November 30, 2010
By the ZippyCart Shopping Cart Reviews Content Team
There’s a company out there called “Decor My Eyes” that sells specialty eyeglasses. If you search for them in Google, they will show up at the top of the non-sponsored link results. They also show up at the top if you search for certain luxury brands of eyeglasses. We are not going to link to them in this article. We will, however, link to this article from the New York Times explaining who they are and what they do. If you want the abridged version, here it is: the website is the creation of a mastermind of anti-SEO and anti-customer service. The man behind the site, Vitaly Borker, has a whole slew of devious tricks up his sleeve to rank online and keep earning money at his ecommerce store. While he couldn’t be called a criminal mastermind, he is definitely the neighborhood bully, only online.
The reason why Mr. Borker is getting so much press right now (if you check the other Google links around “Decor My Eyes,” then you will see that he has already been the target of quite a bit of press from various customer advocate agencies) is due to the plight of one Ms. Clarabelle Rodriguez.
Ms. Rodriguez searched for a pair of glasses (using the brand name which she wanted, not the actual site name – which is why she didn’t see any of the incriminating posts about Mr. Borker’s business practices) and purchased them online – and that’s when things went south. First, a representative from the site contacted her telling her that the glasses she wanted were out of stock; she was invited (rudely, she reports) to pick a different pair. She declined. The representative became incensed. When the glasses eventually arrived, they were fakes. She requested a refund. She never got one. She took the claim to her credit card. They tentatively refunded the money, pending an investigation. Threatening communiques from Decor My Eyes followed, escalating each time and eventually including a photo of her apartment building. The sender reported: “I know where you live. I’m one bridge away.” (Borker is in Brooklyn, Ms. Rodriguez is in Chelsea, Manhattan).
You can see where this is going, right? No one would possibly pay for this kind of service, let alone give it a favorable write up on any reputable online site. So why is Decor My Eyes so highly ranked on Google then? It’s partially because of link popularity, which Google’s algorithm eats up like candy.
The tactics that Mr. Borker employs to gain inbound links range from just plain deplorable to downright illegal (if you read the whole article, Mr. Borker has been arrested several times due to his shady business practices). All of this is right up there on Zippycart.com’s big list of “Link Building Tactics to Avoid” (it’s number 10, btw). It goes without saying that you definitely want to be known to your customer base as a provider of quality products and even higher-quality customer service, but Mr. Borker and others are doing things backwards.
The extreme number of bad reviews that Mr. Borker receives only fuel his site’s popularity when those reviews link directly to his site, especially when those links are coming from reputable sites (like Get Satisfaction, a customer advocacy resource). See, one important element of SEO involves a site’s Google Page Rank (handy infographic here for those of you in a hurry to figure out what all this means). The higher the Page Rank score of the sites willing to link to yours, the better your site looks. If you get the Google Page Rank tool for your toolbar, then you can see that Decor My Eyes is only a Page Rank 3, but Get Satisfaction has a Page Rank of 7! The inbound links from Get Satisfaction are incredibly valuable for a site like Borker’s. This is actually, unfortunately, a case of the people trying to stop Decor My Eyes inadvertently helping it, by providing these high value links (we talk about a similar thing here, where a guy tried to trademark the phrase “SEO” – we don’t link to him either).
As with all things (it sort of goes without saying) there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. Mr. Borker’s tactics may be netting him some money, but the NYTimes article details that he seems tired and ragged from his long schedule (12+ hour days) of purposefully stirring up trouble in order to drive his site’s popularity. All ecommerce retailers are bound to work some long days (either from time to time, or regularly), but wouldn’t you rather end the day with a feeling of satisfaction from a job well done and making customers happy, as opposed to dreading the next confrontation or encounter with the police? For more advice on how to optimize your SEO so that you can get that “job well done” feeling, check out our complete list of SEO articles! Part one is right here.