Saturday, June 2, 2012

Paying for Search Results

     There was a time when search results were based on popularity, relevance, and possibly location, however Google is changing things up and allowing companies to pay for search results. Google had claimed that they "believe it is important for users to have access to the best available information and research, not just the information that someone pays for them to see." (Gizmodo) Except now things are changing, and Google can no longer pride themselves on this quality, their recent changes within the company are being reflected on our search engines.
     Google will now be compensated by companies when their search results generate more profit, Kyle Wagner explained that companies like Delta Airlines will compensate Google when flight tickets are purchased through a Google referral. Some argue that this is only fair, that other companies operate in the same manner and it is surprising that Google took so long to make this shift in their business operations.
     However, many will find this payment for search results as worrisome and unfair. We can think of this in the context of journalism and news-making. There are many bloggers out there who have made a name for themselves; offering reliable and relevant topics and stories and have earned deserved popularity through their hard work. Many bloggers find themselves writing independently from their homes, and do not work for large news organizations as regular journalists. This new way of creating search results can put some of the bloggers off the map for new readers, and make it very difficult for new bloggers to even get noticed.
     When we have big companies with major funding behind them, it is obvious they will hand over the cash for the internet hits, especially when they are relying heavily on their internet revenue. This is not only frustrating to those who do not have the money to pay for search results, but also to the consumer who is stuck in this never-ending cycle of advertising.
     Large news-making industries will all pay to have their online articles pushed into the top search results, potentially allowing for these news-makers to shift their focus from quality reporting to simply paying for the best spot in the search engine.
     Meanwhile, we will have plenty of quality work buried in the pages blanketed with big business. Blogs had been a pride for citizen journalism, a way to prove to the hot shot journalists and big news-makers that their voice was just as relevant and just as loud, they were a way to prove that money wasn't everything and that even the small guy could have an impact. Not that Google's business adjustments will transform this dramatically, but we cannot ignore the fact that it might.
     The everyday blogger will no longer compete with the New York Times on a level playing field, the scales will shift and it will be, as always, in the favor of the dollar bill. Bloggers will need to find new ways to make themselves more noticeable and work harder to lock in their readers with each posting.
     With search results being based on money instead of relevance or popularity, we can see how this will impact us as the consumer as the consumer as well. We will need to remind ourselves that our search results will no longer be fair ones, we will just have to take the extra time to flip through a few pages to find the quality work we so love to explore.

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