Search engine giant Google will not explain why it has taken action against aggregator
Aggregator Gocompare.com has plummeted from first to 59th place on Google’s ranking for car insurance after the search engine giant took punitive action against it.
Gocompare.com chief executive, Hayley Parsons said that the company was attempting to restore its ranking, but Google had refused to explain why it had been downgraded.
A high ranking on search engines is a crucial marketing tool for price comparison sites as it encourages consumers to visit their sites.
Google has been known to downgrade sites that have manipulated the complicated ranking criteria – for example, by paying other websites to create links to their site, or paying bloggers to link copy on influential web pages to its site, known as spam blogging. This practice of buying links is probably the reason Gocompare.com was downgraded.
Parsons admitted that the company had been buying links, but said it was a common practice among price comparison sites. She added that the practice had declined since the company changed advertising agency last year. “We are doing everything we can to restore our ranking. But Google is a closed shop.”
A source at a major aggregator agreed that buying links was common, saying: “These practices are a cost-efficient way of boosting your ranking, which is particularly important given the competitive state of this market.”
Last year Moneysupermarket.com saw its search ranking drop temporarily after the internet giant took action against it. Richard Mason, head of insurance at Moneysupermarket.com, said: “Google reacts to complaints by competitors. If you are No 1 on the list, you are under particular scrutiny – and open to attack.”
Google does not tell companies why it has downgraded them. Mason said: “You have to say to Google, ‘forgive us, for we have sinned’. Unfortunately, getting forgiveness from Google is a lot harder than from God.”
A spokesman for Google said: “Many of the changes we make, including regular updates to our algorithms, are focused on improving the experience for users. If we think links are not relevant we have the power to punish the guilty parties.”