Search Engine's Obligation to Public Sector?

May 12, 2005 - 8:57 am 1 by

There has been a Search Engine Watch thread I have been watching, actually since before it became a thread. The thread started off on the topic of a company's Web site being de-listed from Google. The thread is named de-indexed, but the news of Web Position Gold being de-listed is not new. It is fairly well known that Google dislikes Web Position Gold, and they have every right to like or dislike a company.

The thread had turned over to a more interesting tangent. What is a search engines legal or ethical obligations to include the most relevant Web pages of a search query, even though they might disagree or dislike a company? This question is an important one. For example, since does not rank in the Google results, simply because Google penalized them, when someone searches on "Web Position Gold", should the official Web site not come up?

I am not an opinionated person, so let me leave my own comments out. If you are looking for some strong opinions, I highly recommend clicking through to the thread. Here is just a short list of some of the well known names in our industry who have chimed in with their thoughts:

fantomaster - "It would require some hefty legislation to convert them into a public utility type outfit tying them up into such obligations.

Mikkel deMib Svendsen - Yes, I would surely like guaranteed inclusion by law - it absolutely would reduce the risk dramatically on certain kinds of questionable tactics.

dannysullivan - In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of examples where Google overtly will remove material from its index like this -- self-interest. For example, if they banned Yahoo from showing up, there'd be a huge outcry.

DaveN - The smart move would be for google to ban all sites that have used WPG imo. they broke the rules.

massa - Instead of quoting this one, you probably want to click through, since this guy is the man for this thread.

A few more from Danny Sullivan that I should include - This highlights the absurdity. Ban WebPosition, and you've done nothing but downgrade relevancy for your own searchers. They'll still find the product -- heck, even though your own partner Amazon, which has one of the top listings. What they won't find is the official company web site. That's your job as a search engine, to help peopel navigate correctly.


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