When Google is your daddy, justice is swift. But why does it have to be one of those “because I said so” kind of parents?

As I mentioned earlier this week, there’s a no-goodnik who figured out that by providing the worst-possible customer service he can manage he could get Google to promote his business for him.

Google noticed. And yesterday the search engine giant announced that they’d punished the bad guy. What they didn’t announce was how.

I have almost nowhere to go from here, other than to implore you to hire a Search Engine Optimization expert to make sure your company’s web site can be found on Google and by other search engines. Yes, I’d like the SEO expert you hire to be us; you can visit the Answer Guy Search Engine Optimization page, here.

The reason I have so little to say at this point is that there’s too much to say. On the one hand I could take the same position Google takes and point out that if they reveal what they did to black-list the bad guy’s Search Engine Optimization efforts then people like him would be on their way to beating the system and promoting their pages again.

On the other hand, the nature of search engine optimization and ranking in Google’s search results is that it’s not a precise science. There’s plenty of gray area that plays more like art in obtaining good search results, and revealing what they had done to punish this guy wouldn’t have really given anyone a significant leg up on what Google does to protect search engine results.

Unless it would have been embarrassing.

A few months ago, Google punished us for something that I never quite figured out. I think I know what we did to offend them, and the result was that Answer Guy Central all but dropped out of Google’s search results for 90 days. Then we returned.

Was my apology and change to the search engine trick we had experimented with the reason Google reinstated us? They won’t say. But Answer Guy Central is back in high positions for many of the search terms we ranked highly for before the punishment, so what I know is that they didn’t permanently ban us.

And we don’t really know whether Google has now simply banned the search engine optimization customer service bandit, or managed to implement a clever new piece of software into its search ranking algorithm.

Here’s my concern:

If Google has implemented a software tweak that can detect “bad” reviews and somehow can weight badness as “less important” than goodness, then maybe whatever they’ve done is OK. On the other hand, if they’ve simply banned a domain or two, or a few dozen, then they’ve done nothing for the actual problem.

And let’s be honest with this issue: if the purpose of Google is to provide search results that mean something, do you really want them playing editor with those results?

Like I said . . . I have nowhere conclusive to go with this. Google might be the best “big brother” we have, but I don’t know that I want one.

Isn’t business change fun?

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