Sex positive blogs fall down the Google memory hole

This is kind of disturbing. From Tiny Nibbles:

In recent weeks, Google has been changing its search algorithms and now many (though not all) sex websites have been dropped — including this one. It seems to have coincided with changes they made relating to their pay-for-play keyword ad program, AdSense. What’s disturbing to me (besides the harm it’s done to small businesses over the holidays) is that Google’s snafu seems to have dropped more sex-positive businesses (that focus on accurate sex ed) than big-gun, mainstream adult businesses (that sell unsafe sex toys and skanky product).

Personally, all the searches worked for me, resulting in the top hit that you would expect. But this was also reported on Boing Boing, Babeland, Pretty Dumb Things, and Valleywag, among others, so I don’t doubt that it was/is a problem for at least some people doing these searches.

The likeliest scenario is that Google did some algorithm tweaking, and it took a while for these pageranks to be properly recalculated, giving temporary favor to spam blogs that are “optimized” to appear high in Google rankings. The problem is that we, the users, the web site operators, have no way of knowing for sure one way or the other. Their search engine is so shrouded in secrecy that we’ll likely never know.

And here we see the danger of a one search engine world, especially when that search engine is about as transparent as mud:

As soon as Winston had dealt with each of the messages, he clipped his speakwritten corrections to the appropriate copy of The Times and pushed them into the pneumatic tube. Then, with a movement which was as nearly as possible unconscious, he crumpled up the original message and any notes that he himself had made, and dropped them into the memory hole to be devoured by the flames.

If Google is the Library of Alexandria, the place (and the only place) that we turn to, because it’s supposed to be an index of all information – then Google is potentially a memory hole even more effective than anything Orwell could have imagined. If you search for something in Google and it turns up nada… then for all intents and purposes it doesn’t exist.

I like Google, but they seriously need to be more transparent about what they’re doing behind the scenes.

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One Response to “Sex positive blogs fall down the Google memory hole”

  1. Nicolas Says:

    Indeed! I’m working in the eCommerce world, and a lot of players have been hit dramatically by new Google algorithms this year: the new algorithms that prefer user-generated content over SEO tricks have introduced some very important drops of trafic for some shopping engines and merchant websites… Of course, those were playing a dangerous game by playing with SEO tricks and over-tuning… But the lack of transparency of Google begins to be very annoying.

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