Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How trustworthy are Google's search results

Google China's logoImage via Wikipedia
Just a small question for my SEO-friends (SEO means "search engine optimization" - for my other friends): how much are searches, especially Google searches, manipulated? It has become today acute in China where Google is redirecting searches to Google.com.hk, not only from the few people who previously used Google.cn, but also the inquiries for Google.com. But the issue bothers me already for quite some time.

The problem is not a specific China issue. In Germany search engines cannot link to banned Nazi groups, symbols and I believe that the French and US governments have again other hangups. The Australian government is still working on its own regulations. But it does not stop with national laws. When I came into the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, Google not only tried to divert my searches to Google.be, but also assumed I spoke French. When I was a few weeks ago in the French speaking part of Switzerland, Google insisted I should speak German at Google.ch.
How much more of my preferences (or preferences assumed  by Google) influence the searches I do? Google is already changing the outcome of searches depending on the IP-address or perhaps other indicators? And how you you SEO-guys and girls deal with that? How do you make sure that what you are looking at as Google-results is the same for me when I'm searching from the German-speaking part from Switzerland or - for that matter - from China?
Can we still trust Google, or should we not start rethinking the illusion that there is only one internet? Just a few basic questions.

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