Reputation management is a hot topic online at the moment, as web based companies vie for every customer and every lead they can to see them through the recession. With this in mind, some bad publicity online and you can find your website’s earning potential severely hindered. You need to ensure that when a customer Google’s your brand they get nothing but positive listings and glowing reviews.
The advantage (and thus the disadvantage) with Google is its immediacy and its availability. Anyone can research anything quickly and easily, therefore you need to know how to manage your reputation online. With websites such as ciao.co.uk, blagger.com and various forums and blogs being favoured by Google because of their regular content, tackling the problem isn’t easy.
Indeed, reputation management is a difficult and complex process, and there are many mistakes you can make along the way. Here are a few basic mistakes in reputation management.
Replying to comments on blogs
Because of the way blogs are written, they are favoured by Google and rank exceptionally well. Furthermore, when comments are written on blogs, the blog post itself is kept fresh with content, which ensures that Google spiders it more frequently and ranks it higher. Therefore, if you have a negative blog post about your company or website, the worst thing you can do is to post a comment defending your company. This will have dire consequences, in that:
- You’ll be adding to the content of the page, thus helping its rankings
- You’ll be enticing others to comment back, which will end up in a flame war that will escalate out of control
Creating fake user accounts on reviews websites
Reviews websites such as ciao.co.uk and blagger.com allow users to review websites, products and services. They get lots of links from internal pages and they rank very well, so a search on most major companies’ names will bring up a front page listing for one of these sites.
The temptation is to create your own account and review your own company, anonymously of course. When businesses do this it rarely works as the ‘positive’ reviews they leave for their own company tend to be left the day the user account has been created (which is obviously suspicious), is one of the only positive reviews on the page and is generally the only review that user account has done.
You can spot a company that has done this because they’ll have several reviews giving them 0/10 and terrible feedback, and then several reviews giving them 9/10 or better, with great feedback. Just as with posting comments on blogs, the more fake reviews you add, the more content is added to the reviews page, the more links that are generated to the reviews page (from your fake user account profiles) and the better the negative reviews rank in Google.
Building your own reviews website
This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but companies who do this need to know exactly what they’re doing or it will fall down at the first hurdle. You need to ensure that the website is hosted on a different server to yours, registered to a different company, and features unbiased reviews of all of your competitors. Having a reviews website for your industry that gives every one of your competitors negative comments (except for you of course) and is hosted on your server will quickly be identified for what it is, and will do more harm for your online reputation.
Reputation management isn’t easy, and requires an expert, subtle approach. When done right however, it’s one of the most effective forms of online marketing.