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.

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19 Responses

  1. SintBy Sint on 31 May, 2007

    Great story, I agree that efforts will only do well when they are credible.

    Putting some links to positive reports about your products or services on your website is not only a good thing in terms of SERM, but also makes your website more convincing.

  2. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 31 May, 2007

    Sint: totally agree on that last point too :)

  3. WebdesignBy Webdesign on 6 June, 2007

    cool work joost, you’ve done it again ;)

  4. geniosityBy geniosity on 6 June, 2007

    To back up your theory on your “first searcher clicks the first result”:

    On one of my blogs I have a couple of posts going on about how useless a certain company is. And, people have left on average 10-20 comments agreeing with me, on each post.

    But, I get people arriving at my site and using my contact form to place orders. I even had an order placed by someone from an embassy.

  5. DaeheeBy Daehee on 8 June, 2007

    Using PayPerPost for positive buzz can do 2 things at once for your business: SEO and SERM.

  6. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 8 June, 2007

    @Daehee: very true :)

  7. Reputation AdvisorBy Reputation Advisor on 8 June, 2007

    Excellent point. Linking to other positive pieces outside of your company’s domain is a move in the right direction. Too often we focus on promoting our pages in the search engine reputation management industry when we would do ourselves more good by promoting those who promote us.

    Valuable insight.

  8. Loren JeffriesBy Loren Jeffries on 11 June, 2007

    Agree strongly. Although not the most productive method, one can also be successful by simply pushing enough irrelevant results up that 95% of searches would just discontinue out of annoyance.

  9. m1t0s1sBy m1t0s1s on 5 September, 2007

    Don’t things like this make google less useful?

  10. Raghuvir RathodBy Raghuvir Rathod on 6 February, 2008

    Excellent story is really good for any business.

    Search engine reputation management is very useful to developing your business and public relation on web.

    Search engine reputation management is useful technique to protect your brand image on web.

  11. movie topBy movie top on 27 March, 2008

    I would like to share with you the happy, I was admitted to Harvard University this year, we bless me!

  12. StevenBy Steven on 19 March, 2009

    Thanks for your insight – the information is good.
    It is one thing to attack a group because you are upset, but slandering all of its members is just simply unethical – what the heck -some people search other ways to get attention.
    Well, thanks again.

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