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Tag: Danny Sullivan

Can Google Save Itself From Paid Inclusion?

by on May.30, 2012, under The Internet

This post is in response to Danny Sullivan’s Marketing Land article, “Once Deemed Evil, Google Now Embraces ‘Paid Inclusion’.”

I can clearly recall the first time I read Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s 1998 Stanford-published paper, The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine. I reveled in the idea they shared at the end, buried in the ominously named appendix, Appendix A: Advertising and Mixed Motives. The idea was simply that paid inclusion (advertising) made for a bad search engine and that the best search engine would have none. This beautiful and simple idea meant that the playing field should be level when it comes to search. That ideas, not money, are the way.

Their idea, that any person could create great content and appear at the top of search results, and only better content should be able take away their position, was amazing. It came at a time when you had to really pay to play with the likes of Altavista, Lycos, etc. When Google came on the scene and said “anyone can play” it was truly revolutionary and ultimately was something that helped Google change the world.

Now, years later, Google finds itself on the paid inclusion path. Though they have taken just a small step, it is a very bad move. Paid inclusion is a slippery slope for a public company like Google. As they are under pressure to continue their growth rate, I would expect them to take more steps down this paid inclusion path in order to find additional sources of revenue. If they continue down this path then we could be looking at the end of Google as we’ve known it.

They need to stop this now. Google needs to abandon the paid inclusion path. I implore Larry, Sergey and all of Google to stop for a moment and re-read their own words. Perhaps in them they can find the right direction and recapture some of the momentum they have lost.

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