The results can be disastrous, ranging from bruised feelings to tens (or hundreds) of millions in lost sales. Whilst creating an intentional reputation monitoring/management plan ahead of time is certainly optimal, usually by the time we get the call the business is already bleeding profusely. We have successfully listed our views:
- Evaluate the authority of the page on which the negative content is published. As with any SEO assignment, start by taking a look at PageRank and inbound links profile using Yahoo Site Explorer and other tools. If the offending result is not on a site’s homepage, then take a careful look at older and similar interior pages along with their archives. Google’s algorithmic regard for any page tends to accumulate over time as a result of numerous factors, known and “black box.” Therefore it’s a good idea to keep in mind that any page’s clout might increase over time. Be advised and plan accordingly.
- Since some offending results violate copyright or trademark laws, a strong understanding of and willingness to utilize legal channels can be important arrows in the SEO sharpshooter’s quiver. Sometimes the first salvo we fire is from our client’s law firm in the form of a cease and desist letter. Be aware of laws as pertain to protected marks and intellectual property. Certainly taking the legal route can yield results and sometimes the expense makes sense. Our legal team has scared many an idiot off our client’s back. Some rouges just don’t want to mess with lawyers and can be “encouraged” to take down their problem content.
- Determine the likelihood that the substance of proposed defensive content will further provoke and backfire virally. We find it’s best if newly created content and subsequent promotional activity do not appear to be directly related to the problem we’re competing with. My grandmother used to tell me never to “get into a pissing contest with a skunk. Even if you win…you stink. “Instead, create defensive content that builds on strengths of your business to contradict the negatives raised by a bad editorial. Build your content to outrank the perpetrators.