Reputation Management is on Google’s Radar. What Now?

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In the past, Google hasn’t talked much about online reputation management (ORM). But Matt Cutts recently addressed ORM directly in a video. Watch it below.

These warnings are, of course, centered around link building tactics that are meant to push particular items to the top of Google’s search results. For those who did not watch, the example used was an attempt to use artificial linking strategies to push a positive news article higher for someone who was also legitimately dealing with a great deal of negative press.

If you are in a position to be especially concerned about ORM, Matt’s newspaper article example may seem rather alarming. Does this mean that ORM is a no-go from here on out?

Of course not. It just means that ORM isn’t about sneaky link building tactics. The video also makes it clear that Google is focusing on discounting questionable links rather than directly punishing entire websites. It does mean that when you are focusing on ORM you should focus on the following “Google-friendly” reputation strategies.

Create Fair, Relevant Content

Repairing or managing a reputation is just like building a new brand – it requires a focused campaign of content creation. While links to those pieces of content can certainly help, those links can’t be manipulative or your work will just be wasted. Fortunately, if you create enough content the ranking of any individual piece of positive content doesn’t matter when ORM is your goal.

Take Advantage of Sites that Offer a Natural SERPs Boost

Some sites offer a lot of bang for your ORM buck. If you can legitimately place your company on Wikipedia, for example, you should. Wikipedia entries usually end up near the top of the search results without the need for any particular manipulation on your part.

LinkedIn provides another great example if you’re trying to manage an individual’s reputation. Your LinkedIn profile is something that might legitimately beat out any negative or defamatory information that you might be competing with. There’s just no need to “game” Google in order to take advantage of that fact.

Take Advantage of the Freshness Factor

You can always turn the freshness factor to your advantage. Negative content that is not updated constantly is certainly at a disadvantage if you are putting out a daily or a weekly stream of content.

Matt Cutts on Links

Content Removal Needs to Be Part of Your Equation

Any content that is defamatory or unlawful should be targeted for removal. This might include a malicious fake review, an entry on a mug shot website, or a libelous post on a gossip website or complaint site. You don’t have to put up with any content that you don’t deserve, and you won’t have to compete with content that isn’t there. Some sites will remove content on request. Others will require a more intensive process. Either way, you should do everything you can to get rid of the content as quickly as possible.

Be Worthy of a Good Reputation

Don’t overlook the simplest cornerstone of reputation management: be the good person or company you’re trying to project online. This makes it far easier to manage your reputation with the fair play methods that have been listed here. And since you can expect Google will continue to find ways to discount the results of “black hat” tactics, in the end fair play is the only online reputation management strategy will remain viable.










Carmen Rane Hudson
Carmen Rane Hudson is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about SEO, social media, ORM, sales, CRM and small business blogging. She is a... Read Full Bio
Carmen Rane Hudson
Carmen Rane Hudson

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  • Chenzo

    The widget tactic is hilarious and know many people using it still!

  • James H.

    Great piece, Carmen! From my standpoint, there’s no need to use “black hat” tricks to improve your rankings. The more fresh content you produce the better chance you’ll outlive any negative stigma online.

    Staying fresh and relevant is really the key to managing your online reputation.

    • Carmen Rane Hudson

      Thanks! And I absolutely agree. It’s just hard for some people to let go of the notion that there should be short cuts.

    • Carmen Rane Hudson

      I absolutely agree. In fact, I’ve never felt like black hat made any sense, and it’s nice to see that it seems to be phasing out entirely.

  • Zac Johnson

    Online reputation management is a funny thing. While it may sound like something bad at first, it doesn’t have to be. Think about it like this… say you were a dentist and you’ve had 10,000 happy customers. Then one of them has a bad side effect or experience and then decides to write about it on RipOffReport or another big review site. This negative listing then ranks on the main page for the doctors name. We all know that feedback and reviews are much more likely to be given when there is a bad users experience. So why should this one bad experience out of the other 10,000 give the dentist a horrible reputation for them in Google when someone searches their name.

    I’m all for everyone to have their own opinion and feedback, but this is why it’s important for everyone to have some form on ORM in their business plan.

  • Darren

    Very nice read! Always nice to see ORM get attention from Google. Now that Google has rolled out recent changes like ( and Hummingbird, it will be interesting to see how ORM affects SEO and local search.

    • Carmen Rane Hudson

      It will be interesting to see! My understanding of Hummingbird is that it’s changing a little less than people assume, but there’s plenty of room for surprises.

  • AJ

    I’m glad I just came across this post, because I’ve been considering using professional ORM services. I was unfortunately the target of a malicious, and orchestrated campaign (using influence with the police to get me arrested without evidence, selling the story to the media) meant to destroy my professional reputation as a doctor. This was done by a vindictive former friend. For some reason the companies I’ve contacted haven’t been very clear about the specifics of ORM methodologies beyond “we create websites and use social media and PR sites”. It’s hard to come by any sort of guarantee as to the longevity of such efforts, and this video now really gives me pause.

    Trying to outrank and push into oblivion links to several newspaper stories (one of which is the #1 search match for my name) is going to be extremely difficult. I’m worried that simply posting quality articles related to healthcare on my personal website might not be good enough. Contacting YouTube to get them to pull down video links all posted by one account, which feature my full legal name and photo, was useless – they declined my request for removal.

  • Ilya Nikitin

    Hahh 🙂 No matter what Matt talks, SEO works perfect for ORM ))