Last Friday, the New York Times published an article titled A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web.
The article explains how an online store in America was able to boost its search engine rankings by treating their customers badly. In fact the level of service they gave was simply appalling. The customers would then go off to one of the many websites that allow people to review their experience of a retailer and leave comments about their terrible experience.
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t seem to distinguish between positive and negative reviews and just sees a lot of attention about the retailer and gives their site a boost in rankings. In short, the more customers they got, the more bad reviews they got, the higher they were ranked by Google.
We would certainly not recommend using such tactics.
Despite the moral and legal issues, this method completely disregards any value that reputation has to your internet marketing.
Reputation is incredibly important online. People are aware of fake websites and the other risks of buying online and are starting to look for reviews of companies they don’t know before placing an order. Google are also aware of the problem and may start to include the seller rating stars from Product Search in a rich snippet directly within search results. Other search engines including Bing are likely to follow suit. It is likely that the only reason they are not shown now is due to the possibility of fake review, either positive or negative.
Keep well clear of using this kind of tactic to boost your rankings; mistreating your customers and harming your reputation are not sensible ways of internet marketing.