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.

Own Your Name: A Key Tactic for Reputation Management

Just about everyone carries identification. We usually carry a driver’s license, a credit or debit card, maybe a library card, or any other number of cards that display our name and possibly our image. Personal identification became a necessity when people started to travel more easily at the beginning of the 20th century.

Before widespread travel, everyone in the town or area you lived knew who you were. So there was no need for you to prove who you were. But as people started to travel more and intermingle with strangers, it became too easy for someone to give a false name, pretend they were someone else, or generally lie about their real identity. And because identity was so easy falsified, it became necessary for people to use identification so they could prove they were who they said they were.

The internet is now at a similar point. It’s so easy for anyone to hide their identity online, or assume the identity of someone else, that it is imperative for your company to claim its name online in as many forms as possible, in order to prevent fraudulent use of your name. Or, from a more pragmatic approach, to prevent a rival from claiming your domains and profiles first

Here are 5 tips for claiming your name in order to protect your online reputation.

1. Claim personalized domains

If you are doing reputation management for a company, you’ve probably already purchased these. Not only do you need to own, but also other domain extensions, like, .org, .tv, and more. Owning these various domains will keep others from buying them up and pretending to be you. But it will also have the benefit of allowing you to create microsites or informational sites about your company that can appear in the SERPs and push down more negative links.

If you are an individual, make sure your snatch up your domain—if it isn’t already taken—and then consider buying other extensions as well. You can use these domains as blogs or as hubs for your identity online.

2. Register branded social profiles

Social profiles tend to do very well for both company and individual name searches and can bump negative content out of the search results. But more importantly, you want to protect your online reputation by making sure someone else doesn’t claim these profiles and use them for their own purposes. A great place to find the majority of the social media sites is KnowEm.

In fact, just last year, a prankster registered the profile @MayorEmanuel on Twitter and commenced to tweet as if from behind the scenes of Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel’s election campaign. The profile gained a number of followers who thought they were following the real Rham Emanuel, only to find out it was a hoax.

Claim all your branded social media profiles immediately, so something similar doesn’t happen to you or your company.

3. Monitor your Wikipedia page

Although Wikipedia has in some instances been proven more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica, it’s still a playground rife with fraud and misinformation. If you don’t have a Wikipedia page for your company (or if you are famous enough to warrant a personal Wikipedia entry) go ahead and create one before anyone else has the chance to do it for you.

However, keep an eye on it. Because Wikipedia is an open community, any editor can change the information on your profile. If this happens, make sure you correct the information quickly and alert the Wikipedia editorial board if malicious acts are being perpetrated against your page by other users.

4. Grab business listings

Another great place to claim your name is on business listing websites. Search local and niche directories for instances of your business or personal name and create listings that reflect your actual information. These can also be great places to link to your main website, blog, or other web properties and help them rank better in the SERPs.

5. Don’t forget variations

Lastly, don’t forget about variations of your business or personal name. For example, if you are a car blogger, purchase domains like or For social profiles, think about various ways you could be represented online, like “@MayorEmanuel,” so that you can avoid unnecessary confusion over fake profiles. It’s also a good idea to hold on to common misspellings of your personal or company name to avoid potential problems as well. You can even use those misspelled domains as redirects to your main site, so you can capture anyone who is looking for you online.

Although there are many aspects to reputation management that will keep your SERPs looking good, you can avoid potential disasters by claiming any and all instances of your company or personal name online before anyone else does.

Tips for Using Non-Branded Content in Your Reputation Management Strategy

As today’s consumer becomes more web savvy, they are increasingly searching for non-branded, or neutral, information when they want to find out more about your company online. That is, if a potential customer searches for your company name online, and all they see are a number of links that clearly point to content that you control, the potential customer may feel like they are not getting a holistic view of your company.

As a result, they may either move to the second page of the results, or they’ll try a new search for something like “ACME reviews” or “information about ACME.” But that’s not what you want them to do.

When managing online reputation for a company, you want to control what potential customers see and keep them from looking elsewhere for more information. But the only way you can keep them on the 1st page of results for your company name is to make them feel that the information they are seeing is natural and unbiased. And the best way to do that is to promote non-branded content as part of the reputation strategy.

