Most people won’t make use of services of a particular company or individual without first checking them online, which is why having a negative result on the first page of search results can be terribly detrimental for business. Unfortunately, even if you have an almost impeccable record, with the freedom that internet provides, someone might easily tarnish your name, whether that was their intention or not. This could lead to loss of clients and a huge number of missed opportunities, and is not something that you can leave to chance if you want to run a successful business. Luckily, there are a number of ways to repair, or at least limit the damage negative search results can bring to your company or you personally.
How are negative results created?
There are a number of ways in which your reputation might be damaged without your fault. For one, there are a lot of websites out there that concentrate on user reviews. Some of the more prominent ones can have a great impact on search engines and are often found near the top of the SERPs. It doesn’t matter if you have had hundreds of satisfied customers, if just one negative review on a website of that type shows up on the first page, your web reputation will suffer.
Bad press is another common cause of headaches. You or your company might have been connected to an incident indirectly and with no fault of your own, but as long as you are mentioned in a high profile article that deals with the incident, you will automatically be associated with it.
Naturally, you can always become a victim of intentional slander or negative campaign, run by your competitors, angry bloggers, or just about anyone else, which, if done with enough persistence, could also seriously damage the way you are perceived by the community.
What can online reputation management do for you?
There are a number of things that can be done about this, by you, or by professional online reputation management services provider. Basically, there are two approaches, the first one focusing on removing the negative content, and the second one on creating or promoting enough positive or neutral content to push the negative one down in search results.
The removal of negative content is quite tricky, and almost only possible if you are actually a victim of slander. It usually involves threatening with legal action, and can be quite nasty. Naturally you could appeal to honesty of the people who posted the content, present your side of the story and hope that they’ll realize that they have wronged you. Less reputable companies sometimes even try and engage in a negative SEO campaign, but this is never recommended, and rarely manages to produce long term results. The only thing that this kind of approach could bring you is more negative press, only this time it would actually be well deserved.
The more common and successful approach to handling negative search results is populating the first, or a couple of first search results pages with neutral or positive content about you or your company. There are a number of things that you can do in order to achieve this. The following advice applies to individuals and companies alike. First of all, make sure that you have domain names containing your or your company’s name, which you will use to publish relevant and truthful facts about you or your business. While this used to be much more important for rankings before Google’s Exact Domain Name algorithm update, it still holds some value.
The next thing that you should do is start running SEO campaigns for favorable content that you own, or that is third party owned. You can create a number of websites that shouldn’t have a problem ranking for your name or the name of your company, but that is not where you should stop. Try and get as many mentions as you can on influential websites that are likely to rank well. This includes blogs, press release sites, reviews websites, sites that are giving you a chance to make a personal or company profile, as well as YouTube and everything along those lines.
Finally, you should make sure that you have a profile on all major social networks, especially Linkedin, as they are also quite likely to show near the top of search results and replace whatever it was that got you worried in the first place.
Even though, depending on the amount and type of reputation management that you require, this can be a lengthy and expensive process, the benefits will always outweigh the costs, allowing you to breathe freely once again without having to worry about negative results driving away your potential customers and tarnishing your name.