Last weekend, The New York Times reported on Vitaly Borker, a shady retailer who gamed Google's system by provoking negative online reviews of his eyewear website, DecorMyEyes, after discovering that nasty comments raised his site's ranking in Google search results. Google quickly responded to the widely read article, saying that it was "horrified" by Borker's tactics and had "developed an algorithmic solution" to identify online merchants that "provide an extremely poor user experience." Will this fix its search-results problem?
Maybe, but it's really a PR move: Google's rapid intervention shows that the company is appropriately concerned about its image, says Desire Athow at ITProPortal. The New York Times "still has immense clout," and Google, which is currently being investigated by the European Union, is "walking on egg shells" these days.
"Google & Decor My Eyes: Is the EU Commission watching?"
But it's not an effective solution: "The tweaked algorithm is good customer relations," says Jared Newman at PC World. But "Google's knee-jerk reaction won't solve" its dilemma. The search engine primarily delivers links to other sites rather than providing direct information. "As long as that's the case, savvy and unscrupulous business owners will always try to game the system."
"Google Search's bad business move: Just a Band-Aid measure"
Google may have gone too far: While Google's solution is "actually pretty remarkable," says Lance Ulanoff at PC Mag, I worry that not every business that Google deems as providing a "poor user experience" will really be deserving of Google's banishment. What if a company is trying to clean up its act? It won't matter. "In Google's new world, bad actors are always bad actors."
"Google: Judge, jury and online shopping executioner"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How I lost all my money
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- George W. Bush 'ran the country like a cable network,' and other political insights from Chris Rock
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- 3 key insights about Obama from Chuck Todd's The Stranger
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
Subscribe to the Week