(San Jose, California) In the 21st Century equivalent to the smoky back room, Google evaluates websites and assigns a page rank which determines the order of Internet search results. I believe this lawsuit seeks to open the doors to the back room and clear the smoke.
Google has mysteriously downgraded the search ranking of a Web site geared to help parents care for young children, causing a "cataclysmic fall" in advertising revenue and the number of monthly page views, according to a class-action lawsuit filed Friday.
The civil suit by KinderStart.com of Norwalk seeks financial damages and more information about Google's secret method for ranking sites. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, seeks class-action status for other sites that have seen their rankings drop without warning or explanation from the Mountain View search giant.
A Google spokesman told the Associated Press that the company hadn't seen the suit and had no immediate comment.
Since it launched in May 2000, KinderStart.com had built up its traffic to more than 10 million page views a month, the suit says, with much of the traffic coming from Google search users. But in March 2005, page views plunged 70 percent and advertising revenue fell 80 percent and hasn't recovered. KinderStart.com suspects that Google erected invisible barriers that divert consumers elsewhere when they type in a search but says Google will not explain what happened.
The drop-off was so sudden that the Web site suspects Google has a flawed method or blocks sites subjectively despite Google's pledge to provide objective search results.
It will be interesting to see how this case develops. I'd suspect that Google will act to prevent class-action status.