Reputation Management 101: Best Practices to Protect Your Name and Brand

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Posted 3 years ago

Reputation Management 101: Best Practices to Protect Your Name and BrandThe Internet is, indeed, an ideal venue for marketing. So why not highlight  the three core qualities of the medium :

1. Openness

2. Anonymity

3. Instant global reach

And it is this very core that brings along with the advantages, what are sorely the risks.

Scammers have long realized that the power and value of your brand is very good business — for their crooked business. It is widely acknowledged that the online world has seen little formal policing that the internet becomes ideal for the ‘hijacking’ of brands online.

Search engines, social networking, ecommerce, auction and tradeboard sites, email, blogs and microblogs, all become fair game for being taking unfair advantage of. Illicit activities are aimed at the exploitation of legitimate brands. Illicit activities aimed at your business and/or brands have the untoward effect of eroding brand value and devaluing your marketing investments and hard-earned revenue.

Illicit activities are aimed at diverting traffic to competing businesses, exploiting your brand to generate advertising revenues, or blatantly (and sometimes not so blatantly) stealing directly from your bottom line with potentially counterfeit and grey market sales.

The online world needs a different approach than the offline world in securing what is rightfully yours. The online world requires close monitoring, because, unlike offline media, marketers have little to no control over brand-related content online. Online brand abuse results in substantial brand erosion: Lost revenue, diminished customer trust, and tarnished reputations. What to do? Well, as you have read, it is clear that marketers can and should take the lead in protecting what they themselves have built as opposed to relying solely on other areas of the organization.

A holistic strategy is called for to be facilitated in protecting hard-earned brand equity and revenues. Using the best practices known, targeted technologies and the collaboration with other functional units can bring about securing businesses to the degree of feeling quite secure.

First you must keep in mind the forward-thinking of the search engines, like Google or Bing, that simply do their job in a straightforward manner. Because when people search for you or your company’s name, and what comes up is dirt, the results can be quite deprecating to you even if it’s not true. Unfortunately, contacting Google or Bing on grounds that what is on their search engines about you is unfounded, is a hopeless venture. Going down that strange highway leads to two chances in which you may get them to override the algorithm: And those are slime and none.

Google, for the most popular instance, works on autopilot and is designed to do exactly what it should do: Be a great, big search engine.

What makes better sense is to potentially clean up your reputation by contacting the webmaster/author or administrator of the site where the negative piece is and begin negotiating the removal of the negative content. Yet it may sound like a simple way to resolve the issue(s), it very well may not be. You may have to do some homework, insofar as, lacking contact information, you may have to search the WhoIs Database to find just who it is that actually owns the site. The registry may say that the domain name is owned by proxy; in turn you can email the custodian and they will hopefully forward your email to the owner. You can use DomainTools.com to do some gumshoe work, but that comes with a nominal fee for services rendered.

But the thing is is not to focus on being on the defensive, much less all the negative connotations of delving into damage control when what is needed is to incorporate the safest approach by quietly pushing positive content higher than the negative and they won’t even know you’re being proactive in your approach. Whomever it is may have a grudge against you and even a virtual internet forklift couldn’t lift the bad content off of Google; you can’t budge people to do things they don’t want to do to begin with; just let your ever higher ranking sites push down further the negative page, until it’s been bumped off the first page. Then, you continue with pushing your positive content until the negative result can’t be found on the second page of the search as well. And the first page is the crucial page, as statistics support this fact.

Your damage control can continue until you are assumed golden by way of the SERP(s) which are the Search Engine Results Page(s), as you succeed in getting that negative content safely off the first three pages.

If you really want to make sure you have quality control of some sort over those with vested interests in shedding a black cloud over your business, the way to go is to hire an online reputation manager. (Not that you can’t DIY). This way, if someone has something positive they wish to promote, then your main idea will be to push those sites higher in the Google ranking so they will get more sales and promotion.

Like life itself, a steady gait is needed to walk the fine line between what’s simply obtuse and what is negative; betwixt what is plausible and positively possible, versus what is basely unwarranted and mindfully headed for the trash bin.

Good business sense walks hand in hand with discretion.

