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Reputation Management: List of Friendly Sites for Damage Control

Ken Gaebler

When negative news occurs, our reputation management clients are protected.

Here's the challenge we overcome for them.

Without a proactive reputation management strategy in place, negative news for a company brand or executive name will often jump to the top of the search results. This can be extremely damaging.

For example, if a company or executive is hit with a lawsuit, legitimate or not, that news will often jump to the #1 spot in Google.

A prospective client then comes along, oblivious to the lawsuit, and they do a Google search on you. Boom! Now, they know all about the lawsuit because it's at the top of the results. They see the negative news, and, concerned, they decide to move on to the next provider. You've lost the customer, and you may never know why.

There are many actions that can be taken to avoid this type of scenario and to mitigate the damage once it occurs. We could write a book on the topic. But the one thing you absolutely need to know is: negative news adores a vacuum.

When Google doesn't have many results to show for a given search phrase, it makes it that much easier for negative news to jump onto center stage and grab the #1, #2 and #3 spot.

To inoculate yourself against negativity rising to the top, you need to create as much neutral or positive content as possible to counteract and overwhelm any negative content. Ideally, you do this before a negative content trigger occurs, but it can also be an effective reputation management strategy for post-event damage control.

Good Sites for Reputation Management

Here are a few sites that you should leverage to create positive content. Each industry has its own set of niche sites that are good for reputation management, but this is a good starting point for any executive or company that is concerned about negative search results:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Zimbio
  • Squidoo
  • Weebly
  • WordPress (and other blog sites)
  • Guest Blog Posts
  • PRWeb (and other press release sites)

Using the sites above, you can create profiles, web pages and microsites that are search engine optimized for the phrases you want to protect. It's a fair bit of work to do on your own. It requires SEO expertise and surgical precision on the execution side. As a result, most of our clients tap our SEO team's talents from our digital group to do this work.

Here are a few final tips of advice on reputation management.

  • In addition to the sites above, don't forget that your own site is the best site you have for reputation management. Make sure that it ranks #1 for the phrases you are concerned about. If you are an executive, hire a web design firm to create a site that uses your name as the domain name. If it's done right, it's highly likely to rank #1 for your name.
  • Consider a proactive PR initiative that will garner positive stories around the phrases you don't want negative results to rank for. A series of media placements that are positive can quickly outrank older negative news.
  • Link to the neutral and positive pages that you want to see higher in the search rankings, above the negative results. For example, if you have a positive result that is #12 in the search rankings, you should link to that page from other sites. It's effectively a vote for the importance of that page, and those votes can help the page rise in the search results -- ideally, they rise so high that they displace a negative result.
  • Some firms might advise you to buy links to positive and neutral pages. Don't do it. It's a bad practice for a variety of reasons. You're not trying to game the system. You're trying to give positive content its due respect, and you want to do that using ethical reputation management tactics.
  • You can also add pages to your target keyword phrase's search results by adding comments to existing pages on the web. Suppose Jim Jones of ABC Co. doesn't like what shows up when people search for "Jim Jones ABC." He can find an article on the web that ranks well and comment on the article using Jim Jones as the poster name and ABC in the comment. Even better, find a page that mentions ABC Co. already and add a post from Jim Jones. Or find a page about a different Jim Jones and add a comment that use ABC in it. Suddenly, pages that didn't show up for a "Jim Jones ABC" search will appear and they may crowd out the negative results you want to defeat. A little bit of a sketchy tactic, mind you, so use it as a last resort.
  • Last but not least, social media can be particularly effective for reputation management. You can use it to promote positive web pages, for example, helping them to rise above the negative search results.

If you've read this article in its entirety, you now have a basic understanding of some important reputation management tricks and techniques. You also may have noticed that doing reputation management well requires an in-depth knowledge of marketing strategy, website design and development, SEO, content writing, social media and PR.

Hmmm, wouldn't it be nice if you could find a talented marketing firm that excelled in all of those areas?