The saying “no news is good news,” often doesn’t apply in the business world. As any child knows, even negative attention is still attention. It is also something that Vitaly Borker, founder and owner of DecorMyEyes, knows. DecorMyEyes has been riding a wave of negative press to the top of the Google SERPs. This, according to Google, is not going to continue, and changes will be made to prevent “bad” businesses from benefiting from negative press.
What did DecorMyEyes do to warrant enough negative press to make Google take notice? A story in the New York Times highlighted the egregious customer service that customers of the business receive. One customer, who wanted Lafont eyeglass frames and Ciba Vision contacts. She Googled LaFont and choose to buy from DecorMyEyes, who was placed in the prominent top position in the organic Google SERP. After spending $362, the customer received no contacts and knock-off Lafonts. The customer service rep to whom she spoke progressed from rude to abusive, saying, at one point, “I know your address. I’m one bridge over,” citing their geographical proximity. As a final insult, she was charged an additional $125.
The customer was continually harassed; a picture of the front of her apartment building was sent, with the message, “I’m watching you,” and someone posing as her called her credit card company to reinstate the charges that she had successful disputed. Unbelievably, this consumer was hardly alone. Dozens of other DecorMyEyes had experienced similar events. But Borker and his company didn’t waste the opportunity. He says, “I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”
Rather than working on much-needed customer service skills, Borker has enjoyed top ranking by Google for years. This is despite hundreds of customer complaints about such serious infractions as intimidation and harassment.
Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, wrote in a blog post in response to the NYT article, “I am here to tell you that being bad is, and hopefully will always be, bad for business in Google’s search results…We can’t say for sure that no one will ever find a loophole in our ranking algorithms in the future. We know that people will keep trying: attempts to game Google’s ranking, like the ones mentioned in the article, go on 24 hours a day, every single day…We will continue to work hard towards a better search.”
The first step to be taken by Google is an “algorithmic solution.” It will flag merchants who provide “an extremely poor user experience” and assign them “lower rankings.” Further actions were not detailed by Singhal, but it appears that the story of DecorMyEyes has struck a chord within the Google world.