Does Free Speech Keep Websites From Getting De-Indexed?

Compute Hand pointer hovering over red ban button

News spread throughout the Internet world about Google’s and GoDaddy’s pulling the plug on The Daily Stormer’s domain after the violent protests that occurred a few days prior in Charlottesville, Virginia on the University of Virginia’s campus.

The Daily Stormer is a white supremacist website that GoDaddy, the domain’s hosting service, dropped in response to the groups alleged violent racist protest that left one dead one several injured.

Google decided a few days later to remove the website and its domain from its index libraries. It is speculated that Google de-indexed the website due to violations of Google’s terms of service. The delay on the part of Google may give the impression that the search engine giant acted in response to peer pressure and took the site down because it stated a controversial, unpopular opinion.

It is not common for websites and their corresponding domains to get pulled by both services.

Both GoDaddy and Google have “rules of play” or “terms of service” website owners must abide by to avoid getting their websites blacklisted and banned. GoDaddy, Google and many social media sites have clauses in their terms of service stating the ban of web properties that advocate pornography, racism and terrorism. Special interest websites and social media accounts that incite violence are also subject to getting banned.

The most common reason that GoDaddy no longer hosts domains is because the domain names expire and the website owner fails to renew it. Once a website’s domain registration expires, the owner has multiple chances to save and keep the domain before GoDaddy takes away the domain and sells it.

How Can a Website Get Banned in Google?

Google is the mother of search engines.  Webmasters and SEOers toil to satisfy it as well as their targets online Internet users. If you don’t follow Google algorithms, your website will likely go unnoticed, lost in the chaos and noise of the millions of other websites out there. The algorithms are constantly changing as Google finds better, improved ways to deliver a better Internet search experience to web users.

Just as Google has a “to do” list to get your website to rank in search results, it also has a “no-no” list with penalties ranging from a small slap on the wrist to getting your website removed and de-indexed.

The following are things that can warrant a potentially devastating penalty of getting your site de-indexed by Google:

Copyright or DMCA Claims. Copying someone else’s content or using another’s video or image without permission is frowned upon by Google. Make sure the content you publish is completely original and unique and either use your own original photos or properly link to and cite the source.

Paid Links. Google hates unnatural links. The fishy, unethical link baiting and purchasing links of link building of years past is what brought about Google’s Penguin algorithm.

Keyword Stuffing. Another looked down upon practice of past link building practices was keyword stuffing. This is where a linked targeted keyword appeared too frequently in the copy of a webpage. To avoid getting penalized, use keywords sparingly and naturally.

Masking Keywords. Some SEOers tried to get around the Penguin and Panda algorithms by hiding keywords in the background of a webpage in a practice called keyword masking.

Spammy or Malicious Links. Linking to spammy or malicious websites is a sure way to get Google to drop your website. After all, Google wants to deliver the best browsing experience to customers. Getting re-directed to a malicious site is not.

Not Following Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird Algorithms. Google’s Panda algorithm came out in response to the influx of websites that had irrelevant, useless, copyrighted content that was stuffed with excessive use of keywords. The penguin algorithm came out a few years later to punish websites that participated in unethical link-building practices such as buying links. The latest algorithm, the hummingbird looks more at long-tail keywords and each word within a search query.

There are many websites out there. Not all of them are associated with businesses. There are some websites that are blogs or special interest. Whether one has a website for business or for personal use, a website is a form of public expression.

Did Google and GoDaddy overstep their right and infringe on free speech or were they right to exercise their right to censor and ban the Daily Stormer website and its domain?

If Google and GoDaddy have the right to censor which domains they host and register and which websites to crawl and rank, what will be their boundaries?

Could it be that cases such as what happened with Daily Storm will become more common in the future?

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