Positive and Neutral

Potential customers will only believe they are seeing non-biased information when they see a mix of positive and neutral content on the 1st page of the results. So search for information about your company that already exists online. Here are some places to look:

1) News Articles

News articles are some of the best content to optimize and promote to the 1st page of the search results. They’re written by a 3rd party and they generally carry a good amount of authority with them. In other words, people find it very easy to believe news stories. And when looking for a story about your company, you don’t even have to find one that focuses on your company—one that simply mentions your company name is fine (as long as the mention is in either a positive or neutral light). In fact, it may even be worth it to pitch a story about your company to a local news agency. If they write about you—instant content!

2) Wikipedia

Wikipedia has pretty high domain authority on the web, which is one of the reasons it comes up so often in search results. If you company is of any decent size, it may be worth asking someone to write a short Wikipedia article about it. Although Wikipedia articles are taken with a grain of salt by most people, having a Wikipedia article show up in your search results give the impression that your company is important enough to have an article written about them. Which is never a bad thing.

3) Reviews

One of the great things about the modern internet is that absolute deluge of user-generated content, in the form of reviews, videos, pictures and more. There are dozens of review sites on the web, and it is definitely worth it to search these websites for reviews of your company. If you find a handful of positive or neutral reviews, build links to those pages and get them to rank for your branded search term. What appears most un-biased to a potential customer than 3rd party reviews of your products and services?

4) Video

Video is a little trickier. Unless you already have a very large customer base, there probably aren’t a lot of videos made by third parties about your company. However, they may exist. If you can find one that mentions your company, build links to it to get it to rank better in the results. Videos have an incredibly high click-through rate and carry a good amount of authority with them. If you find a video that mentions your company by name, it’s probably worth it to contact the person who made it, ask them to put your company name in the description and meta tags of the video and tell them you want to promote it. Chances are they’d like increased views of their video (especially if they’re part of the YouTube advertising partner program), giving them an incentive to help you out.

There are other types of 3rd party, neutral content on the web as well, like business listings, BBB pages, blog posts, and more. But these four types of content above may give your reputation management strategy a stronger boost, so it is definitely worth it to give them a try so you can build a more natural looking results page for your company.

Tips for Using PPC as a Reputation Management Strategy

Most people in the world are completely unaware of how search engines work and how it’s possible to use search algorithms to manipulate the results you see on the page. As a result, many SEOs and reputation management professionals are thought of as magicians who use dark sorcery to “trick” Google into doing their bidding. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many people are flummoxed as to how Google makes any money. They don’t sell anything, right?

Well, those in the industry know that besides a handful of premium services, Google makes the vast majority of its money selling advertising. And you can use Google’s ad system to help your online reputation, just like you can use any other tactic to mold a results page that is optimal for the reputation of your company.

PPC (or pay-per-click) advertising are the ads that run at the top and sides of a Google search page. They don’t take up a spot in the results, but they do push the “natural” results lower on the page, taking up screen real estate. And many users can’t tell the difference between the paid and non-paid results on a serach—which is one of the reasons these ads work so well.

Google sells these ads on an auction basis. In other words, whoever is willing to pay the most for the ad space gets the best spot on the page. In terms of reputation management, it’s not likely that many other companies will be bidding for space on a search for your company name (however in some industries this is the case), so your PPC rates should be fairly small. Perhaps as little as a few cents per click.

If you feel that it might be worth it to buy ads on a search for your company name and take up some extra page real estate, here are a few tips you’ll need to keep in mind to save money on your campaign:

1) Use the ad scheduler to limit your ads to peak search hours

When you buy ads from Google, you have the opportunity to use the ad scheduler to specify the times of the day you want your ads to run. Running your ads 24 hours a day is a good way to catch everyone who searches for your company names, but it could cost you a lot of money. Instead, use your Google analytics tools to find out what days of the week and what times of the day are most ideal for capturing the maximum amount of people with your ad. Then schedule your ad to run during those times, saving you money and giving you the most benefit at the same time.

2) Use “standard” delivery method

On the other hand, if you are on a budget and can only devote a small amount of money to PPC, you may opt to limit placement of your ads to the amount you can pay each day. If this is the case, you’ll be offered two options when buying ads: standard delivery or accelerated delivery.

