Two Harvard professors claim that their researches on search and search results on Google and Yahoo! search engines return biased results favoring the two search engines. It has been seen that a search on Google returns Gmail, YouTube, etc., which is exactly the kind of algorithms they follow. So much for their claims of using other websites, they return three times more results pertaining to their own sites than would other search engines. The two Harvard professors further stated that in the case of Yahoo!, the search engines interests were more served than that of the users. You could well say that Google seems to be backing away from keeping its word on their search engine results not being biased. Their top results are found to be biased to their own websites.
So does Google favor its own websites? Is it true to say this? The EU is conducting a thorough study on this aspect and to answer these questions. Meanwhile, it is not entirely wrong to say that Google and other such search engines do prefer to project their websites on search engine results. According to an anti-trust campaign by a UK-based company accusing Google of bringing search results of their own websites as top results, this is true when in-spite of algorithms being used to fetch search results. Google’s hard-coding and other biased methods of beating the algorithms in the search, brings in their own websites to feature on top. In directing users to their own websites, a major portion of offerings is taken up be it the health sector, or finance or maps or otherwise.
The European Union’s anti-trust committee looked into the alleged activity of Google demoting rival search results. Google’s arguments that it is difficult to behave as a monopoly over the web and that the Internet does not allow for powerful players to get listed first. While many such allegations have been made over the period, Google steadfastly maintains that its use of algorithms demotes sites with less useful content.
What does this mean to searcher and the marketer? Bing makes the search results look more like Google’s results for paid searches. This does not mean that results are never based on merits. Google, Yahoo!, Ask or Bing’s method would not work if searchers do not click on these results. Or if the searchers start doubting the honesty in the searches then these would be done for. However, this does not only affect large businesses. It affects small businesses too. A search for heart diseases on Bing and Yahoo! bring in results of a clinic and treatment in a certain part of the world with descriptions of the diseases. There is no mention of a Mayo clinic in the search. A survey conducted by Ben Edelman from Harvard, an assistant professor at Harvard, noted that 15% of the times, the Google search engine places its results over those of the others. He also notes that this has reduced considerably over the past years to a small percentage.