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Google responds to ranking loophole that rewards poor service

6th Dec 2010
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Google has changed the way in which its algorithms determine online search rankings in a bid to stop rewarding brands that receive high levels of complaints due to poor customer service.

The move follows a story in the New York Times, which indicated that Vitaly Borker, owner of, took the decision to be rude to consumers in order to generate complaints and boost the firm’s rankings.

According to tech website Broadbandgenie, Borker even thanked complainants for the coverage in one consumer forum: "I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works. I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage."

Borker had previously paid for the services of a search engine optimisation company before realising that Google’s web spiders picked up negative feedback as links to his site, which pushed it higher up the rankings.

But Google said in a blog post entitled ‘Being bad to your customers is bad for business’ that it was "horrified" to read the "disturbing" newspaper report, although it claimed that the issue was not widespread.

As a result, it set up a team to look at the situation, which has now implemented an "initial algorithmic solution" to prevent the situation reoccurring. It also justified not revealing details of the solution because attempts to "game" its rankings took place "24 hours a day, every single day".

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