With standard, your ads will be evenly spaced out through the day. With accelerated delivery, your ad will run on every search possible until you run out of budget. In some cases this means that your ad will appear in searches for your company name only in the morning—leaving the afternoon wide open.

Although some PPC marketers advocate for accelerated delivery, with reputation management, you’ll want to opt for standard so you can save the most money and still get exposure throughout the day.

PPC and Reputation Management

Granted, PPC is not usually the first option for a reputation management strategy because searches for your specific company name are generally low-competition keywords. But if you’ve had trouble with certain results showing up near the top of a search, or if your competitors are buying ads for branded searches, then PPC is an option you might consider. And these basics will get you started down the right path to a stronger reputation management strategy.

Stop Banging Your Head Against the Wall: 4 Reasons to Change Your Reputation Management Strategy

Why would you want to bang your head against a wall? It hurts, it wastes time, and it looks pretty silly to boot. But many companies are metaphorically banging their heads against a wall with their reputation management strategy. Although the search world keeps changing, these companies still employ the same tactics they always have in an attempt to mold a great search engine results page and solidify their online reputation with continually diminishing returns.

Albert Eisntein once said, “The definition of stupidity is doing same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So why are these companies using the same reputation strategy they’ve used for the past 2-4 years? Mostly because they don’t know they need to change, or they simply don’t want to put the effort into creating a new strategy.

Well, if you aren’t changing your reputation management strategy to reflect the current trends in search, get ready for some headaches. On the other hand, if you’d like to try something different, here are some reasons to update your reputation management strategy.

1) The Google Crackdown

Ever since the Panda update early last year, Google has been going after content farms and link spam much more aggressively. And they’ll continue to do so in the coming year. Not only are their algorithms getting more complex and harder to “game,” but Google is handing out warnings and penalizing sites that don’t more strictly adhere to their policies and guidelines for quality sites. If your reputation management strategy has employed questionable tactics in the past, now is the time to change up your strategy to avoid penalties that could leave you open to attack.

2) The Growth of Social

Just a couple years ago, it was still okay for a company to ignore the social web. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others were still considered toys that kids played with. But that is no longer true. In fact, the fastest growing demographic for Facebook is the 55+ crowd. Today, social needs to be a part of any marketing strategy and is essential to your reputation management strategy. Social profiles are easy to create and they take up space in the results, giving you a stronger reputation management profile.

Plus, Google is increasingly relying on social signals to determine page rank. If you’re not using social at this point, it’s time to change your ways.

3) The Rise of Mobile

Many experts in the industry agree that 2012 will be the year of mobile. A larger portion of the population is using smart phones and other wireless devices to access the internet. This means that a larger portion of users are taking advantage of mobile devices to search for your company name as well as upload and create reviews and other content on the fly. And it is entirely possible that Google will begin optimizing results for content that is mobile friendly. So you need to be more vigilant about online reviews affecting your brand-targeted searches, and you need to get on the bandwagon with mobile.

4) The World is Changing

There is a reason you don’t see beeper stores anymore. Technology has moved on and the culture with it. As the access to technology and communication becomes easier and more affordable, the channels people use to access information about your company will grow, and you need to grow with it. Look for trends and be ready to adapt to those trends, or your online reputation may suffer.

Stop the Headaches

History has proven that companies and individuals who were unwilling to change and try new strategies and new technologies have dried up and failed (remember MySpace?). It’s a new year; a time for renewal and change. Take this opportunity to update your reputation management strategy and stop banging your head against a wall.

Where Not to Link From: Future-proofing Your Reputation Management Strategy

2011 has been a big year for reputation management and SEO in general. The past year saw some pretty big changes to the way Google evaluates websites for ranking purposes, including an increasing reliance on social networking activity to determine the quality of a website.

And as the online world continues to move forward, become more intuitive, and ever-dependant on the signals of users to determine which websites are the best and most useful, the crutch of old link building tactics will continue to weaken. In terms of reputation management strategy, that means that molding a search engine results page to reflect positively on your company will continue to get more difficult. Forcing reputation management practices away from low-quality link building tactics toward a more careful evaluation of where links are coming from.

