SEO: Mugshot Websites Punished by Google
Last week, Google released the “mugshot algorithm” that specifically targeted websites that re-posted people’s mugshots who were recently arrested.
This Google update devalued these websites in the search engine results pages and shoved them down where no one could see them.
Google told the New York Times 2 weeks ago:
“Our team has been working for the past few months on an improvement to our algorithms to address this overall issue in a consistent way. We hope to have it out in the coming weeks.”
A week later the change was made and the majority of the mugshots are now gone.
Mugshots.com responded with a 5,000 word rant about god knows what. Who is going to read all of that anyway?
Mugshots.com’s biggest issue is that Google is “concealing” the criminal history of people by burying them in the search results. This is so far from true. It’s ridiculous. If you want to find out if someone has been arrested you perform a background check.
Google Mugshot Algorithm Update
Websites like Busted Mugshots and Mugshots.com are making thousands of dollars every day by taking advantage of citizens who have not been proven guilty. They are also extorting people by advertising their “removal services” all over their websites and charging thousands of dollars to remove their photos.
Credit card merchants such as PayPal and MasterCard are refusing to do business with mugshot related websites.
Noah Hanft, a lawyer representing MasterCard stated:
“We looked at the activity and found it repugnant…They are in the process of terminating them.”
John Pluhowski of PayPal also responded similarly:
“When mug-shot removal services were brought to our attention and we made a careful review, we decided to discontinue support for mug-shot removal payments.”
Like it or hate it, Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.” Penalizing mugshot related sites in the search engine results pages seems to be in line with that.
This is not a freedom is speech issue. Google is not the government, they are a search engine. They can do whatever they want.
Personally, I am happy that this has happened. I have many friends that have been arrested and proven innocent and have had to help them get their photo removed from the search results.
June 2014 Update: Google did a great job on this update but unfortunately a few of these mugshot sites are now slipping through the cracks again. I only noticed because a friend of mine was pulled over for an expired drivers license and detained, photographed and is now having a ton of problems as the result of this photo. www.mugsh0t-catal0gs dot com is popping up for a number of individuals who have recently been arrested.
The payday loan algorithm update was definitely more of a challenge for Google than the mugshot algorithm update, but like the payday loan update I am hoping they will do a “2.0” update sooner than later to whisk away these nonsense sites.