Online business uses customer rage to game Google
So there’s this guy. He sells eyewear online. Depending on your point of view, this guy is either an online marketing Machiavelli or a complete and utter douchebag. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call him Dick.
Like we said, Dick runs an eyewear business, but he’s only an intermediary. When you place an order with his site, he then goes looking for your product (or close enough) on eBay. Not all his customers seem to realize this in advance. They used words like fraud. Eventually, they complained so much that Dick “stopped caring.”
As forums and consumer advocate sites filled up with indignant complaints, Dick noticed his site was creeping ever higher up Google’s search engine results. Dick believed he had identified a quirk in Google’s algorithm, so he put his theory to the test by unleashing über-Dick.
Dick soon discovered that the old cliché about ‘no such thing as bad publicity’ was a cliché for a reason. The more abuse he gave his customers, the more ‘your hand’s in the fire — it’s time to get burned’ threats he (allegedly) uttered, the more exterior photos of customers’ homes he (allegedly) emailed his more persistent complainers… the higher his site climbed on Google.
Since then, Dick has become something of a troll. He hangs out in the advocacy sites, boasts about how all the haters are earning him money. He brags that if you Google a particular brand of glasses, his site will appear above that of the designer.
As for stiffing his customers, he knows exactly how many reversed charges per month trigger action by the credit card companies. Depending on where his ‘balance’ sits, he adjusts his behavior accordingly. You hear that, you hating haters? Dick is working all the systems and getting paid. He even tells reporters which keywords to add to give him the biggest possible bump from their online articles about Dick.
For their part, Google are (as usual) saying little, fearful of giving away any details that savvy search engine optimization (SEO) types could pick up and turn to their advantage. However, Google claims to have tweaked their algorithm to assign lower ranking to merchants who provide an ‘extremely poor user experience.’ Also, other SEO experts have disputed Dick’s claims that negativity drove his success, giving credit instead to “a combination of black-hat techniques and dumb luck.” (We believe this is the exact phrase BetUS execs use to explain their company’s high Google rankings.)
Well, we suppose we should be grateful that Google responded to all the bad publicity so quickly, but their move has thrown a serious wrench into our plans. See, after hearing Dick’s tale, we were debating putting Cole Turner in charge of this site’s customer service. We figured that if a dick like Dick can drive traffic, then an asshole like Cole will have this site outranking HuffPo by Christmas. Guess it’s back to the drawing board…