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    Can You Really Trust a Google Search?
    Posted: 2010-12-08 11:12:11

    How does a webmaster drive traffic to their website?

    They might start by hiring a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, someone who specializes in writing a site’s content around keywords and simple, clean code.

    They might start a blog on their site, publishing new content about their product or service on a regular basis. Others might post a link to a valuable post on their own site or blog, driving more traffic to the site.

    They might highlight new content on their Facebook page, or tweet about it to their Friends.

    These are some of the traditional and accepted ways for a reputable business to get people excited about what they offer. All of these are great ways to rank high on a Google search, commonly accepted as the gold standard of legitimacy. A high page rank equals more traffic which equals more potential sales.

    Well, one site has found another way to push their rank up on Google’s search engine: negative publicity.

    There was a recent story about an online sunglass store, DecorMyEyes, that is using a rather dastardly way to drive traffic to the store and sell sunglasses to unsuspecting searchers.

    It all seems to go the same way: a woman visits DecorMyEyes, buys a pair of expensive sunglasses, and then waits. Eventually, after never receiving her purchase, the woman takes the owner to Small Claims Court. What follows is a bizarre reaction from DecorMyEyes. The owner harasses the woman, stalks her, and sends her threatening emails that include pictures of the front of her house. The woman then starts an investigation (which she should have done before paying for the sunglasses), and finds out that he has other negative reviews, many with similar experiences.

    As a result of all the negative reviews on shopping sites, forums, and blogs, DecorMyEyes has shot up the first page of Google. Unfortunately, because of a loophole in Google’s algorithm, it’s all the people who have been burned by DecorMyEyes who are helping him remain a popular search result. Since he is number one, people are going to click on his site, and more probably buy from him.

    And it’s all free.

    Thankfully, Google has responded to reports about bad businesses like DecorMyEyes and changed their algorithm to punish sites that have a lot of negative reviews elsewhere on the Internet. No longer will these sites be ranked highly by Google search, making way for more reputable businesses to generate traffic through more traditional, and ethical ways.

    But one question remains: what other loopholes exist in Google’s search algorithm that might allow another shady business from cashing in on innocent shoppers?

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