Google responded to a NYTimes investigative article called “A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web” and “For DecorMyEyes, Bad publicity is a good thing” in 2010 by cracking down on the eCommerce site that used negative publicity to get ahead in the world. Google’s follow-up “Being bad to your customers is bad for business” began to address the tactic of using bad press to build search ranking.
Google may be going for the throat again when it comes to commerce sites that routinely deliver a poor customer experience. The news was delivered during the “How to Rank Better in Google & Bing” session during a the SXSW conference in Austin.
Matt Cutts stated that they may have the potential to go after bad commerce sites and that they plan to:
We have a potential launch later this year, maybe a little bit sooner, looking at the quality of merchants and whether we can do a better job on that, because we don’t want low quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.
There is a continued growth in fake reviews, which may have proved tricky for Google in identifying bad commerce sites. Also, fake reviews go both ways. Competitors have been known to issue fake reviews about their competition. Google must be careful when exploring reviews as a signal.
We may see a rise in validation signals, as a result of this pressing need. Google has been testing it’s Trusted Stores seal program since October of 2011, and it recently launched the program to eCommerce sites in the US with a self-service sign-up interface. This badge will appear along side a merchant’s Adwords ad, although Google currently states that the program will not be a ranking signal.