So, moving into 2012, here are a few tips on where and where not to link from when optimizing your reputation strategy.

Where Not to Place Your Links:

  • Sites with a lot of ads: The internet exists because we can make money on it, but when advertising overtakes a site to the detriment of its content, Google notices, and downgrades that site, making links from that site worth less.
  • Sites with bad content: Site that are not useful and don’t provide any type of value to their visitors are sites to stay away from. If you look at a site and it reads like it was written for search engines instead of humans, stay away. Users will shun those sites, and so should you.
  • Content farms: There are a number of websites out there that focus solely on ranking high for a wide variety of searches so they can make money off advertising. If the content of the site is not focused, but rather is made up of scattered articles on a wide variety of unconnected topics, you don’t want links from those sites. Google doesn’t like them and is specifically targeting them for search engine manipulation tactics.
  • Crowded sites: Crowded sites are sites that don’t seem to be taken care of by a human. That is, they link to any site that asks (of will pay them enough), they don’t moderate their comments, and their sidebars are filled will irrelevant links and RSS feeds from other spammy sites.

Where to Seek Links:

  • Sites with Quality Content: If a site is focused, well written, and provides useful content—it’s generally a site that a normal human being would consider “quality.” That’s the type of site you want a link from. Quality sites will always rank well in a Google search and links from quality sites will always be more valuable than links from spammy sites.
  • User engagement: One of the marks of a low-quality site is the amount of comment spam that appears on the site. When you are evaluating a site for backlinking purposes, take a look at the comments section. Are real people responding? Is useful discussion taking place? If so, great. If all the comments contain non-specific compliments about the blog  being “great” or “ well written” and they all contain links to irrelevant sites, move along.
  • Social Shares: As social signals continue to rise in importance, it’s important that you link from a site that is popular with users—a site that is regularly shared on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more. It doesn’t have to have a lot. But if most blog posts have a handful of shares, that can’t be a bad thing.


The simple fact of the matter is that the old ways of article spinning, article directories, comment spamming, and more are becoming increasingly less effective. Mass producing a large quantity of low-quality links may be easy, but they will eventually die. And you don’t want your reputation management efforts to go to waste on strategies that will eventually fail you.

Instead, you need to look at the future of search engine algorithms and where they are headed—toward quality sites and content. If you can get links from sites that are popular and provide users with sincere, useful, quality content, you’ll be safeguarding yourself against future changes in the Google algorithms that attack low-quality, spammy tactics. Build a stronger, longer-lasting reputation management strategy today by focusing on linkbuilding from quality sites, and you won’t have to worry about your company’s reputation online.

Using Press Releases to Improve Your Company’s Online Reputation

Reputation management is a very specific form of search engine optimization. Reputation management experts use targeted strategies and tactics used by SEOs to mold and massage a search engine results page for a company or brand name into something positive and free from misleading or erroneous information. Because of the way the internet works, part of creating that positive results page is a practice called linkbuilding.

In a nutshell, linkbuilding is the practice of proactively creating links on a large number of websites that point to the websites that you want to rank higher in the SERPs. Doing this tells Google that the site that is linked to is important in some way, shape, or form, and it gets ranked higher than other websites. This is one of the reasons press releases should be an important part of your reputation management strategy. But how and why should you consider using press releases as part of your online reputation strategy? Here are a few reasons.

1. Press releases take up a spot in the SERPs

First of all, press releases tend to rank well for searches related to your company name. Today, every press release given to news organizations eventually ends up on the internet. By their very nature they talk about your company and use your company name multiple times (and usually link to your company website). And in most cases online press releases are published on a wide number of news sites on a regular basis. Google recognizes the context and use of your company name and can easily use it as a result when somebody searches for your company or brand name online. Since press releases are generally positive, they can give a nice spin to your first page results and bump other information lower down the list.

