When Google's Algorithms Attack!

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Direct marketers spend a lot of time and money building websites that show up high in Google search rankings. The range of practices to build their sites ranges from the merely annoying (emailing people begging for links) to the Google-outlawed (paying for links from sites with high pagerank). It's a tedious and painstaking process to become the site that comes up first when you search "gourmet gift basket for mom," and once you're there, that ranking is worth a lot.

AllThingsD highlighted an Inc Magazine piece on what happened to GourmetGiftBaskets.com when Google wiped the company from its index: that single move cost the small enterprise $4 million.

When Ryan Abood looked at the books for his parents' New Hampshire flower shop, one number popped out. Without a bit of advertising, sales of gift baskets had grown 400 percent.

For a year and a half, he worked a hundred hours a week to make his spinoff, GourmetGiftBaskets.com, into the third-largest player in his niche. Then, one day, he woke up to find that Google, the source of 80 percent of the company's revenue, had banished his site from its search results.

Read the full story at Inc.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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