What is Online Reputation Management?

Narrative IndustriesGlossary of Web Terms

You’ve got a great product or service. Your customers are happy, your staff are content and your ethics are above reproach. You’ve spent a long time nurturing your website’s SEO until you sit comfortably in top search results but then, one day, you notice that something is wrong with those search results: the next result after yours doesn’t belong there. Perhaps it’s a competitors product, a negative review or a customer dispute that’s been settled but keeps showing in searches.

You probably don’t want your prospective customers seeing that result but, in reality, what can you do to get rid of it?

Let’s just stop for a second so I can clarify a little: I’m talking about things like a one-off negative article or blog post, a complaint that’s been settled but keeps popping-up or an old negative review from previous management. I am not going to cover the kind of crisis management required if your organisation generates a lot of negative press because your product, service, customer care or ethical policy are not up to scratch; if that’s the case then you have a much deeper problem that you need to address first.

Right, back to the point… This is where an aspect of online reputation management known as search engine management comes into play. You can’t ask, tell or force search engines to remove results just because they make you look bad. You need to think more intelligently about how search results get shown and what you can do to affect it.

While this is a large complex area, best left to specialists, there are some things that organisations can do right now, for free and no technical skill, that will have an impact and help keep one-off negative articles off the Google’s first page. In a nutshell, you looking to get more results that are about your organisation so you have to  build, promote, own & manage a number of profiles around the web, ideally in the places that search engines consider authoritative. Some such places might be:

If you have a strong brand and SEO footprint already, it should be easy to start linking to these profiles. It may take a few months for the search engines to pay attention but, eventually these profiles will claim the second, third and fourth (etc) slots in your SERPs (search engine results pages).

In an ideal world you’ll also be getting content posted on blogs and online magazines so that those show up too. As the old saying goes, the best way to do SEO is to do something brilliant, get everyone to write about it and link to it, then do it again.