Blogstorm reports that a website in Holland has lost a lawsuit brought about by its Google results seeming to imply that a company had gone bankrupt, despite not actually saying that on the page. This has some wide implications.
If you type in a two-word query into Google, the search engine will return a list of pages which feature both words. For each page, you’ll see the title, and under that, a couple of lines of text. If the two words are in close proximity on the page, those two lines of text will be a “snippet” from the page which contains the two words. (Our Insider Programme members know all about manipulating this text).
However, if the two words are a fair distance apart on the page, the descriptive text will have two shorter “snippets” (one for each word), separated by an ellipsis (“…”). Read together, this could imply a whole new meaning to what’s actually on the page.
Nobody is suggesting that we should be responsible for our Google results resulting from strange two-word queries. However, it would appear that in the Dutch case, the problem was that the company didn’t take steps to get things changed when a complaint was received. This could happen to any of us – and would you know what to do if it did?