Based on an article in the NYTIMES, Google recently addressed an issue regarding businesses who were being ranked highly on the search engine because of negative feedback from their customers.
A crucial factor in Google search results is the number of links from respected and substantial Web sites. The more links that a site has from big and well-regarded sites, the better its chances of turning up high in a search.
I know this based on experience with this site. I check my rankings daily on Google to monitor for any changes. The site does generate a lot of positive links but I never did think that negative links could also positively effect your rankings.
So if your website has lots of links coming in from big, well regarded sites, regardless of whether those links are negative or positive, your Google rankings go up.
In response, Google has come up with new algorithms to more accurately portray websites with good reputations higher than those with lots of negative feedback. But does it work?
My Own Little Study
Now I have to admit, I’m using a very small sample size of just my name when doing this study But I have noticed some interesting changes to my ranking and the ranking of others that also share my name.
I think a positive reputation can be gamed too. Out of all the people who share my name, (there is an Opera singer, a poet, a congressman, a filmaker and even a basketball player from Canada) , there is one person who’s ranking went up significantly to beat out even a congressman. This person has 16 followers on twitter, less than 250 fans on facebook and I would expect these kind of numbers being that this person is from a small town in Washington State.
The key difference is that, in theory, a great reputation holds more weight and will now earn you higher rankings. The SEO of the site in question is written to take in some key facts. The gentleman is a fire chief and he’s running for 2nd Vice President. 2nd Vice President of what is not clear but the tagline of the site only mentions fire chief 2nd Vice President.
The rankings of others with my name in the group did not change much. There was a lot of jumping around for the last week but I have seen my ranking actually settle down to it’s normal position between 14 & 18. I thought the website of the Fire Chief running for 2nd Vice President was an interesting anomaly as it seems to have moved up almost 10 places to now reside #2 on Google.
I may change my tagline to “Former Marine, Current NYC Fireman, running for President”. Reputation wise this would get me a higher ranking but all the hard work running a blog and developing a network now seems to get trumped by a new Google algorithm that seems to be able to figure out your “Reputation”.