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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Google Inc has been sued by a search engine optimization company, which claims Google deliberately altered its ranking when it realized the SEO company was competing with it. Search King Inc, of Oklahoma City, wants an injunction and $75,000 damages for alleged loss of business.

Search King launched a service in August that allowed companies to place "text ads" on pages that score highly from Google's PageRank ranking algorithm. The rationale behind such a service is that a link from a high-PR page increases one's own PR, and makes your site more visible to Google users.

Search King alleges that when Google found out about the service, it "purposefully" reduced Search King's PR from 7 to 4 out of 10, which "damaged the company's reputation and diminished its value." Search King's complaint did not specify how it concluded that Google did this deliberately, rather than its PR going down as a result of a tweak in Google's web-wide ranking algorithms.

"As a matter of policy, we do not comment on the details of any pending legal matters involving Google," a Google spokesperson said. "We regularly evaluate and modify our algorithms to improve search quality. In some cases, these modifications result in changes to site rankings, with the expectation being that the overall quality of our search service will increase."

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