SEO marketers often bemoan the fairness of search engines in promoting their own products ahead of the competition. Recent research does suggest there could be some validity to such claims but, it is not as bad as many may think.
A recent study, conducted by Josh Wright, a professor at the George Mason University in Washington DC and the International Center for Law & Economics looked at the issue.
Focussing on Bing and Google, there were indications that both did return links to their own sites for a significant proportion of searches. However, these were not as high as many may have initially thought.
In the case of Google, 6.7 per cent of queries returned a primary organic result relating to a Google product.
For Bing, things were nearly double this figure with more than 14 per cent of queries listing an organic Microsoft result first.
However, the study indicated that whilst this could be construed as algorithmic favouritism, it is more to do with the popularity of the products and their relevance.
As businesses in their own right, it could also be argued that it is perfectly fair.
To put this in perspective; I have personally never seen a tin of Tesco’s own baked beans on sale in a Sainsbury’s supermarket or on sainsburys.com. However, I can quite happily find information about Google search on Bing, and vice versa.
Whatever the rights and wrongs really are, the study did conclude that companies investing in coherent White Hat SEO strategies will still rank highly in organic results. Once again, it appears that relevancy is the king maker it is always touted as being.