Digital Reputation Management: It’s Not All About Burying Results

“Brand luminous advertising” by loop_oh | CC BY-ND 2.0 / cropped from original

I posted the following on Business Insider in response to a post that focused on the underbelly of the Digital Reputation Management industry.

Many companies and individuals who have online reputation issues are not trying to bury negative reviews or articles. Instead, they are working to make sure that people searching for them online find what they are looking for. This need often arises when the brand or individual has not made any effort to create an online presence (think either a minimal website or none at all, no participation in social media, no business profiles, no YouTube channel, etc.)

Take for example a financial services firm which mostly arranges M&A’s. An article on a popular business news website portrays a potential upcoming deal for the company in a negative light – probably due to the author’s view of the industry in which the company is involved. The financial services company isn’t active online. They have a one-page website that does not appear prominently in searches online. Most of the prominent mentions of the firm seen in a Google search contain contact information, SEC documents and occasional mentions on investor portals.

The goal of an online or digital reputation management program for this client (and many like it) is to help the client present their brand appropriately online. There really is no need to subvert any search engine algorithm or bury any results.

The Digital Reputation Management program would consist of elements such as:

  • Building out the current website so that it is technically sounds and contains content that will help it rank well in search engines.
  • Creating company and individual profiles on sites like: LinkedIn, CrunchBase, and others.
  • Working with Wikipedia editors to correct any incorrect information appearing in Wikipedia – including providing sources to editors that they can quote.
  • Registering the brand and key individuals on social media websites that may be appropriate to use in the future (Twitter, Google+, etc.).
  • Working with the client’s communications team (or their external PR firm) on opportunities for publishing thought leadership materials in one or more relevant media outlets.

In short, there are many tools at the disposal of digital band management professionals that, rather than being exercises in removing negativity, are proper digital branding and communication efforts. Rather than focusing on fooling the algorithm (in the long term Google will beat you!), serious companies should be considering digital reputation management strategies and tactics that take advantage of Google’s algorithm and its ability to detect relevant, authoritative content from a variety of sources.