QUESTION: Given the distortions caused by SEO, can the results of Google be trusted?
Ah, the age ol question, “Is SEO ultimately advertising?”
Given that it is in the best interest of Google, and the other major search engines, to serve the most authentic results in the organic section of the SERPs, (they would lose significant share if everyone thought it was just a search engine of advertisment), I maintain that the results are credible – at least for now.
The results may not always be what you’re looking for or expect, but the various criteria, algorhytmic and otherwise, used to determine the results favor an authentic process.
The question suggests that perhaps organic results are obtained by underhanded methodology, i.e. the way to “distort” a result is to do something black hat. And yes, that happens, so that is a distortion caused by ‘black hat’ SEO. Otherwise, simply optimizing your web pages properly only helps the search engines identify and possibly serve your web page as an appropriate result.
So simply optimizing and playing by the rules in itself does not, in my opinion, lead to the distortion of the results and nor is it consider advertising. Good PR perhaps, but not advertising.
Ian M. Bardorf has over 15 years of sales and marketing experience in Internet technology, with a specific focus on Internet marketing and online advertising.