Google Now Degrading Rankings Of Some Merchants With Poor Service

Dec 2, 2010 • 8:11 am | comments (3) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Last night, Google announced something which had two major impacts on their search algorithm.

(1) Google Ranking Based on Merchant Service Quality: The first one is obvious, that they have added into their ranking algorithm a way to detect, on some level, merchants that offer "an extremely poor user experience" and adjust their ranking in the Google Search results accordingly. Google explained:

Instead, in the last few days we developed an algorithmic solution which detects the merchant from the Times article along with hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide an extremely poor user experience. The algorithm we incorporated into our search rankings represents an initial solution to this issue, and Google users are now getting a better experience as a result.

Google also added that they "have not found an effective way to significantly improve search using sentiment analysis." Finally, Google may decide to add merchant rankings right into the search results, and Danny goes deeper on that over here.

(2) Google Changes Algorithm Based On News Story:

The second is not as obvious, but major to me. Google saw the story on the New York Times about the new SEO strategy of treating your customers poorly to get higher rankings in Google. And within days Google adjusted their algorithm to attack the problem.

Of course, Google is constantly looking at feedback from the web, blogs, forums and so on to improve their algorithms. But this is a major update and it seems like Google dropped a lot of things to make sure to address this issue immediately, which is amazing to me.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for it. But just seems pretty major to me that they did this.

Forum discussion at WebmastetWorld and Google Blogoscoped Forums.

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Nathaniel Deal

12/02/2010 01:53 pm

Hmm, so all it takes is a national news story and they magically fix it. Very interesting.

Barry Schwartz

12/02/2010 03:58 pm



12/02/2010 11:38 pm

"in our opinion" = G's elusive factor that they call "quality" as in "quality score" or "landing page quality"? Perhaps. Most people don't realize how much of G's results are curated by humans before being plugged into the algo. Naturally, not everything can be because it's too huge and I can see how something like eyeglass frames could slip straight into the algo without human curation. In the early days of search engines, I remember many of the employees watched the search queries come in in realtime. It was much NSFW! Sure, now algos watch and determine what gets the most action, but you still need humans to look at the SERPs for those hottest topics to make sure that people who use your search engine say "I'll search for it on FOO because FOO always gave me links to great pages in the past." An algo can't find "great pages". You need meat puppets for that. Love the new look Barry.

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