With Google’s most recent changes to its local listings functions, users are once again left to figure out exactly what it all means. For the small business owners dependent on local reviews, stars, smiley faces and other rating indications this may be one of the most frustrating aspects of using the Internet as a core-marketing tool.
An attempt to understand basic concepts of search engine optimization (SEO) is daunting to most daily business users. Expanding on that platform in an endeavor to discuss local search and SEO quickly sends local businesses heading for the exits. Dozens of consultants, vendors, college students and friends-of-friends all offer to clarify exactly how to benefit from these various services and search algorithms – for a fee. In the middle stands small business. Owners who are focused on the challenges of day-to-day business understand that the Internet is changing the way business is done but have little time to learn a whole new set of skills. Read more
As we discussed previously, if your company is in need of web promotion you will potentially contact a Search Engine Optimization company. But if you have been the target of online slander, you will need to engage a Search Engine Reputation Management or Online Reputation Management company such as Reputation Advocate. If that is the unfortunate situation that you find yourself in, you may be wondering how a Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) or Online Reputation Management (ORM) company works.
Understand that when it comes to dealing with online slander, I can only speak from my own personal experience. At Reputation Advocate, we typically take an aggressive approach regarding online slander. In fact we are so aggressive in handling online slander for our clients that I would like to begin with a brief discussion on tactics.
The term tactic is derived from the military and warfare. (Are you beginning to see how aggressive our mindset is?) The real time definition of tactic is a plan, procedure, or expedient for promoting a desired end or result. That means that the team at Reputation Advocate develops tactics, plans and procedures to suppress online slander. However, it is important to understand that Reputation Advocate is not the only one using tactics in online slander. Consider for a moment those individuals who write the slander.
In our years of experience in dealing with online slander and online reputation management, Reputation Advocate has seen countless anonymous posted comments that veer far from telling the truth about our clients. Reputation Advocate has seen negative material from individuals pretending to be a customer of a business, but who are actually a former partner in the business, a competitor or even a jaded ex-lover. In other words, those participating in online slander are often using their words as a tactic to move consumers away from the business or corporation. In essence, they are lying to hurt someone who they feel has hurt them. They are, in a manner lacking integrity, using a tactic.
So if those involved in online slander are using tactics, what form of tactics does the team at Reputation Advocate employ? Our tactics are the strategically oriented plans that influence search results in such a way that the sites bearing online slander are ranked lower than other postings. The end effect of these tactics is that Reputation Advocate suppresses the online slander.
Depending on an individual client’s situation, Reputation Advocate targets one or more specific search keywords. Utilizing various online tools that include brand new sites, profiles, press releases, social media, forums, additional websites and blogs Reputation Advocate manages content while connecting all the material together in ways that have high authority with search engine algorithms. This is just the warm up.
As I have already written, Reputation Advocate goes above and beyond in our procedures for suppressing online slander. At a baseline for a project Reputation Advocate will, for just one keyword, develop a minimum of 3 websites, a minimum of 20 original and unique articles, a minimum of 50 social and profile sites, at least one widely syndicated press release and at least 5 blogs. All of that, dealing with online slander, for just ONE keyword. Then, for the same project, Reputation Advocate may target another keyword and begin the process all over again. Remember, that is just the baseline.
Once Reputation Advocate has finished an online reputation repair project, it is absolutely crucial to remain vigilant. Search engines are constantly changing how they index criteria, forcing search content to move around. There’s not time or space in this blog to fully explain the complexity of the work we do to suppress online slander.
Internet reputation repair requires a company with the right experience in handling this critical, growing online issue. Successful online reputation management calls for a company like Reputation Advocate.
For more information about how Reputation Advocate can help you manage your online reputation, visit us online at http://reputationadvocate.com or call 888-229-0746.
Historically, when a consumer had a complaint about a product or services the dispute was presented to a creditable third party such as the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Affairs and a resolution was reached. These days, Reputation Advocate has seen Internet “complaint” web sites become the weapon of choice for frustrated customers, disgruntled employees, competitors, political activists and anyone with an ax to grind to air their complaints cheaply, globally and sometimes effectively. Hiding under the cloak of anonymity and empowered by a worldwide audience, complainers have carried old-fashioned written complaints and tirades into cyberspace, and Reputation Advocate takes calls from their victims everyday.
Commuters arriving in San Francisco using the Bay Bridge were confronted with placard signs reading: “Had any problems at Starbucks Coffee? You’re not alone. http://www.starbucked.com.” The customer had taken his anti-Starbucks campaign to the world and the web using a not so subtle domain name that bore a striking resemblance to the stores name.
According to Reputation Advocate, companies face a challenging battle when attempting to take down this type of content. When the “complaint” site is engaged in commercial activity, Federal trademark infringement, dilution and trade libel laws may protect a company against disparaging use of corporate names and trademarks and confusing domain names. However, when the purpose of the disparagement is solely customer complaints and parody, these laws provide far less protection, says Reputation Advocate.
Many companies are adopting other strategies as well. Complaint sites that appear on third party servers, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo are generally subject to a web hosting agreement that specifically prohibits trademark infringements and offensive materials. Upon receiving complaints of possible infringement and libel, Reputation Advocate has observed that Web hosting companies will generally remove such pages. Recognizing the low cost of registering anti-domain names, Reputation Advocate recommends that companies register as many variations as possible for their Internet domain names in order to reduce the opportunities for disgruntled customers and employees to establish complaint sites with similar or confusing domain names.
