Black Hats Launch Google Class Action

According to AP, a class action has been launched by a group of websites claiming that Google’s techniques for weeding out dubious content and those who deploy tools to manipulate search algorithm to move up the rankings chart. This is a matter of some detached amusement to Slaw since a Google Search for Justice Marshall Rothstein brings up the Slaw website higher than the Supreme Court of Canada’s or the Federal Court pages.

The civil complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose by, seeks to be certified as a class action representing the owners of all Web sites blacklisted by Google’s Internet-leading search engine since January 2001.

Also see a piece in last week’s Economist March 9th 2006, The Economist print edition. called Dancing with Google’s spiders, the summary of which reads:

THE industrious spider bots that crawl around the web on behalf of Google, the world’s biggest search engine, evoke both fear and reverence. Late last year the bots swept through the world’s web servers to scrutinise some 8 billion web pages and determine their new rankings in Google’s search results. As Google tweaks its mighty ranking algorithms, and applies them to the constantly changing pages of the web, different sites shuffle up and down wildly in its search rankings, repeatedly gaining and losing ground.…


  1. Re: Footnote 1

    For some reason the Google algorithm tends to rank recent blog posts above other types of websites, presumably because it as seen as “current” information. Also, since popular blog application Blogger is part of the Google family, it may be a bit of self-promotion. The Rothstein example illustrates just how preposterous results may be ranked as a result.

    For this reason alone any organization wishing to rank high in Google search results would be well advised to consider having a blog and posting to it regularly on subjects related to its business.

  2. Unfortunately a blog alone won’t do it. Google works on authoritative links. If enough websites (with authority, not just pagerank) link to you, your content will rank well.

    The blogosphere can help a website/blog to acquire links, but only if you take part in the online conversation. Good blogs will attract lots of links because of the blogger (or bloggers, like us) involved, and not necessarily because the website uses blog software. It’s important to remember that there are lots of blogs out there that regularly rank for didly-squat. ;-)

  3. Hey Steven! “You” made it to the office of the Minister of National Defence today – in the form of page 33, CBA’s “National”, Jan/Feb 2006 issue, “Knowledge Uprising”. The Judge-Advocate General was answering some questions about my project (we were seeking Ministerial approval) when he gave the Minister (err, I wonder where that came from) *wink* the magazine… Went well; my project was approved today! As a result, the Office of the JAG is well on its way now to become a modern, forward-looking and technologically advanced legal office. :-)

  4. I forgot to mention that your moderated comments seem to have prevented one of my comments on your blog to go through – see

  5. Patrick, from my perspective as National’s editor, that story is totally cool. :-) I’m very glad the KM article was helpful — thanks for passing it along, and thanks again to Steven et al for contributing!

    Also (and I hope I’m not crossing the line into spam territory here), I’d like to recognize another SLAWyer who appears in the current edition of National — Simon C contributed prominently to the March 2006 cover story on commoditization. Thanks, Simon!

  6. Patrick, that’s awesome! I’m happy to see anyone’s KM project get off the ground. Thank you for sharing that great story – re: MND, JAG. Honestly, made my day.

    … I did find your co-comment via RSS. I’ve got the VLLB comments set on high, I get a ton of spam. … The answer to your question is that I am blowing up our existing Intranet, and starting from scratch with an open source CMS. Time to shake things up again! :-)

    And Jordan, as I’ve said before, thank-YOU. … I’m glad Simon C’s on the new cover, but can’t believe my 15 minutes are up already. ;-)

  7. Ah Steven, there is one of the unwritten rules of Canadian legal publishing that I’m not to be put on the cover – ni cheesecake ni beefcake – but I was quoted in the piece and have not – yet – been censured for what I said.
    And thanks Jordan.

  8. Sorry, not sure where I got the cover thing. Chalk it up to code-head. :-/

    Are you going to take a ribbing for being called a ‘legal futurist’? :-) Not that you aren’t (and a fine one, at that), but someone in your firm’s going to take you to task, right? :-)

  9. When the piece was posted to our Intranet, they italicized and bolded that epithet. And yes, I’ve spoken on these topics in the US, Scotland and Singapore – but no desire to upset the Canadian equilibrium.