Raising your Google ranking is high on most online wish-lists. The New York Times' report suggests that a spectacles reseller was able to gain excellent Google ranking due to dozens of complaints on forums.
The New York Times thought that the multitude of comments, largely negative, were mistakenly interpreted as popularity by Google’s algorithms. In fact what was happening was some rather shady grey/black hay SEO work as explained in detail here - tssk!
Google has rushed in a fix to resolve this issue. As usual, not much has been given away about how they arrived at a solution. What is certain is that people saying bad things about you could now directly impact your search rankings. Take this seriously.
Get your reputation, SEO and social media right and you'll be fine. Don't skimp. Your reputation is worth something, after all you've probably spent years building it up, don't throw it away.