Jay Rockefeller to Google: Clean up your search results

West Virginia U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller has a message for Google: it’s time to clean up your search results.

The West Virginia Democrat, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has reportedly issued  a letter to the search engine giant, writing that his staff has conducted a number of search queries that have revealed companies with pending consumer complaints ranking near the top of many search results.

“My staff has conducted a number of test searches using your company’s search engine. Frequently, Internet moving brokers identified in the investigation, which received high numbers of consumer complaints, ranked highly in the search results,” wrote Mr. Rockefeller. “Based upon evidence obtained through the investigation, it appears that some of these companies may be ‘gaming the system’ in order to boost their search rankings.”

The West Virginia Democrat questioned whether Google should adjust their algorithm, noting that link schemes and other various techniques of increasing a site’s pagerank seem to remain effective despite Google’s assertions that such techniques are countered with updates to its algorithm.

“These companies appear to be using paid links to inflate their popularity. For example, one company had tens of thousands of external links to its website and, upon closer review, these links proved to be largely irrelevant,” the West Virginia senator writes. “Because I know that our company devotes significant time and resources to improving the quality of your users’ searches, I am sharing the results of my Committee’s investigation with you and asking you to review them.”

Writing Tuesday,. Mr. Rockefeller notes that, upon further review by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, he will pursue the matter with his fellow U.S. senators. The West Virginia Democrat said the search results were simply a matter of protecting consumers, which Mr. Rockefeller said rely heavily on Google and its increasingly important role within the world of commerce and information and data sharing.

“Internet search is a powerful tool for consumers. It helps them learn more about products and services they are interested in purchasing, and it helps them find the best price and value when they decide to buy. Unfortunately, the Committee’s investigation shows that a number of moving companies are using Internet-based commerce to take advantage of consumers.”