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DIY – Tackle and Track Negative Reputation Online

I have seen two kinds of people, one who are after rankings on search engines for potential keywords and the other breed who wants to remove their certain keywords from rankings in search engines if they are seeing negative listings. Well, the latter breed are more worried than the former just because of the simple fact that negative advertising proves to be more hazardous to their websites than non-advertising.

Just think as a customer and try to remember the times when you searched for reviews for a particular brand, website or service on search engines so as to ascertain their credibility. Have you ever bought a product or service after seeing negative reviews / results or listings appearing on search engines? I am sure the answer will be No.

Now think as a website owner’s point of view. No matter whether the negative listing in the search engines is put by the genuine unhappy customer or it’s an intentional effort by one of the rivals, you will have to pay for this as you might witness decrease in online sales and customers. Negative reputation on search engines can harm one’s business to a great extent because such reputation can stay in the minds of online customers forever and there might be a case where the customer will never visit or consider your website for purchases anymore.

So according to me, SEO and Search engine reputation go hand in hand. I would like to bring to notice some of the Do-it-yourself steps that should be employed to tackle negative reputation online and come out of it successfully:

1. The foremost step is to find all the keywords on which you are getting the negative results. Generally if an unhappy customer puts something negative out of anger, then most probably he or she will use the company name or website name. So you can try searching with the website or company name in Google to see if any negative results are appearing.

When I typed Run Local Locksmith on Google.com, I got the following negative results appearing on first page of Google:

locksmith DIY – Tackle and Track Negative Reputation Online

So on the first page, if you are getting 4 negative listings, then you can imagine how negative your brand or company is reflecting to the customers. So in this way you can search for other keywords on which negative results are showing up, like run local locksmith reviews, run local locksmith complaints, runlocallocksmith, and so on. It is really important to know all such keywords so that you can identify all the negative listings showing up.

2. Now that you have identify all the keywords for which negative results are showing up, it’s time for you to take an action and push those negative results to second or third page of Google. Kicking those negative listings from first page should be your foremost priority because first page is the source for maximum business for your website. In order to overcome the negative reputation online, you need to protect your brand name. Try acquiring all the domains and TLDs. Acquiring exact domain names on which you are getting the negative results will be a good step in the right direction. Start posting good, positive content on those domains. Ask your happy customers to leave a testimonial or review for your product or service.

3. Set up new blog accounts in your brand name and enrich them with positive content regularly. Blogs prove to be the best source to overcome negative results if they are promoted the right way. Content plays a vital role so make sure that whatever content you are posting on the blogs is natural and should not appear to be fake or unnatural hardcore promotional. You can take the help of a professional writer for this task.

4. Now you should check your social status. If you have not registered your brand on social websites then wake up and register your brand name on some of the most important social websites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Profiles on these sites tend to come higher on search engines. Make sure the settings for each account is correct. For example, for Facebook account, you can control your Facebook account to appear in search results by selecting “create a public search listing for me”. You can do this from here: Similarly you should correct the settings for other social media accounts.

privacy DIY – Tackle and Track Negative Reputation Online

5. Use credible third-party websites like Yelp and other local business websites. Register your company or website and ask your customers to put positive reviews for you. It has been seen that such local business websites tend to appear higher on search engines.

6. Your involvement and participation in some of the credible websites will also help you overcome your negative listing. More you converse and participate in different websites with your brand name, more positive listings from such websites will appear higher on search engines, thus will push the negative results to second, third or fourth page. I am mentioning the list of such websites which I think will be quite useful:

  • Video websites like YouTube and MetaCafe
  • Social Bookmarking websites like StubleUpon, Digg, Reddit
  • Make use of Hubages and squidoo lens
  • Review websites like Yelp and other local business websites of your country. You can do a google search with top local business websites to see the list of such websites.
  • Guest blogging on other blogs related to your business
  • Participation in Question and answer websites like Yahoo Answers or ChaCha.com

I am sure if you will follow these steps consistently, you will be able to get rid of unwanted negative results on search engines. In fact the best practice is to be spontaneous to customer complaints and try to reach out to them to hear their queries and resolve them so that the customer can remove the published complaint. Try to give them extra service to keep them happy.

