Tim Dowling wrote a piece in the Saturday Guardian about reputation management in online search results. Everyone knows the first page of Google is the one that matters and for some companies making sure that page is positive is worth paying for.
As Tim explained:
‘This 21st-century problem now has its own solution: online reputation management. Businesses and brands are increasingly seeking the services of companies that specialise in tidying up search engine results. The effect of a terrible review, a critical blog, an unflattering link or a rant from a disgruntled ex-employee sitting in one of the top 10 Google spots can be devastating for a business as click-through rates plummet. Obviously some companies have the online reputation they deserve, but an unjustified, malicious or obsolete complaint may linger for years, blighting every new query.’
Tim goes through the fundamentals of reputation management with digital marketing consultant, and managing director of Igniyte, Simon Wadsworth. Simon said:
‘For businesses, the solution is to create positive – or even neutral – content to overwhelm the negative. “What we don’t do is post false reviews on behalf of the company,” Wadsworth says, “because it’s a game you’re never going to win.” Straightforward, genuine, usable content is preferable – he encourages companies to set up a separate jobs portal for recruitment, for example – but even so, the change tends to be glacial. And while it can take many months to get the negative stuff off Google’s front page, its arrival can happen overnight.’
When something negative does appear it is best to ignore it as following links, repeating search terms or even writing about it can increase its Google ranking, as Tim found out with the auto search ‘Time Dowling u’ [I won’t link to ‘Tim Dowling unfunny’ and make it worse]. Personally, I would be more concerned with the auto search ‘Tim Dowling p’.
Reputation management for a brand or on behalf of a brand is clearly big business. With Google now the go to source for many people’s queries, companies should protect their ‘page one’ image.