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Posts tagged ‘search engine reputation management’

24
Jul

“Hacktivists” | A New Term but the Same Old Game

Given the damage that anonymous hacktivists and minority shareholders have done to the values of small cap stocks while standing on the Constitution’s First Amendment, companies are becoming more proactive in their online reputation defense strategies. While many small public companies are unaware of what can happen in a twenty-four hour period on the Internet, Reputation Advocate hears new horror stories every week.

Take, for instance, the following scenario. An adverse decision upsets a shareholder. Historically, that shareholder (let’s call him Bob) would attend the annual shareholder meeting and voice concerns while evaluating management’s recommendations. No longer. Investor Relations professionals are only as successful as the shareholders are willing to communicate. A question arises – what happens when Bob grows impatient and is not satisfied with a company’s response? The answer for many is found on the Internet.

It is currently estimated that there are more than 300,000,000 blogs created and maintained on the Internet. Wikipedia says that, “Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material.” Further, Wikipedia offers that, “Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.” Interactive messages, regular entries of commentary (remember the First Amendment?) and anonymity; it sounds like a potentially explosive combination!

In another scenario, Bob is holding a small number of Founder shares of a company. He purchased his shares initially through a PPM, the company went public and since then Bob looks at the stock value weekly. He is impatient, has talked to the IR firm and a couple of senior management people and he sees no decisive movement.

Several times, and without even thinking about it, Bob decides to let the world know about his discontent. In the good old days people would work to get a stockholder list and call or mail them a letter. Investor Relations could counteract and try and get in front of them, so to speak.  The First Amendment to the Constitution provides solid footing for all those desiring free speech. Governing laws, however, look much different for the Internet than for other forms of communication. Bob can broadcast any derogatory message Loud and Proud! Short of specific personal information such as a social security or tax ID, specific banking information, child pornography or a threat against the government, anonymous bloggers, forums, complaint sites and various customer-rating sites can be used against a company, its officers, directors and employees.

Bob suggests on a complaint site that the current CEO would serve the company better if he focused on the shareholders’ interests more, and golf a little less. Next, a blog is found bringing into question the compensation of management and the justification for such pay given the poor performance currently experienced by the shareholders. Finally, someone posts a picture from the annual company Christmas party; not naughty, but not nice. You can see where all of this leads. A relatively small shareholder base – fear and mild panic when Investor Relations doesn’t return a call quickly – possible shorting. And finally, as everyone knows, aggressive downward pressure on a small cap stock is always of interest to regulators.

This scenario is a competitor’s dream. Interest from a regulator, doubt about the viability of the company on a blog or two and a company that is not prepared for any of this, for after all they are busy running the company! If you are an officer or director of a public company what you are reading may sound like a doomsday scenario that could never happen. Really? Let’s add the dynamic of time; say three days.

In dealing with private and public companies, Reputation Advocate has seen many things happen that the proud and the powerful didn’t see coming and that hit with such force that the viability of the business faltered. These are often attacks that can actually be tracked back to ROI. Real cash flow constriction, real share value, real debt to income ratios impacted and real legal action. This is not a fantasy marketing pitch; it is real business in today’s climate of change.

An old saying asserts that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and so it is. All companies must keep a keen eye on digital threats. Proactive action and planning can provide a baseline of online reputation management that enables companies to defend themselves. I had a client recently refer to online reputation management services as the equivalent of digital liability insurance. There is a critical difference in this perspective, however. When damages are demonstrated, insurance provides payments that address the damage. Absent a company accepting the need and costs of online reputation defense, when damage occurs there is no compensation to offset damages. Only the damages remain.

While it is said that people are innocent until proven guilty, Steven Wyer experienced first hand that the Internet has interrupted such long held notions of justice. As managing director of Reputation Advocate, an online reputation management company, Steven Wyer now helps others who have been slandered online as he was. Adding the title of published author to his string of professional accomplishments, Steven Wyer has written Violated Online. In the book he offers more than 50 specific tips on how the reader can better prepare for an unexpected online attack. For more information about how Reputation Advocate can help you repair your online reputation, call 888-229-0746 or go online to http://reputationadvocate.com 

29
Dec

2010 in Review: Twitter, Facebook, Wiki-leaks, Online Reputation Management and Jillian Michaels

In an effort to summarize the past year as it comes to a close, here is the Steven C. Wyer Top Ten List for 2010. Because our company, Reputation Advocate, provides search engine reputation management and online reputation services, our perspective is a little different. We offer this brief summary in the hope that provoking you to thought will compel your awareness and action to manage your online reputation.

