7 Ways to Protect Your Brand’s Online Reputation

Have you ever searched for your name in Google? Maybe you found a Facebook page, some websites whom you have no affiliation with, and a LinkedIn profile.7 Ways to Protect Your Brand's Online Reputation

If you’ve made an effort to alter how your name appears in the search engines you have engaged in on-line reputation management, a form of search engine optimization, which aims to populate the internet with as much positive or neutral content. Although content that is irrelevant or damaging is hard to remove, it may be “washed out”, so that only relevant and positive content shows in the search results. If the task of on-line reputation management is already a challenge for individuals, just imagine how hard it is for businesses, which have to deal with user generated content ranking highly in search engines, with the help of on-line review sites and forums.

Can Your Brand Handle Negative Publicity?

If you google Paypal, which facilitates money transfers, paypalsucks.com will prominently show up in the search results. Many prominent companies have sites such as RipOffReport.com, ConsumerAffairs.com, and Pissedconsumer.com showing up for their own name, in the search engines. Some local businesses have a review site, such as Yelp.com, that shows up for their business name and that lists negative reviews posted by competition, former employees, or angry customers.  Whether or not negative publicity for such companies is based on fact is irrelevant to search engines, who rank search results primarily off the amount of incoming links, and websites, who are protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996, allowing them to post user generated content without being held liable for what is said.

Sites such as Yelp.com, the subject of a class action lawsuit, and ConsumerAffairs.com, which has been sued on multiple occasions, have been criticized for allegedly extorting the businesses they feature. Whether or not review sites take advantage of businesses with bad reviews is questionable. What isn’t, is the fact that anyone, be it a direct competitor or a disgruntled employee, can post reviews on online websites, such as these.

Combating Negative Reviews

To combat negative reviews, some businesses have taken advantage of the system, by encouraging customers with positive experiences to post on sites such as Yelp.com, Google Places, and Yahoo! Local. To combat sites such as ConsumerAffairs.com, or forum posts with negative publicity, companies have created their own websites, in an attempt to outrank them for their own company name. Review posting and website creation, are just some of the tools businesses use to manage their online reputation. The full tool kit for online reputation management is presented below:

7 Ways to Protect your Brand’s Reputation

1. Web 2.0

Sites such as Wikipedia.org, Aboutus.org, Squidoo, etc. rank prominently in the search engines. However, even though Wikipedia.org is almost a guarantee to rank on the first page for a company name, its content will be user generated and neutral. If your company has had some negative publicity in the past, it may be best to avoid Wikipedia, which doesn’t offer control of its content.

2. Youtube/Flickr

Creating Youtube videos and Flickr images that include your business name in the title rank well. Aside from possibly taking place on the first page of Google, the videos and images, in and of themselves, can create positive word of mouth for your company.

3. Press Releases

Using PR Web can help you create articles, featuring your business name, that outrank websites or webpages that aren’t too authoritative.

4. Profile Pages

Business profiles on sites such as LinkedIn, GooglePages, and AOL Hometown, can rank well in the search engines.

5. Guest Blogging

Having your business featured on a prominent blog will, if not push down negative publicity, at the very least, give your business links and traffic.

6. Content Removal/Addition on website

If you find negative information about your company in the search results, ask the website administrator if the content can be removed. If not, ask them if they can feature an article, which mentions your business in a neutral way. If they let you feature an article, that article may take the place of the negative webpage in the Google search results.

7. Blogs/Sub-Domains

Create blogs, which include your business name, and sub-domains, which get some automatic authority from your original domain. It will also help if you mention your business name on any existing website pages you already have. For example, if you sell goods online, consider adding your business name to some of your product pages. Doing so may make Google show these pages when your business name is searched on Google.

User generated content allows customers to publish their own views of a particular business and helps other potential customers make decisions. However, the fact that the affiliation of the reviewers and the validity of the claims can’t be checked, leaves the door open for unwarranted negative publicity, which can cause some businesses to shut down. The aforementioned tools of online reputation management can be used by businesses to counter the effects of user generated content.

