Is Google right to ban adverts from essay writing companies?

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andy-merrett.jpgAndy Merrett writes…

University authorities have “warmly welcomed” the news that Google is to refuse advertising from companies which offer to write research essays for students.

After recent complaints from various universities that students have been passing off essays that they’ve paid for as their own, Google has decided to refuse these ads.

Naturally, some of the companies affected have reacted angrily, but is it really a huge surprise to them? Matthew Wilson, MD of Essaywriter.co.uk, said that the ban will punish “legitimate” companies. Apparently some students who want extra assistance, and obviously haven’t heard of tutors and reference books, will pay upwards of £70 for essays for ‘research purposes’ and ‘extra assistance’.

Well, whatever you make of this particular case, Google are well within their rights to decide what they will and won’t allow in their advertising system.

Google’s ad policies are “developed and evaluated based on multiple factors, including legal and cultural considerations plus user and customer experience”. Whether this decision promotes their “don’t be evil” mantra probably depends on which side of the argument you agree with.

For those who haven’t paid much attention to Google’s search results pages, the ads usually appear above and to the right of the actual search results. Wilson say that 80% of their customers come through Google, though I’d be really surprised if that comes from their advertising alone.

Google haven’t said that these companies will be removed from the search results, so if these companies are at good at optimising their web pages as they are at selling top-class essays to desperate students, they should be fine.

It does raise the issue of how reliant we’ve all become on Google. Certain other search engine companies continue to remind us that there are alternatives, but let’s be honest — Google is still the king of the search engines. I wonder how many companies and organisations rely almost exclusively on the favour of Google’s policies and algorithms to stay afloat.

Perhaps Matthew Wilson should pay one of his writers to compose an Internet marketing article that he can peruse, to find some alternatives to Google. I’m sure that’s what the CEO of NuclearWarheadsRUs dot com has done, though the target audience is probably quite different.

Heaven forbid if students can’t find these shortcut essay firms online any more. They’ll have to learn how to use Google to find a bunch of other people’s essays and cut and paste the best bits. Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s free.

Andy Merrett