My sister’s a quilter and Google mugged her!

On my home page you’ll always see a link to Portrait Quilts, my sister’s website where for several years she has sold quilts, pillows, and tote bags printed with customer photographs. This is how she makes her living, selling on the web and through photo stores. Buy one, please. Or if you are a quilter she’ll print your photos on cloth so you can quilt them yourself.

Then approximately three months ago Google decided that Portrait Quilts does not exist.

You can find a Google listing for portraitquilts.com, if you search for that specific string, but if you look for photo quilts or any similar search term, Portrait Quilts -- which for years was always the top result -- no longer appears. My sister’s web traffic and her income were instantly and dramatically reduced for her biggest season of the year, Christmas.

I’m her big brother and feel protective but I didn’t know about it until this week when I came for a visit. You see in addition to making quilts day and night my sister has been caring for our 89 year-old mother who was just diagnosed with a particularly nasty kind of cancer. Mom begins chemotherapy on Thursday. Pray for her.

To whom do you complain at Google, a company that prefers machine-to-machine communication? Nobody, it seems, because my sister has tried. You’d think if they were going to claim 70 percent of America’s search traffic they’d at least do it fairly, but no. Nobody at Google will respond.

There are plenty of search engine optimization companies that will take my sister’s money and pretend to do something about this problem, but when you press them to explain their techniques it always comes down to bullshit.

No search engine optimization company can make Google index something Google doesn’t want to index.

She could always buy traffic with Google AdWords, but wouldn’t that be extortion? I mean there simply aren’t that many photo quilt companies on the Internet and for a big one to disappear entirely from Google and have to buy its way back on, well that sure sounds like a racket to me.

But wait, there’s more!

My little sister is not without friends. She is, in fact, quite well known in the computer, software, and Internet industries and not for her quilts or for being my little sister. She founded PC Data, the largest PC market research firm, now part of the NPD Group. My little sister knows people who know people.

One of those people is Gordon Eubanks, ex-Digital Research and later CEO of Symantec. Gordon offered to take her complaint to his buddy Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google.

Eric Schmidt said he was sorry but he couldn’t help.

Now I’m angry.

If you are an Internet entrepreneur who has been similarly dissed by Google, let me know. If you found a way to resolve a similar problem, let me know. If you are one of the hundreds of Googlers who read this column, tell me how to fix this.

Because up until a couple months ago this looked like it was going to be a blockbuster Christmas for Portrait Quilts. Not anymore.

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