Killing Me Softly: 5 Ways to Kill Your Online Reputation by Doing Nothing

Usually when talking about online reputation management we discuss strategies, tips, tricks, insights and more—actions you can take to help lift your online reputation and improve your branded SERP. Basically, effective online reputation management is about doing something, taking action, and getting the job done. However, all that action can be exhausting. Why go through the trouble of trying to build a positive branded SERP?

If you could care less about your online reputation, then don’t put any effort forth. Don’t take action. Just sit there and watch as your branded SERP fills with negative reviews and articles about your terrible product and customer service. If you’re tried of worrying about your online reputation, here are 5 ways you can do nothing and watch your online reputation die quietly.

1. Don’t be seen or heard

You know that old saying, “children should be seen and not heard”? Well, if you really want to stop fretting over your online reputation, you shouldn’t be seen or heard. That is, don’t do anything online that would catch the attention of anyone who cares. Don’t write anything; don’t reach out to bloggers; don’t announce any new products or services your company offers; don’t release case studies, white papers, or press releases. If you want to ruin your online reputation, simply sit back and don’t produce any content about yourself at all.

2. Be boring

Not only should you not be seen or heard, but try and make your website and any marketing materials you might release completely boring. That’s right. Stop putting so much effort into being creative and trying to sound interesting. In fact, the best thing you can do is only release esoteric lists of data that are not relevant to your customers and are completely unreadable. If that data shows up in the SERPs, anyone looking for more information about your company will be so completely confused that you’ll lose them right away. Putting as little effort into your public image as possible is a sure fire way to let go of trying to make an effectively branded SERP and improve your online reputation.

3. Shut down your social profiles

I know this sounds like work, actively shutting something down. But it has a long-term payout—if you shut them down now, you’ll never have to update them again. You can either stop using them by not posting any new information and not responding to questions or inquiries from your followers, or you can officially delete your accounts. If you do this, they will no longer show up in your branded SERP, allowing other links, like bad reviews or “scam alerts” to fill in the spaces. But at least you won’t have to deal with them anymore.

4. Take down all your company’s websites

I suppose you could keep your main site open (if you still want to put in some minimal effort). But take down any other company web assets, like external blogs, promo sites, micro-sites, product sites, and more. All those properties should show up in a branded SERP, but they take so much time and effort to maintain, why bother? Those other websites only make you look like a company who cares about its reputation and customers.

5. Go incommunicado

Remove all contact information from all of your websites, online directories, profiles—anywhere an email, phone number, or physical address may exist. Why do you want people contacting you to talk about problems or questions they may have about your product or service. That’s way too much work. Just let them write reviews about how hard it is to contact you, or sit and watch as they post scathing blog articles about your product because they couldn’t get a hold of a customer service representative. These negative reviews and blog posts could show up in your branded SERP, which will deter you from gaining more customers. And that’s a relief, growing your business is huge hassle anyway.

There are a lot of ways you can do nothing and let your online reputation die. But if you really want to go the extra step and actively kill your reputation you could do things like pick fights with negative reviewers, pay for spammy links on blogs across the internet, publish rude or offensive videos about your company online, and much, much more. Of course, those things take effort. If you really don’t care, then do nothing, and your online reputation will kill itself—not with a bang, but a whimper.

Penguin and Reputation Management Strategy

Google has been raging a war against search engine manipulation for more than 10 years now. And it’s understandable. Their most used and most profitable product is their search engine, and in order to stay number one (by a wide margin), they need to offer user the best search experience possible. Essentially, that entails giving users the most relevant and highest quality results possible.

There are those who seek to manipulate the search results find holes in the Google algorithm and exploit them for their own benefit. There is nothing wrong with doing your best to get other websites to link to your site and boost your site rank, but there are a number of spammy tactics that some people use to get their sites to rank. One of these is to use “exact match anchor text” on a large scale.

For example, if you want your website to rank for “silk pillow cases,” you can submit links to directories or blogging networks with the text “silk pillow cases.” But this exact match keyword text link appears unnatural if 75% of the links coming to your site look exactly the same. And this is what Google has targeted in its latest search algorithm update to thwart manipulation, dubbed, Penguin.

So what does this mean for reputation management?

Well, in most ways, this is a very good thing for reputation management. The Penguin update is an update to the algorithm that looks at the backlink profile of a site, specifically the anchor text distribution. Google has determined that a “natural” link profile has about 60-80% of its links with branded anchor text, another 10-20% has keyword anchor text, and the last 10-20% is made of link noise (i.e., “click here,” “go here,” etc.)

Because, most of the time, reputation management is about creating a positive search results page for one keyword—often a personal name, company name, or brand—your reputation management strategy is in a good position when it comes to not getting penalized by Penguin. In general, linkbuilding for reputation management means having a personal, company, or brand name as the anchor text. But if other websites in your search are overoptimized for those keywords, they could be penalized and the material you want to promote can move up.

A warning

However, that doesn’t mean that everything is peachy keen. Although the majority of your backlinks contain branded terms or your name, to make sure you aren’t penalized, place a number of  links that contain link noise as well—up to 20%. That means that every once in a while, don’t make links like “company name.” Rather, create some link noise, like anchor text containing “click here” or “see more.”

The more natural you can make your backlink profile look for the websites you want to rank, the better. That way you’ll avoid any Penguin penalties and be one step closer to shaping the SERP you desire.

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