Google’s Disappearing European Search Results

The low-hanging fruit in any effort to improve marketing and targeting is SEO, search engine optimization. Though SEO can become wonderfully geeky, for most clients, the advice and the work is simple: use keywords in content and headlines, the kind of words and phrases that you would enter into a Google search box yourself to find content like yours.

The best optimization is neither free nor simple, but most clients haven’t done the free and simple, so proving the worth of SEO is generally painless.

But even gratis efforts to push and pull content could become much trickier in the coming year for clients with international interests.

Last May, the European Union’s Court of Justice established a “right to be forgotten” and ordered search engines to remove certain content in European search returns.

What content should be removed? Said the Court, content that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.”

Who makes the removal decision? The search engine companies themselves, effectively meaning Google. The company has a form and a process for the removals and plenty of headaches. It’s only the beginning.

First of all, removal of search results does not remove the content. The news story about the man biting the dog remains online, even if a search for the man’s name on Google comes up empty.

Second of all, this just applies to Europe. Google.be in Belgium may not name the canine-chewing fellow, but Google.com is under no such restriction.

Meanwhile, Google has received some 100,000 requests to be forgotten and approved about half. This link and one here reveal the next phase in the search drama. While some privacy advocates want the right to be forgotten extended globally and Google has taken down tens of thousands of links to places like BBC and Wikipedia among others, the company has formed an advisory council on the matter that begins meeting in September.

One of the members is Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. The ruling, said Wales “is completely insane and needs to be fixed.”

(This is cross-posted to the website of Integrated Media.) 

 

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