Every business relies on its reputation to grow and maintain its customer base. Considering this, reputation management has become an essential factor in online marketing for generating customers and improving SEO. Some reputation management services today question whether it is possible that Google sometimes gives priority to negative content that can harm a company’s reputation. Whether there is a bias within the algorithm or not, it’s important to understand that negative content is still material that is indexed the same as all other content.
Does Google Favor Negative Material?
Some SEOs and reputation management experts feel it does, based on the fact that negative content seems to rank very quickly in the SERP's. Even newly-added negative comments can appear higher than existing, high-ranked content, which certainly works against a company’s good name. Reputation management services have attributed this to certain factors, including the very basic workings of Google itself. Others feel the search algorithm might be designed to make damaging material more searchable in a variety of ways. There is probably a little truth in both sides, considering how Google ranks pages and how search can interpret the intent of a user’s query.
Negative Content and Google Search
The question from reputation management services regarding negative content is whether or not Google prefers to serve it over more positive material. Based on what is known about how Google ranks pages in general, that speculation may or may not be subjective. All content is subject to interpretation by the same algorithm; however, negative topics may generate different results due to user reaction:
- Fresher Content Gets More Activity - The search algorithm treats newer material in different ways based on the content, the website it appears on, optimization, and many other factors. Damaging material sometimes finds its way to the first page where it generates a lot of activity, which keeps it there. Both bad and good new entries frequently result in increased activity until something else is indexed. Considering this fact about how Google works, it seems entirely possible for damaging comments to generate a higher amount of attention.
- Specific Searches for Negative Opinions - Google search has become very good at analyzing a user’s intent based on their search habits. This helps the algorithm serve useful material that is more likely to satisfy the user’s query. Combined with the addition of specific search words that indicate the user is looking for negative content, it is much easier for those pages to be served. Even if there are fewer of these pages available, they are more easily located when search terms and user sentiment directs the algorithm to specifically find that content.
- Serving A Variety of Content - In addition, some feel that reputation management can be affected by the algorithm’s tendency to rank a variety of content rather than just similar pages. In relation to the previous point about there being fewer negative pages and are therefore more easily located, those pages may also be more likely to show up as part of an attempt to rank different types of pages as well as one representing different emotions and opinions.
Negative material can definitely be damaging to any company, requiring effort from reputation management services to reverse its affect. It is hard to know for sure whether Google actually favors negative content the way some marketing experts suggest, or if that material is just more visible due to completely explainable ways that the search algorithm works. Regardless, all businesses must practice effective reputation management to uphold their positive impression with the public, as this can greatly affect marketing success!