With the growing popularity of consumer review websites like RipOffReport.com that allow any disgruntled customer (or web-savvy competitor) to publish indexable content, there’s an entire industry being built around the removal of negative search-engine results.
But don’t let the hype men fool you, you don’t need proprietary reputation management skills to provide reputation defense that gets results.
If you know the basics of SEO, it’s just a matter of applying your skills in a new way. You might even discover that reputation management is easier than doing SEO.
What is Online Reputation Management?
At the most basic level, you’re removing sludge from the top search engine results, usually for a client’s brand or product name search. There’s a good encyclopedia-style explanation of it at good ol’ Wikipedia.
Typically, a reputation management company or SEO agency is hired to push down negative product reviews or complaints about particularly bad customer experiences.
In more difficult cases, a client might have been involved in some type of legal dispute where news stories about the trial end up ranking high in the SERPs for their brand name. Results from these sources can be a harder to push off page one since the listings will be coming from news sources with a lot of authority.
Other reasons a client might want to outsource their reputation management are competitive. Like when affiliates are able to leverage a companies brand name to score easy affiliate sales with free bonus offers.
But no matter the reasons your client wants to defend their online rep the strategy to push down these negative listings is pretty simple. Better yet, follow this simple strategy and you’ll be elbow dropping the negative results of 90% of the reputation management campaigns you come across.
5 Ways to Hammer Web Sludge and Get Started with Reputation Defense
Leverage Social Media: Taking advantage of social media profiles is one of easiest and most effective tools you have to influence search results for brand name reputation defense. It also provides the added benefit of sending more link juice to your website.
It’s a real win-win for SEO and reputation defense.
Register with the behemoths of social media first: MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Be as comprehensive filling out the profiles as possible. Complete the company description, photos, interest categories and stuff as much content into these pages as possible.
Even in hyper-competitive spaces, you will be able to leverage the authority of sites like Twitter and LinkedIn to power your way to page one.
If you’ve got a little budget, I recommend outsourcing the registration of social media profiles to KnowEm.com. They’ll take care of registering your social profiles for a few hundred bucks and take most of the grunt work out of adding descriptions, photos, and profile links while they’re at it.
But if you don’t want to spend money to register to free social networks, you can still use their free service to find out which websites you don’t have a profile created with.
Press Release / Article Submissions: Sometimes you can hammer a few results out off page one with nothing more than a press release or article submission keyword focused on your client’s brand name.
This strategy can work particularly well if the client’s been getting smeared in the media. In this case, publish press releases positioning your client in a positive light in hopes of getting your side of the story picked up by media outlets.
If you’ve got a budget to work with another crafty strategy is to submit press releases to paid PR syndication sites like PRWeb.com. You’ll have a much better chance of getting your press release picked up by news sites when you submit here as opposed to a free press release site.
Arguably, there’s less spam that comes from paid press release syndication than free websites and you can usually get some easy links from sources like the Yahoo! News and Reuters wire as a result.
Sub Domains: That’s right. Creating sub domains on your flagship URL is an incredibly easy way to get multiple listings for a branded search.
The funny thing is most of the big reputation management companies don’t take advantage of this.
Here’s why I recommend creating multiple sub domains for your website as a monster reputation management strategy:
Conduct a Google search for the branded search phrase ebay.
Three out of the first four organic results are sub domains for eBay.com. The reason this happens is that Google treats sub domains kind of like separate websites. Create a few additional sub domains for your client and viola, you might be banishing bad results with an on-site update.
And you thought online reputation management would be tough?
Register Exact Match URLs: If you’re managing the reputation management campaign for a client’s name (i.e. John Smith) you’ll want to snap up his exact match URLs immediately.
Register the .com, .net, .org, .info and anything else you can get. Next build out a small page informational website about your client. Typically, you can fill this with resume type information.
Registering URLs for your client’s name is another easy way to fill-up a slot on page one with little effort. So register those domains, before your competition gets a hold of them.
Publish Content like Crazy: Like SEO, sometimes it’s just a numbers game to get your content to the top of the content heap for reputation management.
If you write more guest posts, build more links to your content, and submit to more social media profiles, some of your content will find it’s way to the top of the heap eventually.
But before you run off to publish a reputation management page on your website remember that you’ll need a way to report your efforts to clients and establish goals for the campaign. Removing all sludge from page one and two of the SERPs seems like a good place to start. But, alas, that will have to be the topic of another post.
Until then, sound off on the ninja strategies you use to manage client’s (or your own) online reputation in the comments!