Google’s big deal with AOL had terms that had raised fears of special treatment for AOL (, , ) and looked to provide a potential opening for Intenet advertising competitors, Microsoft and Yahoo. Marissa Mayer, Google VP of Search Products & User Experience, attempts to allay concerns at the Google Blog:
The recent announcement of the AOL partnership has been the source of a lot of rumors and misconceptions. We’d like to clear some of those up.
- Biased results? No way. Providing great search is the core of what we do. Business partnerships will never compromise the integrity or objectivity of our search results. If a partner’s page ranks high, it’s because they have a good answer to your search, not because of their business relationship with us.
- Indexing more of AOL’s content. Our goal is to organize all of the world’s information. When we say “all the world’s information,” this includes AOL’s. We’re going to work with the webmasters at AOL — just as we work with webmasters all over the world — to help them understand how the Google crawler works (with regard to robots.txt, how to use redirects, non-html content, etc.) so we don’t inadvertently overlook their content.
More by following the link, but not everyone is completely mollified:
But here’s the thing. If Google’s doing what it does for everyone, then it should have never — ever — been put into the press release on the deal. It’s either a business deal arrangement or not. If it’s just normal stuff — which I fully believe will be the case — then don’t let your partner talk it up to score points with investors. Don’t sell out in that way, if only that you then have to backtrack to reassure your own users you’re really not selling out. By this measure, someone buying AdWords for Google might as well run a release saying that they expect Google will also be working with them to improve content indexing.
This is one that will only play out over time, but a warning shot has been fired across Google’s bow and there will be a lot of interested observers if things don’t pan out as promised.
Update: John Batelle is skeptical too. Excerpt:
There’s something else going on. If there’s not, well, OK then. Then AOL is deeply, deeply lame. And, honestly, so is Google, because it seems to me that before you decide to go scan every book in the world, you might drop a dime to your most important partner, and ask if you can help them index their content as well.