Did Google Manipulate Search Results to Increase Ad Revenue?

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Ongoing antitrust lawsuit exposes Google exec emails

There’s a lot of us relying on Google to search online. As we’re an SEO company for law firms, and you’re likely a legal professional with a website you want to rank higher, our dependence on Google is even stronger than the average person.

We haven’t really stopped to think about Google’s apparent monopoly on internet searches and how we’re at the mercy of its algorithm and the results the search engine displays — until now.

If you haven’t heard the news, the U.S. Justice Department is putting Google’s lion’s share of the search market under scrutiny in a federal antitrust lawsuit filed this year.

Last month, the VP of Google Ads, Jerry Dischler, admitted during the trial that Google subtly had been increasing its ad bidding prices anywhere from 5 to 10 percent to boost revenues, as covered by Search Engine Land.

An email from 2019 leaked as part of this investigation shows us a concerning idea being floated out there to put Google Ads’ profits ahead of everything else.

The same Ads executive asks for “ranking tweaks we can push out very quickly”, noting the pressure put on Google if “our sales team doesn’t get its quota for the second quarter in a row and we miss the street’s expectations again”. He states their “best shot at making the quarter is if we get an injection of at least [redacted]%, ideally [redacted]%, queries ASAP from Chrome”, Google’s internet browser.


An article from Search Engine Journal breaks down a further exchange of emails between executives on this push to make Search worse and Ads performance more profitable. Maybe the most eye-opening part of this is how the execs find it funny how Reddit users are reacting to changes to search made through Chrome.

What does this really mean? While we can’t predict the outcome of the antitrust lawsuit yet, we’ll be monitoring the situation closely.

But if it turns out that Google tweaked things on their end to manipulate the quality of search results, wouldn’t you want somebody actually working on your business’ behalf?

Our team optimizes law firm websites to compete for the organic positions that are often better aligned with a user’s search intent than sponsored ads. But that’s not our only strategy. We focus on the real growth you’ll get when you sign cases.

That’s what drives us.

Reach out to learn more about working with us.