Who’s using Google for their organic and paid search results?


An important consideration for Google AdWords advertisers is to understand just where their contextual ads might appear. Google notes that AdWords ads can appear on the:

  1. Google search engine
  2. Partner (e.g. Aol, Ask.com, / Arianna, Virgilio / Alice)
  3. Google owned web content sites (e.g. Gmail, Google Groups)
  4. Third party web content sites (practically any site wishing to display Google ads)

The following slide, extracted from my PPC with AdWords Course, provides a visual overview of where AdWords can appear1.

Visual Overview of Where Google AdWords Ads may appear
Figure 1: Where Google AdWords Ads may Appear – Italian market focus (click to enlarge)

While Google has recently improved information about participants in the Google content network2, it isn’t so easy to find an updated listing of which major generalist portals and pure search engines rely on Google for their organic and paid search results. The following table aims to rectify this, at least for the Italian market.

PartnerAnnouncedAdWordsSearch ResultsGoogle Search Branding
Logo Ask Italia
Logo Excite Italia
18 luglio 20023Unofficially Ask is powered by Google?None.
Logo Kataweb7 February 20034Enhanced by Google
Logo Libero22 January 20035Powered by Google
(on their home page); Enhanced by Google (on web search results)
Logo Lycos5 June 20036Enhanced by Google
Logo Tiscali Search13 October 20047Cerca con Google
Logo Virgilio Ricerca19998None. This was one of Google’s first international agreements – important enough to merit a mention in Google’s corporate history; as such Google probably does not insist on receiving branding recognition.

Google also supplied search results and ads to Berlusconi‘s Jumpy (now defunct for all intents and purposes) and Kelkoo (purchased in the meantime by Yahoo! which now provides marketing opportunities through Yahoo! Search Marketing).

() briefly flirts with Yahoo! Search Marketing

The web properties belonging to Gruppo Espresso (Kataweb, La Repubblica, L’Espresso) have used both Google and Yahoo! / Yahoo Search Marketing (ex Overture) for natural and paid search results. The relationship with Google began in 2003. In 2006 the Gruppo Espresso sites began a flirt with Yahoo! and Yahoo! Search Marketing9, although they have since returned to Google. Yahoo!’s current promotional material still lists Kataweb as a Yahoo Search Marketing partner10 although this appears to be an oversight.

Why is Google so coy in saying who its search partners are?

Google does a great job organizing much of the world’s information, but is a bit weak when it comes to documenting who it’s current search partners are. Much of Google’s Italian documentation is out of date, referencing defunct portals like Jumpy11 while not mentioning well known sites which include search engines such as Tiscali and Ask.

Early in Google’s history, search agreements with other sites were important news for Google to disseminate. These agreements affirmed Google’s quality and importance as the premier search engine in a market not yet completely consolidated. Today Google has no compelling reason to remind people of other search engines and portals. While these search partner agreements are nice to have, every search performed on Libero or Virgilio is potential revenue lost to Google. Google has to share the ad revenue from partner sites with the search partners instead of pocketing it all as is the case when searches are performed directly on Google.

Difference between “Enhanced by Google” and “Powered by Google”

Most of Google’s search partners will display the Google logo and an identifying Google phrase next to the organic search results. The phrase Powered by Google (Cerca con Google on some Italian sites) is used when Google is the exclusive source of web search results presented on a results page12. Enhanced by Google means search results are derived from Google and other sources. If this is confusing, you are not alone. Libero / Arianna displays Powered by Google on their home page but changes this to Enhanced by Google on search results pages. Oh dear.

What about organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

The key point for natural SEO is that Google is the primary search engine in many markets, both directly and through co-branded arrangements, indirectly. Good for pertinent keywords in Google will pretty much insure good visibility in Google’s search partners. It should be clear at this point that there are very few independent search engines today, not the 1000s that some might lead you to believe. Internationally, there only three significant search engines (Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft) while a few others dominate in their home markets (e.g. 네이버 (Naver) in Korea, 百度 (Baidu) in China, Рамблер (Rambler) and Яндекс (Yandex) in Russia).

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About Sean Carlos

Sean Carlos is a digital marketing consultant & teacher, assisting companies with their Search (SEO + SEA = SEM), Social Media & Digital Media Analytics strategies. Sean first worked with text indexing in 1990 in a project for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Since then he worked for Hewlett-Packard Consulting and later as IT Manager of a real estate website before founding Antezeta in 2006. Sean is an official instructor of the Digital Analytics Association and collaborates with the Bocconi University. He is Chairman of the SMX Search and Social Media Conference, 13 & 14 November in Milan. He is also a co-author of the Treccani encyclopedic dictionary of computer science, ICT & digital media. Born in Providence, RI, USA, Sean received Honors in Physics from Bates College, Maine. He speaks English, Italian and German.

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