Lesson 5.5: Occasional misconceptions

Access Lesson 5.5 slides here


Sometimes we will hear about misconceptions or misunderstandings in how search, Google, or the Web work. I want to address a few of these very quickly.

1. You cannot buy a better ranking

The first and most common misconception is that you can buy your way up in the organic search rankings. As Matt Cutts discussed several lessons ago, we go through a lot of trouble to make sure that doesn't happen.

2. A Google service logo on a site does not mean Google has vetted it

One thing you'll sometimes see on a website is a little Google logo that allows you to +1 a site, or a Google Custom Search box:

Figure: A Google Custom Search box.

Sometimes websites will use that tool as a way to index their own sites so that you can search the contents of their site from the front page of that site.

In both cases, although the Google logo or the Google term is used there, it is not us vetting that website, company, service or product. It is simply a tool that they are using, just as you would use a nut and a bolt to construct a larger building. That's not a warrant for the building by the company that makes the nuts and bolts. Likewise, Google is providing this as a tool for people to use, not vetting the content of that web page.

3. Google ads on a page does not mean Google has vetted it

The same sort of argument also holds for Google ads. We do advertising on websites as part of our business. It is an important part of our business, but it is also important to not misconstrue that Google placing an ad on a site is the same as Google vetting that site. We run advertising just like many other companies run advertising. It is not the same as saying that this is an exceptionally good product. It is just advertising for that product.

4. Rank is not equivalent to authority

As Dan mentioned before, one thing to be informed about is that rank order, that is, the sequence of results on the search results page, is not the same as an opinion on authority. It is not the same as saying something is credible. So it is important to keep these two concepts straight. Authority, credibility, and rank order—they are really somewhat different ideas. You can use Google search to help you understand a topic more deeply and determine what kind of results are credible, what kinds of results are authoritative. But the fact that one appears above the other in the search results list is not the same as that idea.

It is important to understand that when you are doing a search, you're really looking through the index of all the content that Google has crawled over the past period. When we evaluate those pages, what we're looking for is the best, most relevant match to your query—not necessarily trying to evaluate whether or not a company will go broke in the next six months, or whether or not that service is great, or whether or not this information is credible. That's up for you to decide, and we'll do our best to get you where you need to go in order to understand that.

Power Searching with Google © 2012 Google, Inc.  (9/9/15 DMR)