Google is no stranger to court cases, some ruling in their favour, others, not so much. In June 2016, the search engine giant was sued by e-ventures Worldwide LLC, for de-indexing several of their websites. The problem arises from the fact that Google actioned this through an anonymous tip, from an unknown, unverified source.
The court case aimed to challenge Google’s ability to arbitrarily change and de-index sites on their platform. A final ruling was decided upon in February 2017, which ultimately favoured Google, however, it was not a total victory.
The presiding judge ruled that Google was protected by the First Amendment (the freedom of speech and freedom of press for those non-Americans) and therefore has the right to arbitrarily and independently decide the ranking of sites on their search engine based on their site guidelines.
There was however, a catch. Google will now have to investigate and verify the information and tips they receive regarding sites that violate their guidelines. So what does this mean for websites and online businesses?
Yes, Google can de-index your pages, but they must provide sufficient and verified evidence to support this action. Unfounded and malicious tips can no longer be actioned upon, protecting you and your site from competitors.
Ultimately, this court case does not impact the way in which SEO is performed, but it does provide some security for websites and a code of standards to which Google must obey.