How To Buy Your Way Up Search Engine Results

from the hmmm... dept

It wasn’t that long ago that I remember the FTC telling a bunch of search engine companies that they were going to get into big trouble if they didn’t clearly label which search results are paid for. It appears that many in the search business ignored this letter and the FTC hasn’t done much, because a new Business Week study shows that paid inclusions in search results are something of a scam. They’re generally not talking about results from Google (which keeps paid inclusions separate). However, other search engines such as Looksmart and Inktomi apparently claim to represent fair searches, but give anyone who paid a boost. There’s even an example where Inktomi contacted a small business owner about doing a paid inclusion. He did the math and realized that he would lose money at the price they wanted, so he declined. After that, his Inktomi ratings dropped off the charts and he disappeared from their searches – while he remained constant on Google. Those who support “paid inclusion” claim that it can lead to better results as well – but don’t give any examples. Meanwhile, Business Week found plenty of examples of the opposite occurring.

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