Google announced on Wednesday that it had changed the way it ranks search results so that unscrupulous merchants would find it harder to appear prominently in searches.
The change was prompted by an article in The New York Times on Sunday about Vitaly Borker, a Brooklyn-based online seller of eyeglasses. Mr. Borker claimed that he purposely shouted at and frightened some of the customers at DecorMyEyes.com because the online complaints actually worked in his favor in Google search results.
In essence, he claimed, Google’s search engine is unable to tell the difference between positive posts and withering online critiques. Therefore, the more complaints posted about Mr. Borker’s site, the more likely customers would be to find his store ranked high on a Google search, which yielded him more revenue.
In a blog posting titled “Being bad to your customers is bad for your business,” Google said that it had revised its algorithm so that it could detect Mr. Borker and “hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide extremely poor user experience.”
Google did not reveal how it had changed its algorithm, or how that change would affect online sellers like Mr. Borker. It simply said that the more it reveals about the changes it made, the easier it will be for unscrupulous sellers to game it...