No such thing as bad publicity – for SEO

A fascinating story about a scumbag sales operation, DecorMyEyes.com, who leaned that a link is a link, and Google doesn’t care if it’s a good review or a scathing rant – so why make the effort to give good service?

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

[…]

The strange part is that Google is intimately familiar with the rage inspired by DecorMyEyes. If you type the company’s name in a Google Shopping search, you’ll see a collection of more than 300 reviews, many of them arias sung in the key of livid.

[…]

In short, a Google side stage — Google Shopping — is now hosting a marathon reading of DecorMyEyes horror stories. But those tales aren’t even hinted at in the company’s premier arena, its main search page.

“It’s fair to say,” Mr. Sullivan concludes, “that this is a failure on Google’s part.”

via For DecorMyEyes, Bad Publicity Is a Good Thing – nytimes.com

UPDATED 02.12.2010

Google have responded by tweaking their algorithm…

We were horrified to read about Ms. Rodriguez’s dreadful experience. Even though our initial analysis pointed to this being an edge case and not a widespread problem in our search results, we immediately convened a team that looked carefully at the issue. That team developed an initial algorithmic solution, implemented it, and the solution is already live. I am here to tell you that being bad is, and hopefully will always be, bad for business in Google’s search results.

via Being bad to your customers is bad for business – googleblog.blogspot.com

…But they don’t say how they have tweaked it. The problem with sentiment analysis – as they point out – is that it could demote important but controversial results. Useful sites about abortion, evolution and the TSA, for example, could all become harder to find. How they have solved this problem is a mystery, and not one they go into any more detail on. They reference the change again later, only to add more non-information, saying: ‘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.

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