  • Facebook passed 500,000,000 subscribers and the movie Social Network became a box office hit. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, beat out Nancy Pelosi, Labron James, Lady Gaga and the Chilean miners to become Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.  Foreign leaders are clamoring for a private meeting with the twenty four year old multi-billionaire. You have to admit that this is pretty impressive considering no one had heard of Facebook five years ago. Oh, and did I mention that the company’s market value is forty billion dollars? Reputation Advocate believes that social media is here to say. From an online reputation management perspective you are more exposed than ever.
  • Online privacy issues came to the forefront on several levels but none as concerning as Google.  The company was forced to admit that they gathered a bit more information than previously disclosed as they captured images of every building found in cities, towns and villages around the world. In 2010 Google was sued for privacy violations by Germany, Spain and Switzerland…but not by the United States. Our government’s perspective is that Google didn’t mean to violate our right to privacy; it was an accident. No harm–no foul. NOT! If I was cynical I might believe that Google and the current administration were doing more than business as usual.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Google and Microsoft are bidding to provide cloud computing for our federal government! We believe that 2010 has been the year when the information found about you on search engines crossed the tipping point and there is no going back. Not being “on the Internet” is no longer an option so you had better take pro-active measures to insure that you know and influence what is found. Your online reputation depends on it!
  • Net neutrality is another 2010 buzzword that most people had never heard a year ago. This benign term will impact your life and your reputation both off- and online more than almost any other federal government action initiated in 2010. The concept of everything being “fair and equal” for Internet use sounds good. However, I am not in favor of putting the FCC in charge of something that is evolving into the control of access to the Internet when it influences almost every aspect of our daily lives. The operation of the Internet is too important to be left to the FCC, whose record of consistent failure in regulation starts with its control over radio back in 1912. The rise of an alternative technology is the best way to break the further intervention by the federal government into our lives. Give me free enterprise over government propaganda any day.
  • The power of social media struck in 2010 where it was least expected. Over the last twelve months social media sites have assisted the FBI in apprehending fugitives, provided virtual weddings and funerals that can be attended globally and broadcast births and suicides. People have gotten jobs, been fired, arrested and sued because of conduct exhibited online.  We have learned that pictures and video matter, that your personal information can be hacked and that no one really takes responsibility for the violations when they occur. Law officers now study the legal implications surrounding social networking.  Legal advisors confront law enforcement from First and Fourth Amendment considerations to liability and litigation issues.  Law enforcement is creating policies to govern law enforcement officers’ off-duty use of social media tools. Social media provides all users with an identity and a social footprint that follows them across the web.  It’s moving very fast and we had better acknowledge the speed at which this train is moving.
  • Google’s estimated 1,000,000 servers house an untold amount of information – about you. They have pictures of your house, have illegally obtained the IP address of your specific computers (unless your network is secure, and most aren’t) and Uncle Sam isn’t compelled to protect us. The government did, however, announce in April that every public tweet since Twitter’s inception in March 2006 would be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets! Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions. There now, don’t you feel safer? (Note to self: What happens in social media matters to you whether you like it or not.)
  • Internet complaint and online slander sites have grown from the hundreds to thousands. There is no legal recourse available to the millions of individuals and small businesses whose online reputations are attacked every day and the federal government continues to enforce federal laws that protect Internet service providers while leaving taxpayers totally exposed to anonymous attacks that can destroy lives, businesses and futures. Hundreds of unknown “online reputation management” companies located in Eastern Europe, Pakistan, India and other countries are either attempting to provide search engine reputation management services or promote online slander sites for profit…or both! Online reputation management has moved from throwing rocks at a complaint to client focused content creation, quality back links and broader online defensive strategies. Aside from strides made by online reputation repair service providers such as Reputation Advocate, there is no positive change foreseen in 2011 so you had better batten down the hatches because the online reputation storm is getting stronger.
  • So now that I have convinced you that the Internet isn’t as safe as you had hoped, let’s talk about local and location based marketing to cellular devices. Marketers have dreamed of this for years and 2010 was the year that it turned the corner. Estimates are that total revenue for 2010 will approach $1 billion. Much of this is driven by your street address or the GPS functions on your cell phone. It is a convenient set of services that cloaks the additional ability to track people. Everyone is so enthralled with location based social networks like Foursquare (currently adding 100,000+ new users a week) that little has been written in 2010 about the shadow side of services like this. But again, because of the online reputation management services that Reputation Advocate provides, we always see things a bit differently. The thought of being notified about sales and coupons based on your GPS location or the ability to download apps that identify who you are, where you are and what you are doing may have long term ramifications that are not yet foreseen. Did I mention that our government is archiving every single public tweet?
  • 2010 saw website failures and crashes from the likes of Skype, Wikipedia, WordPress, Gmail worldwide and PayPal. The Internet is not quite as stable and solid as most of us would like to believe. It’s a complex system, like a living organism, and things do break. With an estimated 2 billion users, 5 billion photos, 75 million websites registered in the U.S. alone and 160 million blogs active daily, you have to figure something is going to break. 2010 showed us that when it does, life as we have come to expect it stops.
  • 2010 brought us another term previously unknown to most individuals. WikiLeaks brought nations of the world to their knees. The new face of war emerged, and even the Pentagon couldn’t attack it. When you stop to consider that every piece of digital communication can be retained and harvested for incriminating information against an individual, company or government you may be saying like us, “Holy crap, Batman!” Again, the immediate impact from online slander may be embarrassment, the loss of a job or a client leaving, but the long-term potential implications are sobering – if nothing else. The thing that amazes me is that as most people read this information, they are not even aware that it is taking place all around them. Anarchy by the masses has always been discussed but anarchy created by the few who have access to unfiltered information … that is a game changer for the world. The response, to have New York publishing firm Alfred A. Knopf sign Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks to a million dollar book deal…what can I say?
  • And finally, GoDaddy has a new spokesperson, fitness guru Jillian Michaels from Biggest Loser. How is that for leveraging a cross promotion! No big deal, you say?  Well, GoDaddy has almost 500,000 new website registrations monthly. That means that Jillian picks up a potential 6,000,000 new fans annually. Perhaps my most compelling argument for the positive that is brought into all of our lives through the worldwide web.

