Many reputation management campaigns don't succeed because they are based on outdated strategies. But most suffer from a disconnect between resources and expectations. While changes in search engines are often the culprit, a truly compelling story with a well crafted strategy works even through tumultuous algorithmic updates.
The most common factors affecting the success of a campaign include the following:
The strength of a website is called its domain authority. As an example, The New York Times has domain authority of 100, which is the strongest site there is. A local corner bakery may have a domain authority of only 15. The higher the domain authority the harder it is to move the site up or down.
An extremely compelling story will get picked up by high authority sites and contribute to the positive reputation of a brand. But most brands simply don't have a story with that level of awesomeness. So a brute strength approach often works using SEO outreach, and compelling mini-stories. With enough mini-stories being picked up and appreciated, a brand can rise even if it's not the coolest thing since sliced bread. By doing this the cumulative authority within the topic space will rise, driving authority through links to the target websites.
Generally, the higher the domain strength of bad search results, the more resources must be used to change search results. If the domain strength / authority of a negative search result is very high, the project could fail due to inadequate counter-strength from other websites.
While the whole website has a measurable “strength,” each page featured on the website does, too. When a web page has links from other sites to it, the page can be more difficult to move. We consider page authority when we are deciding the cost of a reputation management campaign.
The title of a page is very important in search results. For example, if the search phrase "brand x" is in the title that means it shows up in search results as a blue link. If the search phrase is in the title then it dramatically increases resources needed to change search results. A negative with a brand named in the title will almost always be stronger than one that doesn't. The branded headline can be a tool for good or bad and contributes to the probability of success or failure of an ORM project.
If a page is being updated often it makes the page more difficult to move. "Freshness" of a page is a factor in search results because Google and Bing want to provide the best, most up-to-date, relevant search results possible. It's usually best to wait until a trend has begun to subside to some extent before engaging in a reputation management project. When users are adding to or changing content the page will usually be crawled more often by search engines. This freshness is a contributing factor to reputation campaigns going south and should be taken into consideration.