Bad press strikes every company deserved or not, legitimate or not. Search engine optimization can be a useful tool in managing the effect of negative publicity. While “reputation management” often carries a reputation of its own as a somewhat dishonest approach to search engine rankings, when done properly and ethically, it can be beneficial for business and for consumers. If you Google your company or business name and find negative listings high in the search results, reaffirming your commitment to SEO may be a good move.
The idea behind reputation management is that the top results get the most notice. After the second or third page, information gets lost in the abyss. Most people do not look beyond this point, and if you can position enough positive news and content in the prime results, you effectively push negative comments far beyond where the average user will find them. Of course, you cannot remove negative listings in many cases, and a determined searcher can still find information, it does allow you to present a more positive face to the world.
Is this “spin”? In a way, it could be considered to be maneuvering, and it can be distinctly dishonest when handled by black and grey hat SEOs. Marketing consultant Andy Beal says, “The majority of inquiries that I get are from people who are looking to do a cover-up. They’re not necessarily interested in fixing the problem. They just want to make sure that other people can’t find it.” But for reputable businesses who choose reputable SEOs the goal is different.
Negative press is press after all, and it does give the opportunity to address news or consumer complaints head-on. US-based Dominos is a good example of this. The pizza company, while holding on to its market share, had terrible reviews from actual customers. Rather than make some positive ones up and post them online, Dominos incorporated them into an intensive ad campaign. They acknowledged that they needed improvement. They turned their negative press into an opportunity to recreate both their pizza and their brand.
Search engine optimisation is crucial to maintaining or rebuilding a positive online presence. Rather than taking a spin approach, tackling issues with candor creates a more trusting and loyal consumer base.