As a webmaster, I have a strong interest in making sure my pages are listed in the major search engines. Of course, there are many other webmasters, all attempting to ensure the same. This isn't a bad thing, it's the purpose of a search engine - to allow users to find new resources on the web.
To do this, a search engine must decide which search terms "keywords" apply to your site, and how relevant it is - the "rank". Here is where things start to get fun. Say you search for Bathroom Vanities [Google search], and a site doesn't come up. Does the owner of the site have a right to demand to be included, or does the Search Engine have the right to independently determine who is relevant and who isn't. And if the SE has that right, do they have the responsibility to inform the webmaster why his site is not relevant?
Google gives you no information about how and why a site is ranked or not. In fact, they won't even give the full results for a "link" search! Its a little like security by obscurity, which doesn't work. If you ask Google why you aren't included, all they'll tell you is that if you aren't banned (something they also don't notify you about,) just continue to build quality content, and you'll get ranked.
This all sounds good if the SE is a trusted third party, with no bias. But Google has a very large bias, specifically its $6.1 billion in revenue for 2005. This is mostly from search advertising. But if I, as an advertiser, show up high for my target keywords, then I don't spend as much on advertising for that keyword. If I drop in the rankings, I spend more. So to increase revenue, all Google has to do is make sure that sites that would be willing to advertise don't do well in the search results. That doesn't sound unbiased or trusted to me.
As well as the fact that Google made almost none of that money from content it created. It's all made off of content created by others. So the argument (made frequently) that Google doesn't owe a website anything is wrong. They owe everything to the owners of the sites listed in the index. After all, if all websites selling bathroom vanities removed themselves from the Google index, there would be no revenue from that sector at all.
Therefore, I believe that search engines have the responsibility to be more responsive to the people paying its bills. They should be required to explain a site's ranking, at least to the owner of the site, and be held accountable for the way the rank websites.
Item of the Day: Kitchen Faucet Pot Filler: Franke PF 2000