Search Engine Reputation Management: make it look natural
Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM), is becoming more and more of a hot item in Europe as well it seems, and I’m seeing quite a few people saying pretty smart stuff about it. Having done a bit of it myself, there’s one thing I think a lot of people are missing. People are boasting their ability to block the top 10 or top 20 on certain terms, using subdomains or different cc-tld’s. Now I know it’s quite hard to get big corporates to do stuff like this sometimes, but let’s face it: it’s pretty easy stuff technically…
Using subdomains and cc-tld’s you should, as a SERM specialist, not try to block more than six results out of the first ten. If you do, sooner or later, a Search engine engineer is going to come by, decide it’s a bad user experience, and push a few of those subdomains or cc-tld’s down a few spots. Or worse: users might still find those negative reviews you pushed down.
Let’s take it from the beginning: if someone is searching for your brand or product name, they’re either trying to find the website for it, or they’re trying to find opinions about it. That’s a different intent. The first searcher will immediately click on the first result, and might not even see the other results. For this searcher, blocking the first page is good enough, even if it is with subdomains or different cc-tld’s. The other searcher however, is looking for opinions of other consumers. Blocking the complete top 10 with subdomains and cc-tld’s will force him to go to the second and even the third search result page, and he might still find this one negative article you’ve so violently pushed down…
For this type of searcher (and the more internet savvy people become, the more they will use search engines for “research” like this) you will have to make other arrangements. You have to give him what he wants, because that is what search marketing is all about, all the time. So you should make sure that out of those top 10 results, 2 or 3 are positive reviews about your company or your product.
Now don’t over-do this either! Don’t put blatant commercials up there, because people won’t believe them… Just pick some natural looking articles on the brand or product of your choice with decent titles and descriptions somewhere between the 50th and 100th result, throw a few links from your main domain to them, and they’ll probably start ranking higher up. Now if someone were to come through, and rank in the top 10 with a negative article, you’ve got a few positive articles around it, hugely softening the bad feeling this listing might have caused if the article were to be listed among 9 subdomains and cc-tld’s… People will accept some negative criticism towards your product, as long as there are more positive sounds surrounding it.
This way, you’re using Search Engine Reputation Management to enhance and strengthen your reputation, instead of just as a prevention or damage control mechanism… Taking it further then defensive action, treating it like this really is managing your reputation.