As we enter 2011, consider this: Pandora’s box is open, it will never be closed again and our options are condensed down to two. You can engage with social media and participate and influence how you are seen on the Internet – or you can pretend that nothing is happening.  If 2010 has taught us anything, it is that the Web, social media and poor public policy have left us naked and unprotected. The only question that remains is, what will you do about it?

While it is said that people are innocent until proven guilty, Steven Wyer experienced first hand that the Internet has interrupted such long held notions of justice. As managing director of Reputation Advocate, an online reputation management company, Steven Wyer now helps others who have been slandered online as he was. Adding the title of published author to his string of professional accomplishments, Steven Wyer has written Violated Online. In the book he offers more than 50 specific tips on how the reader can better prepare for an unexpected online attack. For more information about how Reputation Advocate can help you repair your online reputation, call 888-229-0746 or go online to http://reputationadvocate.com 

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27
Nov

The Alphabet Soup of Your Online Reputation, Part 3: Choosing the Right Online Reputation Management Company

What if the checklist for your day looked like this?

1.  Develop 15 websites

2.  100 unique articles need writing

3.  Place content on 250 social and profile sites

4.  5 press releases to be widely syndicated

5.  25 blogs developed

6.  2500 backlinks – minimum

7.  Eat lunch

That would be a busy day, would it not?  Well that is a typical Reputation Advocate checklist as we work to improve the Internet reputation for just one client.  Now clearly this is not just for one day – all before lunch.  Yet this would be a minimal “to-do” list for restoring or building Internet reputation using five keywords for one client. That alone separates Reputation Advocate from other organizations that promise lower cost, cookie-cutter approaches to restoring a client’s name, repairing Internet reputation and providing online reputation management services.

Yes, there would probably be some trickle down from items 1 through 5 on our checklist.  Nonetheless, Reputation Advocate typically flips into “overdrive mode” with every client when it comes to restoring Internet reputation.  (This is going to sound like an unabashed plug for Reputation Advocate.  However, I can only write of that which I know!)

Can online reputation management or repair be done with a quicker, shorter process?  Maybe.  Can Internet reputation management be done cheaper?  Definitely. Yet these answers beg something more. Reputation Advocate has seen the unfortunate results of “quicker, cheaper” methods.  Yet why would any company or small business go the less expensive, quicker route, when it comes to something as critical as their Internet reputation?  Have we not all heard the phrase, You get what you pay for?