What is important for you and your business to realize, is that the best offense sure is not going to be a ‘ hyper guard’ defense. Running back to cover your neck when it is over an unscrupulous or venomous item in the search engine, requires a stiff upper lip and a good tendency to employ that you don’t get distracted by what goes on over to your left or to your right. Remain centered and focused. And of course, always positive.

Here’s some helpful tips to safeguard your online reputation by managing it with just the right directives:

1. Buy every domain name associated with your name or your company’s name that you can possibly afford. The most important ones to buy will be the .com, .org and .net, in that order. Publish them as a website immediately, with or without content. Be very aware that those with bad intent will try to nab a website suffix like those most important three or .info, .biz., .us, .co, .ws, . .tv, .mobi, etc. Now you can’t be focused on how smart those with bad intent are, lest you start thinking like them, and you are better than that. Your business is legit and smart. Not sneaky and snide, and having to ride the backs of others to eek out an mostly undefinable edge over you; as is what lurks in the thought process of bringing down others is not worth dwelling on knowing too much about.

Set up your websites as a self hosted WordPress blog if you can (because of the RSS feeds that are built-in as well as the free plugins to assist you with SEO.) Use meta tags as having your name, as it is, with title and description as well as keyword tags will give you extra points with Google just for adding this optimization.

2. Now here’s a good one: Conversely, buy the most obvious negative domain names with the words scam and sucks in them. Sucks.com and Scam.com are negative words, for sure, but they rank higher in the search results. You buy them so the bad guys can’t. For you see if you are WalMart the bad guys will use WalMartSucks.com and WalMartScam.com against you.

The Inside Skinny

If your business wants to be a force to be reckoned with, you must have already have assumed the stance of a force that cannot be reckoned with.

3. Buy up all the social media accounts in your name that you can. Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter are the big ones. Yet get an all-inclusive list just to have all the bases covered, so to speak. Use the tool called knowem.com to assist in this all-important step.

4. Analyze which sites you think say positive things about you and promote them by quality link building, which is part and parcel to the task of an SEO. It doesn’t have to be your sites, they can be anyone’s site you think represents you or your company in a good light. Knowing link building and SEO strategies are key as they are evolving daily because Google can tweak their algorithm overnight. Links builders or SEO specialists, it should be pointed out are the kind of specialists that are not a dime a dozen. The best thing to do is to pick a savvy internet web company like, for instance, MateMedia who have an excellent understanding on the subject of SEO, excellent link building strategies, and overall knowledge in online business protection.

When the going gets tough

5. Do you know how to fight the New York Times, per se, if they are bashing you as an individual or your company? It’s done like a brash and bold lawyer. Though this is known as the black hole of search engine reputation management. It is going to suck out a lot of your capital; hence the black hole analogy. (Which is the correct and official term, as it represents quite a reputational uphill battle that you will be fighting and a modicum of time till you regain your composure. Remember though: Always Think Positive – A.T.P. Nothing is as bad as it seems. And when you fight the good fight, you are fighting the right fight whose outcome is a W-I-N. You’ll need to spin the story to your advantage, as well as beat the others to the punch by getting ahead of the story so you can structure this perceived bad news and, in essence, control the message as well as the content of the message. Speed is of the essence as a firefighter quickly douses the flames of a blaze with quickness and aplomb. Then you’ll want to publish a study or whitepaper to support your argument. (Sometimes substance is all the style you need). For the final blow, you’ll need to pull out all the stops as you continue as you would anyway with a massive link building campaign pushing sites you are comfortable with thus making the negative stories fall right into the rankings abyss. And be composed: What I mean is to compose yourself as you tell the truth. Admit you messed up, apologize, ask to be forgiven, as you move on to more urgent pertinent business matters of your usual business dealings. Most people, meaning John Q. Public (and Jane Q. Public) are generally forgiving souls. The ones that have attacked you and/or your business will be construed, no less, as the vultures they are.

Your reputation in the good book of business has been well-earned. And for that you can’t let it easily go spinning out of control because of some ill meaning incidents that are meant to throw you off your well-lit course.

So start today to protect your online business.

“One can survive everything nowadays, except death, and live down anything, except a good reputation.” – Oscar Wilde

– Rich Casale

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