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December 9, 2011

Cindy Penchina, President
If resolving it doesn’t work, replace the bad press in the search rankings

We spend a lot of time and money getting our websites noticed by search engines. We’re after that coveted high ranking, so we can draw qualified traffic to our sites and then work our magic and compel visitors to buy or contact us. Sometimes, though, we get top ranking, but it’s not for anything we want to get noticed for.

Perhaps a disgruntled customer took it upon herself to post oodles of “search-engine-friendly” content about how awful she thinks your company is. Maybe an unscrupulous competitor is publishing negative stuff about you. What can you do?

First, do regular searches to discover what’s being said about you online. It may not always be good news, but if you catch it early, you’ll be in the position to take proactive rather than reactive steps. Companies that successfully use social networks listen to their customers, even if the customers aren’t talking directly to them or saying what they want to hear. Then they adjust accordingly.

Three proactive steps you can take if you spot bad press

1. If the negative content is actual liable or slander and comes from a source you believe could be taken seriously enough to harm your company, contact an attorney. Do not put off this step!

2. If the negative content is on someone’s personal site (as opposed to a public message board or forum), you can contact the person and try to resolve the problem. You’d be surprised how many people appreciate a reaching-out move like this.

3. If the first two steps don’t apply and it’s bugging you that negative press is showing up at the top of web searches for your company name, your best option is to dislodge the bad press by replacing it with good press, which you will generate. Here’s how to do it.

Write articles

Publish online articles that contain active links to your website and other relevant places. Mention your company name a few times along with other key words that relate to your business to boost search engine ranking. Distribute the articles via sites such as Digg.com.

Connect with social networking sites

Create a presence on sites such as LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Profiles on these sites often show up high on search engines, so make sure you cover them all.

Distribute press releases

Write a few press releases, and send them to online distribution channels such as PRweb.com. These services will distribute your news all over the Web. Include your company name a few times within the content and a link to your website and blog. (You have a company blog, right?)

Collect testimonials and reviews

Ask satisfied customers to write positive reviews about your business on sites like ConsumerReview.com, Epinions.com, Google Maps, etc.

Use professional reputation management

For serious problems that don’t involve liable or slander but that could harm your company’s image, consider enlisting the help of a professional reputation management firm. These companies will work to get rid of bad press for a fee.

Aside from dealing with liable or serious reputation problems, our goal should be to simply publish as much content as we can about our companies in as many different places as possible to prevent negative press from riding high on the search-results list. Here are a few more content-friendly sites to check out.

There’s a reason it’s called “the Web”

The tactics we’ve outlined here will work, because the content you publish will be far more search-engine-friendly than negative content published in a couple places by a disgruntled individual.

Your new content will include key words and phrases that match your already existing online content, showing the search engines that you’re a bigger, deeper, more legitimate and more-connected player than the person who uses your company name three or four times in an attack piece.

And always remember: when bad press appears online, your “enemy” isn’t just the person who wrote it – it’s also the clock. The longer negative comments remain highly visible, the worse it’ll be for you. So prepare to be proactive!  Get familiar with and start using some of the online resources we’ve talked about. That way, you’ll be ready to strike back immediately if a problem arises.

Cindy Penchina
Hudson Fusion LLC