Seriously, Google is starting to scare me

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I know I run a competing website to Google however it has to be said that I am growing very worried at some of the decisions being made at Google. I am(was) the biggest fan of Google and the boys at Mountain View inspired me to start my own search engine but a recent anomaly in Search Engines being removed from Google page results are a growing concern.

In January 2006 Tectonic reported that local search engine Jonga had been removed from the Google search results for about 10-days. When I first read it I wondered about this but now a second similar incident (that I know of) has happened in the US which has now resulted in a lawsuit against Google.

KinderStart a parenting site/vertical search engine complained that it’s ranking has been intentionally lowered by Google and while I normally would have brushed this aside it is all starting to look a little fishy on this front.

On reading and investigating a little further I found that in July 2006 a Google lawyer was explaining Google’s PageRank technology. The lawyer decided to argue that Google’s index was subjective - i.e., that Google made editorial decisions about each site’s quality.

When I first read this I was astonished because this is certainly not the perception Google want us to believe and in their Technology Overview Google make it very clear that “PageRank performs an objective measurement of the importance of web pages” and that “there is no human involvement or manipulation of results, which is why users have come to trust Google as a source of objective information untainted by paid placement.”

Sounds about right? Well read on.

David Kramer, a Wilson Sonsini attorney also representing Google, said the search giant’s PageRank system is subjective, using a combination of reviews into whether a Web site is adhering to its guidelines and is worth a user’s time to view.

“Google is constantly evaluating Web sites for standards and quality, which is entirely subjective,” Kramer said.

The judge probed Kramer on the topic of whether Google engages in misleading behaviour, and whether it uses objective criteria to evaluate sites–rather than solely relying on subjective reasoning.

“What if, say, Google says it uses facts one through 10 to evaluate a site, but actually uses number 11 to decide its rank. Isn’t that misleading?” the judge asked. Kramer, however, said Google readers understand that the site’s ranking system is subjective and based on Google’s opinion about whether a site is worth viewing.

OK, but that aside, let’s assume Google are in their best intentions trying to keep search engine results objective and not subjective. Why then do I see a subtle, yet alarming increase in questionable decisions made by Google?

Stefano Sessa recently blogged about Google’s latest Tip box being blatantly deceptive and in his post any search for the word blog in Google brings an advert for their service disguised as a tip.

And finally let’s not forget how Google agreed to work with the Chinese Government to censor certain websites on the website.

People ask me why I’m not trying to make money out Grabble - here’s your answer.