Poor attitude to your customers - bad for business

Original author: Amit Singhal
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[Google’s official response to  habrahabr.ru/blogs/searchengines/109017/ ]

A recent New York Times article has a  troubling story . Poor attitude towards his customers, one businessman told the newspaper that you can contribute to complaints and negative reviews, which will lead to an increase in links to your site, which, in turn, will make it more visible in search engines. The main premise of the article is that bad attitude can be useful for business.

We read with horror about the case of Mrs. Rodriguez. Although our initial analysis indicated that this was almost an isolated case and this was not a widespread problem in our search results, we immediately formed a team that carefully considered the issue. This group developed the initial algorithmic solution, implemented it, and the solution is already working. Now I want to say that a bad attitude affects, and, I hope, will always be bad for business in Google search results.

As always, we have learned a lot from this experience, and we would like to share some conclusions with you. Consider the obvious solutions to the problem:
  • Block a specific offender. This would be easy and could solve the immediate problem for a particular case, but it will not solve the broader issue in a general way. Our first reaction to search quality is to find ways to solve the problem algorithmically.
  • Use mood analysis to identify negative comments and use negative comments as negative voices. Although this option initially sounds promising, it is based on a fallacy. Firstly, the terrible businessman in this story was not in the top precisely because of links from customer complaints websites. In fact, many consumer communities, such as Get Satisfaction, add the simple rel = nofollow attribute to their links. The rel = nofollow attribute is a general mechanism that allows sites to tell search engines not to add weight to specific links, and it is ideal for situations where you want to add a link to a site but don’t want to support it. It's funny, but some of the most authoritative links to Decor My Eyes are posted on major news sites, such as the New York Times and Bloomberg. The Bloomberg article was about someone who sued Decor My Eyes, but the language of the article was neutral, so mood analysis wouldn't help here either.

    Google has a world-class sentiment analysis system ( Large-Scale Sentiment Analysis for News and Blogs ). But if we lower the rating of web pages that have negative comments, then you will not be able to find information about many representatives of the authorities, not to mention many important but controversial concepts. So far, we have not found an effective way to significantly improve the search using mood analysis. Of course, we will continue to try.
  • Another option is to show user reviews and ratings for various merchants along with their results. Although this will not lower the bad merchants in our results and can still lead users to their sites.

Instead, over the past few days, we have developed an algorithmic solution that detects a merchant from an article in the Times along with hundreds of other similar merchants who, in our opinion, provide extremely poor service. The algorithm included in our search rankings represents an initial solution to this issue, and Google users will ultimately get the best result.

We cannot say with confidence that in the future no one will ever find a loophole in our rating algorithms. We know that people will try: attempts to influence the Google rating, like those mentioned in the article, continue every day for 24 hours a day. That is why we cannot disclose the details of our decision - the signals underlying it, data sources, and how we combined them to improve our rating. We can say with sufficient certainty that a bad attitude towards customers will negatively affect your business at Google. And we will continue to work towards improving the search.

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