Q) What is internet reputation management?
A) Internet reputation management is a process of putting strategies in place for either a company or individual to protect their brand from negative publicity campaigns. The strategies can be utilized to counter negative campaigns originating from either online or offline sources.
Q) Who starts these negative publicity campaigns?
A) The anonymity provided by the internet allows for anyone with access to a computer and the web to publish negative publicity on blogs, websites, forums, and in articles. These types of campaigns can be initiated by competing companies, ex-employees, and/or consumers. The purposes behind the campaigns can be for gaining competitive advantage, revenge, or personal reasons.
Q) How do you protect my reputation from these attacks?
A) We must first determine the nature of the attack and where it is coming from. Once those are determined, we build a customized strategy to counter the attack. Since most attacks are search engine oriented, we tailor our strategies for maximum effect on the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN. One approach is to find sites, blogs, and articles that already have positive commentary and then improve the quantity and quality of traffic to them. The second approach is to develop new positive commentary on multiple sites and drive visitors to it as well. In both approaches, we use search engine optimization (SEO) to get the highest rankings possible for all positive sites for a company or individual.
Q) What is search engine optimization?
A) Search engine optimization is a process where the goal is to get the highest ranking possible on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN for designated content. SEO involves editing content to maximize your keyword population, and making design, layout and configuration changes to your existing site increase to increase its likelihood of being found by search engines. New content is developed in the same manner. Linking strategies to and from other sites also plays a large role in both SEO and driving traffic to positive content.
Q) Are search engines that important to a company or individual’s reputation?
A) Over 86% of web users use search engines to find what they are looking for on the web. High ranking negative publicity can dissuade a web user from ever visiting your site or storefront, greatly reducing the chance that they will purchase your products or services. Given their popularity, countering negative publicity at the search engines is now an absolute necessity for reputation management.
Q) How long does take from start to finish?
A) The time it takes to see results can vary widely depending on the level of sophistication of the attack, the amount of positive content necessary the counter, and the volume of negative content involved in the campaign. If an attack is relatively simple, results can be seen within a few weeks. More complex campaigns can take a few months to start seeing results and take six months to a year to achieve an optimal outcome.
Q) Why does it take so long?
A) Countering a sophisticated negative publicity campaign requires optimization of many sites at the same time. It also takes time for the search engines to both find the optimized content and start moving it higher in the rankings. Some very sophisticated and well-funded campaigns will continue to optimize their negative publicity as well. In these situations, it literally becomes a battle between sides to see who can get their content ranked the highest.