Many of your probably read the Search Risk - How Google Almost Killed ProtonMail story from a month ago - it has been something I've been tracking since August. In August, I spotted a message from Matt Cutts on Twitter that sparked my interest.
Matt responded to ProtonMail's tweets of Google intentionally hiding them from the Google search results because it competes with Gmail. Matt is on leave, has been for years and he responds to that tweet? But I didn't see anything much since and kept it in my archives to file for some time. Here is the tweet:
Then a few months later, ProtonMail mail wrote that blog post and Danny Sullivan wrote a nice piece on it named Google creates its own antitrust woes with poor communication over search listings shortly after.
A month later, just a couple of days ago, I spotted Ryan Moulton, a software engineer at Google who works on search, respond to the issue on Hacker News saying "search engines unsurprisingly have different bugs."
Did Ryan just confirm that this was a Google bug that lead to the issue? Google, I don't believe, has confirmed this yet. All they said was this statement they sent to Danny:
Google’s algorithms rely on hundreds of unique signals or “clues” that make it possible to surface the results we think will be most relevant to users.
While we understand that situations like this may raise questions, we typically don’t comment on how specific algorithms impact specific websites. We’re continually refining these algorithms and appreciate hearing from users and webmasters.
While in many cases search ranking changes reflect algorithmic criteria working as intended, in some cases we’re able to identify unique features that lead to varied results.
We’re sorry that it took so look to connect in this case and are glad the issue is resolved. For webmasters who have questions about their own sites, our Webmaster team provides support through the Webmaster Forums and office hours.
But now, we have a software engineer at Google, who has been working on search since 2006 say this.
We know Google has bugs but should they have admitted to this bug from the onset because of the competitive nature of the product? They specifically decided not to admit it in their PR message.
Forum discussion at Hacker News.