Google defends search ranking system

Google has defended the way it ranks search results after the European Commission launched a preliminary inquiry in response to complaints about Google's business practices.

Google has defended the way it ranks search results after the European Commission launched a preliminary inquiry in response to complaints about Google's business practices.

Google ranking is a collection of algorithms used to seek out relevant and useful results for a user's query, said Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow responsible for the ranking system, in a blog post.

"We think that is a much better solution than a hand-arranged one," he said.

According to Singhal, an approach which relies heavily on an individual's tastes and preferences does not produce the quality and relevant ranking that Google's algorithms do.

"Given the hundreds of millions of queries we have to handle every day, it would not be feasible to handle each by hand," he said.

Singhal's comments follow an initial response from Julia Holtz, Google's senior competition counsel, who said Google was not doing anything to choke off competition or hurt partners.

Holtz said Google's business practices reflect a commitment to put its users' interests first and to compete fairly and squarely.

But Foundem, one of the companies that has complained to the EC, alleged that Google has a mechanism in place for overriding the automated process.

A Google spokesman said the company does not manually change search rankings for individual sites, but said it did have manual controls to flag certain websites for legal reasons and to clear websites that are flagged in error by the company's algorithms.

"Aside from these fringe cases, we do not manually change search rankings for individual sites. Changes to the algorithm, however, do have an impact on a wide variety of sites all at once," he said.

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