I think I understand why someone would down vote a poor question or especially a poor answer, but what does that down vote do to the long term SEO of that question?

For example, does a question with 90 up votes somehow have better SEO than a question with -3 votes?

Or does that have more to do with a question being asked "first" and other questions that come later are duplicates.

This is supposed to be a repository of good questions and answers for all to google and enjoy right? As well as a surprisingly fast way to get an answer. So what happens to all those poor questions?

PS: I searched for duplicates to this question, but did not find any.

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    This is actually a very interesting question. – Andrew Barber Mar 28 '13 at 2:58
  • Search engines don't know anything about our votes, so my gut feeling is that there's no difference. Downvoted questions may be more likely to be deleted, but while they're still on the site, they're gonna be indexed just like any other question. – Adam Lear Mar 28 '13 at 3:02
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    I suppose a really good question may get tweeted, blogged about, or visited often which results in better page ranks, but isn't that typically more of a function of the page's age? – Jess Mar 28 '13 at 3:14
  • I suppose dupes could be referred to the original version by using <link rel="canonical"> but that wouldn't address quality issues, i.e. poor quality questions polluting search results. – Tim Medora Mar 28 '13 at 6:16
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    They affect our search engine as of last night on Stack Overflow and meta (in testing, will be adjusting the scale)...does that count? – Nick Craver Mar 28 '13 at 9:54
  • On the other hand, if there are 10 dupes with low votes pointing to one answer with 90 votes, maybe that IMPROVES the SEO. All of those other answers linking to the best answer would improve the SEO of the best answer??? hmmmmm – Jess Mar 28 '13 at 14:59

In my experience, votes don't affect SEO nearly enough.

Almost every problem I search for turns up multiple SO results, and frequently one of those is clearly the definitive version of the problem on SO, but it's rarely the top hit.

As an example, searching "android spinner prompt select" on Google* right now turns up three dupes and one unrelated question all outranking the definitive question. The definitive question has 100 times the votes, was more recently active, has many more views (despite apparently subpar SEO), and otherwise seems potentially SEO-deficient only by virtue of being older (which could be a positive factor in this instance). I wish that Google would take into account posts' votes, but I haven't seen any evidence that they do.

Expecting Google or other search engines to take internal vote counts into account isn't really realistic, but it sure would be nice if there were some general mechanism for sites to offer suggestions to search engines about the relative ranking of their own content. Just as <meta name="description" content="..." /> can be used to hint how a page should be summarized, it'd be nice to have some similar <meta name="quality" content="<question score>" /> to hint that relative to other content on the domain, this page is a keeper.

Maybe some day...

*Of note is that DuckDuckGo gives much better results. A new challenger arises?

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  • Maybe votes affect the SEO only when people search for the answer on SE sites, and then link the answer from somewhere else, If google don't keep into accout upvotes it is possible poeple stop searching on it and start searching directly on SE sites (I recently started doing that for some programming questions with good results). Also if the site has a rank for most upvoted questions that should change the SEO since I think at least google gives more rank to pages that are showed first in "ranks" (the same is applied to blogs, why should be different for SE sites?) – CoffeDeveloper Sep 4 '15 at 17:37

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