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:
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.