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...


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Montezuma (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:19pm

    It is time to DDoS this idiot out of business. I am sure that Operation Payback might be interested in helping teach this guy a lesson.

     

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    cc (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:22pm

    R J Riley somehow comes to mind...

     

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    David, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:23pm

    If GetSatisfaction were to re=nofollow those link there won't be a problem.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:30pm

      Re:

      If GetSatisfaction were to re=nofollow those link there won't be a problem.


      That's actually a really good point... Surprised they don't.

       

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      Shawn (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:34pm

      Re:

      I agree. I really do not want Google to determine the mood of inbound links.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:16pm

      Re:

      I had to google get satisfaction cause I never heard of them. then I saw their wheel of satisfaction. I clicked the big clickie button.

      the first one was autodesk, which is extremely anti-customer. the second result was microsoft.

      so... its a shill site for paid advertisements?

       

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    PJam, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 5:32pm

    Lying, Threatening people, bad reviews, high ranking on Google - sure this isn't the Federal Government?

     

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    Yaniel (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 6:24pm

    caveat emptor

    If you buy from an unknown site without doing even 5 seconds of due diligence, I wont say you deserve it, but you're an idiot.

     

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    Ben, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 7:10pm

    Honestly ignoring the bad reviews, he sent harassing e-mails, threatened to rape someone, sent them photos of her house saying I know were you live, and pretended to be her to get a credit investigation canceled.

    Screw the google results, how is this guy not in jail?

     

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    Chris Mikaitis (profile), Nov 29th, 2010 @ 7:47pm

    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.

     

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    Jake, Nov 29th, 2010 @ 9:59pm

    It's innovative, I'll give him that.

     

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    Richard (profile), Nov 30th, 2010 @ 4:46am

    Citations

    As an academic it is an important career factor to get one's papers cited. Employers and promotion (tenure) committees will often count citations and a measure of quality.

    However if these citations say something like "the work in Bloggs [1] is rubbish because..."

    then that still counts!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2010 @ 6:36am

    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.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 5:21am

      Re:

      "Google needs to prune links and nobody knows how to do that but me"

      Uh, dude, they do. When you're Google's size you don't just write a quick cron job

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2010 @ 2:57pm

    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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    lia sophia, Nov 30th, 2010 @ 7:33pm

    lia sophia jewelry

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 7:39am

    The guy got arrested by the feds for mail fraud, cyberstalking, and others.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/business/07borker.html

     

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    Online Stores Reviews, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 7:29am

    Google's Algorithm

    Google's algorithm is not perfect. Certainly the engineers at Google are already implementing new rules for not listing these online stores in the first place ranking in the serp's.

    Before purchasing online visit online stores and always check the feedback of clients' online stores

     

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