Craig Timberg describes an effort by Robert Epstein and his Sunlight Society to monitor the results of search engines and the possibility that they can affect elections and probably many businesses, p/ A14, Economy and Business today, link.
Note the Post's new online little caption (or aphorism, or inevitable epigram), "Democracy dies in darkness".
The behavior of search engines early in the history of the Internet helped amateurs, as sites with simpler technology and direct or hard-coded links tended to score higher that results generated by internal database searches. In more recent years, search engines have tended to rank results from more “professional” or “institutional” sources higher than in the past. This does help people defend their online reputations from possible attacks from rivals.