Tips For Online Reputation Repair

March 17, 2009

headinhandOnline reputations are becoming increasingly important and difficult to manage. As a result companies that were doing traditional branding are now compelled to change their approach and embrace new online tactics.

Companies that are serious about the perception of their brand should be prepared to include a reputation management campaign in their marketing plan.

Individuals who are concerned with their online reputation should be more conscious of what type of information they post online. On a small scale individuals can be proactive in promoting their own positive content.

For both companies and individuals, a professional reputation management company should be used to take control if the situation gets out of hand. Skilled reputation management companies are experienced in quick reputation repair which will limit the amount and extent of negative information exposure.

We specialize in online and search engine reputation management, offering a wide variety of custom solutions to repair, defend, and monitor corporate and personal reputations. With combined knowledge in search engine optimization, HTML, public relations, PPC, adwords, social media, copywriting, and software tools, our approach to branding delivers successful results for clients who are in need of best-in-class online reputation management.

Our main main goal is to drive negative results out of the search engines. The visibility of the negative information is then drastically decreased. We take a multi-step approach to online reputation management. For example, one step is to monitor online conversation and determine the sources of negative or unwanted information. The next step would involve promoting positive or neutral information while decreasing the visibility of negative information. Each client is unique and due the sensitivity of many of the situations our clients come to us with, we typically handle each project differently by deploying a customized solution.

Dealing with and repairing a bad online reputation isn’t easy. However, starting with some of the suggestions below, you can get a jump start on repairing your reputation. These suggestions are geared toward replacing negative information with positive information on search engine results.

Some Tips for Reputation Repair

Create Social Networking Profiles – Social networks like Naymz, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, and Digg are a great place to start. Typically these work best for less common names. If your name is common, like “John Smith”, you will need to get more creative in how these profiles are used.

Write and Syndicate Articles – Most sites would love to have quality unique content available to them. Solicit the websites of a topic you are knowledgeable in and offer them unique and relevant articles in exchange for a bio on their website, to appear with the article. You can also ask them to link the article to a personal or corporate website.

Own Your .com, .net, and .org Domain Name – Buy any variation of domain names with your name in them. For example, JohnSmith.com, JohnSmithBlog.com, etc. Write a few pages about yourself for the website and soon this site could appear for searches related to your name. For companies, be sure to own all website variations for your company name and product names. You do not need to post pages on each domain name, but owning them ensures that no one else can purchase them with the purpose of slandering you or your company. By the way, this would include YourCompanyDomainNamesucks.com.

Contribute to Consumer Generated Websites – Contribute to forums, consumer review websites, and other places on which you have the opportunity to post content and create occurrences of your name online. Be sure to use your real name when registering and contributing to these websites. Blog comments on Blog websites are another avenue for your name to appear online.

Press Releases – Press releases are an easy way to publish a page of content about yourself or your company online. There are press release syndication websites that allow you to publish your press release at no cost. Try to make press releases interesting and useful for the best results.

Public Speaking – Speaking at industry events or local events can give you the positive reputation boost that you are looking for. You will most likely be featured on the event website, and you can also post the event on your own website and Blog or publish a press release to announce the event. These presentations should be recorded, digitized, and then be available for podcast distribution as well.

When negative information appears online it affects the way you or your company are perceived in the public eye. In fact, in a recent study (Creative Group), it was found that 7 out of 10 searchers do not make a purchase if the search they perform contains negative listings. This shows how much of an effect negative search engine listings can have on a person or company. Your reputation is a key factor in personal and business relationships. Both companies and individuals should be aware of the type of results that are appearing in search engines and how it is affecting their business or personal life.

An important point to note is that not all negative information is limited to standard search engines. Blog search engines, video sites like YouTube, social news such as Digg can be affected as well.

As you can see just from reading these simple techniques — there are many more — there is a definite need for professional, experienced help in online reputation management. There are many reasons a person or company should chose to enlist the help of a skilled online reputation management company. Some of the techniques used to combat negative information require technical or strategic expertise while other situations may be sensitive and should be handled with extreme care and knowledge to insure a long-term solution acceptable to the search engines. No “black-hat”, no footprints.

In addition, monitoring and defending an online reputation is time consuming. For an individual or a small company it can be a part time job while, for a large company, it can be a full time job that may require a dedicated team.

Twitter ReputationDR

Twitter ReputationDR


PR Tactics That Affect Online Reputation Management

February 14, 2009

reputationmanagementtracksIt seems almost every day the public, therefore the media, is obsessed with new revelations of celebrities, sports figures, investment bankers, politicians, or companies (“brands”) seemingly self-destructing before our eyes.

