Search Engine Ballot Box Stuffing

By Deane Barker on November 21, 2003

Retailers Rise in Google Rankings as Rivals Cry Foul: Search engine tricks are still in vogue, with roundabout sites being used to apparently great effect in the gift basket industry.

Gift Services, based in Vancouver, Wash., has created dozens if not hundreds of Web sites to market its gift baskets. (It will not say how many sites it has.) Last week, for example, a search on Google for “fruit baskets los angeles” returned 8 seemingly different sellers in the top 10 listings. But most were Gift Services sites offering many of the same baskets.

While this doesn’t seem terribly fair, if your complaint goes something like this, then you had a big problem to begin with.

“We have not sold one fruit basket” in two months, she said, adding that before, when Cesta showed up in Google’s top 10 results, her business was doing fine.

If your business is that dependent on a Google listing, you’re running on a razor’s edge to begin with.