Disclosure: Renegade Futurist sells paid link advertisements.
This article explains how paid links are not actually the way well financed interests manipulate Google. They have more insidious ways to manipulate search results.
Paid Links and Sponsored Conversations are minor problems compared to SERP-engineering of this magnitude – however, what can really be done about such tactics? This isn’t just a matter of paid links – it’s the wholesale creation of a large ‘paid network,’ tied in with real world, offline events optimized to manipulate search engine results.
And keep in mind that the example above is just one piece of one small and relatively primitive operation (from ‘way back’ in 2006, and privately funded). This is the merely the point of the tip of a huge, honking iceberg. Reputation Management SERP manipulation will only get more subtle, powerful, and pervasive, as more and more money is put behind the effort and as tactics are honed.
In the face of the power of money, does Google really have a hope of keeping the ‘World’s Information’ free from massive “inaccuracies and inequities”?
And how hard will they really try?
I Want to Believe – in the Internet’s Great Promise, and in Google’s commitment to “Not Be Evil” while “providing unbiased, accurate, and free access to information.” I really do. So if there are any White Knights of Truth in the Googleplex, keep up the good fight. Rage, rage against the dying of the light …
But sadly, it’s difficult to reasonably hope that the internet can fare any better against corruption than any other information medium so far has. Print, radio, television … all almost totally co-opted by power and money. The internet, giving citizens the ability to search for information rather than merely have it fed to them, has such potential to break this trend – but only if that very ability to seek and find the truth is not, itself, corrupted.