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This 35 message thread spans 2 pages: 35 ( [1] 2 > >     
My competitor has lots of links from people complaining about them!

 5:47 am on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

One of my competitors has apparently scammed lots of people. So webmasters and forum participants post things like "Beware of <anchor>X Y Z</anchor>. They took my money and I never heard from them again!" Where X Y Z is a very lucrative keyword. X Y Z's site sucks really bad, and it has practically no value for that keyword, but they are still ranked #2.

In fact, by having those anchors and being ranked so high, they get to scam more people!

Does Google have any mechanism to combat an issue like this?



 8:12 am on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

I dont think it is google's job to weed out such stuff. What you could do is (probably anonymously) let the webmasters and forum posters know that they are actually helping the spammy site... and ask them to unlink the hyper link...

As they say... "Any press is good press"...


 8:24 am on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Near the bottom of every search results page, there is a link called "Dissatisfied? Help us improve." That's a good place to give various kinds of feedback.

The challenge here for search engines is called "Sentiment Analysis", a sub-type of Information Retrieval (IR). It is a VERY hard problem. I spoke to a Google engineer last year about it, and he confirmed that Sentiment Analysis was something that Google works on, but it wasn't anywhere near ready for a live algorithm.

Sentiment Analysis hopes to look at where a document falls on a subjective-objective spectrum (opinion-fact) and then, within the subjective opinion area, there's further analysis of negative to positive opinion. If you've ever worked with (or even thought about) writing any kind of relevance algorithm, you can probably see why this kind of automated analysis is a major challenge.


 1:43 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

How about getting your site to rank just below all the complaints? ;-)


 2:04 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Or, not that I recommend this mind you, but getting one of those complaint pages to rank.


 2:34 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

" Or, not that I recommend this mind you, but getting one of those complaint pages to rank."

I wished I had said that. LOL.


 2:34 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

How about getting your site to rank just below all the complaints? ;-)

Or, not that I recommend this mind you, but getting one of those complaint pages to rank.

I must be really stupid because I have no idea what each of you is talking about...

Update: ah, I see what you mean Wheel. I still don't know what Excellira's comment means...


 2:44 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Tranlation: My tongue-in-cheek response was, if the competitor and the complaints against them are ranking above you, that you should attempt to rise just below the complaints. The complaints will take down your competitor and you'll be next in position to take their business.

The best option however is to be #1. :-)

Hope that helps.

[edited by: Excellira at 2:45 pm (utc) on Oct. 6, 2008]


 3:52 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Surely you have heard phrase ..

"There is no such thing as Bad Press"


 4:24 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

"There is no such thing as Bad Press"

-Not so sure that is optimal. ;-)


 9:34 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

depends on who is reading ,watching ,listening to .."the press" ..

tHe innerwebs are but one room ( albiet growing in size ) in the house

the 4th mansion can be manipulated just like the others ..and it is getting easier rather than harder


 10:50 am on Oct 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Better to email/educate the linkers so they list the scam site URL instead of providing an active link (endorsement).



 5:56 pm on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

We has an ex employee go to a site and make some really stupid comments about us that were not true and really made him look like an idiot. Only problem is that it ranks 10 for our company name. It would rank a lot better had I not done some reputation management before it happened.


 6:28 pm on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

I agree with potentialgeek. Have you tasked somebody to contact the original posters/publishers in the cases where the link can be changed up to see if they can remove the link or even add one to you as an alternative? I would set up a couple of Google alerts as well to catch more of these as they happen.

Does your competitor sell his customer's emails?

[edited by: Fribble at 6:28 pm (utc) on Oct. 11, 2008]


 6:32 pm on Oct 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

"Does your competitor sell his customer's emails?"
No, they apparently cheat them out of their money.


 3:17 am on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

"miserable failure" trickle-down...

>>It is a VERY hard problem.

Interesting topic. :)


 4:08 am on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yes, I find it fascinating - in an abstract way for now, since it isn't live in any algorithm that I know about. Here's one challenge from ordinary everyday language - how can a computer program recognize irony?

Not every problem would be as hard as detecting irony. Negative opinion, written in straightforward language, should be a bit easier to program. I wouldn't be surprised to see that basic kind of sentiment analysis become workable before the more subtle aspects.

I'd be very happy to see a barebones subjective-objective rating first, just to get a handle on factual information in the results in contrast to opinions and reviews. But you still bang into the factor of false versus true ;) and sentiment analysis does not address factual errors. There is a discipline called consensus analysis that is sort of in that neighborhood, and it's already being used to a degree in various sciences.

In the case of this thread, where links are coming from complaints and still helping ranking, it does raise all kinds of questions for any search engine.

If some future sentiment analysis algo determines that a link is from a complaint and therefore not really intended as "a vote", would search results be improved for the user by ignoring such links for certain kinds of queries?


 4:10 am on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm afraid that if Google used some sort of scam filtering based on content then scam competitors would put up pages claiming another competitor is "bad". Also if a site is truly good then it should by chance attain more links than a site that is a scam and "bad".

