Remove Google Properties From Search With A Comma

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 9, 2011
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Google, Search

Google has turned from a search engine into a jack of all trades. The company started many different en devours ever since its rise to power; Some successful, like Google Maps, others not so like Google Video. Problems related to that became apparent years ago when Google started to include their own properties prominently in the search results. You can test that today by searching for medical, stock or location based information, among others. Those searches usually display a Google property at the top followed by the normal search engine results.

The core problems? This practice is giving Google an unfair advantage over competitors. Lets take a look at health or finance for a moment. Are Google Finance or Google Health the most popular Internet resources for finance and health related topics? No they are not. There are dozens of sites that are more popular. If you look at the search results however you see Google properties at the top, for all related search queries on Google Search.

The second problem is about search quality. If Google pushes its properties into the user's faces, and their properties are not the most popular or informational resources, then it reduces the overall search quality.

You can read a more in depth analyses by Benjamin Edelman if you like. I have taken the following tip from the analysis.

Many Internet users assume that the Google properties are hard coded into the search results, despite Google's claims that they would never manually interfere with the results. During his analysis, Edelman mentioned that adding a comma to the search phrase would remove Google's properties from the results. He saw that as an indicator that the results are hard coded, especially since the remaining results seemed to stay the same.

You can try it out right now. Search for the term "acne", and "acne,", "imb stock, and "ibm stock," (without the ""). Notice a trend here?

Search for IBM Stock

search with google property at top

Search for IBM Stock,

search with comma without google properties

The comma trick is a little known option to get rid of Google's own properties in the Google Search engine, at least the hard coded bits in it. This actually works not only with a comma at the end, but with out chars like a dot as well.


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  1. Siro said on March 10, 2011 at 5:14 am

    This is silly. Benjamin Edelman is either stupid or playing stupid.

    It’s a well known, public and often mentioned feature called “one box” that attempts to present an immediate answer from a reputable source.

    When you search for “IBM stock” you’re likely interested in how their stock is doing, so google draws a small box with a graph, to better serve your immedaite need. Just like they attach your local weather results when you search “weather , before putting the actual links.

    From your own screen shot the search results are *exactly the same*, with the exception of “one box” content. You can also see the one box clearly contains links to all major reputable sources: Yahoo, MSN, CNN and Reuters.

    A search for acne pulls ready results from pubmed health, and “define ” uses WordNet. This is all useful, and gives a better service to the user, than merely a list of dictionaries.

    If a user wants to know the best site for stocks, he would search for “stock information”.

    Mr. Edelman might as well be angry they insert google news, when you search for “Lybia”, or google images, when you search for “bar refaeli”.

  2. Anon A. Mus said on March 10, 2011 at 3:39 am

    Hello Martin, First of all, your article is very good. Thank you again for the help hint.

    What got me was your use of the term ‘unfair advantage’. If a Google search resulted in pages and pages of Google-owned garbage before you got to any competitors’ sites, then, yes, it would be a very justified description of unfair advantage. But since all we have to do is glance down passed one or two Google links … well, have we become that lazy that moving our eyes a few degrees constitutes an “unfair advantage”?

    Just my thought, nothing more. I look forward to more of your articles.

  3. ReX said on March 9, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Poor competitors.
    I also don’t see a link to Google Finance listed there.

    1. Martin said on March 9, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      That’s probably because Google Finance is not in the top 10 of the most popular finance related services in the US.

      1. Siro said on August 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm

        you still haven’t fairly addressed that point.
        Google lists all major competing services. Yahoo for example does not.
        You also said google isn’t one of the 10 leading services without backing that up.

      2. Siro said on March 10, 2011 at 5:21 am

        > Google Finance is not in the top 10 of the most popular finance related services
        you’ve got a link to a listing of the current top ten?

  4. Barbarosa said on March 9, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I searched for ‘acne’ on both Google search and Google encrypted search.

