Google Serves Low Blow to Merchant Cash Advance Seekers
Almost eighteen months ago, I explored whether or not Google was rigging the search results to benefit two lending companies they had equity investments in, Lending Club and OnDeck. At the time, both companies ranked at the top for highly coveted keywords even if they weren’t directly related to the user’s search query.
Now that those two companies are public, a company called Credit Karma seems to have inherited the top spots. And wouldn’t you know it, Google has also invested in them.
Google: personal loan
But that’s not the worst of it. Thanks (or no thanks rather!) to a relatively new search result feature called “People Also Ask,” one keyword recently started serving up results with a different kind of hidden agenda.
While my captured results may not be identical for everyone, I have conducted tests with other people on other devices and from other areas and it was present each time. With this box, Google is subtly planting the negative seed that payday loans and merchant cash advances are basically so identical that other people just like you are wondering what the difference between the two are. But here’s the rub, the two have nothing to do with each other and it’s unlikely so many people are asking that.
Pay no mind to the fact that the box makes reference to a “cash advance” not a “merchant cash advance.” The painstaking mishap could be innocently chalked up to an algorithmic error if only googling just cash advance revealed the same box in the results. But it doesn’t. Only merchant cash advance brings this up.
Comparing merchant cash advances to payday loans is straight out of the anti-merchant cash advance propaganda playbook. At least one Google-owned business lending company is actively lobbying against short term business lending and merchant cash advances in Washington so the placement and comparison of the People Also Ask box in their results is highly suspicious.
It’s no secret that Google is also directly lobbying in the online lending space too. One month ago, right before Google magically started to suggest to searchers that merchant cash advances and payday loans were related, Google formed a lobbying organization called Financial Innovation Now with Amazon and Apple. On their main agenda is online lending.
Given the suspicious search rankings for companies they have an equity stake in, I would not doubt for a second that something like this was manually inserted. I admit that my evidence and my case are weak, but given the circumstances, it’s quite possible there’s something deliberate happening here.
What do you think? Do you see this when you google merchant cash advance?Last modified: December 2, 2015
Sean Murray is the President and Chief Editor of deBanked and the founder of the Broker Fair Conference. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter. You can view all future deBanked events here.