You’ve taken a long, hard, and most importantly honest look at your online reputation, and you’re ready to do what’s necessary to improve it. Great! Whether your company is dealing with serious, persistent negative pressure from high-authority domains or just needs to polish a search result or two, here’s how to dive into the nitty-gritty work of repairing its image online.
The concept of suppression is critical to online reputation management. Basically, suppression uses positive SEO — and positive content — to reduce the impact of negative mentions, whether they’re found in snarky reviews, unflattering news stories, or a disgruntled employee’s hate site. It requires you to build a “fortress of authority” around your company’s online presence. In a nutshell, it can remove bad search results from the first page of Google by pushing them down.
Don’t worry, this kind of fortress doesn’t require you to hire a team of laborers or buy up all the bricks in your town. Its skeleton is comprised of:
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on your website, blog and allied sites to support your online reputation on their own. After all, you wouldn’t trust the sign outside your store to attract 100% of your customers, right?
As in the real world, your company needs an online “phone book” (look it up) that reaches as many people as possible. The individual components of your corporate phone book may rank high in search results: According to Socialnomics, 25% of the search results for the world’s 20 largest brands link directly to user-generated content, like online reviews and social media profiles. And, independent from what search engines think, they’re also important for creating an aura of trust and positivity around your brand.
To build your phone book, you need to claim directory listings on popular sites, like YellowPages.com and Manta, even if you don’t plan on using them to promote your business directly. Collectively, these sites receive more than 100 million unique visitors per month.
You also need to flesh out your social media profiles, especially Facebook and LinkedIn. According to Business2Community, 77% of B2C companies and 43% of B2B companies use Facebook to generate leads. Meanwhile, LinkedIn has about 100 million users in the U.S. alone and claims that 40% visit on a daily basis. It’s a good idea to have both a company profile and individual profiles, which should mention your company, for key employees.
Multimedia exposure is key as well. No matter what your company does, it should have a YouTube channel or some other way to distribute videos online. Why? According to Forrester Research, video search results are 50 times more likely to rank on your first search results page. Wow. And users are 41% more likely to click on those results, compared to text-only entries.
It's a lot, we know. At Reputation X we use a sophisticated methodology to keep up to date and on target. If you're curious, it looks like this.
If your company is threatened by a compromising picture, video or piece of written content, you may be able to skip suppression and head right to removal. That’s right: The law offers some limited protections for individuals and businesses faced with a reputation problem.
When can you ask a search engine or publisher to remove negative content? The short answer: If it involves copyright infringement, libel / slander, or the dissemination of highly specific financial or personally identifying information, like unredacted bank account numbers attached to your business name.
Otherwise, your options include:
Of course, your best-laid reputation management plans will come to naught if you make too many unforced errors. As in the real world, you need to put your best digital foot forward and avoid preventable mistakes that draw negative attention to your company. This is even more important online, because search engines and social media sites have far longer memories than the typical human. Even if it may not be not technically true, it’s prudent to act as if everything you post online is public.
Here are a few things not to do online: