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Can Negative Reviews Affect SEO Results

For years product reviews have helped to promote products since people love to buy something that has been rated well by others, since it appears to give them value for money.

Negative reviews were always considered to be a big deterrent in the sales exercise. Surprisingly an article in the New York Times stated that an eCommerce site dealing in eyewear has been forcing customers to provide negative reviews for its products just to gain SEO advantage.

This has brought to light the fact that search engines look for interesting material no matter how negative, as long as the site is well crawled. Every fresh perspective presented on a popular site boosts its rankings and leads to SEO success.

Search Engines band Good and Bad Reviews together

Search engines like Google recommend good stores to searchers on the basis of the number of visitors they get. The Google algorithm is such that it cannot judge quality or the value system of its sites. It can only gauge how many people visit that site and also count reviews irrespective of whether they are good or bad.

Can Bad Reviews Augur Well for a Business?

The concept of reviews was initiated to provide a positive foundation to the buying exercise. It is sad to see unscrupulous businessmen turn a positive tool into a negative advantage as a shortcut, irrespective of the ethical issues involved.

Links are always beneficial, and negative reviews provide links too even though it is far preferable to use positive experiences into links.

Happy Experiences are Seldom sent as Reviews

It has been found that most happy customers seldom stop to write a review to tell others how good their experience has been. On the contrary, a bad experience is sure to illicit a negative reaction and the customer is bound to be tempted to let others know, just so that they don’t have the same experience as him, and in the process affect the product’s sale, since according to him it is not worth buying.

The idea is also to force the manufacturer to do better and provide better goods. However, a negatively inclined manufacturer may choose to use negative input to veer traffic to his site, since this may be easier than improving the product or the buying experience.

How Negative Reviews became popular

Negative reviews were first used by spammers in the past, and have been picked up as a turn and burn strategy and leveraging them, has caused a furor in the e-commerce world. There have been instances of domains being banned from search engine results, but with so many coming up in search results, a single domain did not matter.

Negative reviews do not cause damage to little known products with no brand attached, since very few people would search for them. The problem arises due to the anonymity of the internet-anything thrown out or banned, bounces back with a new name, a new address, site and everything, and business starts all over again.

People using negative reviews always look for short term gains, and never think of the long term. For all the non ethical etailers, there are thousands of ethical and principled ones who would do well to steer clear of the former since the legal and financial risks involved would malign their names as well. Negative reviews cause more problems even though there is a temporary improvement in rankings-these cannot be sustained due to the image getting burnt by the negative feedback.

The bottom line remains that positive reviews are the best. There is no harm in using them as links on sites and spreading word, as free promotion. Negative promotion must be used by the company to only show how it took action to remove the flaws causing the negative review-this shows the company as caring and concerned about quality and reputation.

About the author


I am Vishal Gaikar, Engineer, Web Addicted, Living in Maharastra, India. Email Me @

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