It all started when I noticed that my Bing Local business listing was still pending review, 2 months after I verified my address by mail. Not only was my local web design business not listed when I searched “Pleasanton Web Design,” but neither was any other web design company in Pleasanton. Web design companies in Livermore, Fremont, Sunnyvale and Alameda were the closest Bing could come up with. I wrote about it on my blog. To make a long story shorter, I titled the article “Bing Local Search Drives Traffic to YellowPages.com by Sucking.” Do I have proof that it is deliberate? No. Is it happening? Sure looks like it to me.
If not one pleasanton web design company is listed in a Bing local search for “pleasanton web design,” I’m obviously not the only person who is having problems with Bing Local. As a sidenote, try searching “Bing Local Sucks” on Google, and Google will remove the word “local” from your search automatically. You have to click on a link at the bottom to have the word included, even though you typed it in the search box.
As I am accustomed to do, I checked my rank on Google for the term “Bing Local Yellowpages.com” the next day to see how I was indexed. I had a preliminary hit on page one, really the Digg of my article. The next day, however the Digg listing was gone from the Google index, as I determined by searching the exact title of the article with quotes. The article itself has not been indexed, which is not that unusual as it’s been less than two weeks, and it can take that long. I have a number of blog posts written since that have been indexed and are ranking well, but I’ll give it another week before I suggest that the listings might have been removed.
Can a huge corporation pressure a search engine like Google to remove unfavorable information from it’s index? If so, is this censorship? Search engines have a lot of power in shaping our view of the world by controlling the information we see. If accurate, negative reviews or other embarrassing information is removed from the search engines, it does a disservice to everyone, except those unscrupulous businesses who would prey on people as long as they can fly under the radar.