Repair Your Reputation: It Takes Hard Work and Time (Part 2)
When a crises for a high profile asset occurs the resulting media swarm is overwhelming and seems endless. And for many once the next story breaks the pressure is off and relief sets in. The news cycle may change quickly in the real world but not in the cloud.
For our client the relief was short lived; the next wave came about in the form of negative search results and the feeling of being treated like a pariah. As discussed in part 1, as our client pursued other business opportunities they were turned away based on the negative search engine results. It did not matter that the stories were irrelevant or that the news outlets were used by the corporate snakes planting stories for their own advantage; the damage was done.
Our client tried to have the news outlets remove the negative posts and stories through proper channels but were rebuffed because it didn't suit the papers agenda. For the large and powerful news outlets, our clients predicament wasn't their concern. The analytics were good and thus advertising sales had sufficient support. Here is where the rubber meets the road so to speak; this is where our warnings to our client of a longer timeline became clear. Our work was to try and match and beat the big news agency's SEO tactics for relevancy and content.
Our plan for this client was to first knock the negative content in the search engines down off of the first page. From the Google results analysis we knew our first order of business was to develop a website and social media presence. We needed to tell the story of this successful company and that meant creating a timeline of past productions and loading those stories into the website and social media in a way that added the deserved credibility to our client.
We developed the new website but we built it so it looked like it had been there for years. Their past successes were loaded in through bio's and a new's section. The firm's history and credibility were now established. We had some content that we could now start using to build off of and some reference toward past successes.
As part of the website we created a blog section. We also began to develop a library of stories and a schedule to release them into the public's eyes through our newly created digital presence. The idea was to use the blog to establish the firm as a thought leader in the industry. We had them author stories based on their years of experience that would be relevant to students, young professionals and even long toothed professionals.
This is where good "white hat" SEO strategy comes into play. We play by Google rules so that we get the best results and that is what white hat means. We use a strategy such as writing high quality content, making HTML helpful and clear, and quality inbound links. This is of course in addition to other online reputation management tactics including public relations, social media building, and review maintenance.
By linking our blog content to our client's storied past we were supporting our drive for them to be seen as thought leaders. By writing blogs, referencing relevant topics, using hashtags and sharing the links and stories across multiple social media platforms we began delivering relevant content to a greater audience. This is a winning strategy to achieving long term positive presence and reputation.
Online reputation management and SEO are not the same thing. SEO is a means to an end; it is the tool with which we will use to promote individual pieces of "good impressions"... our stories and content. SEO helps us get our content ranking higher in search results.
So, by employing the proactive online reputation management strategy and using good, solid SEO practices to support our efforts we started to see positive results in our content ranking higher than the negative search results. In essence what we did was make our content more relevant and valuable, which in turn ranked higher than the negative content the bigger, more well funded news outlets provided. You can't always get a person/company to agree to remove a negative comment or story, but you can always promote yourself in a better and more positive way and that's what we did.
Some of the greater good that came out of our efforts is that by sharing our client's content regularly their audience increased and industry professionals started liking, sharing and commenting on their content. The viral nature of information isn't just about numbers, its also about quality. As our client became more active in driving their content they found themselves receiving recommendations and accolades from industry peers on Linked In and other online properties.
Another observation we had was that as time went by, our client started to develop their own editorial calendar and followed through without our prompting. Publishing their own content on their blog became second nature. They also forgot about the timeline, although we saw results after six months they stopped asking when it would end and realized that this had become part of their daily routine and they needed to continue.
Are they 100% whole again, no. But with persistence, preparation and performance they are well on their way.