When PageRank drives your Business

A lot of online businesses, especially the small to medium enterprises, have increasingly relied their business on their Search Engine Results Placement (SERPs) which is in essence a derivative of their website’s Google PageRank (see Google Technology).

The business revolves around the idea that new or potential customers can be had from organic traffic coming from these search engines (SEs) with Google in the forefront. Imagine if 70% of your traffic and new customers are all coming from Google thru search (well, there’s AdWords but it can be a pretty expensive marketing machine).

This is exactly what happened to KinderStart.com when their PageRank was recently downgraded by Google. So they filed a lawsuit:

A parental advice Internet site has sued Google Inc. , charging it unfairly deprived the company of customers by downgrading its search-result ranking without reason or warning.

The civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, on Friday by KinderStart.com seeks financial damages along with information on how Google ranks Internet sites when users conduct a Web-based search.

Google could not immediately be reached for comment but the company aggressively defends the secrecy of its patented search ranking system and asserts its right to adapt it to give customers what it determines to be the best results.

KinderStart charges that Google without warning in March 2005 penalized the site in its search rankings, sparking a “cataclysmic” 70 percent fall in its audience — and a resulting 80 percent decline in revenue.

At its height, KinderStart counted 10 million page views per month, the lawsuit said. Web site page views are a basic way of measuring audience and are used to set advertising rates. {full story}

Ay, wickedly unreasonable but people/business rely on SEs too much to the point that they feel they’re responsible for the traffic they get. Google could have removed them (de-index) from the SERPs altogether if it wanted to.

Well, it’s the United States and people find it common to hurl lawsuits left and right for just anything that discomforts them.

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