Generally a big fan of the NY Times Sunday Business section, I was especially interested in this article in today’s paper:

A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web

Many, many good points were brought up in this article, and as both a consumer and an e-tailer, I found myself thinking seriously about several issues here.

The overwhelming theme of the article is that Google ranks websites largely on the basis of links from other sites, especially sites that themselves have lots of other links. So a link from is worth more to a site than a link from here. Obvious perhaps, at this point in the evolution of the internet. What isn’t so obvious is that getting links is important, and bad links may be just important.

It’s hard to get good links. Very hard. It took us years to get a good link on TiVo’s website. And it’s valuable, probably.

But it’s a lot easier to get bad links, as the subject of the article demonstrates. And even the “bad” links can lead to links in places like Since Google isn’t ranking on the positives or negatives of a company, but just the popularity of links largely, all links help. Very enlightening.

We had a DDoS attack on our website about seven years ago. Initially, we just hoped we’d be able to continue in business, which we were fortunately able to do. But after the devastation wore off, we hoped we’d at least get some good links from the bad press. Of course, we also worried that we’d get a bad reputation with people mistakenly thinking that our website had been hacked, which it hadn’t been. But the difference between being attacked and being hacked is a little obscure.

We did manage to make it to the front page of the Wall Street Journal, amazingly. So we probably did get some Google juice out of the whole nightmare. Overall, though, we surely lost. I’d never go through that again.

But this guy, the subject of the article, relishes the problems, and specifically infuriates customers to create bad press, which, as the old saying goes, is still news.

The problem is that just searching on Google and locating a vendor for a product really isn’t enough research. It’s not as good as a personal recommendation – not even close. If you are about to deal with a site you’ve never heard of, it makes sense to take some precautions, like using sites like epinions or ResellerRatings to see if the company is legit. I also often use a ShopSafe credit card number (a service for making temporary cc numbers based on B of A credit cards) and my business address with unknown websites, just to limit the possible consequences of making a mistake.

Finally, I was intrigued that this guy (and I’m not linking to him or even typing his name on purpose) does actually get wound up by the nonsense that he spews. If I get a few tough customer service phone calls in one day, they can really torpedo the day for me. It’s emotionally grueling. Granted, he’s essentially on the other side, being the provoker, but it still can’t be fun. Yet, I do have to agree with him on the “customer is always right” front. Where did that come from? Why can’t a merchant be right? Maybe not him, but an honest one, anyway.

No Responses to “Enlightening NY Times Article about Google and E-Commerce”

No feedback yet.

Leave a Reply

Name Email Website URI