Suppose you are searching with your name on Google and find among the top results a link to your mugshot taken for a case adjudicated earlier and you were found innocent. Surely, you will be flabbergasted and strive to get it off from the search results as soon as possible. This is where mugshot websites come in. They will ask you to pay for removing it from their websites and you are left with no option other than making the payment. These types of websites charge $30 to $400 for removing the mugshot and other details. Thankfully, Google has taken measures to address this exploitation. It has released its new mugshot algorithm on Thursday (October 3, 2013) to crack down on such malicious websites.
Typically, mugshot website owners browse government websites and collect arrest details and photographs from them. After that, they create landing pages using this data and optimize their mugshot websites to gain higher ranking in search engines. Google started its combat against these sites earlier in 2012 by expunging some mugshot sites from AdSense. Googleâ€™s spokesperson Jason Freidenfelds had given a hint regarding this while speaking to New York Times recently. He said that the Google team had been working on an algorithm change for the past few months to address this issue. However, the algorithm launch was rather quick.
The new algorithm primarily aims at lowering the PageRank of mugshot sites and avoiding them from being predominantly present on the top pages. As per the New York Times report mentioned earlier, Google has taken action against certain mugshot sites including Mugshots.com and BustedMugshots.com by taking them off from the front pages of search results. The report also says that two mugshots of a victim seen predominantly in image search were removed since the inception of the algorithm.
Even so, it is a matter of concern that Google is still not considering these fraudulent sites as illegal and de-indexing them (a notable suggestion given by experts earlier to curb the fraud practices of mugshot sites). If you search for mugshots on Google, you can still find them on search results as given below.
Nevertheless, this new algorithm from Google poses a threat to the SEO efforts taken by mugshot websites. It comes as a great relief to innocent people who are victimized on account of their mugshots taken earlier.