Google Knows When Your Bad: Negative Reviews Algorithm

According to a 2017 survey, only 3% of consumers don’t read local business reviews.

In other words, a lack of reviews means missing out on a whopping 97% of potential customers!

But that’s not all.

Having negative reviews is as bad as, or even worse, than having none. That’s because 87% of consumers trust these reviews as they do personal recommendations.

What’s more, Google has long since known the value and importance of online reviews. It’s for this reason it rolled out the Negative Reviews Algorithm in the first place.

Make no mistake: Up to now, this confirmed algorithm is still in place. That’s why 97% of businesses consider online reputation management a must.

And your own organization should too.

But what exactly is this Google update in the first place? Why should it even concern you?

All these and more, we’ll answer in this post. So, make sure you keep reading!

The Disturbing Background of the Negative Reviews Algorithm

Google rolled out this algorithm back on December 1, 2010. It was in response to a New York Times article posted four days before that.

The article told a disturbing – even scary – story that started July of the same year. It recounted the horrifying experiences of an online shopper, Clarabelle Rodriguez.

Rodriguez ordered frames and contact lenses online worth $361.97 off of a website. The website, she said, ranked at the top of Google search results back then.

It was after shelling out almost $400 when she started having problems. To sum up the story, her experience involved fraud, counterfeits, harassment, and threats.

These issues arose from a website that ranked high on the worlds largest search engine.

Exploiting the Search Ranking “Loophole”

So, How did such a terrible e-commerce platform end up on the most coveted spot in Google SERPs?

According to the online merchant himself, it was because of negative advertisement. He went as far as to say that all the negative stuff customers posted helped make his business boom. According to him, these negative reviews translated to more hits and sales.

In a nutshell, he implied that being bad to customers is great for business.

Google’s Response

Google launched the Negative Reviews algorithm change soon after the NY Times’ story. In fact, by the time they posted news of the update, they said the solution was “already live”.

In their post, you’ll read about the various ways that the search engine could’ve used to solve the problem. They’re all tech speak, but in essence, they said they decided to stick to writing a new algorithm.

This new formula, they said, can detect merchants that have given “bad user experience”. From there, the algorithm will then pull their search ranks down.

During that time, the company said it was only an initial solution. They also mentioned it wasn’t a foolproof strategy. They admitted the formula can’t 100% guarantee lower search ranks for “terrible” merchants.

Now, keep in mind all these happened eight years ago. That means this algorithm is now far stronger and more effective.

Remember, Google algorithm updates take place 500 to 600 times a year. Granted, there’s no confirmation for each change. But no doubt many of these have something to do with the original algorithm for negative reviews.

There’s one for writing fake online reviews, for starters. One of the more recent Google search algorithm updates has something to do with the Star Rating. This one only came out last year.

The bottom line is, Google knows whether business owners have been naughty. If it didn’t now, it soon will, with all its algorithm changes. That said, “bad” entrepreneurs can expect serious lowering of their search engine ranks.

Positive Feedback Trumps Negative or No Feedback

In today’s socially and digitally-connected world, it’s easy for reviews to pop left and right. There’s Facebook and it’s 1.47 billion users who are active every day. There’s also Twitter, boasting 335 million users every month.

These are only a couple of the platforms you can find your business reviewed. But with millions to billions of users, imagine how damaging a single negative review can be. One dissatisfied customer can already give your brand a bad name.

That’s why you need to up your online reputation management ante ASAP. If you don’t address customer feedback, you’ll have a harder time building your brand. You may even have no brand to build at all if you let all these negative things about your brand prevail.

Say, for instance, consumers think you’re not doing enough environmental good. Aside from telling you off about it, one in three customers may even choose not to work with you anymore!

The bad review they left is bad enough, as millions of other people have the potential to see it. In person, they most likely will tell 15 of their family or friends about their awful experience. What’s more, a single bad experience often leads to 59% of customers not returning!

That should already tell you how important it is to take notice of customer reviews. Besides, you can make reviews work for rather than against you. By knowing what your customers like and don’t like about you, you can work on improvements right away.

Good Publicity Should Be One of Your Top Priorities

You don’t have to wait for customers to give you a review. If you know you did an excellent job, why not consider asking for feedback? Not only is it one of the most effective branding strategies; it’s also a great way to “humanize” your brand.

Don’t forget to be receptive to all reviews too. That includes both negative and positive things people post about you online. If you don’t have the time to monitor everything, a social media manager may prove useful.

Prove Santa You’re Always Nice

All these said, do what you can to protect yourself from the consequences of bad reviews. Remember: The Negative Reviews Algorithm is only one update. There are many more Google search updates that can bring your ranks down.

Your goal, however, should go beyond proving Google you’re a good business. It should be more about giving your customers the best experience. They’re the core of your business after all.

Want to know more how to grow your customer base with good reviews and awesome marketing? Then head over to our blog! We’ve got more nuggets of wisdom to share with you.