Google v Kinderstart Lawsuit over downranking

Eric Goldman offers his summary of the Google v. Kinderstart lawsuit, and I think he speaks for many online people in his aversion to government regulation of search. However, I'm not as persuaded as he by the Google arguments, which ring increasingly hollow given the complexities of the ranking process and the onslaught of spam, which seriously inhibits the ability of search engines to rank sites optimally for users.

Our Online Highways site suffered a similar fate to Kinderstart in February 2005 when Google traffic dried up almost overnight. As one of the most comprehensive travel sites online it is still not clear why the site was downranked. Google has assured us we have "no penalties" and only have changed from algorithmic ranking issues. Our pages are still in the Google index yet Google users are unlikely to find us despite the fact we have arguably the best treatment of several travel topics. Note which was developed by the Silk Road region's top travel guide publisher.

Frankly I'm surprised how sympathetic Goldman is to the notion that the cornerstone issue here is Google's right to do pretty much whatever they please regardless of the consequences. I'm guessing he was hardly this generous with Microsoft's attempts to monopolize search using the browser.

The "hands off of search" is a slippery slope, especially when granted to companies that make 97% of their revenues from advertising. I strongly contend that there are solutions that help users and enhance Google's long term prospects which some feel are in great jeopardy due to ranking capriciousness.

The solution is to create MUCH better feedback mechanisms for webmasters and companies that suffer from ranking irregularities. Google's actually started such a process though I think it's only addressing a small percentage of the growing number of legitimate concerns about ranking changes.

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