Companies that cared about managing reputation while dealing only with the customers is considered extremely old fashioned these days. Changing interactive market place trend has made online reputation a primary factor to care to acquire new customers and maintain existing customer base.
Free consumer forums, discussion groups, blogs and social media sites are helping consumers not only to know better about the products but also about the bad practices of businesses. Most of the internet users know only this side of the reality. For businesses, the dark side shows its cruelty as businesses lose their customer base and brand image due to spoiled reputation. Ex-employees, business competitors, upset customers and suspicious SEO companies are targeting various businesses to damage their reputation in the competitive global market.
Worldwide economic recession has already made businesses to go through a rough weather. Damaging online reputation adds fuel to the fire. To create an aggressive positive impact to regain reputation, many businesses make a lot of changes such as changing their names, discontinuing product lines and engaging lead bloggers as business partners to move forward.
Complaints.com and PissedConsumer.com are some of the websites that publish unverified information. Growing popularity encourages a lot of new such websites that criticize local businesses, industry specific and country specific businesses. Some websites are even allowing the use of local languages to attract local users. These websites earn money through various means that include space selling, getting business from affected companies for ORM, Directory subscription fees etc.
Such publishers/website owners never care about attorney notices and they easily escape from lawsuits using loop holes in the international cyber laws. As far as I know, no business has succeeded in the legal battle. Instead, such a practice made the situation worse than before by agitating the individuals who posted messages against the business entity.
Reversing the damaged reputation is not an easy job and it is similar to a war waged against invisible enemies. Only with professional help, the consequences of damaged reputation can be reversed.
Important question that arises now is, how to control the damage? We have helped several customers in ORM and our proven practice recommends
• Not responding to negative comments
• Having a set of micro sites attached to main site.
• Hosting such sites in the local servers to see better result in the SERP
• On-page optimization of own assets to stabilize positions in the first page for the desired keywords
• Aggressive social media optimization
Several initiatives like posting comments/articles from hundreds of different IPs and link building from own network of hundreds of websites and directories will also help in building reputation but it is not mandatory.
Various unprofessional advices include taking care of negative postings, pushing the negative postings aside, sending legal notices, getting on to the negotiation table etc. Using any one of these advices will only make matters worse. The only way to win the reputation war is to counter attack the enemy using various means including those to deviate their attention. So, in-depth analysis is required to decide the course of action and it should not compromise the on-page initiative of own assets. Various public websites and social media have their own rules based on which the position of a particular page will fluctuate. So, you need to strengthen the website attributes and make it immune to negative postings.
Search engines including Google give more importance to blogs and forums considering the freshness of the content due to visitor participation. The blogs and forums will always be alive as long as search engines continue to give priority. In general, search engines treat business giants in a special category and so, such negative reputation postings will not affect large business entities and search engines anyway. Maintaining business reputation is a part of business tasks of SMB and the support from the government to capture anonymous detractors is very minimal. The only available solution is to safeguard your business reputation proactively.
So roll up your shirts and prepare an action plan to take part in the ORM war if you are responsible for your web assets.
SEO/SEM Manager – Egrove Systems Corporation
Krish Govindaraj is an experienced SEO/SEM Consultant. If you have any questions, you may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.