The New York Times published a story on how Google has been working on and continues to work on algorithms aiming at preventing sites that extort people from ranking well in Google Search. The Google Predator algorithm (which I am kind of calling it) aims to remove slanderous content from appearing in Google’s search results for people’s names but it goes beyond that.
I spoke to Google about these efforts after I read the New York Times piece and wrote up a slightly different angle on the Times piece at Search Engine Land. Later in the day, Pandu Nayak from Google wrote this at the Google blog Improving Search to better protect people from harassment.
Here Google said that “once someone has requested a removal from one site with predatory practices, we will automatically apply ranking protections to help prevent content from other similar low quality sites appearing in search results for people’s names.” Pretty cool.
Ever searched for your name, found content you don’t agree with & the site would only remove if you somehow paid? Google has automated systems & policies to protect against such exploitative removal practices. Learn how we’re further increasing those: https://t.co/CNi3MuQGXC
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) June 10, 2021
In short, Google for years has been working on demoting this type of content and websites from ranking. This goes beyond the legal requirements of right to be forgotten in the EU, where it aims to not rank sites that specifically look to target people (or companies) with slanderous informaton in an exploitative manner. Google told me it has “ranking improvements to improve our protections against these types of exploitative sites.” But this is broader, Google said it looks to “expand to broader protections beyond known victims.”
Google told us they have “already made improvements to our existing demotion signals, and then we’re also expanding protections to address issues that affect what we think of as ‘known victims.'” This aims to target queries and websites that are specific to people who have requested removals from sites with predatory practices. Google said it “will automatically apply ranking protections that seek to prevent content from similar low quality sites appearing for name searches.”
Google added “This change was inspired by a similar approach we’ve taken with victims of non-consensual explicit content, commonly known as revenge porn. While no solution is perfect, our evaluations show that these changes meaningfully improve the quality of our results.”
So while this is not necessarily a new set of algorithms, Google is constantly tweaking, adjusting and improving its algorithms to try to have this type of exploitative content and websites not rank in Google Search.
Here is a Sistrix visibility report from Lily Ray showing some of these types of sites losing Google organic search visibility over the months and years:
— Lily Ray 😏 (@lilyraynyc) June 10, 2021