When it comes to Google search, there is finally such a thing as bad press

29 Dec

Here’s a way to get your website to perform better in search: Treat your customers like shit. Be a pig. Yell at them. Swear at them. Threaten them with sexual assault. Sue them.

Then sit back and watch your website climb the almighty rankings.

Believe it or not, this has been the strategy of DecorMyEyes, an online eyewear site, as explained in this article in the New York Times.

The idea by the business’s proprietor, a walking aneurysm of a man named Vitaly Borker, a.k.a. Tony Russo, a.k.a. Stanley Bolds, was to generate complaints and negative reviews so his site would be swamped with interest. Which it was.

As a result of this, Google felt compelled to alter their search algorithm to identify “poor user experience” and adjust downwards accordingly. Here is the Google statement on the matter.

You know, good riddance and I hear Vitaly/Tony/Stan is making friends in prison.

But that’s a lot more power all of sudden in Google’s mitts.

Pseudonym Man’s case is pretty easy to call. But can an algorithm be trusted to judge issues that aren’t always so black and white?

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5 Responses to “When it comes to Google search, there is finally such a thing as bad press”

  1. Scribbler9 December 29, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    On one hand, it’s good to have the bad press along with the good, but not all cases of ‘customer complaints’ fall under bad service. Traveladvisor.com for instance, where some of the negative reviews make me wonder what the people are/were expecting in the first place. Complaining that the sun rose early, or the roosters were constantly crowing (Hawaii)…does that really fall under customer service?

    Good point on the black & white. What is/can be a determining factor?

  2. dougbrowncreative December 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    The Google algorithm is not sophisticated enough to do anything more than affix values to words and calculate accordingly. The subtle variances of human communication need to be moderated by people, otherwise judges would have been replaced by computers last year. But it’s a crazy world isn’t it Scribbler when a business goes out of its way to be nasty for the sake of some short term trending spike. Vitaly? What an idiot.

  3. Mario Parise December 30, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    Regarding the question of whether we can trust an algorithm, I say yes.

    Google’s business is dependant on always having the absolute most relevant results. They can’t start favouring or censoring those results for political or moral motivations, because then they’ll be less relevant. And there’s plenty of competition chomping at the bit to take Google down. It wouldn’t take much.

    So I don’t think this is a case of Google passing moral judgment on our multi-named friend, so much as it is a case of recognizing that he was tricking them into displaying results of low relevance.

    (I’m not saying Google can do no wrong. They can in a lot of ways. But they would be just plain stupid to mess with their core strength.)

    • dougbrowncreative December 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

      But I get the feeling Mario that you’re attaching human qualities to the Google algorithm. These are two different issues: Google’s objectives (which are human and emotionally driven); Google’s tactic to realize the objectives (which is an algorithm).

      PS> Great to hear from you!

  4. Mario Parise December 31, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    Good point.

    That said, there aren’t enough people on the planet to make those judgment calls. (And even if there were, you’d have to come up with a way to make sure people were making fair judgments.)

    Far more likely is that AI will continue to advance to the point where machines really are “sophisticated enough to do […] more than affix values to words and calculate accordingly.”

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