Search Engines Love Themselves – Search Engine Nepotism

In SEO, The Digital Marketing Blog by KelvinLeave a Comment

It seems ages ago in the world of search engine marketing but when Google started & stopped providing quick links to their own products like Blogger & Google Reader in their search results. It caused a big furore, and Google got spooked and pulled the tips.

It got me thinking, While Google had been roundly criticised, but I’d always noticed most search engines tend to feature their own services quite high in their organic results. So I thought a little test might be in order.

I chose eight services which all the big three search companies offered and search for them with a generic keyword, email, RSS Reader etc. The scoring system was simple; Give them one point for first place, two for second and so on. If the engine offered a special tip I’d give them a zero and if they aren’t on the first three pages a thirty. Take the total work out an average and then we would know who was the most nepotistic of Yahoo!, MSN/Live or Google.

Yahoo! has their own version of Google’s now dead tips; “Yahoo Shortcuts” which appear above the organic listings but below the paid listings. Yahoo! might not have received the same criticism as Google which seems strange given how common the shortcuts are. (Though it seems these tips have recently been stripped out of the US results though are still quite common on the UK) Other than Yahoo’s RSS reader MyYahoo, all their result appear in the top three. So Yahoo! certainly seems to favour their services in their own search engine.

Google by comparison aren’t so nepotistic, their slightly higher average ranking for their own services is 6.88. Having said that all their services, other than Picasa and Adwords for “Pay Per Click”, were all on the first page, so it could be argued some favouritism on display. I found the results for “Pay Per Click” quite surprising only appearing in the 13th placed ranking, though Adwords were top of the paid listings. However the debate around Google using Adwords to advertise themselves is a completely different story.

If Google’s results for “Pay Per Click” were surprising MSN’s results were shocking. There average ranking for their services using their own search engine is 26. It’s worth bearing in mind that if they weren’t in the top 30 results I automatically gave them a score of 30 whether they were ranked at 31 or a 100. I don’t know whether these results show MSN trying to be impartial in their results or just a really bad set of search results. For example a search for “email” doesn’t bring up Hotmail but does bring up the Log In page for several private email systems for Universities across the U.K.

I’ve included the results below but it seems Google might be quite bad at favouring their own but Yahoo! are much worse and MSN’s Live Search is verging on useless.


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