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.
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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 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."
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