Trolling As An Ecommerce Strategy? Online Store Increases Google Rank Via Obnoxious (Perhaps Criminal) Service

from the that-can't-last dept

A few folks sent over this rather bizarre, but entertaining, story in the NY Times about a guy who operates an online ecommerce shop for eyewear out of his home office, and seems to have done quite well… in part by being a total jackass. The story is almost unbelievable. I’m not going to name the site, because, as is noted in the article, the guy thrives on having his site named in various places, which has only served to boost the Google juice for it. However, the guy discovered that the more complaints he got online, the higher his site ranked in Google, leading to more sales. Yes, if you do a search on the site’s actual name, there are tons of complaints warning people to stay away — but many of his customers don’t actually do that. They just search on a brandname of glasses, and his site pops out at the top. The guy seems proud of his strategy of being totally obnoxious to “psycho” customers. It’s clear that this is a cultivated strategy — as the guy runs another store on Amazon where he’s careful to take care of customers, since Amazon apparently will kick you off pretty quickly over complaints.

It’s pretty clear that the big problem here is in how Google ranks such sites. As the article points out, again, Google has plenty of information about such ecommerce providers in its system — such as on its shopping site, where there are tons of negative reviews — but Google doesn’t currently surface such information.

It seems like this is a temporary situation, though, as search filters should only get better over time, and will provide more ways of filtering out the bad players like this guy. Though, from the sound of things in the article, other issues may take care of this guy first, as it sounds like almost every other service provider the NY Times spoke to about this guy canceled his account about the time the article was published — and the guy also may have been arrested for some of his statements to customers that certainly appear to be threats to do them bodily harm. Of course, a quick check on his website shows that it’s still up…

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Trolling As An Ecommerce Strategy? Online Store Increases Google Rank Via Obnoxious (Perhaps Criminal) Service”

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Chris Mikaitis (profile) says:

Anyone with me?

I tend to agree with this guy… he makes it very clear what his business is…. i.e. taking orders from ‘marks’ and then buying crap from others and having it delivered to those same people. He is still providing a service, and when I visited his site he makes no warranty claim etc…

I’m not sure what the problem is… I absolutely agree that it is not sustainable, but is he any more of a dick than a traditional middleman? A person that buys from a company and acts as a middleman but doesn’t provide a guarantee on services….

At some point in the future, the public needs to get smart about what they purchase online… and until then… I almost think this guy is a hero because he is working within the boundaries (screwing some customers), and teaching people what online shopping should be… it isn’t a paradise… it’s shopping.

Anonymous Coward says:

Google has turned into a joke. Lots of dead wood. Sure it found 10,000 links but most of them are DEAD! After the first page of links it becomes a waste of time to even look at them. They need to verify their links before posting them to the user. Simple matter actually: Simply set up a background task on their databases to test their links and delete the ones that aren’t active. Some of the sorriest database management I have ever seen. I have worked on the servers of over 3500 corporations and even GM isn’t as bad as Google. Sorry maintenance! I want a list of the employees working on Google’s databases so I don’t hire them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Interesting how google gets all the blame because somebody was able to exploit their agnostic search algorithm. To me, the cops, ebay, and mastercard deserve more blame.

The man’s business is doomed. He shouldn’t have bragged so openly about a be-evil business model. He is now above the radar. The cops, ebay, and mastercard will now be more receptive to handling complaints.

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