Google Boozes Up, Sort Of

    May 14, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Google has had a longstanding policy against advertising liquor, along with guns and gambling. Frank Watson at SearchEngineWatch found it surprising, then, when a search for [vodka] brought back Google Shopping results.

The search brought back results from various vendors, along with prices. "Now that does seem like they are contradicting their own rules," writes Watson.

Oddly, similar results are not returned for other liquors like gin, rum, tequila, or whiskey. Likewise, searches for other banned products, like handguns or shotguns, brought back no Shopping results. Watson concedes it could be an oversight.

SearchEngineLand’s Danny Sullivan weighed in on the issue, disagreeing that Google was violating its own policy because Shopping results are not the same as ads. On Sphinn, he comments:

[T]hat’s not a "Google Checkout" box that’s appear. It’s Google Shopping results….Just like regular Google web search, you have paid and unpaid results in shopping…. You could argue that if Google wants to ban things in ads, they should ban the same things in editorial results. But Google’s never claimed to be consistent here, when I’ve talked to them about it in the past. Some things they don’t want ads for (some things they also by law can’t take ads for), and that’s it.

Glitch or not a glitch, hypocrisy or not, Sullivan makes a good case. It’s still odd only [vodka] brings up anything.