About a year ago I began talking with a new client about reputation management. This person, who I will refer to as Jane, through no fault of her own, had become embroiled in a situation that created some negative press. Her name was featured in online news stories on several sites.
She was eventually found innocent and never charged, but the original news articles had damaged her reputation.
Now, years later, these old stories still showed up in search results when someone searched for Jane online. She wanted to know if there was anything that could be done to make these old articles go away.
While you can’t make old stories or web pages go away, there is a strategy you can employ and it involves online marketing.
First, let’s review how Google’s search algorithm ranks sites in its search results. There are a number of website factors that Google considers. One is the number of other sites that link to it and another is the regular addition of new, current content.
By their very nature, news sites have a large number of both of these factors, so they tend to rank very high in search results. If there is a negative story from years ago that ranks high, it’s probably because there has not been any current content or news story to take its place.
In the case of Jane, the only online stories about her were the ones that were negative. The solution, then, was to create new content that would push the old content down into the lower search results.
We created a website for Jane that had her name in the domain. Then we began a weekly program of blogging. The topics of these blogs were all things with which Jane had a level of professional expertise. Each of them was optimized with variations of her name.
We also promoted these blogs on LinkedIn and Google+, two social sites that are indexed by Google’s search algorithm.
What we were doing was a form of organic SEO and it takes time to develop. We saw no real results for the first five months. Then we began to see our most recent blog articles appear in the top ten search results. We would also see social posts that we made on LinkedIn appear, as well.
In the tenth month, though, we began to gain ground. We had captured three of the top ten search results. The following month, we had four. The program was beginning to work.
That was all accomplished in what we are referring to as the first stage. Since Jane is a business person, the second stage will involve establishing a Google My Business page and a uniform listing for Jane across 70+ publishing sites.
We will also begin a review management program that will seek positive reviews from Jane’s past and current clients. All of these items will further positively impact Google’s rankings when it comes to online searches for Jane’s name. We will report back in 2018 on the effectiveness of Stage Two.
Reputation management programs can be effective, especially if a number of years have passed since the publishing of the negative news articles. Like any online marketing program, though, it takes time to develop. Having the patience to see it through is the key to success.
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Bob Turner is a Small Business Online Marketing Consultant with Social Flair Marketing in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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