How does online reputation management work?

Posted on May 16, 2011


Reputation Management, or ‘online reputation management’ as it’s sometimes known, is one of the newest buzz terms in the SEO industry. Rather than optimising a single website for a particular search term, or set of search terms, with reputation management you need to keep an eye on the SERPs themselves for particular terms relating to your business, on the lookout for results that may be considered ‘unfavourable’.

For example, let’s say you run a courier company, and your firm has been receiving reviews of a somewhat negative nature on personal blogs, reviews websites and forums. Whenever someone searches for your company name, or ‘company name reviews’, these results show up on the first page of Google, offering customers and potential customers the sort of coverage you’d rather not existed. In fact, your firm may not have even done anything wrong; these reviews could have been posted by competitors, or even disgruntled former employees.

What are you to do about this?

The first thing springs to mind is to wade in with comments of your own, answering the accusations of poor service or responding to the negative reviews. You may even come up with the idea of creating fake profiles on the reviews websites themselves and posting positive reviews of your company, in the hope that by adding plenty of positive reviews, the good will outweigh the bad.

These are both bad ideas.

If we could use an analogy here, you wouldn’t attempt to put out a fire in your kitchen by pouring petrol on it, and that’s exactly what you would be doing by commenting on the sites in question. By adding comments of any kind you would be inviting others to respond to your comments, creating more of a discussion; a discussion that will only serve to draw in more people and increase awareness of the negative review.

In addition to this, think of Google’s perspective. Google, as a search engine, wants to offer users the most relevant and informative results it can for a given search term. If the search term is ‘your company name’ and the reviews page on which you’re commenting is receiving more and more content, updating daily, with more and mentions of your company name, what do you think Google will do to that result?

That’s right; it will rank it higher in the SERPs, meaning even more people will see it. Before you know it, your solitary negative review of a kitchen fire becomes a raging forest fire threatening to burn down your entire company.

Bury it in the desert Ronnie

Instead of helping the fire to burn brightly, take a tip from the Mafia bosses who used to run Las Vegas, and bury the problems in the desert. A negative review that nobody reads is no longer a problem, and this is where reputation management comes in. The best way to deal with a negative result in Google is to make sure it doesn’t rank at all, and you can do that by harnessing the power of SEO to control the SERPs for your chosen search terms, so that negative reviews that do occur don’t even show up on the first page.

Learn more about reputation management.

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
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