Reputation Management – The Executive SEO Way!
Reputation Management is basically cleaning up the online presence of a person or company on review sites or in the search results. On the review sites, you can’t simply go in and erase them, and posting fake reviews is unethical and essentially lying to future clients. What you can do though is make it as easy as possible for the happy customers to leave reviews.
Get Great Reviews
A new tool we worked on is a quick landing page. It has a Happy Face and a Sad Face, and at the top says “How was your experience at Company XYZ.” If someone is unhappy with the service, they’ll immediately be taken to a contact form on your website; specifically designed for complaints. This way, you find out about your unhappy client, and they get the satisfaction of being heard. On the other hand, if the client is happy (as they should be); a drop down menu pops out with direct links to review sites like Yelp, CitySearch, and of course Google Places.
This way, you can direct the happy customers out in public to spread the word about your business, and handle the unhappy customers personally. It’s a wonderful filter, that is completely ethical and highly effective.
Don’t Post Yourself
Another issue I’ve run into with clients is they have an entire list of great reviews from real customers, so they think they can simply login and post them on the review sites. Big sites like Yelp and Google Places are very good at blocking out fake reviews and over posting by the same user. Even if your intentions are pure, it’s easy to see how without these systems in place that the manipulation could occur. We have a connection with tons of local IPs and Accounts, so with that list, we can post the real reviews and have a very high approval rate.
Rep Mgmt in the SERPs
Now for cleaning up the reputation in the search engines. There’s nothing worse than Google’ing your name (personal or business) and finding a poor review about yourself from an ex-business partner or unhappy client. One of my least favorite sites to go up against is called RipOffReport, or ROR. They’ve been around for years, have tons of authority with Google, and their On Page SEO is flawless. Due to a law passed about 7 years ago, a site owner is not responsible for user generated content, regardless of the validity. This means he’s under no pressure to take them down, and is legally allowed to host them on his site. From what I’ve heard, you can pay $10,000 to get the review taken down, which is outside the budget for a lot of people; but he is in the position of power.
Certain BlackHat SEO techniques and spammy links can get a site banned from the search engines. However RipOffReport and the other big sites will not be affected by them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard other SEO’s talk about spamming the negative site with bad links will take it down. NOT TRUE!!! These links actually help the page, and make it headache to move it out. It becomes far more expensive in cost and time to move it out.
The Right Way
Negative SEO doesn’t exist. You cannot push a site down. (It is possible on a newer site, but overtime rankings will return, so it’s only a temporary fix.) However, you can push the sites surrounding the negative site UP, providing similar results. In a normal SEO campaign, we push 1 site up to the top. In Reputation Management, we may push 10-20 sites up, depending on how deep you want to bury the negative article. Heads up, I’ve turned down clients in the past because, in my opinion, the negative article should have stayed on top. I have to draw the line somewhere.
I’ve tested the following system on about a dozen different clients. This is the method I’ve found to work best. The first step is identifying the negative site, and going through the top 50 or so results and finding sites that we can either influence by editing the content (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, other blogs, etc), or sites we’d definitely like to see in the top 10 (Favorable reviews, Yelp Pages, etc). Using Off Page SEO, we can move the sites around sites we don’t have access to. We can also create additional blogs or profiles that we’d like to push up there.
3 Sites at a Time
First I choose the best 3 sites that are ranked just below the negative article. Then I begin building links to those pages at a rate of X, and building links to the pages above the negative article at a rate of X/2. This just ensures that everything is getting an upward boost, but the negative article. I’ve tried moving 10 sites at once, which had very little effect; and I’ve tried moving one at a time, which moved far to slowly. I’ve found 3 sites to be the sweet spot.
Over time, usually 3-4 weeks, but sometimes sooner, the sites receiving the Off Page SEO will move above the negative site. I then cut their links in half, and choose the next 3 sites. It’s very important to keep the links being built to all the pages above the negative site, to ensure they don’t slip back. It’s a rinse and repeat cycle that can push down the negative site as deep as you want. Page 3 is usually sufficient, as very few people will click that far in.
Reputation is everything in relationships, regardless of whether they’re business or personal. By following the steps above, you can control your online presence and stop letting those few unhappy people affect your future.
Thanks. ~Ryan England – Executive SEO