Track your Negative Reputation Online

Some useful tools available to track your reputation online are:

  1. Setting up RSS feeds of search queries in Google Blog Search, Google News and Yahoo. You can set Google alerts to track results pertaining to web, blogs, news, video and groups. Similarly you can do this for Yahoo as well.
  2. You can also set the search alert in your twitter account. Just go to search.twitter.com and set the alert. This will alert you whenever anyone mentions your company name in a blog post.
  3. Social mention also helps you catch discussions regarding your company name or any specific keyword you choose to track. You can subscribe to the feed and can get Gmail alerts. You can also download the excel file for your reference.
  4. You can also try your hands at some of the paid reputation tools like Trackur, Brands Eye, and Reputation Defender.

I have tried to provide simple steps to tackle and track the reputation online for all those website owners who want to do it themselves without taking help of a professional service. Obviously there are many more activities to be performed for managing reputation if you will take help of a professional. I have preferred not to mention them here. I will look forward to hear from you all giving more inputs on DIY for tackling and tracking reputation online.

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Chirag Suri is the Co-director and business development Head at Cyber Flavors. Being a chief at an Internet marketing firm, I love to share and receive all digital industry-related information to remain updated with all latest news and trends.

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7 thoughts on “DIY – Tackle and Track Negative Reputation Online

  1. Chirag,

    Thanks and great article for diy’ers. :)

    Although there are definitely more questionable shady techniques in regards to online reputation management, how does one compete with the negative reviews of a Yelp, Merchant Circle, etc.? In addition, what stops a customer from venturing beyond a first page to see the negative reviews?

  2. Alvin, nothing can stop a customer from venturing beyond the 1st page. For this fact, the best practice, if you have negative reviews or not, is to fill the search engines with positive content about you and/or your brand and continue to monitor your reputation.

    The primary benefit of burying negative content beyond the third page is sheerly based on numbers. In a study conducted by iCrossing To discover how deep searchers dig into search engine results pages; “To illustrate – of the 8.9 million non-branded visitors tracked in the study just over 8.5 million came from the first page of search results (95.3%), just over 232,000 came from page two (8.7%) and around 180,000 came from page three onwards (1.7%).” -source: http://www.bizreport.com/2010/02/95_of_traffic_comes_from_first_page_of_search_results.html

    Combating negative reviews on Telp and Citysearch and merchant circle is an entirely different beast. The best option is to contact the administrators of those sites in an effort to eliminate any fraudulent negative reviews. Also don’t forget to encourage your customers to continuously post positive reviews about you on these directory websites. Fight fire with water.

    1. Yes, agreed. Thanks for the numbers. I guess I classify myself as a diligent searcher in terms of vetting businesses and people in general (jaded lense). :)

  3. Thanks Alvin!!!Well it is really important to respond to the genuine negative comment and reach out to the user to understand his or her reason behind posting that negative stuff. It’s wise to accept any mistake made by you publicly and attempt to resolve customer query by offering him or her extra service to either remove the comment or follow up with a positive one.

    Also nobody can stop the user to move to second and third page but if the user will find good reviews on first and second page then I think it will be sufficient for the user to trust that service or brand. Moreover to build strong image, one can continue reputation work so that negative stuff can further go to back pages.

    1. I disagree with Chirag. If you can push a negative listing down and off the first page you don’t want to boost it back up with fresh content. The negative Title tag in the SERP is often enough for costumers to form an opinion before they even reach your rebuttal.

      I have also seen clients give a response on their own and then the original author comes back and argues more and it turns into an online pissing match and looks childish. Then after they royally screwed themselves, they go looking for an expert to try to fix it.

      Every situation is unique, so not e: everyone should not simply comment back on negative rankings. You could do more harm than good.

      1. Kelvin I agree that if you try to follow up on negative comments or reviews then that page tends to appear further ahead on the search engines but that also depends upon the situation. Like there are cases where a negative review get rectified by a customer who gets impressed with some extra offering by the website owner.

        However there are cases wherein while attempting this, you may end up getting no positive feedback from the customer and your negative stuff remains at the top.!!!

  4. Agreeing with the comments that are written above, you need to be careful bringing negative links back up to the top of the SERP…searchers are often shallow or rather impatient and will form a negative opinion about the title of the link before reading any further.