Forget net neutrality — do we need search neutrality as well? Pando reports that home automation company Vivint found itself mysteriously removed from Google search results this past winter just two weeks after the search giant officially announced its acquisition of rival home automation company Nest. Although Vivint is now appearing again in related searches, the company says it never got a clear explanation for why it was removed or why it took Google four months to restore its status. Per Pando, it seems Google told Vivint that it “had found external links into Vivint’s website that sat outside of its ‘quality guidelines,’” but it wouldn’t tell Vivint what those particular links were.
In the middle of January, Vivint, the Utah based home automation company that also produces smart thermostats, found itself with a surprising new rival. Google bought Nest and by virtue of acquisition Vivint was suddenly competing head to head with the Silicon Valley search giant. But Vivint — which was purchased by Blackstone in 2012 — certainly didn’t expect what happened next. Just two weeks later, Vivint was delisted from Google’s search results. According to Vivint, Google said it had found external links into Vivint’s website that sat outside of its “quality guidelines,” but Google wouldn’t confirm what those links were. The company was left to fish in the dark to figure out what it had done to upset its rival, to identify the offending links were and make repeat requests for reinstatement. When Rap Genius was removed from Google’s search results last year for getting bloggers to link to its website in exchange for social media exposure, everything was ironed out within two weeks. Vivint’s exile was much, much longer. The company finally started showing up on Google again this week — four months after it had disappeared.