Opinion Brief

The 'DecorMyEyes' scandal: Is Google responsible?

An eyewear e-commerce site has found a Google loophole: The more it provokes its customers to complain online, the higher it ranks in Google searches

One shady online merchant is applying the old maxim "all publicity is good publicity" to internet marketing, using customer complaints to improve his Google ranking and draw more business. In The New York Times, David Segal reports on Vitaly Borker, a "thuggish Russia-born Brooklynite" who operates an online eyeglasses store called DecorMyEyes. Borker routinely angers, rips off, and threatens customers, who then leave scathing reviews on blogs and consumer sites — comments that only raise DecorMyEyes rank in Google search results for eyeglasses. Is Google to blame for the hundreds of customers who have reportedly been swindled? (Watch a DecorMyEyes promo)

Yes, Google needs to improve its search function: "Google absolutely can tell if a business has a lot of positive or negative reviews," says Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land. Its Google Product Search function offers that information, even if its regular search results do not. Since Google has the technology, it should simply include customer ratings in all types of searches.
"Google's 'Gold Standard' Search Results Take Big Hit In New York Times Story"

Google needs to do something: The solution is "not as simple as it seems," says Jeff Jarvis in The Huffington Post. If Google starts tinkering with its algorithms, it may compromise the value of its search results in unintended ways. Instead, Google should set up a "jury of peers" to arbitrate cases like Borker's.
"What should Google do?"

No, this isn't really a Google issue: "The focus on Google and search's role in this saga... is a bit misguided," says Christopher Carfi at The Social Customer Manifesto. While "the Google angle is the hook that makes this story timely," this is ultimately about a businessman and an unhappy customer, not the failure of Google. Customers need to be smart and "do a modicum of research before engaging in a transaction with an unknown....""Flipping off the customer for fun and profit"

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