Google defends Panda update

Google logo

Google has defended itself from accusations its recently renewed search system deliberately reduces the notoriety of some websites.

Google's head of search evaluation, Scott Huffman told the BBC suggestions Google fixed search results to damage specific websites by reducing their visibility were "almost absurd".

Last Monday, Google made a post on its official blog detailing the latest changes made to its search algorithms. It admitted the importance of the change, known as the Panda update, which affects 11.8 per cent of the queries.

Among those hit by Panda was the website The online-shopping portal had been in the frontline of a EU competition case against Google. Ciao, owned by Microsoft, experienced a drop in its visibility that reached 94 per cent.

Google defended the Panda update, saying it was designed to "reduce rankings for low-quality sites," which it defined as "sites that copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful."

"At the same time it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on," the blog added.

Nevertheless, experts quoted by the BBC were surprised to see a legitimate site like Ciao affected so extremely by the update.

Sanjay Shelat, search engine optimisation specialist at Edit Optimisation, described the 94 per cent drop in Ciao's visibility as "astronomical" and "very unusual", claiming it could be enough to "put the company under."