What’s the point of online reputation management? If you’ve been following the news lately, you may have picked up on the fact that employers are getting nosier. When you apply for a position, there is a good chance that your potential boss may snoop around your Facebook, LinkedIn or elsewhere looking to find some dirt on you. They’ll even Google your name, perhaps to see if they can find a mugshot. Either that, or as a business owner, you may find content on the internet that portrays your product or service in a less than flattering light. This content may have been written by an unsatisfied customer, but what if it was actually written by a disgruntled former employee? Now your business may suffer, because they’re unscrupulously trying to defame your brand.
What can you do to get negative or defamatory content removed from the internet? First, you must identify your enemy before you can strike. Below, are some common situations that require a little online reputation management.
Say you Google your name one day. I’m sure everyone has done this at least once. Let’s pretend your name is Pattycake Bakersman. You start typing Pattycake Bakersman into Google, and before you can finish, the following suggestions appear:
Dealing with the trauma of growing up with such a name is bad enough. Now anyone who looks you up in Google immediately sees that you may have some unsavory past issues as well.
How does something like this happen? Perhaps you’ve made some enemies. Maybe you have some personal information that’s been leaked out onto the internet. If content about you exists online, you can count on Google to find it… and shove it in the faces of anyone who looks you up.
According to Mr. Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz, Auto Suggest results are highly influenced by trending searches. If you happen to have a lot of friends, and by this we mean several thousand, you can certainly try to coordinate a mass wave of searches for phrases like “pattycake bakersman is a gentleman” and “pattycake bakersman nobel prize.” This can, theoretically, get these phrases to replace the existing ones in Google Auto Suggest and make an impact a reputation changer.
Mr. Fishkin also brings up keyword/phrase mentions in news and fresh content having an influence on Auto Suggest. This means that it would be worth your while to roll out a content marketing strategy to try and clear your name.
Embarassing or Defamatory Results in Search Engines
Perhaps your name passes through Google Auto Suggest with your reputation intact; HOWEVER, at the very top of the first page on Google you see:
Ouch. How do you get rid of something like that? First, you contact the site’s webmaster/administrator and kindly request that they remove the defamatory content. They’re obviously fond of you, so they’ll probably oblige… or not. If that fails, you can always lawyer up, and you can also try using the Google Removal Tool (good luck with that).
What you should also do is fight fire with fire. DIY online reputation management: Buy a domain name or two — perhaps pattycakebakersmanpetscats.com or pattycakebakersmanisahero.com. You build blogs and fill them with content that you believe will make you look pretty good. We’ll leave it up to you as to how far you want to go in your portrayal of your own honesty, integrity and benevolence.
If you know a thing or two about SEO, you should be able to get these new blogs, and the many articles on your wonderfulness contained within, rising up in Google’s rankings fairly quickly. The end goal is to kick websites with defamatory content off the first page of Google. Keep writing fresh content for your blogs and build links to speed up the process.
Following the above advice should help you out with your reputation marketing woes If you have any questions or comments about reputation management, feel free to leave a reply below.