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Did Google censor search results for a key Nest rival?

Published May 30th, 2014 9:00PM EDT
Google Search Results Censorship

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Forget net neutrality — do we need search neutrality as well? Pando reports that home automation company Vivint found itself mysteriously removed from Google search results this past winter just two weeks after the search giant officially announced its acquisition of rival home automation company Nest. Although Vivint is now appearing again in related searches, the company says it never got a clear explanation for why it was removed or why it took Google four months to restore its status.

Per Pando, it seems Google told Vivint that it “had found external links into Vivint’s website that sat outside of its ‘quality guidelines,'” but it wouldn’t tell Vivint what those particular links were.

“Our recent experience with Google search results was difficult due to a lack of transparency,” Vivint exec Jeremy Warren told Pando. “We were provided with vague descriptions of Google’s preferences and requirements, which leaves lots of room for interpretation.”

While there’s no smoking gun to prove that Google was actually punishing Vivint in search results as a way to give Nest a boost, SEO expert Mike Templeman of Foxtail Marketing tells Pando that it’s an awfully suspicious coincidence that Vivint just happened to disappear a mere 16 days after Google finished its acquisition of Nest.

At the very least, this story calls into question Google’s transparency with how it filters its search results and how it decides to punish allegedly bad actors.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.