Friday, 3 December 2010

Googly quality assurance

The New York Times wrote on Decor My Eyes's strategy of bad service --> lots of complaints --> higher Google ranking --> more sales and greater profits. A bunch of blogs posted on it (me here); the article also hit Arts & Letters Daily.

Google's put in a fix:
Instead, in the last few days we developed an algorithmic solution which detects the merchant from the Times article along with hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide an extremely poor user experience. The algorithm we incorporated into our search rankings represents an initial solution to this issue, and Google users are now getting a better experience as a result.
I hope this doesn't wind up making Google liable if folks searching come to expect that top page hits have been vetted by Google.

Google gives more background on Decor My Eyes:
First off, the terrible merchant in the story wasn’t really ranking because of links from customer complaint websites. In fact, many consumer community sites such as Get Satisfaction added a simple attribute called rel=nofollow to their links. The rel=nofollow attribute is a general mechanism that allows websites to tell search engines not to give weight to specific links, and it’s perfect for the situation when you want to link to a site without endorsing it. Ironically, some of the most reputable links to Decor My Eyes came from mainstream news websites such as the New York Times and Bloomberg. The Bloomberg article was about someone suing the company behind Decor My Eyes, but the language of the article was neutral, so sentiment analysis wouldn’t have helped here either.
Whatever they've done, Decor My Eyes now has a PageRank of 1/10. You're not accidentally going to stumble upon it. I wish I'd thought to check its page rank last week.

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