It doesn't surprise me though that even legitimate links to bad sites get high rankings, it happens all the time in the news. usually those sites are popular for a few days and then fade away. It seems sites with controversial content get the most benefit from this.


 6:00 am on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's not only a problem of links. If someone posts bad stuff about you on a trusted review site it can be very damaging. Often I have clients who threaten a bad review to try to get a refund. It's questionable if the client always received a bad service. Some people are just cheap and try tricks to get money back.

The only option in that case is to make a bunch of fake reviews and bury it.

Silly, I know but you have to do what you need to survive.


 4:40 pm on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

If I were OP then I would not have worried a bit. We webmasters many times gives too much importance to links and all than normal world. In normal world people searching for some particular products comes across complaint about that product from others (false or true) normally will not buy that product. This is my experience. Many times I have checked Hotels, Resorts, Various Schemes in google with "scheme name complaint" search. So that i get to know whether people have any problem with that product. and obviously when i come across the complaints I normally dont buy or buy very cautiosly.
I think if your competitor is getting anything out of this is negative attitude towards buying from his prospective buyers.

Robert Charlton

 7:33 pm on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Keep in mind that there's a well known link-building strategy called "link baiting"... say something outrageous and attract comments, often with links. It doesn't matter, apparently, that many of the comments and links are negative. It's not an uncommon technique in certain kinds of off-web marketing as well.

George Cohan, undoubtedly talking about show business (where press can be tough to get unless you're at the top), had this to say about the approach: "I don't care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right."

It's an approach that's been known to backfire.


 8:02 pm on Oct 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

Its a strategy that has been known to backfire spectacularly on many occasions.

"No such thing as bad publicity" is a joke.

One example that comes to mind immediately is the case of a very famous jewelry chain whose founder said something along the lines of "I wouldn't be seen dead wearing that junk" about his own products.

So if making a laughing stock of yourself and seeing your multi million dollar company vanish is a good thing then I guess the old saying about publicity is true. I don't think the jewelry guy believes it to be true.


 7:30 am on Oct 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe it could backfire for a "famous" brand. But for an obscure business, when you got nothing to lose, any publicity could be good.


 1:27 pm on Oct 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

Create & submit some keyword optimized articles and press releases, work on getting better positioning for your own pages, get some legitimate reviews from your own customers and dilute and/or drive down your competitor from the SERPs.

Also, while most visitors do not typically trust reviews 100%, they do pay attention. Your competitor may (or may not)be receiving more visitors but my assumption is that they are not obtaining much business from that keyword phrase.

So, without the benefit of full knowledge, I'd say that the reviews could very well be helping you in that they are likely driving buyers from your competitor.


 2:09 pm on Oct 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think Google's latest algo takes keyword + any evil, pain in the butt, or negative term and adds an extra 100 quality points to it. Seriously! There is no reason why so much negative stuff is rising to the top of branded searches when really good press releases, articles, and profiles exist that are optimized for the terms.


 2:59 pm on Oct 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

I really don't have a problem with the way the search engines handle this today. I fear that the alternative may be worse should the engines start trying to guess at the content originators' purpose or feelings behind a particular post. There is no way the engines can reliably figure out and interpret sarcasm, metaphors, symbolism, irony, and other constructs of human language in which one says one thing but means something else. Would they factor in whether the poster was male or female (we all know women frequently say one thing when they mean another! haha) Until they can master these reliably (with 99.999...% accuracy), they should stay away from implementing half baked solutions.

It's no different than in real life. Everyone knows that if I go to a restaurant and have a good experience that I might tell 2-3 people about it. But if I have a terrible experience, I'm going to to tell 20-30 people about it. I think it's very fair and relevent that when someone is searching for a brand, that Google shows them what is most relevent - good and bad... not just the good. These 'bad press' posts/pages will typically disappear off the SE radar soon enough. Hiding bad press would be equivalent to censorship.

[edited by: ZydoSEO at 3:00 pm (utc) on Oct. 13, 2008]


 10:34 pm on Oct 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think Search engines just values links and dont bother whether the tone of anchor tex is positive or negative ..

Why dont u create a page for ur competitor and try to rank for some anti-x keywords and build up some nice content for your self..

Also all those users will be probable customers for u :D


 12:11 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

If they continue to generate visible online complaints, they will crash sooner or later. If a particularly dissatisfied customer (certainly not a competitor!) created a site like ExampleSucks.com and both accepted complaint postings and linked out to existing reports, that would hasten the process. That "sucks" site would become the new link magnet and would benefit from new complaints in forums, blogs, etc.


 6:09 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think the confusion on this post is really that the complaints are not the pages that are ranking high, the complaints are linking to the site that they are complaining about. all those pages linking to the one site is going to boost the site to high serp. the site itself that they are complaining about is being promoted negatively, and i bet, the complaints will end up on page 2 so they searchers aren't going to see them.

but I'm just saying.

I would use the dis-satisfied link at the bottom of the search page, and send the note to the pages linking to x y z's site.


 6:35 pm on Oct 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

"the complaints are linking to the site that they are complaining about."

Good point. Are we speaking of link profile or are the complaints ranking for the keyword phrase as well as the site in question?

msafi, can you elaborate?



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