Everyone knows that Google reserves the right to blacklist websites that don’t play by its rules. But what happens when you initiate a lawsuit against them? e-ventures, LLC, an SEO company removed from Google, is trying to find out. The answer, however, is likely to be “not much.”
Google’s On-Going Fight against SEO
Google doesn’t like SEO. In fact, one of the things that Google has cited as hurting your website is being “overly optimized.” Google wants to give information that is truly relevant and it’s invested a lot of money into trying to determine whether naturally produced documents are relevant. When marketers “optimize” their texts, they’re usually seen by Google as trying to game the system.To that end, Google often removes spammy and potentially irrelevant queries in waves, when new detection systems are developed.
e-ventures LLC vs. Google
e-ventures LLC claims that its websites were removed from Google due to the tactics of a third-party competitor. Not only were its own websites blocked, but new websites that they also put up were blocked. This isn’t unknown within the industry. Potentially, e-ventures LLC could have been using black hat or gray hat SEO techniques, which were reported by a competitor. e-ventures LLC could also have been the victim of negative SEO — a third-party could have essentially framed them. The question is whether or not this would be actionable.
Google attempted to get this claim dismissed in court on the basis of freedom of speech, but a judge has allowed the claim to progress. That doesn’t mean that Google is guilty, merely that e-ventures LLC will have a chance to prove their case in court.
Censorship in a World of Google
Does Google have the right to censor its product? Of course it does — it’s a private service. But this might have more consequences than it seems. The right to freedom from censorship only applies to government agencies. The government is not allowed to censor private individuals (in theory and with some notable exceptions). Google owns a private website and can remove any information they want. They could remove every website besides Google, if they wanted to, though their shareholders probably wouldn’t be thrilled.
This raises an interesting point, as Google has essentially become a public utility. If Google did decide to censor a competitor, service, or product, it would actually have a dramatic influence. However, Google also has a vested interest in providing the best and most relevant search results.That being said, e-ventures LLC vs. Google isn’t strictly a case of censorship, but instead breach of contract. e-ventures, LLC is claiming that — through the actions of a third-party — their website was removed from search engine results even though they didn’t violate the company’s Terms of Service.
e-ventures LLC vs. Google will be a case to watch for SEO companies. That the case has been allowed to progress at all means that there may be some merit to claims against Google — specifically, claims by companies who have been removed by Google but have adhered to Google’s Terms of Service. This case will likely set some form of precedent, as it’s the first time an SEO company has sued Google for exclusion.