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Applying SEO in reputation and brand management

  • Reputation management is the catchphrase in the internet marketing and search engine optimization worlds at the moment, and of course, no business wants negative reviews or bad press to show up at the top of the SERPs. 

    But some companies do deserve the bad reviews they are getting on the internet, and more importantly, consumers deserve to be aware of them as well. But having said that, a bad reputation in the search engine rankings can cost a company severe financial losses, especially if the site owner doesn’t deserve to be socially persecuted.  

    Anyone can put up a free website or blog and post something negative about anyone else, a company or a product. The negativity can come in all forms: A vicious blog started by disgruntled former employees or a website or blogs critical of your business and your name prominently and negatively mentioned on legitimate consumer-focused websites. Reputation management and SEO work together to devalue unfavorable opinions at least in regard to the rankings.  

    The most common method of managing a reputation through SEO involves trying to push down the unfavorable posting within the search engine rankings. Some will consider this manipulation of the rankings.

    Those who undertake SEO reputation management will try to elevate the positive posts that are currently below the unfavorable post to being above this post. Another method of SEO reputation management involves getting new favorable posts above the questionable post. Most often SEO reputation management involves both methods.

    If a post is defamatory, then legal action can be taken and the search engines alerted. But, most of the time, these negative posts either have an element of truth in them (such as an unfavorable news story) or are someone's biased opinion.

    In either case, the site owner must decide whether is it's wiser from a business sense to contact the website posting the objectionable content and asking them to take it down. Or, if by contacting the website, this may unleash more controversy and unfavorable comments to follow.

    There are quite a few crisis management tactics that can alleviate the situations described above. Increasingly, one of the most essential tactics has been a form of search engine optimization (SEO) focused specifically on preserving and restoring reputation, when the crisis is already in progress, followed by creation of an 'SEO shield' to preserve reputation going forward. Here are some techniques on developing a phalanx:

    1. Focus on Google for search results; the other search engines will follow suit over time.

    2. Review your website for keyword placement and density (keyword/total word ratio); you won't be found if the keywords are not present in the proper configuration (i.e. there are requirements for the number of keywords used in different parts of the code that creates the page).

    3. Bring up to date your website frequently; stale sites drop fast and fresh information keeps your site sticky (viewers stay and return).

    4. Present clear calls-to-action; give your visitor a reason to respond.

    5. Validate your web pages for error-free code; Google will downgrade poorly constructed websites.

    6. Content must be relevant to both the website and the web page.

    7. Shun Flash content and frames pages; these websites cannot be reliably indexed.

    8. Obtain inbound links from relevant, high-profile websites with good Page Rank.

    9. Create multiple points-of-presence (e.g., blogs, article publication, activity at forums, social media), where you can get as many positive messages out as possible, pushing the negative messages down on a search engine results page.

    10. Keep an eye on your results constantly and adapt quickly based on the results.
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