Google creates algorithm to weed out bad online retailers

google algorithm

Google has created an algorithm it says will ensure that bad online retailers don't appear at the top of search engine results. Image: CC Gustavo Pimenta/Flickr

Google has created a search algorithm designed to demote bad online retailers that deliver an unpleasant customer experience. Google created the algorithm in response to a story about a particularly abusive website that sells eye wear. It turns out that the bad online retailer discovered a large number of negative comments was improving its Google search rankings.

The bad online retailer strategy

Google created a search algorithm to weed out bad online retailers in response to a New York Times article about an eye wear site called DecorMyEyes had been turning up on web watchdog and consumer complaint sites for years. The Times article reported that DecorMyEyes was bullying, threatening and ripping off customers for a reason. Unsatisfied customers are more likely to post comments. The more negative comments people posted on the site, the higher the site rose in Google Search results. The more hits it collected, the more sales it made and the more customers it abused. The cycle built on itself until DecorMyEyes was at the top of page one of searches for certain brands of eye wear.

Google demotes DecorMyEyes

Soon after the Times article about DecorMyEyes was published, Google went to work on an algorithmic solution that would end the search engine reward for bad online retailers. Google’s Amit Singhal told reporters Thursday that his team developed an algorithmic solution that immediately went live. Singhal didn’t reveal details about how Google detects bad online retailers, but on Thursday DecorMyEyes was buried deep within the Google search results on page seven. Singhal did say that the algorithmic solution isn’t based on negative comments, because if it was, most elected officials would be hard to search for.

Google opens another can of worms

Google’s algorithm to weed out bad online retailers doesn’t sit well with everyone. Rob Spiegel at E-Commerce Times said Google’s algorithm change could make it possible for bad retailers to attack competitors with negative comments that weaken their rankings. Plus, Google has now gone beyond the search realm into policing the web — a fact that concerns people who are nervous about Google’s growing economic power.


New York Times

PC World

E Commerce Times

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