Friday, March 17, 2006

KinderStart sues Google over ranking

In 2005, when HR 2795 and patent reform were a big deal, I discussed google search results on +"patent reform" +2795. They were bizarre. They got more bizarre in 2006, but that's another story. KinderStart has sued Google over ranking web sites. I would not bet on KinderStart, but Google search results are not what they purport to be. Trying to prove anything is problematic, because the results are changing all the time, and not necessarily because of a flood of "new" content.

from breitbart/AP:

KinderStart alleges Google has engaged in anticompetitive behavior and misled the public by positioning its search engine as an objective source for finding Internet content. The suit seeks unspecified financial damages and a court order that would require Google to change its ways.

The case aims at Google's heart: its tightly guarded formula for ranking Web sites.

Google's system strives to elevate in search results the Web sites with content most relevant to a request. Because Google handles far more search requests than its rivals, its ranking system can make or break Web sites without a well-known domain name.

With the stakes so high, Web sites assigned a low Google ranking are constantly trying to elevate their standing, and an entire cottage industry has formed surrounding search engine optimization. Some sites resort to dirty tricks, hoping the shenanigans will fool Google into highlighting their Web links.

Google regularly tweaks its search formula to weed out the mischief makers, sometimes called "Black Hats." In the worst cases, Google exiles the manipulative Web sites, a practice that has become known as being sent to "the sandbox" for the equivalent of a children's time out.

***from Wikipedia -->

Today, most search engines keep their methods and ranking algorithms secret. A search engine may use hundreds of factors in ranking the listings on its SERPs; the factors themselves and the weight each carries may change continually.

Much current SEO thinking on what works and what doesn't is largely speculation and informed guesses. Some SEOs have carried out controlled experiments to gauge the effects of different approaches to search optimization.

The following, though, are some of the considerations search engines could be building into their algorithms, and the list of Google patents may give some indication as to what is in the pipeline [IPBiz note: thinking darkly, Google might be pursuing patents to throw people off; disclose one thing and do another!] :

Age of site
Length of time domain has been registered
Age of content
Regularity with which new content is added
Age of link and reputation of linking site [recursive issues]
Standard on-site factors
Negative scoring for on-site factors (for example, a dampening for sites with extensive keyword meta tags indicative of having being SEO-ed)
Uniqueness of content
Related terms used in content (the terms the search engine associates as being related to the main content of the page)
Google Pagerank (Only used in Google's algorithm)
External links, the anchor text in those external links and in the sites/pages containing those links
Citations and research sources (indicating the content is of research quality)
Stem-related terms in the search engine's database (finance/financing)
Incoming backlinks and anchor text of incoming backlinks
Negative scoring for some incoming backlinks (perhaps those coming from low value pages, reciprocated backlinks, etc.)
Rate of acquisition of backlinks: too many too fast could indicate "unnatural" link buying activity
Text surrounding outward links and incoming backlinks. A link following the words "Sponsored Links" could be ignored
Use of "rel=nofollow" to suggest that the search engine should ignore the link
Depth of document in site
Metrics collected from other sources, such as monitoring how frequently users hit the back button when SERPs send them to a particular page
Metrics collected from sources like the Google Toolbar, Google AdWords/Adsense programs, etc.
Metrics collected in data-sharing arrangements with third parties (like providers of statistical programs used to monitor site traffic)
Rate of removal of incoming links to the site
Use of sub-domains, use of keywords in sub-domains and volume of content on sub-domains… and negative scoring for such activity
Semantic connections of hosted documents
Rate of document addition or change
IP of hosting service and the number/quality of other sites hosted on that IP
Other affiliations of linking site with the linked site (do they share an IP? have a common postal address on the "contact us" page?)
Technical matters like use of 301 to redirect moved pages, showing a 404 server header rather than a 200 server header for pages that don't exist, proper use of robots.txt
Hosting uptime
Whether the site serves different content to different categories of users (cloaking)
Broken outgoing links not rectified promptly
Unsafe or illegal content
Quality of HTML coding, presence of coding errors
Actual click through rates observed by the search engines for listings displayed on their SERPs
Hand ranking by humans of the most frequently accessed SERPs.


On Google life style and Page Creator, see "">
an article by Anne Fisher, FORTUNE senior writer


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