Very recently, the Internet erupted in an apocalyptic frenzy for online reputation management. As the trend of killing off search engine industries gains ground, more rational heads are taking the podium. This Huffington Post article has been quick to shush the premature eulogies. Online reputation management is alive and well; in fact, even in its supposed wake it has never been more robust.
It seems businesses can no longer ignore virtual word of mouth in watching their backs. Online reputation repair is, in the words of a seasoned entrepreneur in the industry, “inevitable.” Google may be unperturbed by these business interests, given its arsenal of algorithms such as Penguin and Panda to snuff out content mills and backdoor SEO tactics that boost search rankings, but it is actually giving business owners a better platform for legitimate branding.
Desperately defamed businesses could resort to fraudulent practices such as fake online reviews to restore their reputation. However, online reputation did not balloon into a five billion-dollar industry of late for such shoddy spades. The real drivers are content and strategy. Online branding is sophisticated work, a fact that the legal industry and high-placed executives are coming around to.
Hence, online reputation repair runs on “fair and relevant content,” following the wisdom of Google’s in-house anti-spam police. Such is put together by self-awareness and a lighter public relations tread. In their mad scramble to push down negative search results, some businesses are a sloppy mess at cleaning up. But if proactive online reputation management is deployed, meaning that a company takes to the Internet the message its business originally set forth to disseminate, then the public relations aspect falls into a natural, Google-friendly method.
Being whistle-clean in social media efforts pays off through higher search rankings. And most of these platforms are legitimate. Honest-to-goodness informative blogging, growing a LinkedIn network, or maintaining an updated ‘like’ page on Facebook with substantial dialogue with the online community do the job. Fake reviews, black hat SEO, and sneaky competitive behavior, as in a morality play, could only undermine a reputation further.
It’s safe to say the message is the medium. What your business is all about will evolve into a better point of interest than any shadily sourced negative listing. Making good on the online profiles that you can control, and perhaps letting some negativity slide, are methods that get Google’s attention, not those under the table.