When customers perform a search for your company, what do they see in the first page of the search engine results? Chances are, if you’ve been around for a while, a Google search will include websites with negative comments, reviews or blogs.
The Most Effective Way to Boost Your Online Reputation
The most effective Online Reputation Management strategy is to get positive websites about your company to rank high, which pushes everyone else down in the rankings — ideally out of the top 20 search engine results. Easier said than done, of course. But this strategy has three distinct advantages:
1) You don’t have to confront the owners of the negative sites, who may or may not be cooperative in removing the comments or forum posts.
2) You are in control of your efforts to rank the positive sites, and are no longer at the whims of complainers, critics, or disapproving reviewers who post their opinions online.
3) It’s completely fair. You’re not forcing anyone to change their content, whether through begging, arm-twisting or legal threats. You’re simply helping those who search on you to see the good side of your company.
Imagine the effect on your online reputation when an online search produces a page full of websites containing only positive reviews, complimentary articles and glowing testimonials. You’ll project a much better image to everyone who finds you through Google.
The way to make sure the positive sites rank higher with the search engines is to perform search engine optimization (SEO). Today, Search Engine Optimization is a combination of including relevant content on your web pages and getting other websites to link to those pages.
You see, Google and other search engines gauge the relevance of a web page based on how many other websites link to it. The more “backlinks” you have to your website, the more likely it is that your website deserves to be ranked higher.
So far, so good. But we still need to push all those negative sites out of the higher rankings, which means we need other sites to take their places. To accomplish this, we find or create websites that contain positive or neutral information about your company and perform SEO to get them to rank higher.
And once the top ten spots of a search are wiped clean of any negative sites, we go to work on the next ten spots.
The goal is to eventually give you two search results pages of positive sites. This is a necessary cushion, because a negative site’s ranking could move up or down by a few spots over time. By “owning” the first two pages, you make it more likely that a negative site can’t suddenly pop up on Page 1 of a search.
Online Reputation Management vs. Traditional Public Relations
How does Online Reputation Management fit into your overall PR strategy? In short, it’s part of PR, and a very crucial one in today’s online world.
Much of public relations concerns managing your reputation, whether it’s publicizing good news about your company or responding to criticism. No doubt you’d prefer that the public only heard positive comments and was not exposed to anything critical about you.
That’s what we aim for with Online Reputation Management, only we focus on what people see about you when performing an online search. And since that’s the way more and more potential customers, sales people, and journalists learn about you these days, managing your image on the search engine results pages becomes a very important part of PR.
The Bottom Line
Negative websites, articles, forum posts and other comments are hurting your brand and costing your company money in terms of lost sales and revenue.
You can either let your reputation and sales suffer, or you can manage your online reputation just as you manage everything else in your company — taking steps to get the results you want and keep your company on track for success.
Online Reputation Management is the key to making that happen.
Online Reputation Management Articles featuring Don Sorensen and Big Blue Robot:
Huffington Post: Is Online Reputation Management Dead?
The New York Times: Erasing the Digital Past