EJM Designs Limited Blog

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Google, Rush Limbaugh, Goldman Sachs

A friend of mine alerted me to Rush Limbaugh's show today where he was talking about Goldman Sachs and how if you typed "goldman sachs sec" you'd get Barack Obama's website. But the language Rush was using was a little troubling. He said "Google takes you there" and that President Obama (or, realistically, his PR folks) was buying links and making a strong insinuation that Google's search results were being influenced by the White House.

And as soon as I got back to the office, I realized the mundane truth: The President's PR force, in light of a drive towards financial reform, had bid on the phrase in an Adwords campaign. Just like anyone can do.

As a matter of fact, I just began a campaign myself for "goldman sachs sec" that you can see as well if you type those words into Google. Just to show you how easy it is - and take advantage of a happenstance spike.

[UPDATE: Either the unwanted attention from radio or an exhausted budget have caused the "Organizing for America" Ads to disappear.]

[UPDATE2: The ad is still there (just saw it), I believe cycling now that other folks have gotten in on the phrases.]

Search Engine Ads 101

For those of you who may not be aware, when you search for something in one of the main search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing, you actually get two types of results: organic and paid. Here's a screenshot from a search of "goldman sachs sec"

Goldman Sachs Google Search results

Now, pay close attention to the areas highlighted in red:

Goldman Sachs Google Search results

Those areas - the top and the right - are labeled "Sponsored Links." Those are Google Adwords or paid ads. Anyone can open an Adwords account, choose phrases, and pay for people to click on their ads. Mine are already running and leading back to this post. This is just how search engines work today.

The rest of the links on the page, the place where most people are drawn, are the news and video, etc. that are also listed. Those are organic listings.

In Closing

Unfortunately many people do not know how search results work (hopefully this helped for some) and even less will check the validity of the claims for themselves. The truth is not nefarious nor malicious nor collusive; it's actually a pretty clear case of Capitalism in action. Heck: even I got on board.


  1. Conveniently,
    the Adwords linking "goldman sachs sec" to Organizing for America is apparently no longer active. I originally saw this coincidence, and then refreshed the google search, and it was gone.

    Didn't Rom Immanuel say the White House only found out the SEC was going after Goldman Sachs by seeing it in the New York Times? Also, it might raise some eyebrows to know that the decision to investigate Goldman Sachs was split down party lines. Hmmmmmmmmm

  2. Nothing to see here folks...Just move along!
    Goldman Sachs has absolutely no influence over our lives.

  3. Thanks for the comments!

    This post is really just meant as a clarification and teaching tool; I don't intend to pull the whole political context into it.