A couple of popular conservative blogs have concluded that Google is systematically and purposefully excluding sites from their general search results based on the poilitical decisions. The Google News aggregator has always been biased and capricious, but unfiltered search results
have to be fair or they’re useless. So if it’s true then Google’s really, really stupid.
But I’m not convinced just yet. Google’s gotten some unfair political criticism lately and I suspect this may be more of the same. Sites have mysteriously vanished from Google before without any politics being involved. Check out any of the SEO forums out there for examples. I really doubt Google’s management would sanction a political purge of right-wing blogs. They may be lefties but they’re also businessmen, and well aware of how the search engine business works.
However, I wouldn’t put a stunt like this past some of their employees. Sadly, many of my fellow geeks suffer from Slashdot Socialism, which makes them notoriously soft-skulled when it comes to politics. Take a look at the popular links of the day pulled together on popurls or Technorati. Under the cool new Ajax techniques, pr0n, and gadget announcements the daily list of hot topics is practially a Daily Kos recommended reading list. A misguided and not-very-bright programmer or two could quietly do a lot of damage.
Anyway, if this turns out to be true, will it sink Google? Probably not anytime soon. Yahoo is, well, boring. Gigablast is Dean’s current favorite, and it does seem pretty nice. Windows Live is promising, and they’ve gotten Amazon’s A9 to switch. But they’re still a sucker for spam sites. They’re those stupid autogenerated pages that all have the same description "Learn more about [query]! Everything to know about [query] is here!" You’d think that removing obvious junk like that would be the first job of any search engine, but somehow only Google seems to manage it.
And the reason why (as pointed out to me by my lovely and intelligent wife) may be the same reason that Google’s getting these new blog-related complaints. They’re very aggressive at detecting and delinking many types of suspected junk sites. People make a living reverse-engineering and defeating Google’s anti-spam techniques. Without warning. Google makes a change to their algorithms, re-indexes, and the results suddenly change without any explanation. No system is perfect, though, and sometimes good, honest sites get caught up in the crossfile. And after that happens it takes forever to reach a real person and convince them to fix it. Bad customer service, yes. Conspiracy, no. I think that’s probably what’s happening here.