Controversy over whether Google (or any search engine) favors its own sites in search results has long plagued the SEO community, but Google has recently said that its manual search controls have not been frozen by antitrust organizations. Moreover, the company emphasizes that it will let human engineers take action over the algorithm to fight spam, and internet marketers should plan content accordingly.
The most recent round of controversy began when the Launch blog published a story with the headline Government Investigations Have Frozen Google's Manual Search Results. The post suggests that the algorithm versus manual approach has traditionally put Google and its content partners in favorable positions. It points to recent incidents where CEOs (traditionally quiet because they depend on Google for traffic) have spoken out against the search giant as an indication that the situation has gotten beyond control, validating the government's decision to step in.
However, Google's Matt Cutts says, “This headline and story [are] false.” Cutts posted a comment on the original article and took to Twitter to refute the article, as did the Google Public Policy team – which tweeted: “This report is completely unfounded and false, and nothing has changed in our approach.”
In addition to denying that Google is under investigation, the company defends its decision to use manual approaches to weed out spam content. A Google spokesperson told The Register, “Manual controls are necessary to improve the user experience in very limited cases, such as security concerns, legal issues and spam.”
With this in mind, marketers will want to remember that their sites could be up against scrutiny from both algorithms and human eyes. Businesses should take note of the recent insight on search ranking signals offered by Google, which all point to the value of having a strong content marketing strategy to appeal to both search engines and site visitors.