2. They’re cheap

For the purposes of online reputation management, your press releases don’t have to be personally delivered to a New York Times reporter. National distribution or regional targeting of your press releases costs money and is completely unnecessary if your company is not releasing news worthy of national press attention. But simple web distribution of your press release isn’t very expensive. You can place a 400 words press release on PRWeb or other online press release services for as little as $89, compared to—potentially—$1500 or more for a high-end release. You can write it yourself and it will get automatic distribution to online news sites, creating a great variety of links to your website and taking another spot in the SERPs without much effort or money.

3. Link to whatever you want

Remember, one of the ways you control the SERPs is through linkbuilding. Distributing a press release online through agencies like PRWeb will allow you to create a good number of links on the web to products, services, or websites that you need to rank higher in a branded SERP. For example, in your press release, not only can you link to your home page and other pages on your site. You can also include links to YouTube videos, other articles, social media profiles and more. These links are then distributed all over the web and increase the number of links that point to your properties and other sites that you want to rank well for your company name.

That’s an instant rank boost to sites that you want to do well in the results, pushing negative information down further.

4. You control the content

One of the biggest hurdles to online reputation is the fact that user-generated content is beginning to rank higher in the SERPs. That means user-created reviews and rants can easily pop up in a branded search, resulting in someone else controlling your message and reputation. A press release allows you to take a place in the SERPs with information that you control. You write it, you control the message, and you distribute it. No one else is controlling your message.

Press Release Strategy

Overall, press releases should be a part of your online reputation strategy—if they aren’t already. They serve multiple purposes and can give a lot of benefit with very little effort. If you’re looking to expand your reputation management strategy, give press releases a try.

Online Reputation Management: The New PR

Public relations used to be the best way for a company to manage its reputation and image publicly. A lot of PR consisted of positive press releases and pictures of your organization helping sick children or helping rebuild a rundown community center. But those days have changed. Whereas PR mostly focuses on relationships with major news outlets and putting a positive spin on your company news, less people are reading newspapers nowadays, and more people are using the Internet to research companies. Instead of PR, many companies are now focused on reputation management—creating a positive online image for their company.

Online reputation management is the new PR in the sense that reputation management is about influencing the kind of information users see when they search your company name online. Creating a good reputation management campaign involves many principles of SEO and knowing what kind of online content to promote, why, and how.

To look at the issue of old PR vs. new reputation management in more detail, let’s compare some characteristics of both.

1. Longevity of information

The old PR industry focused a lot of attention on the news cycle. What print publications can you get in? How many people read it? Can you get on CNN, the Today Show, etc.? Old PR focused on cyclical media. Places where your company could make a big splash and then be forgotten about in the space of a few minutes or days. But today’s information stays on the Internet almost permanently. Thus, reputation management is about controlling what information is most accessed and most widely read when a user is looking for information about your company. In today’s online culture, a company can’t rely on the short memories of the public to forget bad press or embarrassing mistakes. It’s all available forever on the Internet. Making sure the best stuff floats to the top is the job of reputation management.

2. Publisher reputation

When trying to get a reputable publisher to do a story on your company, the publisher has a responsibility to their readers or viewers to put out balanced, well-researched information and news stories to protect their own reputation. But today, publisher reputation is almost non-existent. Any fly-by-night, anonymous website can start up at any time and publish complete lies about a company and there is no reputation to uphold. That’s why reputation management is necessary for any large company. Because anyone can publish anything on the Internet, anyone can read it too—and believe it. So, it takes skilled reputation management to massage reputable, positive press and information to the top of a Google search, rather then let anonymous review writers dominate your online image.

3. Connections

If you’ve ever worked with a PR firm, you’ll know that they’re always talking about the connections and relationships they have with certain journalists or publications. Part of the PR game is to form relationships with prominent people in order to get your company news published in large, targeted venues. On the Internet, the only relationships that really matter are links. That’s why a lot of reputation management is based in SEO. SEO strategies used by reputation management seek to promote content that will benefit your company and move it to the top of a Google search, pushing negative reviews and information off the first page.

PR and reputation management are fundamentally two different things. And since more people are searching the Internet for information about your company than scrolling though microfiche of old news stories, reputation management is a valuable asset to add to your public image arsenal. That is not to say that a company should completely forgo PR in favor of reputation management. Rather, reputation management is quickly becoming just as important, if not more important, than PR for the benefit of your company name and image.


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