We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,259 News Articles

Google search update punishes bad businesses

Algorithms modified to detect negative reviews

In an uncharacteristically public way, Google has acknowledged modifying its search engine so it can identify businesses that provide bad service and lower their search results rankings accordingly.

Google took action after a recent story in The New York Times detailed the tactics of an online eyeware store owner who claimed his site's high Google rankings were directly proportional to the many complaints posted by upset customers.

"I've exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?," Vitaly Borker, founder and owner of DecorMyEyes, told the Times.

That tactic won't work anymore, Google said. "I am here to tell you that being bad is, and hopefully will always be, bad for business in Google’s search results," wrote Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, in a blog post.

Without going into much detail, Singhal said Google developed "an algorithmic solution" that flags merchants that provide "an extremely poor user experience" and assigns them lower rankings. This is an initial solution to the problem, which Google will continue addressing, he said.

Incidentally, Singhal disputed that DecorMyEyes' ranking benefitted from the many complaints posted online against it. Rather, its ranking was helped ironically by articles from reputable media sources about the company's troubles.

The situation is also leading Google to work on making its "sentiment analysis" search system more of a factor in results ranking. Currently, Google hasn't found a way to give this system more weight without disproportionately affecting the ranking of controversial people or topics.

The Times article clearly struck a nerve at Google, which runs the world's most popular search engine and prides itself on delivering what it considers the best and most relevant results through constant and intense improvements and innovations.

Thanks to its popularity with users, Google dominates the highly profitable search engine advertising market. Last year, Google had $23.6 billion in revenue, most of it from search advertising.

Although hundreds of disgruntled customers had posted complaints about DecorMyEyes online -- including allegations of personal harassment and intimidation by Borker -- the store enjoyed high rankings for eyewear queries for years.

"We can't say for sure that no one will ever find a loophole in our ranking algorithms in the future. We know that people will keep trying: attempts to game Google’s ranking, like the ones mentioned in the article, go on 24 hours a day, every single day," Singhal wrote.

"We will continue to work hard towards a better search," he added.


IDG UK Sites

Where to buy iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the UK: Launch day price, deals and contracts

IDG UK Sites

Is Apple losing confidence in itself?

IDG UK Sites

Professional photo and video techniques for perfect colours

IDG UK Sites

How (and where) to buy an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus in the UK. Plus: What to do if you pre-ordered...