This week I was watching an episode of Two and a half Men on the Comedy Channel where a golden rule of reputation management was broken. You don’t often expect to see SEO techniques and reputation management discussed on US sitcoms, but this episode proved an excellent example of what not to do with reputation management.
Charlie Harper, a talented but alcoholic womaniser (played by Charlie Sheen in something of a life role for him) discovered that his attempts to chat up women for one night stands were beginning to fail. He was horrified to find that his targets had already heard his chat up lines and knew of his moves before he made them. This was all due to a website that had been set up warning of the dangers of sleeping with him, called charlieharpersucks.com.
When Charlie Googled his name he found the website at the top of the Google SERPs for the search. The website in question had been set up by one of Charlie’s former conquests and offered the opportunity for other women to post comments and reviews of Charlie, warning other unsuspecting women to stay away from him.
What Charlie did now was a classic mistake in reputation management, one that many people make (and even some SEO companies). Charlie posted on the website pretending to be one of the women he had slept with, giving himself a glowing review. Even his brother Alan commented:
You don’t understand the Internet do you?
Charlie’s efforts to improve his reputation were immediately seen through for the shallow attempts that they were, as more comments were added in answer to his own.
What should Charlie have done?
The problem with the website stemmed from the fact that it ranked #1 in Google for a search on his name. If the website didn’t rank on the first page of Google, fewer people would see it, thus it wouldn’t be a problem. In much the same way that webmasters whose websites don’t rank well in the SERPs rarely get any traffic or sales, this website wouldn’t receive any traffic or comments if it didn’t rank so well.
Charlie could have achieved this by making other websites rank above the offending website, knocking it off the first page of Google. Under no circumstances (and I really can’t stress this enough) should he have posted comments on the offending website as this only serves to prompt others to respond and it keeps the content fresh on the website, improving its ranking within Google further.
As for the REAL website in question; Warner Brothers didn’t miss the trick here either. They own the domain and it forwards to their Two and a half Men website.
Now that’s Internet marketing!