Google’s Native Advertising Problem

I’ve noticed that Google’s search results are full of a lot more spam recently. When I scroll past the page of ads that Google itself places at the top of the results page and jump straight to the so called ‘organic’ search results, I find more than more that these links turn out to be nothing more than thinly veiled advertisements themselves.

In one example, after finding out my new router supports connecting my entire network to a VPN, I searched Google for the model name and the word ‘VPN“. The second result was an article that was quick point out that my router doesn’t support Express VPN, but I should probably just use it anyway. There was of course a big fat button linking to Express VPN. Using the excellent wheregoes.com I was quickly able to verify that yes, this was a referral link. This article exists for no other reason than to make money from confused users.

Minutes later I searched for how to synchronise to Macs without using iCloud. The 2nd result was this page by MacPaw.

The article has runs through some rudimentary waffle about how cloud synchronisation works, and then about halfway down the pages suddenly breaks into an advert for their product “CleanMyMac X”. An app that is completely unrelated to file synchronisation.

While I’ve nothing against so called “inbound marketing” articles, they can often have genuine value (Digital Ocean’s vast array of tutorials for configuring Linux servers are some of the best on the web), it’s clear that Google has a big problem on its hand in distinguishing the cruft from the genuinely useful content.

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