More Reading

Guest Author: Nickolay Lamm is an online marketing specialist at InventHelp, headquartered in Pittsburgh. He keeps tabs on the latest in invention and technology news at Invent Help News.

Image by otherthings

Comments

  • http://www.gossipism.com.au Dexter Eugenio

    some great points by Nickolay

    a couple of things that have helped some of my clients in the past also include:

    *  social media profiles (especially facebook and twitter)
    *  forum subscriptions and posting

    i find youtube to be an excellent way to push down unwanted returns and even a google of my own business displays facebook links as the most prominent returns.

    thanks again.

  • Nickolaylamm

    Good tips Dexter.

    The same tips I mentioned can be used by people not only to
    protect their reputation, but to have a reputation in the first place. A Google
    search for many people reveals a simple Facebook page.

     

    If I’m
    an employer and see that a person has a website, a LinkedIn Profile, a Google+
    Page, and mentions in some online articles, that is an instant boost for their
    own personal brand.

  • http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog FreshNetworks

    Thanks for the post Nickolay, it really goes to show how there’s a real overlap between SEO and Social now, you can’t really treat them in isolation as the search engines are only going to add more social-based pages to their results.

    I wrote a post about how social can impact search, which coveres reputation management. Something that you might want to think about is preparing for spikes of traffic driven by word of mouth, and to be prepared for misspellings or misconceptions of your brand name from people who have only “heard” about you! http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2011/07/when-social-media-impacts-search-3-areas-to-think-about/

  • http://www.frozenlemons.com/our%20work.html company name suggestions

    These days you can bet your bottom dollar that most business transactions are preceeded by some sort of a search on one of the major search engines for your company name. If those results don’t show your company in a positive light, then you are likely losing business.

  • http://twitter.com/dorothybm dorothy

    Here’s some of our thoughts – 6 ‘i’deas that help brands stay safe http://www.blurgroup.com/blog/stay-safe-six-simple-ideas-to-protect-and-promote-your-brand-socially

  • http://twitter.com/dorothybm dorothy

    Here’s some of our thoughts – 6 ‘i’deas that help brands stay safe http://www.blurgroup.com/blog/stay-safe-six-simple-ideas-to-protect-and-promote-your-brand-socially

  • http://www.toysandlearning.co.uk/ Yunish

    This is a great article.The written skill i so good.I appreciate to this one

  • http://www.usemeplz.com Shared Search Files

    This is a good list of tips.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.socialmedia.allen Scott Allen

    Simply put, social also needs SEO support. We work with clients frequently who have active social channels, but they’re still way down on page one, or even page two or three, below some of the negative stuff that kinda makes you scratch your head why it’s ranked. A two-year-old post that hasn’t had any comments on it in a year-and-a-half, on a PageRank 1 blog, with like 3 inbound links, simply shouldn’t rank for a company name ahead of the company’s official Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., but very often it does.

    It’s fixable, but don’t believe what Google tells you about how to fix it — it won’t work. The whole “gray hat” approach continues to be necessary because Google simply gets it wrong way too often — their algorithm just really isn’t as great at putting the most relevant content to the top as they like to tell everyone it is. And they’re also not as effective at preventing gray hat techniques as they like to tell everyone they are.

  • Brandshield

    Brand protection remains a priority either we are talking about a small or big brand. Lots of useful reputation management tips here, thank you for that.

  • Mccauta

    I did not know Wikipedia does not allow control of it is content..so it is imperative that you use whatever resources are available to protect your brand.

    If
    your company has had some negative publicity in the past, it may be
    best to avoid Wikipedia, which doesn’t offer control of its content.
    Read more at http://www.jeffbullas.com/2011/09/14/7-ways-to-protect-your-brands-online-reputation/#0J2fPTfMiRv4iOKC.99
    If
    your company has had some negative publicity in the past, it may be
    best to avoid Wikipedia, which doesn’t offer control of its content.
    Read more at http://www.jeffbullas.com/2011/09/14/7-ways-to-protect-your-brands-online-reputation/#0J2fPTfMiRv4iOKC.99