The move was prompted by a recent New York Times article in which Vitaly Borker of DecorMyEyes.com said if he treated customers badly, they would write negative reviews. These, perversely, increased his ranking in online searches, because the number or reviews, good or bad ones, sent his firm higher in the search rankings.
The Times reported Thursday that Borker had taken to shouting at some customers, because it paid off by increasing his visibility.
Google promptly changed the formula that it used for rankings.
In an online posting, Google said, "Being bad to your customers is bad for your business."
That said, "We can't say for sure that no one will find a loophole in our new ranking algorithms in the future. We know people will keep trying," wrote Amit Singhal for Google.
Google would not divulge how its new ranking system worked, the Times reported.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).