Just like some forms of search engine marketing are considered spammy and unethical--known as “black hat” SEO--some tactics you might use as part of your corporate online reputation management strategy are also spammy and unethical.
While brand ethics vary from business to business, unethical online brand management tactics prevent the transparency you need to gain trust and encourage sales. To become a corporate online reputation management wizard, avoid the following spammy techniques like the plague.
Creating Fake Reviews
Publishing reviews under false personas is the same as lying. Creating fake testimonials and success stories is wrong too. Both will make customers, stakeholders, and others close to your business upset.
While creating your own positive reviews about your brand may help push negative content down in search engine results, once the search engines figure out what you’re doing--and they usually do--you can be sure your site will be penalized.
Instead of creating fake reviews and testimonials, call or email satisfied customers and invite them to leave a positive review on a review site you would like to influence, such as Yelp. Regularly reach out to your audience on social media and through email to gather success stories and happy testimonials, and make sure customers know you might use their words elsewhere.
Natural inks help indicate a website’s relevance and authority by telling search engines that other audiences find your content useful. The more links you have, the theory goes, the more relevant you must be.
When you buy links, you interrupt that process and abuse the power links should have.
This black-hat corporate online reputation management tactic has gotten many corporate websites penalized by Google before. It will get your penalized too.
Creating great content and spreading positive content about your brand around is the better way to get links to your main website. Instead of paying for the link, you put in the work yourself. Owning the content linking out and the content being linked to is honest and gives you more control anyway.
Creating Fake Social Media Accounts
Corporate online reputation management has become so crucial in the last few years because social media has made it easier than ever for anyone to say what they think about a company. Because of this, many brands may be tempted to create fake social accounts praising the company to try to balance things out.
Like writing false reviews, this tactic is the same as lying.
If you came across a social account that did nothing but praise a certain company, you would probably be suspicious. You wouldn’t want to follow or connect with them because you know you couldn’t trust anything they said.
Because social networks are designed to help people connect remotely and express their true opinions, they definitely frown on fake accounts and do everything they can to remove the account and ban the user who created it. Social media can be powerful. Fake accounts aren’t worth losing access the social networks where your target audience hangs out.
Instead of falsifying praise for your company, create official accounts for the brand and for each major executive. Be so honest on your official brand accounts that it almost scares you, while being true to the brand voice and message. Encourage employees to include their employment information on their accounts and to share positive things about the brand. Doing these things is the right way to harness the true power of social media.