SEOs spend an awful lot of time thinking about searching. I’m not just talking about finding links or car keys, I mean how searches service the user.
At the end of 2010 I was talking wistfully about setting up a site where the glass is always half empty, and you can expect to find the worst attributes of anything popular.
My logic was sound: “If you can’t find anyone saying something bad about an item, it’s either too new, or not bad at all. People rarely say anything about a non-problem, so why do we search for positive reviews?”
In true SEO style was even looking at some domain names like halfempty.com or pessimist.com wondering how much it might cost to re-purpose them for a greater
Truth be told, there are a plenitude of review sites online, the real problem (sorry to be so negative) is that unless your Google-Fu is quite strong, quickly finding the issues with a product can be a challenge. The instant you add ‘review’ or ‘compare’ into a search you play right into the hands of marketing types who don’t want to ‘review’ anything except for your shop-cart checkout.
Obviously starting another review site was not the solution and I just let the idea linger in the back of my head. That is, until a recent discussion on rating the ‘success-fulness’ of search engines by the amount of visits leading off the search page was brought up by some recent data over at Experian.
My take on ‘successful’ searches it that Google does it best. If I don’t leave the search results for anything other than a purchase or to post something, then Google has done their best. I know that seems like a contrary opinion for a SEO, but even SEOs are aware that there’s little value in having info seekers bouncing around in a shopping cart if we know they aren’t going to click ‘purchase’ or post something handy. We’d honestly rather have them get the info from the SERPs and stop there.
This is where “BAD_REV” came to life. What if everyone who did a negative review used a tag/keyword to help searchers find that review? Google would instantly give us the dirt on the next purchase we’re considering, and it really wouldn’t matter where the review was located online.
A typical review in a blog post or forum for a fictitious item could look like this:
BAD_REV Samsonic Cordless Shaver, BAD_REV SAM-CS-101, This shaver was such a good price, I purchased it on sale with a mail in rebate. Sadly, after bad experiences with battery life, blade jams, and poor operation, I wouldn’t make the same purchase next time.
Currently in Google’s cache there’s 4 instances of “BAD_REV” used in the last year! (Ok make that 5+ now) To the point, after posting that online, I could expect to search for “BAD_REV Samsonic Cordless Shaver” or the model number “BAD_REV SAM-CS-101” and find this review.
As a consumer this is a real improvement in information access, and for manufacturers this provides a quick and easy method of getting feedback on a product/service and/or see where the bad feedback is coming from. If I felt someone was using my product incorrectly I would have an easy way of locating them and helping them overcome any hurdles.
For review sites, adding this tag properly will help users find your content, and it can be used with existing information quite easily. All we really need to do is start using it.
Remember: The glass isn’t half empty, it’s just twice the size it needs to be!
SEO news blog post by Ryan Morben @ 11:17 pm on February 10, 2011