The Internet Age has nurtured a new breed of empowered individuals. For the first time in the history, anyone can take the stage with a global audience. While this wonderful sense of empowerment can be invigorating, it can also have its downsides. Blogs, forums, social media, and sites like The Ripoff Report can allow for fraudulent negative postings by anonymous users with zero accountability. Managing this from an SEO perspective is a top priority for most companies these days.
Without journalistic oversight and with the absence of editorial, ethical, and moral accountability, social media — and the Internet in general — opens anyone up to a potential attack. And when these attacks appear near the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs), they can throw a CEO into a hissy fit that puts my 4-year-old’s tantrums to shame.
Picking out the fraudulent attacks from the legitimate concerns is the first step in online reputation management. Most legitimate complaints come from the customer side, when they feel like their problem with a company was not resolved in a timely and positive way. These are a much easier fix. If a company puts the resources into taking care of online customer complaints as they appear, most of the time the complaints will not have the chance to appear to high in the SERPs.
The truly fraudulent attacks can take a bit more work. These can come from disgruntled employees, competitors, and customers who are not looking for a resolution to their complaints. They can bring bad press at a devastatingly quick pace. Exaggerations, lies, and malicious spin are all legitimate to the SERPs and it can take a comprehensive SEO strategy to combat them. Setting up corporate blogs, micro-sites, customer complaint forums, corporate social profiles, and sister sites are just a few ways to help control the top listings for a company’s branded terms in the SERPs. Properly optimizing a portfolio of web properties can help push down the fraudulent and irreconcilable pages that can bring a company to its knees.
Any company who has dealt with negative attacks to their online reputation will tell you it can be one of the most frustrating aspects of doing business in the Internet Age. By being proactive and establishing yourself deep in the SERPs for your branded key terms, you will save yourself a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.