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When Good Things Happen To Bad SEO

Over the holiday weekend, The New York Times ran a story about an online retailer who promotes poor consumer reviews because he believes they improve his search engine ranking. The story raises questions about whether the strategy works, and whether Google's algorithm -- among other search engines -- should be corrected to deter such behavior.

Search expert Danny Sullivan -- who was interviewed for the story -- isn't sure of either. "Have all those bad reviews been helping, simply because there are enough links pointing at the site regardless?" he asks. "Maybe," though, "From an SEO perspective, I still wouldn't advise anyone to follow this strategy," says Sullivan.

"In the long term, I still think the bad reviews will catch up to you," while, "As with local listings, I think Google will begin showing online merchant reviews right within its results." Bigger picture, Sullivan notes: "Google's ranking systems are far from perfect," adding that Google needs to do a better job ensuring that only the best things show up in the top of its results.

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1 comment about "When Good Things Happen To Bad SEO ".
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  1. Michael Martinez from SEO Theory, November 29, 2010 at 7:10 p.m.

    Based on Danny Sullivan's analysis of the links from the consumer complaint sites, it seems highly unlikely they were helping this guy with his search results.

    He does seem to have a lot of links from shopping sites that point to his product pages. They could have helped tremendously.

    It's also possible he received a lot of links from angry blog posts.

    Generally speaking, the NY Times article (and all the echo articles like this one on MediaPost) will do more harm than he did by misleading people into thinking that they can replicate his search success with links on forums.

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