Why Content Sentiment on Web Pages Is Relevant In SEO

Many SEO professionals believe that content sentiment can determine a page’s rank in Google. If every page on the top of the SERPs for your targeted keyword has a positive sentiment, your negative-sentiment page won’t rank, right?

Well, no. Not exactly.

SEO veteran and Google patent master Bill Slawski shared his thoughts on the matter, and this is the gist of what he thinks:

Google probably doesn’t favor one sentiment over another. Why? Because they don’t want to show potential bias on any topic. In all likelihood, the search engine giant wants to see some sentiment diversity.

Bill continued on to say that positive or negative sentiment doesn’t necessarily indicate how much knowledge is present/added to the topic. It doesn’t reflect potential information gain from the content. It’s nothing more than flavor, like chocolate or vanilla.

Despite this, some SEO specialists still think that if all search results for a particular topic lean towards a positive sentiment, then that is what searchers are looking for. But this is not necessarily the case. There are many other known ranking factors (i.e. links) at play. There are also users looking to find specific websites for certain queries.

The lesson? Don’t make the mistake of isolating sentiment—which is just one of many factors—and building an SEO strategy around it.

Let’s look at it this way. Say that all the top search results for your targeted keywords happen to use same type of SEO plugin. That doesn’t mean that the plugin is responsible for their good ranking, right? Likewise, the sentiment shown in search results doesn’t necessarily represent what the searcher is seeking. It would be quite naive to cherry pick one factor like sentiment and assume that it’s the reason for the site’s ranking.

Is sentiment ranking even relevant?

Google has not addressed this matter directly since 2018.

In July of that year, a Twitter user pointed out that Google’s search algorithm seemed to recognize and consider sentiment, which led to the question on the presence of a so-called ‘sentiment search operator.’

Danny Sullivan from Google quickly clarified that the search engine doesn’t recognize sentiment; therefore, there’s no operator for it. Moreover, he made it clear that Google’s search algorithm does not identify sentiment.

However, he later made a contradicting statement that led some confusion. It appeared in the official Google announcement he published regarding featured snippets in early 2018.

The announcement said that there could be different opinions for certain queries, and that Google may show one negative and one positive snippet.

He also shared a statement from Matthew Gray, the software engineer leading the featured snippets team. Matthew said that publishers have diverse perspectives and that Google wants to provide visibility to users and give access to those perspectives from different sources.

Those statements are the last we’ve heard from Google when it comes to sentiment, and it seems to indicate that they are always looking for diversity.

The bottom line

Sentiment analysis goes beyond just positive and the negative, especially where reviews are concerned. Google has also consistently stated that their results are not led by the sentiment expressed in the searcher’s query. They try NOT to show only pages that reflect the searcher’s sentiment intent. Their goal is to show a diversity of opinions.

So instead of getting too caught up in sentiment, step back and look and aim to implement a more comprehensive SEO strategy that addresses other important ranking factors. If you need help, contact us at SEOValley.