Google's search algorithm, while complex, is far from perfect. And recently one merchant (written about in a high-profile New York Times piece) found that treating your customers poorly and effectively encouraging bad reviews to be posted online can actually increase a business's rank in Google search results — sort of a modern version of the "even negative press is good press" theory.
Now, less than a week after the initial piece ran, Google says it has developed an algorithmic solution to keep negative reviews and reports from bolstering a company's search rankings. Find out more about what's new after the break.
Google then created a list of merchants that, "in our opinion, provide an extremely poor user experience. The algorithm we incorporated into our search rankings represents an initial solution to this issue, and Google users are now getting a better experience as a result." They chose this result over several other potential solutions, including demoting pages with negative wording (doing this could prevent pages with valid criticism — i.e., political — from ranking properly) or displaying reviews (positive or negative) directly beside the search result.
While this move by Google seems to be largely in response to a relatively isolated incident, it's a testament to its ability to further refine search results to quickly display the best and most usable information. And while Google says it can't release every detail about this solution in fear that people would find a way to work around it, it "can say with reasonable confidence that being bad to customers is bad for business on Google."