Some, as in the case of Bernard Madoff, are well deserved. Others, be they Alex Rodriguez or Michael Phelps, leave open many channels for posturing, spin, and personal opinion. And, of course, these last couple of weeks, the political landscape is covered with fallen bodies, mixed messages, and “mistakes”.

How many times have we actually heard the word “mistake” uttered on air or in the media in the last thirty days? Countless! We see and learn what we already know. That no one is perfect or infallible, we can and will make mistakes, and depending on the circumstances and personalities, or victimization, if any, we can survive and continue to prosper even in the face of “mistakes” that, at first, seem insurmountable in the maintenance of our reputations, both online and offline.

In the world of online reputation management, if you have been targeted, rightly or wrongly, there are some very real PR tactics you should deploy to enter the conversation to insure your online reputation is not only protected, but to convey the message(s) you want heard that will rise above the “noise” and chatter that may be designed to put you in a negative light. There always seems to be a purposeful agenda, here are some steps you can take to tell your story the way you want it publicly consumed.

Firstly, understand that your approach to online reputation management in a digital world must be “holistic“. It’s about optimizing the sum of all the parts. Some of the parts, you ask? Sure…how about:

  • Press releases
  • Letters to the editor(s)
  • Online newsrooms
  • Blogs
  • Media kits
  • Webinars
  • Newsletters
  • Real world interviews
  • Podcasts / Internet radio

Make it easy for consumers and journalists alike to find your message on the channels and in the format they prefer. Strategically speaking, we rely today on search and social media. It starts online as the Internet is no longer just an add-on for issues affecting reputation or your product. Globally, more than 1 Billion people are online, with over 185 Million here in the U.S. Americans now view the Internet as their most important and trusted source for news and information, consuming more online content than radio, print, and television combined. Opinion leaders are influenced by the Internet more than any other medium.

So, what matters when people search? For improving positive visibility, use query-specific landing pages that are properly coded with meta data and content for the search engines that are targeted to specific keywords inputted by the searchers. The content needs to be opportunistically “linked” to your web wire press releases. It’s not uncommon for us to create new domain names, use both copywriting and web skills to upload new content to these domains, and create a web of links positioning these pages in the top results of Google and other search engines, and, where necessary, pushing down any negative pages from appearing in the top position SERPs. Depending on factors such as page rank and site authority, will have a determination on the time involved for the search engines to display the positive results, and visibility, in, let’s say, the first 10 to 20 positions.

What else matters online? 75% are accessing multi-media, primarily video, online. Web 2.0 sites, social networks, and certain blogs will influence key opinion leaders and the public. It’s not that bloggers have power, generally they do not, they have influence. And here again, as it relates to Web 2.0, one has to tread carefully.

Facebook, for example, is a wonderful property, but it can also be a minefield booby-trapped by enemies seeking to further implode your reputation or, worse yet, steal identities in an effort to perpetrate scams to steal identities or victimize families and friends. In some cases, customer service for certain Web 2.0 sites is non-existent. For this reason, and others, if you are in need of online reputation management, it is always best to engage professionals to help navigate this landscape.

Your own press releases and blogs can also become “influencers” because those pages will “feed” mainstream media sites and other bloggers as a result of crosslinking and embedded keyword hyperlinking tactics. Technorati, Digg, Stumbleupon, etc., will re-aggregate your content for even more web visibility. These tactics work very well in getting your story out there or reframing one that is in need of positive spin. Throw in some video — there are over 2.5 billion video searches monthly, with YouTube clearly dominating this space — and you have the ability to now reach 75% of online users.

From here, maintaining your online reputation becomes a question of continued relevant and visible content creation and reputation monitoring. We will cover monitoring in another entry in the future. In the meantime, contact us with any questions, or post your comments below.

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Can Google Know Too Much?

November 8, 2008

afraid_of_google As the web search giant grows, some critics say it could be too economically powerful — and invade people’s privacy.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Google’s increasing dominance of Internet search and advertising is the rising fear, justified or not, that Google’s broadening reach is giving it unchecked power.

This scrutiny goes deeper than the skeptical eye that lawmakers and the Justice Department have given to Google’s proposed ad partnership with Yahoo Inc. Many objections to that deal are financial, and surround whether Google and Yahoo could unfairly drive up online ad prices.

A bigger long-term concern for Google could be criticisms over something less tangible — privacy. Increasingly, as Google burrows deeper into everyday computing, its product announcements are prompting questions about its ability to gather more potentially sensitive personal information from users.

