Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Google goes to court to defend its ranking methods

By Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service

Google will try to convince a judge on Friday to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges the heart of the company’s business: its methods for indexing and ranking Web pages.

In March, Google was sued by , which alleges it suffered crippling financial harm after its Web site got dropped from the search engine’s index.

The case reflects the enormous impact of search engines on the business world at large. It has become crucial for many businesses to rank well in search engine results. An entire industry has sprouted to serve this “search engine optimization” need.

As the world’s most popular search engine, Google wields the strongest influence. Having a Web site that ranks low or disappears altogether from the Google index can have devastating effects for a company. This is what alleges happened to it.

“It’s a very important case for many reasons. Everyone uses search engines, so the question is: Are you seeing true and faithful results?” said Gregory Yu,’s attorney.
“Google shouldn’t have completely free range to be able to remove sites or hit them with a zero PageRank,” he added, referring to the patented technology at the heart of Google’s algorithmic ranking. is charging Google, among other things, with violating its right to free speech; illegally using a monopoly position to harm competitors; engaging in unfair practices and competition; committing defamation and libel; and violating the Federal Communications Act.

The Web publisher seeks a class action certification for the lawsuit, damages and injunctive relief, among other things.

In motions filed in May, Google argues that Judge Jeremy Fogel, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, should dismiss the lawsuit, saying that the case boils down to one essential question: Should search engines or should courts determine Web sites’ relevancy? “If KinderStart were right … neither Google nor any other search engine could operate, as it would constantly face lawsuits from businesses seeking more favorable positioning,” Google’s motion reads.

Google also asks the judge to strike three of the suit’s counts, alleging they violate Google’s exercise of free speech in connection with a public issue. This is prohibited under a California law called the Anti-SLAPP statute, Google argues. , based in Norwalk, Calif., began publishing a Web site for parents of children under 7 years old in May 2000 and in 2003 the site joined Google’s AdSense ad network, according to the complaint. Yet, starting in March and April 2005, the Web site suffered a “cataclysmic” fall in traffic of about 70 percent and a drop in AdSense revenue of about 80 percent, from which it hasn’t recovered, and which the company blames on its removal from the Google index. claims it has never been notified by phone, mail or in person of the reason for its Web site’s exclusion. Google states in its Web site that it reserves the right to remove Web sites from its index for various reasons. states it hasn’t knowingly violated any of Google’s webmaster guidelines.

In February, Google decided to remove the German Web site of car maker BMW for allegedly trying to deceive its search robot to gain higher placement. Days later Google reincorporated the site to its index, saying BMW had undone the offending changes, although BMW never admitted any wrongdoing.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Google on secret mission to beat rivals

By Catherine Elsworth

Google is secretly developing what is thought to be one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers in its most ambitious attempt to outstrip rivals Yahoo and Microsoft.

The internet firm is building a vast complex the size of two football pitches with cooling towers four floors high on a remote stretch of barren land in Oregon.

It is thought to house two huge data centres and thousands of Google servers that will help power the billions of search queries it handles daily as well as an expanding range of other services.

The secret expansion on the 12-hectare site 129km east of Portland is thought to be part of an “arms race” as other online companies vie for Google’s crown. Microsoft has unexpectedly announced it is to spend £1.08 billion (Dh7.3 billion) next year, largely aimed at making up ground on Google. Bill Gates’s company intends to quadruple its number of internet servers to 800,000 in 25 locations across the globe by 2011.

Google, which currently runs 450,000 servers worldwide, will boost its capacity with an injection of £814 million (Dh5,502 million).Microsoft and Yahoo have also announced plans to build multi-billion-dollar data centres elsewhere in the Pacific North West, which is home to cheap electricity from hydropower and existing data networks.

The scope of the new Google plant, on the banks of the Columbia River in The Dalles, Oregon, appears to outstrip its rivals. It is being seen as a key part of the company’s drive to hone the fastest, most comprehensive data search system in line with its mission statement to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.

Many analysts interpret Google’s ever-growing range of services as an attempt to muscle in on territory historically dominated by its rivals such as computer operating systems, online shopping, e-mail, music and video technology.

The new Google “power plant” is shrouded in secrecy. Known as Project 02, it has already created hundreds of jobs.The new Oregon centre will form just a part of Google’s global computing system, called the Googleplex, which is growing at such a rapid rate its exact size remains a constant topic of speculation. The company recently opened a similar data centre in Atlanta, Georgia, amid comparable secrecy.

The building has no signs or logos and local authorities are pledged to silence.

Additional Post Script from Visionefx:
Googlebot will rule the earth. - sigh...