Fined for Google Rankings: When are you too optimized?
For most people, seeing that their blog article or website is appearing at the top of a Google SERP for certain keywords would make their day. All that hard work optimizing a page has paid off, and your customers, readers and clients are reading your work and browsing your site. But what happens when you’re so good that you’ve damaged another business? Can you be blamed for that?
According to a French court, yes you can. A blogger was taken to court by a restaurant she had reviewed because her scathing review was too high in the search results. The restaurant owner said that the review was disrespectful and he couldn’t allow the influence it was having on potential customers to go unchecked.
Blogger Caroline Doudet was ordered to pay 1500 euros damages and 1000 euros for the claimants costs. She has now deleted the article, but the judge limited his decision to the title, rather than all the content. In France, this would not set a precedent, as it was an emergency ruling. In the UK, a decision like this could play out quite differently.
Ms Doudet said the ruling effectively punished her for having influence (her blog had 3000 followers) and that it would mean influence would only be OK if people were nice about someone.
Decisions like this, as well as EU rulings such as the ‘right to be forgotten’ law, which means individuals can apply to Google to have them remove links to certain sites or articles on a SERP, makes the job of an SEO consultant more difficult. It seems in the future, we could have to be careful not to be *too* good just in case we damage someone else unreasonably.
Would you be willing to alter your content if you had impacted another business? Or is all fair in love and search rankings?