Sep 11, 2007 114 reads by Navneet Kaushal

Google's 'top spot for sale', informs where according to a Sydney court, "GOOGLE has been selling off the top rankings on its search engine results to commercial partners", instead of out results appearing in SERPs in an organic manner.

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) brought a two-pronged case against Trading Post and Google – including subsidiaries Google Australia and Google Ireland – for potentially misleading consumers.ALso, the ACCC is "taking world-first legal action in the Federal Court against Google Inc."

According to the ACCC-

  • "Google does not do enough to differentiate "organic" search results – those ranked by relevance – from sponsored links which appear at the top of the results page.
  • Trading Post breached the Trade Practices Act in 2005 when it used the names of NSW car dealerships Kloster Ford and Charlestown Toyota as hyperlinks to its own site."

Below is a synopsis of the events that resulted in this suit:

"Trading Post chose the dealership names through AdWords. AdWords linked any search on the dealerships' names to the Trading Post site through a link embedded in the search results.

Trading Post then paid Google "per click", Ms Adamson said. "That's how we found out about it," she told Justice Jim Allsop.

"Kloster Ford was so outraged by the conduct that they contacted the (consumer) advocate."

The second thrust of the case concerned Google Inc's encouragement of this deceptive conduct by allowing sponsored sites to appear at the top of the list of search results, and in the same format as the organic search results, Ms Adamson said.

"Google represents to the world that its search engine is so good that it can rank, out of the multitudinous entries of the world wide web, these entries in order of relevance of the user's query," she said.

"Part of that (reputation is) that it's not influenced by money, it's influenced by relevance."


Justice Allsop asked: "And that's misleading because there would be results put at the top which are placed there not by reference to relevance but because people have paid to have that?"

"Yes," Ms Adamson answered. "

Google's counsel Anthony Bannon called the claim “opaque and repetitious.”

Josh catone has a simple explanation of the whole case for those who are unfamiliar with sponsored links etc.

"That would be like 411 setting up a similar bid-based advertising system, so that when you called information and asked for the number for Domino's Pizza, you had to hear the information for Pizza Hut first. Worse, you wouldn't even be told that it was Pizza Hut's number you were hearing."

The case is adjourned till October 4.

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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