Google has denied claims that recent modifications it made to its search algorithm were intended to penalise rivals that use its internet marketing services by reducing their visibility on the service.

The changes, known as the Panda update, came into effect in the UK last week, with the result that many companies saw their websites fall down the rankings in the firm's search engine results pages.

One of the worst affected services was, a Microsoft-owned company that has been involved in a competition dispute with Google, which saw its visibility fall by 94 per cent.

However, Google's head of search evaluation Scott Huffman described any notion that the results may have been rigged as "almost absurd".

He added that the search engine's users had reacted positively to the updates, the BBC reports.

The company added that it frequently makes changes to the way it ranks sites in order to ensure its searches are as accurate as possible and filter out so-called 'content farms'.

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