Google maintains a division on its search pages: organic results on the left, paid-for 'sponsored' results on the right. For years this has been a very important division because it means that Google's organic search results are untainted by lucre. They are selected on the relevantcy of the pages to the search term -- not on how relevant they are to Google's revenues. Yet it seems that this division is dissolving. Google is running an experiment in Houston where local businesses can buy a listing for a flat $25 a month. The New York Times reports on the experience of the Kingpinz Skateboard shop: [These battle lines are drawn in Yellow.]
Mr. Cowie is trying something new: for a flat fee of $25 a month, he is making his listings on Google stand out. Whenever his shop comes up in a search page or on a Google map, it is adorned with a bright yellow tag.
It's working pretty well:
But take a look at the Google search results page:
Just type “skateboards in Houston” on a search engine, and his store will be among the first listed.