Getting your website to appear on the 1st page of Google is a powerful way to promote your business. We all stress a little bit about SEO, and where we “rank”. But some people take it to a whole new level…
A few months ago, a news story broke out about a company that took a different approach to attracting Google’s attention. DecorMyEyes.com is an online seller of designer eyeglasses, whose owner – Vitaly Borker – harrassed and bullied his customers in an attempt to improve his company’s online visibility.
“Organic Link-Building” on a New Level
As angry customers posted furious comments about their DecorMyEyes experience on forums, blogs and consumer review sites, more and more backlinks to the company’s site were created. This type of activity attracted Googlebot…and new orders were placed from uninformed consumers conducting online searches for designer eyeglasses.
This was precisely the result anticipated by Borker, who himself posted a response on one of the forums stating:
“I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”
Art Imitates Web
The whole sleazy scam was actually reenacted in a single scene of a recent episode of Law & Order, SVU. From his hospital bed — after getting shot by an angry customer!–, the owner of a fictitious leather goods company explained his actions to Detectives Benson and Stabler.
Here’s the excerpt from the episode (titled “Bully”), summarized on the show’s website:
Alvarez shows no remorse about his tactics, explaining that the more comments his site generates, positive or negative, the higher his Google ranking and the more traffic to his website. Stabler determines that while Alvarez is a terrible, remorseless person, he has an alibi for the time of Ellen’s murder, as he was harassing yet another customer.
Being a Bully Doesn’t Pay Off
The real-life creep who pulled this stunt, Vitaly Borker, was arrested in December 2010 for fraud and harassment. As of this post, he awaits sentencing. He can face up to 20 years in prison.
A few weeks before the arrest, Google posted “Being bad to your customers is bad for business” on its blog. The post was a response to the DecorMyEyes scandal. Google announced that it had made a slight change to its algorithm in order to detect merchants who provide “an extremely poor user experience,” to avoid a repeat-offense.
Word to the wise: you can’t fool Google in the long-run.
We recommend instead that you play nice, don’t stalk or threaten your customers, and practice organic, civilized link-building. :-)