Google’s John Mueller was asked in a recent Google webmaster hangout video if negative search results about a brand can hurt that brand’s web site from ranking in Google search. John said no – it shouldn’t. John also talked a bit about if there is a need or not to do reputation management in general.
At the 9:01 minute mark into the video, the question asked was:
when I Google my brand name, on the first or second page of the results, there’s a site review website that pops up. And it has a rich result snippet with the rating and stuff, and it’s just a lot of user submitted reviews about the website. And I’m not sure what impact this actually has, whether directly, or I suppose there would be an indirect impact if a user sees the reviews, and they are looking for reviews about the website. So I know there is that aspect of it, but I was wondering if there is any other aspect, or any other impact on my site based on links that are maybe shared in the reviews. Or I know BERT can sometimes be used to understand context of a page. So if there’s a negative sentiment generally on the page, could that have any sort of impact on the performance or ranking of my website?
John Mueller of Google responded “I don’t think you’d see any effect on the ranking of your website from that.”
She then asked again at the end of the conversation “so basically, don’t need to worry about that too much?” John responded “yeah, I wouldn’t worry about it”
It really is not a bad question. In 2010, there was a lot of noise around an SEO who mistreated his customers in order to get more links and reviews (even negative ones) to help boost his rankings. Shortly after Google said it would downgrade sites with these actions. But we haven’t seen much on this topic since…
Here John is saying if you have some bad reviews about your brand online, it should not have any effect on the ranking in Google search.
Then John went on to discuss the need, or lack there of, for doing online reputation management. He said:
I think, at most, what might happen is that people stumble across that in the search results for your company name. They’re like, oh, what does this mean, and then they get lost in that website. But it’s not that the existence of such a page would negatively affect your site.
Even if there are some negative reviews on there. I mean, on the internet there are all kinds of things. So that’s something where I wouldn’t directly assume that would have a negative impact. Sometimes, it makes sense to try to create other kinds of content that can go up, especially for things like a query for your company name. But it’s always a question of where you invest your time. If people are already searching for your company name, they know where to go anyway. So I don’t know. It’s not always straightforward to say, oh, you should create more pages with your company name on it just so that you can cover the whole search results with your favorable content.
Here is the video embed at the start time:
Forum discussion at YouTube Community.