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The History of Viagra and Google

Viagra as a Keyword Juggernaut

Pfizer’s blockbuster drug Viagra received FDA approval in 1998 … and the world hasn’t been the same since. Today, over 45 tons of Viagra are consumed worldwide every year.

One New York urologist told The New York Times that he received so many requests for Viagra prescriptions right after it was made available that he had to start seeing patients on weekends to keep up with demand.

It was around this same time that a new search engine called Google started gaining momentum and traffic due to how well its search algorithm performed. By early 1999, Google handled half a million searches a day and was attracting the attention of technology partners and venture capitalists. By the middle of 2000, Google had become the largest search engine in the world in terms of pages indexed, leaving older competitors like Lycos in the proverbial dust.

Viagra quickly became one of the most popular prescription drugs in history after its 1998 debut.

It was only natural that Viagra, the name of one of the most popular drugs in history, would become a keyword juggernaut on Google, the most popular search engine in history. People began to go online and searched to see “Is AccessRx legit?” and they found out it was! But there was one problem: there were plenty of other websites in the world who used the term “Viagra” to game the search engine and boost their search engine ranking selling fake generics to the public. The result, which is still the case today to some degree, was that when you used Google to search “Viagra,” you had to wade through a quagmire of spam sites and shady operators to get to any real information.

Pfizer, Trademarks, and Google

Google eventually stopped allowing its AdSense ads to appear on sites claiming to sell Viagra. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find sites claiming to sell Viagra that also have AdSense ads on them. It just means that AdSense has not yet found these sites and disabled the accounts. The AdSense Program Policies stipulate that sites with Google Ads may not include or link to sales of prescription drugs.

Furthermore, Pfizer, who owns the trademark for Viagra, requested that Google not allow advertisers to run on that keyword, and the rule also applies to misspellings and variations on the word.

Counterfeit Viagra enters the country disguised in numerous everyday items.

Google’s trademark policy says, in part, “Google recognizes the importance of trademarks. Our AdWords Terms and Conditions prohibit intellectual property infringement by advertisers. Advertisers are responsible for the keywords they choose to generate advertisements and the text that they choose to use in those advertisements.

Google takes allegations of trademark infringement very seriously and, as a courtesy, we investigate matters raised by trademark owners.”

The Department of Justice, Google, and Canadian Pharmacies

In 2011, Google entered into a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, which took action against Google for hosting ads for Canadian online pharmacies that offer to sell prescription drugs to U.S. citizens. Google had banned such ads way back in 2003, after a crackdown by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but they lifted the ban in 2004. FDA pressure eventually caused Google to permanently ban the ads in 2009.

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Google says it no longer accepts such ads, but no matter how hard the search engine giant tries to block these illegal ads, shady operators are still going to figure out ways to get through. The reason is simple: Google simply can’t individually monitor every ad. But that doesn’t mean that Google welcomes the ads and all the associated spam sites that always show up when a search engine user searches on “Viagra.” Which brings us to the Penguin Update.

The Penguin Update and Search Engine Rankings for “Viagra”

Google has consistently updated its search algorithm over the years to weed out websites that try to game the system. The so-called Penguin Update, which took place earlier in 2012, had search engine optimization (SEO) professionals everywhere upset, because many of them saw their search engine rankings decline and junk sites (many using “Viagra” as a keyword) littering search results.

What the Penguin Update has done is reminded website owners about gray areas of search engine optimization that will no longer work. It appears that Google’s algorithm has devalued specific links in legitimate websites without specifically penalizing the sites, and the results have meant credible sites have lost some of their ranking.

In fact, Pfizer lost some of its Google ranking for the term “Viagra.” But that should only be temporary as Google works to clean up and boot out the blatant spam sites while legitimate site owners learn which tactics cause links to be devalued and change those tactics.

What This Means for the Consumer Who Wants Real Information on Viagra

Searching on “Viagra” still gets you plenty of obvious spam sites that you should stay away from. Further complicating matters is a recent “Pharma Hack” that made lots of ordinary websites look like they sell Viagra. Hackers managed to change title tags in some Joomla-based websites so that in search results, even websites totally unrelated to Viagra showed up with links to shady sites that most likely sell fake Viagra.

The recent “Pharma Hack” let shady operators place links to their products in the search results of legitimate websites, many of which had nothing to do with Viagra.

To buy Viagra online safely, you need to search for online facilitators like AccessRx.com that have real phone numbers and real street addresses and that employ real, U.S.-licensed pharmacists and physicians. These online facilitators get their Viagra directly from Pfizer, and customers are free to confirm that by calling Pfizer and verifying the batch number on the product they receive.

Almost nowhere does the adage “If it seems to good to be true it probably is” apply more than with online sales of Viagra. In other words, if someone is offering to sell you “Viagra” for a dollar a pill, there’s no telling what you’ll receive, if you receive anything at all.

Pfizer and Google will continue to try to kick spam sites out of the top search engine results, but you as a consumer have to use common sense when choosing where to buy Viagra online, because dodgy websites will most likely continue to cheat their way into the top 10 search results.

Image Sources:

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About Mary Hiers

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Mary Hiers is a full-time writer with a background in engineering and print journalism as well as writing about a wide variety of health care topics. She lives in Tennessee and is the author of two works of fiction. Mary earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee Space Institute. Mary Hiers on Google+

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