Reputation Management in an Instant World

November 1, 2011
By Michelle Lowery in Internet Marketing Conferences

You may be expecting Rhea Drysdale to give you some tips about online reputation management, whether it’s your reputation you’re worried about, or a client’s. You’ll get those, sure, plus a lot more. Think ORM is totally separate from SEO? Think again. They’re both parts of the same big puzzle. You’ll hear real-world, case study examples of ORM issues Rhea has encountered with Outspoken Media clients. Find out what tactics were used to counteract the dissemination of negative information, and the subsequent results.

Rhea starts out with a little of her own background and what brought her to SEO and ORM. At one point she wanted to be a primatologist, so that probably comes in handy in dealing with some of the other people in this industry, right? [Hee! Just kidding!]

Our reputations are threatened. One of the ways they can be damaged is through user-generated content. This is especially damaging because not only do we have no control over what other people say, we can’t control the sites where it appears. One example is review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Even worse are sites like PissedConsumer and Ripoff Report. Rhea says she just learned of a new, similar site from Alan Bleiweiss called scambook.

One way you can find out what kind of sentiment is out there is to search Google and look at the instant results. Rhea uses the company Credit Solutions as an example, which has been the target of several lawsuits filed by multiple attorneys general across the country for fraudulent practices and basically defrauding their customers out of millions of dollars. [Rhea also mentions that I used to work for this company, which, I’m sorry to say, is true. If you ever think about working for them…run the other way. And don’t look back.]

The thing is, Google instant results can be gamed, so you can’t assume they’re accurate. Rhea says she’s impressed by Google lately, though, because they really seem to be taking note of ORM in a way they haven’t before.

Case Study

Rhea anonymized all the client information, so no one in the conference room had to sign an NDA, or pay our attorney fees. [Maybe we need to rethink that? ;-)] So let’s call our client John Carter. He had an issue with the SEC, and that was outranking him for his own name.

When we Googled his name, there were nothing but crap results. In an effort to counteract being outranked by a government agency, everywhere his name appeared had been tagged with the business name as well, so it looked super spammy.

Whatever SEO was trying to “help” him before he came to us tried using answer sites to rank for his name. They asked a question in his name, using his name over and over, and then the answer was nothing but his name repeated about a hundred times. No kidding. It ranks, but it’s crap.

The weird thing was, the client didn’t have any profiles on any social networks at all.

Rhea says if you’re going to put that much energy into something, you may as well do it right. There is no excuse. You are ruining the good name of SEO!

Rather than spammy tactics, use directories and social profiles. Just remember that all social profiles have to be unique. You can’t just go and repeat the same information over and over again. Google just announced yesterday that duplicate content is something they’re reporting on, and not just in blogs or in long content on Web sites.

Some other ways you can get your name out there: Industry articles, mentions in other people’s social profiles, speaking engagements. Get a Wikipedia page, but don’t edit your own page, and definitely not from your IP address. Find a favorable news mention, and make that the citation you use in your content. A few places to look at that you might not have considered: Hoovers, Slideshare, Quora,,, CareerBuilder, Huffington Post…the list goes on.

These are all very basic tactics, but they work very well if you know how to use them. They work even better if you just use them.

Our ORM clients range from a kid who wanted to get into a good college, to a company sued by the government, to a guy sued by his mistress because he didn’t leave his wife, and didn’t want his kids to Google him. Reputation management affects everyone.

Second Case Study

A national company was defrauding the government and a whistleblower ratted them out. They brought us in early to get ahead of the impending shitstorm. We used Radian6 to monitor their reputation. They’re not a proactive company, but reactive, so we didn’t know about everything that was affecting them until we went looking.

The threats we identified:

  • Reactionary company culture
  • Movie launched at same time with a keyword that triggered news results for our client’s negative coverage
  • Smaller lawsuits that were announced mid-coverage
  • Reporters and crazies
  • State-level attorneys general – This was especially damaging; they each wanted to put out their own press releases to claim credit for lawsuits and gaining money for their states (we are, after all, in the midst of an economic crisis); this also just happened to correspond with the attorneys general who were running for reelection. [Coincidence? I think not!]

We needed to change the conversation. To do this, we used the following strategies:

  • Video
  • PR
  • On-site content
  • Internal PR to employees (Autocomplete Gold!)

Now the company is no longer reactive, but pro-active and thinking about the long-term. This defines a CEO’s legacy.

Where do we go from here?

  • Domain development
  • Profile growth
  • Wikipedia
  • Increased presence on niche sites
  • Internal response strategies

How you can use ORM to dominate search results

We have a client who ranked 1 & 2 as of 7/20/11. They want to dominate positions 1-10.

Their keyword is in their trademark and domain name, so we thought we could probably do it. It’s also a popular online retailer, publicly traded, well-respected company. But to do this, we HAVE to be risk-free.

First, have to see what they already had. They had entries in the top 30 results, including several of their own pages, subdomains, Facebook, and other profiles.

But once the site links update happened on August 31, 2011, things changed. Half the results we had to work with were knocked out. It took out all the subdomains.

Some of the thousands of inbound links we found were coming from hit counters the client owns. But that was their only link-building method, other than their internal network links. We had to remove doorway pages, which didn’t leave us with much to work with.

We decided the best option was to create more content. We moved categories to subdomain pages. We optimized the doorway that was the most manageable. But we didn’t want all our eggs in one basket. We got lucky with a few things, though. There was some stuff that fell in our lap:

  • Quarterly financial report
  • Corporate and career profiles
  • A subdomain dedicated to an awards strategy for an untapped, related industry

The results three months later are the company is dominating five positions on the first page of the SERPs.

Rhea nailed it. Yeah, I’m biased—deal with it! Seriously, if you never considered how ORM affects and is tied to SEO, you may want to hit her up for a little chat. Or, you know, contact us for our online reputation management services. ;-)

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