<< by on November 9th, 2010
After a bit of a daunting lunch scene, the first session I attended this afternoon was Google Reputation Management. Andy Beal of Trackur and Tony Wright of WrightIMC both spoke in this session.
Andy said there are 5 keys to search engine reputation management (SERM):
- Rethinking keywords (company name, CEO name, etc.)
- Spider-friendly website
- Mention company name in third person (ex: Andy Beal speaks at conferences.)
- Anchors away (use company name in link anchor text)
- Superbrands to the rescue (by linking to others as the superbrand, you pass on authority)
Andy suggested a Google Sentiment Audit, looking at the first 30 results for your keyword. Look at the URL, page title, status (do you own it?) and the sentiment. Andy separates status into four types: owned (it’s completely yours — you host it), control (you can control it but don’t own it — like Facebook pages), influence (you can influence the owner), and third party (you can’t influence or own it). Andy says you should use the 80/10/10 rule — use 80% of time on what you own, 10% on what you control and 10% on what you can influence.
In the first 30 results, look for opportunities for pages you can push up.
Andy said that you could also consider using the WordPress.com domain for something like a one time event. Upload a few pages. But don’t use WordPress.com if you want to keep the blog long term… this is more of a throw-away site. Link to it from your main site and a few other sites as well.
Facebook pages are also helpful. You need 25 fans to get a customized page URL and can set it to your company name.
Andy doesn’t love LinkedIn, but he does keep it up to date. It also speaks about you in the third person, which helps with keyword density.
Twitter.com pages rank very well also. Make sure you use your company name for a company profile. Retweet those that mentioned your company. It gets positive stuff out to your audience, but it puts it into your Google timeline and adds to your keyword density for your Twitter page.
Flickr is also good for a company account. Make sure the account is in your company’s name and you talk about yourself in the third person. YouTube also ranks well… have a YouTube channel.
WetPaintCentral.com is a wiki page site where you can set up your own Wiki, but only YOU can update it, instead of others, like Wikipedia.
If you have business partners, see if you can get a page on their site talking about that relationship. If you sponsor a conference, you can typically get a link back or a page about you on their site. If you’re a speaker, get a speaker profile.
Andy then delved into the “Danger Zone”. If you link to others’ content, will they always remain positive about you? Watch out on Wikipedia — it too can turn bad. Paid posts — be sure to do them before you’re in a crisis, not when you’re in one. Paid search ads can be used to balance your side of the story too.
How do you “sanitize Google”?
- Be alerted to it as soon as it happens (Google Alerts, Trackur)
- Look beyond the first 10 results
- Don’t panic!
(Google looks for freshness, so it will push things into the top ten, but it may move it later.)
- You don’t get it, if you don’t ask.
(If there’s something wrong, 92% of bloggers will remove the information — if you ask.)
- Be benevolent.
(Start linking to 3rd party sites if you’re under attack.)
- Look for legal loopholes.
(Is the offending site breaking SEO rules? Turn them in to Google! Also look for violations on AdSense.)
- If all else fails, you can sue them. It may or may not work. But it may force Google to remove it from the index due to court order.
Tony was up next and focused on proactive reputation management. Tony started with a quote:
If I tell my friends about your brand, it is because I like my friends, not because I like your brand.
Why do people listen to online complaints? 50% of people said they considered information shared in their networks to make a decision. 90% of people trust recommendations from people we know, and 70% of people trust opinions of people they don’t know! The average consumer mentions specific brands over 90 times per week.
Why should you care? Nearly 116 million user-generated content pages in 2008. It’s likely much more now.
What is the landscape?
- search results (SERPs)
- message boards
- hate websites
- location-based sites (FourSquare, Gowalla)
- social bookmarking sites
No one tool can monitor all of these. He shared another quote: “Doing PR during a crisis is like eating healthy during a heart attack.” You have to be proactive.
Most companies do no reputation management until a crisis hits, and if a crisis hits a blank slate, then the crisis wins out.
So How Do You Manage a Reputation Proactively?
1. Have a social media policy. If you have more than 10 people, you likely need one.
2. Employee education. Be sure to inform the employees about the policy and show them the impact of positive and negative reviews. The janitor can cause a bad review just as fast as a CEO can.
3. Have a proactive review strategy. You don’t want perfect online reviews… that looks fishy. Strive for a 70/30 ratio.
4. Identify influencers and reach out to them. Always be looking for new influencers. Be sure not to spam influencers. Meet influencers before there’s a crisis.
5. Be part of the conversation.
6. You have to have a plan. Who should be involved? Marketing, IT, upper management, crisis consultants, and others. Monitor reputation at all times. Consider creating mock scenarios. What will your employees do? Internal communication is paramount so that they know what to do in a crisis.
7. Evaluate the crisis. Define what is a crisis and what is not. Is it a game-changer? Will it go viral? Will it haunt your company for years to come? How will you quantify success if you do handle the crisis? You need to act fast, but NEVER knee jerk.
8. Don’t let good branding get in the way of good reputation!