Reputation Repair: Protecting Your Online Image

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Readers are like travelers on a train. They get an ever-changing view of the Internet from their smartphones and laptops, but the landscape through which they move remains the same. One bad review from a difficult customer or a volley of negative blog posts from a disgruntled former employee could tarnish your company’s reputation. Even when the bad press isn’t deserved or is later retracted, it remains searchable for anyone who cares to look – including your current and future customers.

Any company can find itself in need of a reputation polish. The point of reputation fixing is not to squelch legitimate concerns; it’s to show that you care about those concerns and have taken steps to address them while downgrading unfair criticism and smear campaigns from the first pages of search engine results. Think of a reputation repair as your opportunity to present your side of the story and offer a clear, honest representation of who your company truly is.

Roughly three out of four people consider online reviews as meaningful as recommendations from their friends, so the need for maintaining a great reputation is obvious. Good press is one of your bestselling tools.

Removal

If you control your content and can delete harmful material, this should be your first step. You own your forums and blog post comment sections, and you don’t have to leave inflammatory or wholly negative posts visible. Note, though, that it’s important to respond to constructive criticisms and offer positive solutions to legitimate concerns. If your blog comments are nothing but an echo chamber for praise, you lose credibility that good problem-solving will build.

Content you own that is posted elsewhere without your permission may also be removed with a take-down notice. Leaked office memos and other confidential content falls under this heading too. If your images or copy are posted elsewhere without your permission, contact the offending site’s ISP.

Dilution

One of the best ways to neutralize a corrosive acid is by flooding it with water. The same principle holds for diluting caustic content. A steady stream of strong, positive SEO content overwhelms the negative press and supplants it on the search engine pages. This content strategy relies on a thorough knowledge of current SEO practices and quick action, so it isn’t for amateurs. Google loves novelty and relevance, so a rapid influx of new and pertinent content can render negative press harmless.

Having a steady stream of positive, useful content is your best strategy for diluting spurious negative reviews. This strategy acts as a buffer against future attacks on your reputation as well as a means to blunt the impact of current bad press. When you have an ocean of positive content already in place and constantly being replenished, negative input can’t compete.

Suppression

Reverse SEO knocks negative information from its perch atop the search engine results pages. Although it has sometimes been attempted by black-hat organizations, reverse SEO for online reputation management has legitimate uses. Sites with low authority and an obvious agenda have little value for search engines; reverse SEO therefore only hastens their descent to lower page ranks. Suppressing bad publicity from low-value sites is doing Google and your readers a favor while restoring your own reputation.

No SEO content creation team can guarantee elimination of all negative press, but that isn’t the goal of reputation management. It’s important that your customers see how promptly and efficiently you respond to genuine concerns, so you don’t want to remove dialogue that shows both problems and solutions. Pure vitriol, however, should be relegated to near invisibility. That’s what reputation repair offers.

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