Several of Google's recently-launched experimental features have come under scrutiny for what appear to be changes in its policy against paid placement. Specifically, Search Engine Land first noted the new Google Shopping, which replaces Google Product Search, would now accept payment for placement in results. Yesterday morning, an opinion piece on the Wall Street Journal criticized Google's change in strategy as one which gives consumers the false idea that results are based on relevancy.
Google has just responded directly to the WSJ piece on its Policy blog, noting that the article contained several "inaccuracies." Indeed, Google is correct that its new Shopping feature, which does now accept paid inclusion, remains distinct from traditional search results, which Google still does not accept payment for, and professes a commitment to continue doing so. This is Google's strongest point in its response, the rest of which is devoted to professing a commitment to search users over companies using Google to advertise their websites, products and services. In fact, Jeffrey Katz, the writer of the WSJ piece, works for Nextag, a comparison shopping site, and his argument is predicated on the power of Google, which has around 80 percent of the world's search market.