    After the commercial ads, the regular search results were: 1. US Gov’t National Institute of Health; 2.; 3. Wikipedia; 4.; 5.; 6. Mayo Clinic. None of these results seem like entities associated with Google. The “acne,” search gave me similar results.

    Am I missing something? What have you seen that I didn’t see?

    1. Martin said on March 9, 2011 at 8:03 pm

      Hm, maybe they have changed something? Or are displaying information based on the user’s location in the world?

  5. Robert Palmar said on March 9, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    “You’re doing a search — for free — on Google’s site that uses Google’s computers.”

    Users owe Google nothing. Nor should they be gratefully compliant.

    There is nothing free about doing a search on Google.
    It takes a computer and internet service which costs money.
    And this this not the most expensive requirement — that being time.

    And wasting my time is very expensive indeed.
    And the more Google takes my time the less I give it.
    For it is not users that need Google. Google needs users.

  6. Anon A Mus said on March 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    The core problem “is giving Google an unfair advantage over competitors”? What? You’re doing a search — for free — on Google’s site that uses Google’s computers, and the problem is that Google has the audacity to start your search results with a link to Google’s services?

    Aside from this silliness, thanks for the handy search tip. I hope Google doesn’t find out about it. Oh wait. It’s their algorithm.

    1. Martin said on March 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      I suppose you must have then applauded Microsoft for integrating Internet Explorer in Windows and crushing Netscape in the process.

      1. Siro said on August 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm

        Google certainly integrates its services, but this article is not a good example of it, considering Google provides a link to 6 various stock sites. Most onebox content comes from non-google sites (pubmed, dictionaries, and so on).

      2. Kenny said on August 12, 2011 at 4:43 am

        So what your saying is if I did hold a dominant position in the advertising or beer industry it would be unfair of me to advertise my favorite beer above others on my own site merely because it is dominant?

      3. Martin Brinkmann said on August 12, 2011 at 9:46 am

        No. It has something to do with integrity first and foremost. Everyone on Google Search is rated according to their search algorithm, and it is an unfair advantage if Google owned properties are not subject to the same algorithm. Yes, I get it. It is their website, they can do whatever they want on it. Lets keep it at that.

      4. Kenny said on August 12, 2011 at 12:20 am

        Criticizing is one thing. I would not however judge the fairness of the content on their own site. Last time I checked every company uses their own website to their own advantage. I wouldn’t call that criticizing. More like singling out a company that is doing what every other company does and wishes they could do as well as Google does. It would be equivalent to you telling me how unfair it is that I have chosen to put a picture of my favorite beer on my web site ( I guess I am giving an unfair advantage to that company.

      5. Martin Brinkmann said on August 12, 2011 at 12:25 am

        Since you do not have a dominant position in the advertising / beer niche, nor a website that the majority of people with Internet use, I’d say it is not a fair comparison.

      6. Kenny said on August 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm

        I agree with the other posters who feel this is silly. I actually feel it is beyound silly. I am a web developer. I create online “services” and when I choose to do something how I feel it should be done thats what I do. I should have the right to do anything on my site. Being a user of a site / service online especially one you dont have to pay for does not make you a part owner of that site. If you dont like it move to another one. I for one find Google to still be a very clean, user friendly and quick method to finding answers to anything I am seeking.I hope someday to have the chance to be so “unfair” myself by having a popular site!

      7. Martin Brinkmann said on August 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm

        Google has the right to do what they want on their site. And I have the right to criticize it if I do not like it. Agreed?

  7. DanTe said on March 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Cute. Now I have to remember to put commas :)

  8. Eric said on March 9, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Jack of all trades, not “traits”. Nice post though!

    1. Martin said on March 9, 2011 at 12:49 am

      Eric, thanks, I have corrected it.

      1. Robert Palmar said on March 9, 2011 at 3:25 am

        I quite like Jack of all traits. It does work.
        You might have coined a new idiom, Martin.

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