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the Battlefields of Online Media
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Reputation Management


    In the context of the web, reputation management is about influencing what people see on a web page, such as on review sites, social media sites, or search engine results pages (SERPs) for queries about a brand or individual.

    Typically, the focus is on diminishing the visibility and impact of a negative review, comment or search result. And this is usually done by publishing and promoting new positive content, such that it suppresses/pushes down/buries the negative content.

    Our Review Builder service is an example of reputation management applied to web directories and social media sites that publish crowdsourced reviews.

    Here we will focus on search engine results. (Since review site ratings turn up in search engine results, review building can also be a component of reputation management with search results.)

    With search results, there may be one particular negative result that is creating a problem, or multiple results. The negative result(s) could be triggered by a search for the company name, or a C-level executive, typically the CEO. These negative results could threaten a company goal, such as a media program for the CEO, an imminent financial transaction, or simply scare off potential customers, investors or business partners.

    We bury the negative search results—ideally off of Page 1—by elevating other web pages above them. The pages we seek to elevate are a combination of already-ranked existing pages, plus new pages we create. Typically, the new pages are on social media sites such as Wikipedia, LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as on the company website.

    Links are Key
    We elevate these pages, both existing and new, by sending external links to the them with our keyword in the link text (i.e., the company name or a senior executive).

    Links are by far the most important ranking factor in search engine algorithms.

    We are so effective at reputation management with search results because we own a large network of our own websites that are more than 12 years old (search engines value/trust sites that have been around a long time). With these sites, we can easily add relevant customer content and deliver links that are relevant, that score well for link reputation value.

    This network of established sites, from which we can deliver links, really is a powerful tool for influencing search results. It allows us to focus on what's already successful in the search results: the sitely immediately below the offending page we want to bury. The is important, because usually, there are only a handful of new web pages that can be created that are going to rank well.

    We've observed a lot of failed efforts by other so-called reputation management agencies, which we've learned about from their disappointed clients. They over-promise, not understanding (or caring) what is realistic to achieve. They either promise to bury something that it's just not possible to bury (e.g., a Yelp page), and/or they put too much faith in new pages and websites they're going to create. They create these terrible blog sites that remain mostly empty of content. Then, because they don't have their own sites to deliver links, they buy a lot of scammy links (e.g., from Japanese porn sites),
    Case Study
    This client example typlifies an online reputation management situation that we can work successfully:

    A global engineering and infrastructure consulting firm hired us because a Google search on the CEO's name produced, as the very first search result, a highly negative 20-year-old New York Times story. The headline of the search result mentioned suicide and an investigation into the rigging of a bid for a large public project. The suicide was by an former employee of the CEO (working for a different company at the time), who broke into the CEOs home, started a fire to burn it down, and committed suicide--an ugly story. It made the CEO reluctant to interview for major media stories (which ironically, would have helped diminished the negative NYT's story in the search results). So our mission was to get this story off Page 1 of Google's SERP, or at least drive it to the bottom of the page, below-the-fold of most browsers.

    We added new pages to our websites with content that was all about construction, architecture and engineering, i.e., the content was optimized for our client's industry, which is the main association Google already had in its index for our client's CEO.

    We created only one new webpage for the client, a personal Wikipedia page for the CEO (there was already a company Wikipedia page). Because of the quality of our links, we were able to elevate existing pages above the NYT's story. These included stories in other major media sites, such as Forbes, but there were also several pages from sites that did not have much status, i.e., they did not receive much traffic.

    The NYT's, a major media site, is highly trusted by Google (in SEO industry jargon, we call this white listed), so you'd you think it would not be easy to bury it. Yet we able to do so quite successfully.