This article by local SEO services company Local Splash describes considerations and actions for online reputation management, the art of reducing and eliminating negative search results from search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN.
When was the last time you did a search in Google for your company name? Try it now. Do you see anything negative appear about your company, such as a blog post from a customer who might have had a less than desirable experience? How about a BBB page or the infamous RipoffReport.com? These search results could be detrimental to the success of your online marketing campaign, especially for those users who understand that the true value of the Internet is not just information but diligence.
So How Do You Manage Your Online Reputation?
You can start by looking at your business and practices to make sure there is nothing in the way you do business that could be seen as unethical. If there are negative search results in Google, is there a common theme? Are your prices too high or your customer service not adequate? Look inside first.
Then apply some SEO best practices. Start by jotting down the web address of every website that appears when you search for your company name (or product brand). Spend some time analyzing the titles of the listing in Google and the page theme. Once you’ve compiled a list of web addresses, with columns for titles and page themes, start semi-duplicating the negative strategy but with positive content. Here is an example:
Sample Bad Listing
PizzaReviewGuy · Chucky’s [not] So Cheese Pizza
NEVER go to Chucky’s because the pizza is awful. We reviewed this place and were not impressed
by the service or food quality…
Sample Replacement Listing
Read Reviews of Chucky’s Cheese Pizza in Anaheim, CA
NEVER go to any pizza restaurant in Anaheim until you have tried Chucky’s Cheese Pizza because
the pizza is fantastic. Read more reviews of this place and were prepare to be impressed…
Follow this same exercise for each negative posting that appears in the search results. When done, you’ll need to do some periodic linking to move up the visibility of each new page you created on the web to push down the negative search results. If you link too quickly or all at one time, your page is likely to be filtered from the search engine results.
Link Strategy for Online Reputation Management
Follow these steps to build links over time to improve ranking in the search results. There are thousands of ways to build links, here are just a few methods that may make a difference:
- If you posted your better page on a blog, submit the RSS Feed all over the Web
- Favorite the page in delicious.com, digg.com, stumbleupon.com, and other social bookmarking websites
- If you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, or any other social network, get some linkage from those locations
- Find forums and blogs that talk about your industry, product, or service and engage in dialog with that community using a signature containing a link to the post(s) you want to have visibility
- Have all of your friends and family (not all at once) start linking from their own websites and social profiles.
Over time, Googlebot will hit your better listing through all of the above links far more time than they will hit the negative listings and eventually you will move up.
Repeat with other destinations, such as:
- MySpace.com Blog
- and more…
Online Reputation Management and the BBB
You might as well be competing with Wikipedia in the search results if your brand or company name appear in a BBB page at the top of the search results, since websites as large and reputable as BBB.org and RipoffReport.com have much more Google PageRank and trust with the search engines. They are also more likely get higher traffic volumes than an newer, smaller website.
To remove these 800 lb websites from the search results, start by contacting them directly to see what can be done. If you don’t get a response that includes an action item list, you’ll probably have to contact a lawyer and battle them out in court. The 1st amendment protects individuals, but only to the extent that it doesn’t become slander or a number of other scenarios your legal counsel will most-likely tell you about.
Worse Case Reputation Management Solution
The world is online. If you have multiple negative listings regarding your brand (or someone else using the same brand name), the worse case solution would be to change your name. Be sure to trademark your name if possible, so that your competitor doesn’t try to use your name in their own brand strategy later.
Understanding how important online reputation management can be is the first step to preventing negative search listings in Google. But if it happens to you, executing the strategy above could make an impact over time to the ranking of negative listings, while at the same time improving your own brand marketing campaign.