Web sites bashing a company, its products, or its employees most often simply talk about bad customer service or a faulty product. Reputation Advocate notes that there are so many that Yahoo! created a separate directory for “complaint” sites, posting everything from hard core consumer activism and anti-corporate back lashing to personal revenge and fictitious claims. As the Internet expands, companies need to publish and execute policies for effectively dealing with this type of slander.
Complaint Web Sites: As Reputation Advocate has pointed out, the vast majority of complaint sites fall into the category of consumer complaint sites. These sites typically collect stories of bad customer service or a faulty product. The list of these sites is growing and Reputation Advocate lists a few specific examples below:
- Chasebanksucks.com: “The Right Relationship Means Nothing”
- The Worst Bank in the Universe!” Reputation Advocate notes that this popular site features an animated picture of a man repeatedly relieving himself on the slogan “Chase Manhattan Bank Sucks.” It targets mortgages, credit cards and customer service. A bulletin board allows customers and ex-employees to gripe about every service Chase provides. The site also provides links to news stories about how “Chase’s ‘right relationship’ started with the Nazis during W.W.II” and how “corruption is alive and well at Chase.”
- Starbucked.com: The Starbucked web site tells the saga of a Starbucks customer and his fight against Starbucks’ corporate greed, all stemming from a defective espresso machine purchased. Reputation Advocate says that the site offers consumer resources, a discussion board and a “case study” of the specific details of the customer’s complaint.
- Untied.com: A mistype of united.com (for those looking for United Airlines) leads to untied.com, a self-defined whistleblower and complaint site created by anti-fans of United Airlines. While Reputation Advocate says that this site was last edited in March of 2008, it is still available to the world and attempts to be a clearinghouse for passenger complaints directed at the customer service department at United.
While large corporations frequently retain firms like Reputation Advocate to provide proactive Domain Name Management, Domain Name Recovery and Online Brand Protection; small companies can be dealt a blow from which it may be impossible to recover. The real challenge comes from the fact that, in addition to specific URL targeted complaints, there are hundreds of general complaint sites. A customer, former employee or competitor can log dozens of complaints from a Blackberry or iphone while eating lunch.
For more information about this and other topics related to your personal or business online reputation management, contact Reputation Advocate at 888-229-0746 or visit them online at http://www.reputationadvocate.com.
Everyone has to make a living. Some make it while practicing integrity and others in the shadows of questionable practices. The Book my family lives by says that the love of money is the root of all evil. But nowhere does it say that money itself is evil. Money pays the bills, educates the kids and allows for a little planning in life. It’s the “root” that creates the problem.
I decided to write this article after a few recent experiences in my chosen vocation; online reputation management. I spend all day, every day, listening to people who are being hurt by content that appears on the Internet about them. Some are being attacked professionally. Maybe they own a business and an ex-employee or disgruntled customer levels their scope and takes aim through the barrel of the World Wide Web. For others it is deeply personal – marriages, illness, mistakes long past but brought squarely to the forefront of their life again. If you don’t have empathy for people then this is a poor choice for vocation.
Which brings me to my point. Most people are attacked by someone that they know. A competitor, ex-lover, neighbor, jealous friend or a former employee, these are the underlying sources of most online slander. That fact seems to shock people when I first suggest it. Most complaints are not valid. Many times the complaint is so distorted that it’s laughable if you take the time to read it. But therein lies the big problem. No one reads the complaint, they just read the headline or metatag.
Since this year has begun our company, Reputation Advocate, has been attacked more than thirty times. At the office, we discuss the source and easily rule out our neighbors, former employees (we have none to date), friends (we have many) and romance gone bad (happily married now for 18 years). That brings us down to competitors. So let me circle back around to character and integrity and consider motive. In the big picture all boats rise together as the old saying goes. For the firms that provide quality service, stand behind their words and admit errors when they are made I believe that online reputation defense and management services will be needed for years to come; we can’t put this genie back in the bottle.
Attacking competitors is perhaps the lowest form of a business development strategy. With that said, I frequently deal with business owners who know that the online attack they need help with has come from a competitor; they see it in the language and detail of the false statements.
At Reputation Advocate, we have come to recognize the oily fingerprint delivered from across the ocean. To some, it’s highly ironic that we, an online reputation company, are attacked and have to defend and suppress content ourselves. But we knew this would be the case as we began. The anonymous nature of online slander lends itself to those who have no other strategy for business development. No one is immune. Many doctors get ill and die every year al the while attempting to heal others. This is true for both Reputation Advocate and our many clients.
What I attempt to convey to those who retain us is that there is no absolute online protection for anyone. On behalf of our clients we expend a great deal of thought and energy focused on the positive aspects of who they are and what value they bring to their customers. Presenting the truth professionally will always prevail in the end. Companies that provide service, products, integrity and honesty will always have clients, job opportunities and success.
For Reputation Advocate, as for most of our clients, our “product” makes a difference. We do not execute perfectly every time. We correct mistakes as we define and admit them. We treat our clients with respect. In exchange for that we derive income. For those firms that focus only on the last element of success – income – they miss the point. Making a difference in a client’s life, adding value and creating content that reflects well on the client is what will create true success. Complaining and sniping anonymously from the shadows will ultimately undermine any success that could be achieved.
So this is a message on behalf of all of our current and future clients. It is a message from Reputation Advocate to its detractors. It is a message to all of those defamed on the Internet that have not yet chosen to fight back. Provide service, treat people fairly, admit that you are not perfect, try hard and keep going. Make a difference in the world. Now that is success.