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Google sued over page ranking system

A business that found a means to profit from information made publicly available by Google is suing the search engine giant for allegedly punishing its business and customers by deliberately lowering the ranking of their web sites.21 Oct 2002

Web host and search engine SearchKing Inc. is suing Google. It is the company behind a business called the PR Ad Network. "PR" stands for Page Rank, a reference to Google's system of ranking web pages. Google scores every web page that it indexes with a number between 1 and 10.

The higher the score, or Page Rank, the more likely the page will appear at the top of a user's search results. Google users can access this Page Rank information via a free download from Google. For example, news site CNN.com scores 9 out of 10.

PR Ad Network, based in Oklahoma City, sells advertising on third party web sites. Using Google's Page Rank information it gauges the value of any web site for its advertising clients and charges accordingly, in competition with Google's own advertising sales.

PR Ad Network describes itself as a matchmaker business, putting together the advertiser and a third party site that wants to sell ad space.

Bob Massa, president of SearchKing and PR Ad Network, alleges that once Google become aware that SearchKing was profiting from its Page Rank system, it lowered his sites' rankings and those of his customers. He claims that this caused SearchKing.com's Page Rank to drop from 8 to 4. He says that Google "arbitrarily and purposefully devalued his companies' and his customers' web sites, causing his business to suffer financially."

SearchKing is asking that the court grant orders against Google to have the sites' previous rankings restored.

Google has not yet made any comment on the lawsuit.

A copy of the complaint is available at:
www.searchking.com/news/compliant1.htm