Why does Google log the details of search queries for so long? What does it do with the information? Does it combine data from the search engine with information it collects through other avenues — such as its recently released Web browser, Chrome?

Data gathered through most of the company’s services ”disappears into a black hole once it hits the Googleplex, it’s impossible to track that information.

Google — whose corporate motto is ”Don’t Be Evil” — generally sees such concerns as misinformed. For instance, the company says it stores the queries made through its popular search engine primarily so it can improve the service.

But whether the criticisms are valid or not, they are likely indicative of the battles Google will face as it, like Microsoft Corp. in the 1990s, moves from world-wowing startup to the heart of the technology establishment.

The September release of Chrome illuminated the budding conflicts.

To Google, the new browser is a platform on which future Web-based software applications might run most efficiently. It also is a sign that Google understands its growing power, since launching a browser is a direct challenge to Microsoft.

In other circles, Chrome provoked suspicion. One group, Santa Monica, Calif.-based Consumer Watchdog, argues that the browser crosses a new line.

In a mid-October letter to Google directors, Consumer Watchdog said it had ”serious privacy concerns” about the browser and the transfer of users’ data through Google’s services without giving people what it sees as “appropriate transparency and control.”

One of Consumer Watchdog’s complaints surrounds Chrome’s navigation bar, which can be used to enter a Web site address or a search query. The group points out that as users type in the navigation bar, Chrome relays their keystrokes to Google even before they click ”Enter” to finalize the command.

The company is literally having this unnoticed conversation with itself about you and your information,” Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court said.

This ”conversation” stems from the ”Google Suggest” feature, which is built into the browser and other Google products, including its basic Internet search engine.

”Google Suggest” sends Google searches as you type, in hopes of anticipating your desires. So if you’re keying in ”Electoral College 2008 election,” Google will offer multiple search queries. First you’d be given results related to the term ”electoral,” then ones on the Electoral College in general, and finally you’d get links pertaining to November 4th’s presidential vote.

This is what worries Consumer Watchdog: Say you key in something that could be embarrassing or deeply personal, but reconsider before you press ”Enter.” The autosuggest feature still sends this phrase to Google’s servers, tied to your computer’s numeric Internet Protocol (IP) address.

Brian Rakowski, the product manager for Chrome, said Consumer Watchdog’s fears stemmed from confusion about the role a Google Web browser plays.

There was some concern that, given a very naive way of how browsers work, you may think, `Now I’m using a Google browser — Google must know everything on their servers about me,” he said.

Although Chrome is new, Consumer Watchdog is not waiting to see whether it gets too little use to worry about. In October, Court’s group wrote U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to caution him about Google’s plans to sell ads for Yahoo, saying that its fears about Google’s market power have been exacerbated by Chrome’s release. Of course, this deal has subsequently been abandoned as the parties realized it would never pass DOJ.

It’s about having a monopoly over our personal information, which, if it falls into the wrong hands, could be used in a very dangerous way against us,” Court said.

Monitoring Your Reputation Online

The easiest and most reliable way to monitor your company’s brand online is with RSS alerts from the major blog search engines. We like Technorati.com, Google Blog Search, BlogPulse.com, and Sphere.com. There will be a fair amount of overlap since they will catch many of the same blog posts, but we’re always surprised at how often one will catch a story the others have missed.

Each has a feature where you can search for a keyword such as your business or personal name and subscribe to the results returned. Typically a little RSS button will appear next to the search results and clicking it will automatically insert the RSS feed for that search into the RSS reader of your choice.

Google Alerts can also play an important role in your online reputation management. This is a free service which tracks changes to the Google search results for a given keyword. You can also configure it to track changes in Google News, Google Blog Search, and Google Groups.

  • A ‘News’ alert will track changes to the top ten results for your keyword in Google News search.
  • A ‘Web’ alert will track changes to the top twenty results for your keyword in Google Web search.
  • A ‘Blogs’ alert will track changes to the top ten results for your keyword in Google Blog search.
  • A ‘Groups’ alert will track changes to the top fifty results for your keyword in Google Groups search.
  • A ‘Comprehensive’ alert will combine all the above changes into a single email.

Online, Reputation is everything!

A wise man once said, “Steal my money and I can earn more, but let no man steal my good name.

In today’s world where anyone or anything can be easily “Googled”, hard earned success can be wiped out overnight if companies fail to actively manage their reputation. After all, online, we “are” what people say we are!

Stay Reputable!

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