Hypocrisy in Search Engine Results

Jeremy Zawodny (of Yahoo!) rips RayG (of Feedster) a new one for asking if search engines could increase revenues by inserting affiliate links into their search results.

Jeremy states (emphasis mine):

“If a search engine dropped in affiliate links in their untainted reuslts, they’d suddenly be lableing a lot of their links as “sponsored” or something similar, wouldn’t they?”

And while I agree with Jeremy (Ray, this would only be acceptable, IMO, if it were properly disclosed, an opt-in option for end-users who wanted to help support the search engine co, etc), there’s more than a laughable amount of hypocrisy in his statement.

Why? Because Yahoo!’s “organic” search results are anything but untainted. Yahoo! (unlike Google, MSN, and Ask Jeeves) offers paid inclusion, via its Site Match offering. Most of us in the industry know it; most users don’t.

So JZ, can we assume your stance presages a policy change at Yahoo!?

(Note, to be fair to JZ, he posted his comments on his own blog, which means his views are his own and not that of Yahoo. I’m just curious as to whether Yahoo is finally ready to give up the paid inclusion ghost.)

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