February 25, 2010
Regarding ‘Google faces new EU antitrust probe‘:
I would contend that this is a subject on which the EU should not be trying to make a ruling.
As an Internet marketer and occasional search engine optimisation consultant (SEO), I can say from experience that all websites have an equal chance of high natural search rankings in Google when they are launched. Whether websites manage to achieve high rankings relies on many factors that are measured by the Google algorithm.
However, in basic terms, a high Google placement relies on specific knowledge applied to the website, hard work, high quality content, the reactions of users and skill. The level of competition within a niche is also a major factor that many companies and organisations fail to consider fully.
Should a company not manage to achieve high rankings, why should that be the fault of Google?
The public face of SEO at Google, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s anti-spam team, is often quoted as saying that he cannot fix the rankings of his own blog. For a mathematical algorithm to function successfully, this has to be the case.
Your story suggests that the sites have actually been dropped from the Google index, which suggests that they were using strategies that broke Google’s terms and conditions. This suggests that they may have been using strategies which would have provided an unfair advantage over other sites. We cannot know the exact details for obvious reasons.
More importantly, this is a very complex area in which the EU broadly, and judges in particular, are unlikely to have the required knowledge to make a ruling.
If Google were to lose this case, and sites must be listed relative to the level of their complaints, search engines would fail to function. After all, we would all demand that our sites rank at number one and there would no longer be a fair way for a top ten to be selected. This could lead to a situation in which the only firms able to rank highly would be those with a legal team on retainer.
Stuart LangridgeLetters to the EurActiv editor