New Survey Reveals That More Than Half Of Americans Question the Credibility Of Google’s 1st Page Ranking

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We conducted a survey asking 2,000 US respondents how they felt about the website ranking on Google’s first page. We used Google Surveys and targeted males and females between the ages of 18 to 65+ from coast to coast. We asked the following question with several possible responses:

How do you feel about the websites that rank on Google’s 1st page when you search for a product or service?

  • It’s about money. All those sites pay Google.
  • It’s legit. Google chooses the best sites
  • It’s rigged. Google manually selects them

The Average American Believes Websites Pay To Rank On Google’s 1st Page During A Search, Especially Woman 45 to 54

The overwhelming response of Americans who responded to the survey was money – 50.6% of respondents indicated that they felt that websites paid Google to rank on the first page during a search for a product or service.

When demographic filters were applied to the results targeting only females, the percentage increased to 52%, and soared to an astounding 59.4% of women between 45 and 54-years-old. Curiously, in every age bracket of survey respondents, a higher percentage of females than males believed that the ranking on Google’s first page amounts to monetization.

These results are perhaps demonstrative of the general public’s growing sentiment about the monetization of all things online. Irrespective of whether or not that sentiment is erroneous, an increasing number of Americans (especially older segments of the populace) have expressed displeasure about being inundated with ads online, especially on their social media feeds.

Young Americans Believe That Google Selects The Best Sites For Its 1st Page Ranking

The second most popular response to the survey question was that the 1st page ranking was in fact legitimate – that Google chooses the best sites to appear on page one during a search for products or services. 29.8% of respondents stated that this was their belief.

When demographic filters were applied to the survey results, some compelling insight was discovered. Young Americans, between 18 and 34-years-old were the largest group to select this option, at 34.1%. It appears that this younger demographic has more faith in the legitimacy of Google ranking.

Conversely, fewer older Americans seem to feel that Google’s 1st page ranking is legit. When demographic filters were applied focusing on respondents who were 55 and over, the percentage dropped to 26.5%. Amongst males between 55 and 64-years-old, only 23.6% indicated that they believed Google’s 1st page ranking was legitimate during searches for products and services.  

Millennials are the first cohort to be reared by the Digital Age, and thus are far more trusting and comfortable in the online milieu. This perhaps best explains the drastic percentage fluctuation between young and old Americans regarding the legitimacy of ranks on Google’s 1st page.

American Males Believe Google’s 1st Page Rank Is Rigged, Especially 18 To 24-Year-Olds

The final response to the survey was that the rank on Google’s 1st page was rigged. 19.6% of respondents stated that they believed Google manually selected websites to appear on page 1 for a product or service search.

Yet, intriguing insight was discovered when demographic filters were applied to the results, focusing specifically on males – the percentage rose to 22.7%. Additionally, males between 18 to 24-years-old were the largest cohort to hold this sentiment, at an astounding 29.2%.

These results seem to be demonstrative of the growing distrust Americans have of the big tech companies. As a consequence of the numerous scandals and controversies, the Big Five tech companies (Google included) now seem to be regarded in a far more dubious light.


Based upon the findings of the survey, Americans possess a measured uncertainty, at the very least, towards the credibility of Google’s 1st page rank when they search for products or services. Irrespective of demographics, more than half of all respondents to the survey believed that the ranking system was monetized – that the websites paid Google to appear on page 1.

There was a drastic percentage fluctuation between young and old Americans when it came to the perceived legitimacy of the Google ranking, with older generations less inclined to believe search results were legit. Ultimately, there appears to be a prevailing negative shift of sentiment towards the validity of Google’s ranking of products and services, that was not present a few years ago.

Details About The Study And RMS Score

Audience: Users on websites in the Google Surveys PublisherNetwork

Method: Representative

Age: All Ages

Gender: All Genders

Location: United States

Language: English

Frequency: Once

Root mean square error (RMSE) is a weighted average of the difference between the predicted population sample (CPS) and the actual sample (Google). The lower the number, the smaller the overall sample bias.


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