If you search for SEO agencies and reputation management agencies, you’ll generally find that they appear to be operating in two very separate niche industries. However, the two are closer in terms of what they do than you probably realise. In fact, go to any reputation management agency’s website and check out their processes; the vast majority of what they do relates to SEO. After all, we all know that once something is on the internet, it is there forever, so the only way to deal with content that we can’t remove because it’s libellous is to bury it within the search engines as much as possible.
SEO isn’t a reputation management technique in and of itself, as in, you usually wouldn’t embark on an SEO campaign just to protect your reputation, you do it as a digital marketing initiative. However, it is clear that SEO does have some legs in terms of reputation management. Here are the steps you can take, and the ones a reputation management agency will typically take on your behalf, to protect your reputation online.
Just how bad are things looking for you and your name? It’s clearly going to be easier to rid one or two negative articles from the first few pages of Google than it is if you’ve had a lot of bad press in recent times and all you can find about yourself online is unhappy stories.
The easiest thing to do if you’ve been the subject of a negative story on a news website, for example, is to try and get a story on the website that shows you in a positive light. Yes, the old story will still be there, but Google and the other search engines are much likelier to show the most recent one in their results. Again, if you have stories everywhere about you then you might need to go into PR overdrive, but you need to do what you need to do.
You should also look at anything that is of your own doing. For example, if your personal Facebook page is set to public viewing for all and there’s a picture of you drunk and with your pants down at the Christmas party, that probably isn’t the best way to get positive press out there and into the online ether.
Once you understand the scale of the task in front of you, it is time to start posting regularly. The easiest thing to do is to open as many social media accounts as possible and start posting updates on them, as these sites always feature highly in search engine results. If you can write yourself a favourable Wikipedia entry that doesn’t appear biased and is correctly referenced – hire an experienced Wikipedia editor if you need to – then this will also push negative content down the search rankings.
You should also consider embarking on a guest posting regime where you link to your social accounts or to positive stories about yourself and your business that exist online. Just ensure you don’t appear to be spammy guest poster and this can help push the positive to the forefront of the search results.
Bear in mind that negative stories could still appear in news snippets, and will do until you get a favourable story from such a website, but these will be heavily outweighed by your other content. You’ll now begin to understand the importance of making a good impression on others, because as much good work as you do it will be easy to see the content that you have produced and the content that has been produced about you.
A few years ago you could simply start up your own website and post loads of content around the keywords that are showing the negative stories, but since Google tweaked their algorithm to stop the same domain appearing seven or eight times in the search pages, it is worthless to do so now.
The actual SEO value of press releases has diminished massively in recent years, but ironically they are something that could prove to be a saving grace in this instance. If your business is doing something positive or you’re undertaking an initiative yourself, write a press release about it.
Yes, you might still be known for a negative reason, but if your name is known at least editors are likely to read the press release. Whatever you did that was bad might still be mentioned in positive articles, but readers will place more value on the positive you’re doing now rather than on past mistakes.
SEO can definitely be a worthwhile reputation management technique, but it can take time and it is often worth hiring a professional SEO or reputation management agency in order to help you. You might find it costs a fair sum of money, but is likely to be worth it when you consider the number of people who might be seeing you in a negative light whenever they search for you or your business.