benefit all mankind. They exist to make money and if they can make more money by serving more ads, well, don’t they have a right to do so? Here are two sides of the debate and what you need to know:
Plenty of Ads
Google does place quite a few ads on any given page. Enter “make money online” for example into the Google search page and they do display a large number of ads, both above the organic results and along the right side of the organic results.
The ads are also not readily distinguishable unless you know that they’re there, making them more likely to be clicked as the “first” results on the page. On the other hand, plenty of organic results are displayed above the fold as well.
Compare this with how something Yahoo! used to look, cluttered with ads everywhere (they’ve toned it down somewhat) and you can see that it’s still not too bad in the way they monetize their search results.
Google Isn’t Bound by Law
It’s also important to note that Google isn’t actually bound by law at all to display relevant search results. They don’t have to include anyone in their directory that they don’t want to include.
In fact, at one point, Google was actually sued for having removed a website from their index. The lawsuit was dismissed because it was determined that Google is a private company and can offer up whatever search results they choose to offer. The fact that they happen to have tremendous power over a company’s ability to make money notwithstanding of course.
Google is a Kind of Monopoly
The flip side of the argument of course is that because Google is the 800 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to Internet marketing. Whether they are a private company or not really isn’t relevant to the discussion. The reality of the fact is that they do control a sizable chunk of the online search market and as such they should be subject to closer scrutiny than other companies.
I don’t think we as SEO professionals are the people who should be deciding this or passing judgment on the subject. The fact is that we need Google more than they need any one of us. Unless collectively the world of SEO decided to focus all its efforts on some other search engine, our only choice is to simply live with the 800 pound gorilla that is Google, even if they do monetize their search results too much.