Does that seem cynical?  Perhaps.  However, the truth of the matter is that many of our clients have come to us after paying for a generic, cookie cutter process that cost little – and delivered even less.  When it comes to online reputation management there is no cookie-cutter “one size fits all” solution.  Since the inception of Reputation Advocate, our online reputation management business model has been simple but labor intensive.  While acknowledging that the costs are not insignificant our clients see results through disciplined, measured and practical methods.  Is it more difficult and more work for Reputation Advocate?  Yes.  Do we impact lives by salvaging, restoring, and/or building Internet reputations for our clients?  Absolutely!

Take backlinks for an example.  Our clients have heard me say more than once: A backlink is not a backlink is not a backlink. They most emphatically do not want backlinks from adult entertainment, religious, political, or foreign sites.  Content that appears to be spam is of little help and it is of no interest to our client list.  In addition, when it comes to their Internet reputations, our clients are extremely concerned about the content of the websites that are found to rank high for them at the conclusion of a project.

I have spent three blog entries laying out the process of rebuilding an Internet reputation.  Do I want companies or businesses to call on Reputation Advocate for their online reputation management needs?  Of course!  Yet I write this final entry in our three-part series as a caution – a warning to choose very, very carefully the company with whom you will partner to manage your online reputation.

While it is said that people are innocent until proven guilty, Steven Wyer experienced first hand that the Internet has interrupted such long held notions of justice. As managing director of Reputation Advocate, an online reputation management company, Steven Wyer now helps others who have been slandered online as he was. Adding the title of published author to his string of professional accomplishments, Steven Wyer has written Violated Online. In the book he offers more than 50 specific tips on how the reader can better prepare for an unexpected online attack. For more information about how Reputation Advocate can help you repair your online reputation, call 888-229-0746 or go online to http://reputationadvocate.com 

19
Oct

The Alphabet Soup of Your Online Reputation, Part 2: Tactics of Online Reputation Management

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.

27
Sep

The Alphabet Soup of Your Online Reputation, Part 1: SEO, SERM and ORM

Is there a difference between Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Reputation Management?  Absolutely. In fact, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) or Online Reputation Management (ORM), are as different as night and day.  Just as night and day contribute unique roles in our world, so do SEO and SERM.

Search Engine Optimization has an important part to play in the online world of reputation management – promotion.  Good SEO companies can push the presence of a brand new website on search engines to the very top of the list.  Search Engine Optimization companies take static space (like a billboard in the desert) and bring it to “Times Square” visibility on the web.  The idea is to build a positive online reputation.  But what happens when someone else makes that online reputation not so positive?  That’s where companies like Reputation Advocate enter the online reputation management stage.

SERM and ORM companies like Reputation Advocate track actions and opinions, report those actions and opinions, and then move swiftly to counteract negative actions and opinions in order to preserve or restore an online reputation.  (How we do that, I will cover in a later entry.)  Once a person understands this, it quickly becomes apparent that Search Engine Reputation Management and Online Reputation Management are completely different from SEO work and requires an entirely different toolbox and skill set.

SEO companies use third party sites and keywords to push readers to a main company website.  Search Engine Reputation Management companies use third party sites and keywords to improve positive search engine results in order to successfully restore an online reputation.  So a company may want SEO consultation to drive traffic to their site.  But when the traffic is suddenly stuck in a snarl of negative comments or online slander, they need help from a SERM company like Reputation Advocate to re-establish their online reputation.

Reputation Advocate has worked with many clients who hired a Search Engine Optimization company prior to contacting us for help in rebuilding their online reputation.  While the SEO company may have done a great job of pushing their site to the top of Google, the online slander was still highly visible.  Again, SEO companies have an important role in online reputation but that is not necessarily repairing an online reputation.

At Reputation Advocate we have a unique prescribed method to ensure that what a client wants seen about them and their online reputation, is seen.  It is extremely labor intensive.  It is extremely time consuming.  It is strategically oriented to the max!  In fact, at Reputation Advocate we go way overboard in comparison to many other companies who offer online reputation management and repair services.  We have seen the unfortunate results when there are shortcuts.

To give you an idea, when Reputation Advocate works with a client we often develop 15 websites, send out a minimum of 5 press releases and write up to 100 original articles.  (That’s just the beginning.)  It is a lot of writing and work, but we “bomb” the Internet with “all that is positive” about our client.  Reputation Advocate’s tried, tested and successful online reputation management strategy virtually “erases” the visibility of online slander.  (Again, I will write more on that in a later entry.)

In conclusion, as important and different as day and night or black and white are, so are Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Reputation Management.  To promote an online presence, you may want SEO.  To defend and advocate for your online reputation, you need a SERM 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.