When we compiled our Most Wanted List we came to a point where it became difficult to identify the higher ups in some Google departments. We decided at the outset to focus more on the Search and “Trust and Safety” departments than others which is why eventually our Trust and Safety suit included the likes of Jayakumar Sundaramurthy. Sundaramurthy is someone with a small online footprint which tells us little more than the fact that he claims to be a Senior Manager in Trust and Safety at Google.
We have procrastinated on posting him here long enough and look forward to moving on to bigger fish with sizeable digital footprints. Part of the reason for our procrastination was that we still really don’t know much about this guy. The other reason is that Google’s tactics have changed. Those changes have made penalties less obvious to webmasters.
When Google first began penalizing sites like ours they would just nuke the things sort of speak. By that we mean that we could tell instantly when they banned sites like ours from ranking in search results for personal identifies like name and location. We would see sudden overnight drops in organic search traffic with the only remaining traffic being for thing unrelated to people. Today, they seem to be gradually applying penalties in ways more consistent with what Pandu Nayak described last year.
We have noticed results from sites like ours disappear from Google. In the past, webmasters could simply run a script that changed URLs periodically, so those removals were almost always temporary. When Google found the new URLs they would index them and the rank them about the same. Today, we noticed that an item indexed at a new URL was still being suppressed in searches for the subject even though the domain itself still ranks for names and locations of other people.
The message here to whoever Google assigned to watch this site is that we’re on to them and will not tolerate their censorship. We meant it when we said that we would research another Google employee and publish the results of that research whenever we catch Google removing stuff from search without giving the webmaster notice let alone asking for permission. If Google has a problem with that, they can simply go back to doing their best to accomplish the stated mission of their company by not removing anything from search unless they don’t have a choice.
For those of you new to this site, our main gripe is that Google got where they are today by doing their best to accomplish their stated mission which is, “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” (source: Google) and that they’ve been deliberately acting counter to that statement over recent years. Specifically, it is not possible to both make information accessible/useful and suppress information at the same time unless the suppression makes what the user seeks more accessible/useful. For instance, if a potential search result is not relevant to a query, then suppressing it furthers Google’s mission, but when relevant and useful results are buried just because they are false or just make people look bad they defeat the purpose of using Google in the first place. Some might argue that if something is not true or likely false that it is no longer relevant, but research has shown that is not true because users find uses for false or allegedly false information. Even if that use is simply that they looked into it and learned the allegations were not true, they still found relevant information useful because without it they would not have run the background check or learned what they did learn. Relevance and accuracy are not the same thing. See Our Manifesto for more information.
Also, we’ve noticed some cases in which people have vanished from Google results entirely as if they never existed. These appear to be cases in which most relevant search results for a name/location came from sites like ours. For instance, if your top 10 Google results consist of your website, your Facebook, your LinkedIn, your Twitter, and six negative articles about you, you might Google yourself tomorrow and find nothing about you at all. It is like Google is saying that if most relevant results for a query make someone look bad, don’t return any relevant results. It is as if they’re saying that the subject’s desire not to searched outweighs the searcher’s desire to find all relevant information about them. That position is consistent with recent legislation from the European Union which Google has chosen to force upon the rest of the world when they should be using their status as an American company to service Europeans from abroad in direct defiance of the EU.
Google claims such changes are necessary to improve the quality of their results. We admit that changes were needed due to too much duplicate content ranking high one after the other, but the change needed was to do a better job selecting which item to treat as the original. Remember that even if the only relevant search result for a query is full of false information it still should be number one on Google for the query by virtue of there being no other relevant items. If Google suppresses the item it is as if they’re deciding that users are better off with no information than false information. That is not true for the simple fact that being the target of false information tells you that someone has a dysfunctional person in their life.
If censorship is such an important part of search quality then why did they back off so much? We don’t know for sure, but we think it is due to the media attention dying down and a desire by Google to make making good on their policy as cost effective as possible. When Google tells webmasters that their domain has suffered a penalty making it impossible to rank for your most important search terms no matter what you do, every SEO in the world knows what that means. It means that you have two choices. The first choice is to fix the site and the second choice is to start over. If the issue with the site is the content itself and your goal is to make that content rank, then fixing the “site” is not an option. That leaves starting over as the only option. Starting over made sense for us in the case of business reviews because when hosted on a site which also hosted complaints about individuals, Google treated the site as if it were a gripe site dedicated to individuals even though most complaints were about businesses. Google has publicly stated that they’re not targeting business review sites, so it made sense for us to start over by moving all business reviews to a new domain. That way Google should treat business reviews as business reviews.
There is nothing wrong with re-branding and changing domain names. However, it can cause users to become confused. They often see articles about them on new domains and think someone is posting stuff about them again. Some other webmasters have taken to changing domain names every couple of months which can exacerbate this problem significantly. This confusion would probably not exist if it were not for Google censorship. If Google stops wasting money making their core product less valuable then webmasters would never be forced to quarantine offensive content, move the rest of the content, and buy new domains just to recover some of their numbers. Such necessities result in Google employees having to process an endless que or removal requests unless they can find a way to suppress the source entirely. That is where the penalty comes into play. When The New York Times told their readers about Google’s policy they were surely overwhelmed with removal requests. They realized the best way to look competent was by manually directing their bot to only rank them for their brands/domains or just not rank them for personal identifiers. The Times then praised Google for their efforts, but noted that they didn’t get all the sites. The site identified as having been missed was quickly nuked. These changes were not due to algorithms.
Google does appear to be doing some things algorithmically, but it is still derived from manual inputs. Their computer clearly remembers the names of individuals they’ve falsely labeled as “victims” and the sites articles were removed from. Then they simply won’t rank anything from that site for any query containing that name. They also claim to use the same keyword list (a.k.a. “known victims”) on every real victim. The real victims of course being the sites on the second list. Sites that Google won’t rank regardless of the quality of their content just because they have a philosophical disagreement with their removal policies.
Today Google is acting more like they were in the months leading up to The New York Times series. Trying to float under the radar by removing individual items and banning sites from raking for those specific items. This satisfies demand for their removal service by decreasing the number of repeat customers. It also improves their reputation by reducing the number of people sure to complain if they end up filling out forms over and over again (ex: “worked fine for me”). Not alerting webmasters to this is key to reducing repeat customers. Webmasters keep doing business as usually not noticing the lost traffic because their site’s overall traffic stays the same or only decreases slightly. However, anomalies eventually become obvious in Google Search Console (GSC). When comparing the best performing keywords and pages for some sites, the names that generated traffic months ago are not the same names generating traffic today. The metrics just look better because the sites have more names ranking. An unsuspecting webmaster might be satisfied with the steady increase in traffic and never bother to figure out what the traffic is for. A diligent webmaster will eventually realize that the increase in traffic should be much higher.
Finally, changing site policies to avoid running afoul of Google’s new policy is not an option because Google never lifts the penalty.
What we could find about Sundaramurthy is as follows:
Sued for Personal Injury?: This case appears to involve a motor vehicle accident in California. The Defendant is named Jayakumar Sundaramurthy which is a name so rare we could only find a couple others in the world. The likelihood of the defendant in this lawsuit not being this guy is quite small in our opinion, but if you bother reading it (which we have not) keep in mind that it could be against someone else entirely. It could also be completely frivolous as far as we know.
Email: [email protected]
Last known address:
JAYAKUMAR D SUNDARAMURTHY
3263 CRANBROOK PL DUBLIN, CA 94568-8772