Online Reputation Management

What Spammers Can Teach You About ORM

First, A Word on Spam Conduits

Dave Naylor introduced me to the term Spam Conduit a while ago. The term is basically the description for a page on a high quality domain being used to gain search rankings, thus traffic. Spammers use these doorways to dump traffic from third party sites onto their affiliate sites.

This is what allegedly “dumb” spammers are doing when they create submissions on social sites that do not pass link equity. They were never after the link equity. They were there to borrow the domain authority of the site to rank for terms, and send the traffic on to their properties.

Online Reputation Management

ORM has become an all encompassing term, like search marketing, or social media. In reality, this topic can be segmented into several verticals in and of itself. Some companies are in need of management of their reputation in the blogosphere, others on social networks, and far more find themselves in a reputation war in the search engine results pages.

Many people have had their businesses online severely impacted by negative sentiment in their search results. Sites such as RipOffReport.com lead the list of those that offer consumers a voice to air grievances.

They also offer a tool for competitors, ex-employees, and others to destroy honest business owners reputations and revenue generation capabilities. Some of these sites themselves have questionable operating practices.

This post is not an ethical discussion about the voice of the consumer, it is a discussion of tools available to marketers to accomplish results.

SPAM Meets ORM

In an attempt to clean up their search results, many companies begin to create keyword rich properties, hoping to knock out the negative sentiment. The issue here is that the new sites lack what is making the negativity float to the surface.

Complaint sites are huge, and carry tons of equity. On top of that they are not a hub, rather they simply hoard link juice.

You have to fight fire with fire.

In order to displace a equity driven search placement you must create an equity driven search placement. This is when it is time to create social profiles, unearth existing articles and content, and create a comprehensive map of your branded assets online. Choose the 10 you want to populate the first page. Try to stick with pages you know float quickly to the top of the results:

Twitter.com
Facebook.com
Youtube.com
Wikipedia.com
Any major publication
Aged forums
Wiki.Answers.com
Yahoo Answers

You get the picture…

Wait You Aren’t Done!

You aren’t going to just create profiles on these sites and hit a homerun with your ORM initiative. The next step is to look at the individual ranking factors for these sites, and optimize the individual pages to get them to the point of being useful.

For example, Twitter profiles rank well based on a steady flow of unique content, having a quality group of followers flowing internal equity to the profile page, and external link equity.

In the end, you can raise most of these through links. And since these aren’t your sites you can throw tons of links at them with little worry. All kinds of links. This is where many campaigns stall. How do you capture tons of links, in a relatively natural manner, that are permanent?

“The key to controlling your reputation in the SERPs often boils down to how many links you can point at optimized pages on powerful domains. By leveraging the value of your existing social profiles, and a quality linkbuilding program you can regain control of your reputation,” says ORM specialist Todd Friesen.

If you get stuck you are safe with almost any linkbuilding initiative because you aren’t putting your site at risk. You are only risking your conduit page.

No Rep Issues?

Sweet. When you are done patting yourself on the back, get to work securing your online presence. Go about the above process regardless, and make it that much harder for your online business to be put in an uncomfortable situation.

Don’t become a complete spammer. Don’t go out writing a Wikipedia page for your local pizzeria; that’s silly. But use your brain. A Facebook fan page for the pizzeria and a Twitter profile are useful beyond ORM, and offer your customers value.

Final Word

Is this an end all be all for ORM online?

No. Nothing online is ever an end all be all strategy, but this is a highly effective strategy for not only cleaning your reputation in terms of the search engine results, but also protecting your brand.

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7 thoughts on “What Spammers Can Teach You About ORM

  1. I agree with just about everything in the article and if you haven’t had your reputation attacked yet it will probably happen sometime in the future so start building up profiles now. One thing I do have to disagree with is Wikipedia for ORM. It can work in some cases but in most cases if you create a page and have a negative rep then your page will be updated with the negative news that can and probably will overrun the positive. There are of course strategies to apply when you already have a wiki page or have created one but if you don’t have one yet I wouldn’t go and create one yourself.

  2. I think the first step is not participating in or conducting your business in a matter that generates enough negative criticism that it is a problem for you. Having said that, every business is going to have it’s detractors and supporters. In fact, it is expected. I always get a little nervous about a company that doesn’t seem to have ANY problems.

    But there is a difference between people who like red widgets and bought the green one instead, and complain about it being green, and a company that is involved in poor-business practices that result in lots of complaints.

    If you are the latter, you would probably fair much better spending the time to improve your business practice to elicit positive social feedback, then constantly be rushing to put out the fires resulting from unsatisfied customers.

  3. This is all becoming so important. While it certainly presents opportunity, it will soon become a new new burden on small business. Like time lost preparing your taxes. I think fortunes are to be won and lost in this new ‘social’ order.

    I’m just hoping I don’t step in poop and make a mess of things as I learn.

  4. Very nice article David,

    you made an excellent point that ORM is not just about creating profiles and just to push that bad review down. its about protecting, managing and engaging your online reputation.