The internet is one of the most flexible and unique mediums when it comes to getting your message across to your potential customers. There are plenty of opportunities for success to be made online, but there are also just as many opportunities for those same tactics to backfire on your search rankings. This is exactly why reputation management techniques are vital for online marketing.
The worst case scenario: you’ve got an unsatisfied customer, a vicious competitor, or just a mean and totally random internet user on your case. Negative reviews saying “X business is the worst!” can pop up overnight. You can’t control other people writing blog posts that mention your brand name alongside major negative terms like “terrible service,” “do not go here,” and the worst of all, “scam.” You might not think some random internet user can do much to impact your business, but you’d be surprised how quickly a bad content mole hill can turn into a mountain.
The Problem with Negative SEO: It Doesn’t Go Away Easily
All of these worst-case scenarios fall under “Negative SEO,” content that is optimized to have a negative impact on your brand or personal name. Negative SEO tactics turn the valuable, effective tools of search engine marketing against a good name, and can sully an otherwise spotless reputation in no time at all. Content doesn’t have to be fact-checked or verified for accuracy before it’s sent out over the internet.
The problem lies with permanence: once negative content is posted, it’s tough to undo what’s been done. Many popular business review sites like Yelp.com have a strict no-removal policy, and they refuse to remove negative user reviews no matter how much a business feels like they’ve been unjustly attacked.
These negative hits matter, too: recent market research shows that the majority of consumers read online reviews, and that 21% of consumers will change their mind about a purchase if they see just two bad reviews.
Here are some basic reputation management techniques that can help you recover from an errant bit of bad content.
Technique #1: Move Right On By
One of the best tactics for dealing with negative content is to simply act like it doesn’t exist. It sounds somewhat elementary, but if you’re a regular blogger for yourself or your business and you’re capable of putting a few pieces of content out each week, you should just keep doing what you’re good at.
The negative content might linger in search results for a little while, but eventually your content will phase out any bad, negative content with good material you’ve provided yourself. If you have any reliable outside websites you can contact for a guest post opportunity, a content syndication deal, or anything else that will get your content spread around faster, you should use those resources ASAP.
Technique #2: Press Release Blasts
Writing and distributing press releases for the web is an excellent way to keep your potential customers focused on what you want them to see, instead of bad content distracting them from your business. The guidelines for writing a press release are easy, and once you’ve created one, you can unleash it on different press release syndication platforms across the net.
Some of these services are free, but if you’re willing to pay a little extra for wider reach, you can take care of negative content in no time. Press release blasts will send your content all over the internet, easily outranking and “drowning out” any bad content that might have floated to the top of your search results.
Technique #3: Take Ownership and Reach Out to Your Detractors
This is specifically a customer review-oriented technique. If you’ve been harassed by bad reviews on business review sites, you should engage those negative reviewers personally. Some review sites allow you to claim your business as your own, and then respond to reviews as the actual business owner.
Reaching out to negative consumers and trying to mend the situation in public looks incredibly good for your public reputation, and consumers will note your dedication to your product and your services if they spot your active efforts to fix unhappy customers’ problems.
Technique #4: Maintain Social Media Authority
If you can’t control what others say about your business on some sites, you can control your response on others. Leveraging social media is a great tool, especially in times of crisis where some especially bad news has left a blemish on your business’s good name. Fans and consumers will have questions, and if you’re proactive towards hearing them out and answering them, your efforts won’t go unnoticed.
Since “social media” encompasses a lot of moving parts and pieces, it’s best to focus on the fundamentals. Don’t argue with your detractors in public: it looks bad. Handle negative comments and approaches swiftly and contact individuals directly. Most importantly, don’t make a profile on a social network you don’t plan on using: abandoned profiles are a prime target for negative social interactions.
Technique #5: Call In The Professionals
Sometimes, negative SEO gets out of hand, and simple tricks and techniques aren’t enough. Luckily, there are professionals that deal with this every day. Most SEO content developers have some experience managing professional reputations: their content stands behind many clients’ good names, after all. Having a dedicated team of professionals can help you and your online reputation weather any storm, no matter how large or how small an online crisis may be.
Reputation management techniques sound imposing, scary, and difficult, but once you understand the tools at your disposal, a lot of it is common sense. We hope you never have to deal with negative SEO, but if you do, you’ll be prepared with reputation management techniques from the pros.