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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?
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.
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...
The best option however is to be #1. :-)
Hope that helps.
[edited by: Excellira at 2:45 pm (utc) on Oct. 6, 2008]
Does your competitor sell his customer's emails?
[edited by: Fribble at 6:28 pm (utc) on Oct. 11, 2008]
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?
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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]
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
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.