The Customer is Always Right…Even on Google – Wildcard Friday

By Joe


Today I’ll be covering a new addition to Google’s algorithm that has begun to take into account sentiment analysis, or the ratings and reviews that customers are leaving for websites.

On December 1st, Google announced in its blog post titled “Being bad to your customers is bad for business” that is has adjusted its algorithm to take into account some customer ratings and reviews to determine a website’s ranking. This change happened after a widely shared article from the New York Times discussed how an online merchant was benefitting in search engine results from getting hundreds of poor reviews on various sites, including articles of customer horror stories on news sites like Bloomberg and The New York Times itself.

In the Times article, the owner of the online commerce site bragged how the more negative reviews and press attention he received from these sites, the better he was ranking on Google. “I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?,” Vitaly Borker, the owner of, said to the Times reporter.

Google, which prides itself on providing its users with the best search results began to catch a lot of heat as the article spread the web. The company quickly reacted by adjusting its algorithm to account for this particular merchant, in addition to several hundred other ecommerce merchants with poor reviews, to make sure that bad feedback wasn’t benefitting websites in search results. As of today, these merchants are no longer achieving the same high results they had just a week ago.

It is important to note that although this is a good start to tying in more of what Google calls “sentiment analysis” into the algorithm, there is still along way to go before the search engine can more accurately detect poor consumer ratings versus poor ratings in general. In its blog announcement, there search engine giant noted this by using the example of political figures and other controversial issues. It is important that while adjusting their algorithm for sentiment analysis that it wouldn’t impact a certain political figure from appearing in search results just because of negativity surrounding him or her.

So what does this mean for you as an online business owner? Simple. The fundamentals of traditional businesses still always apply in the online world, especially when it comes to putting your customers first! As ratings and reviews continue to increase in popularity everyday in online commerce, they are now not only being considered as a trust factor for potential customers to look at, but the search engines are beginning to look at them as well. As a result, it is important now more than ever that you provide exceptional customer service and support that your customers have come to expect.

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