Learning from disaster: JCPenney and Online Reputation Management

Learning from disaster: JCPenney and Online Reputation Management

It used to be that reputation was everything. In a new media world where your every word and deed can be called upon with the click of a search button, reputation is now everything and a bag of chips.

As SEOs, we’re well aware of the challenge of keeping a reputation in good standing. Many of us would consider ourselves ORM professionals, helping clients and our employers maintain face online. And yet, our own collective reputation frequently leans negative in mainstream media and among search engine publications, hinting at just how difficult it can be to keep a sparkling image in the Internet age. While it’s not our job to police our industry reputation, it frequently falls upon us to manage the reputation of businesses online.

This is the case for JCPenney after being outed for link buying in violation of Google’s guidelines. The retailer is working to recover from one of the bigger paid link scandals in recent times, its results having been manually dropped by the search engine from results. Aside from working to have penalties lifted by Google and building up white hat SEO tactics to aid in natural rankings, Penney will no doubt be paying attention to the online chatter and judging how it’s affecting the brand’s reputation.

Raven’s Internet marketing tools can help with ORM tasks of tracking the sentiment of social mentions and keeping track of inbound links. Let’s run some Raven Tools on the term “JCPenney” to see what can be done.

Social Monitor for ORM

A basic tenant of online reputation management is knowing what’s being said about a brand. Beyond that, it’s important to know if the talk is a brand win or not so hot.

Raven’s Social Monitor pulls brand mentions from more than 100 social media sites and aggregates them in a tidy report with organizational functions. Two weeks worth of keyword data is reported with a graph plotting the volume of mentions. Links to individual mentions are listed with a handy icon allowing for quick recognition of the social site the mention originated on.

The tool also provides a means for recording the sentiment of brand mentions. Whether, positive, negative or neutral, an ORM manager can indicate the tone of the listed mention. This sentiment analysis is then compiled and displayed in a convenient meter. Results can be ordered by the date they were first published or the day they were discovered by the tool. They can also be easily added to the link building database tool, Raven’s Link Manager, to keep tabs on a link over time.

JCPenney and Social Monitor

The Social Monitor, shown here after sentiment of results has been indicated, displays brand mentions textually and visually for both at-a-glance or deep dive <abbr title=”Online Reputation Management”>ORM</abbr> analysis.

Backlink Explorer for Link Monitoring

Links are the currency of the web. When a brand mention is accompanied by a link to the brand’s site, that mention holds greater weight as far as long-term discover-ability and brand effect is concerned. Active inbound link monitoring can also alert the online marketing team to news events as an influx of new links indicates if the brand is suddenly the talk of the town.

Raven’s Backlink Explorer lists links to a URL, including where it’s coming from, a measure of that page’s authority, the anchor text of the link and the date the link was acquired. Nofollow links and image links can be filtered from results, and results can be viewed by assigned authority, or ACRank. The resulting list of backlink data can be exported to a handy CSV file from here for easy reporting, and results can easily be added to the Link Manager database from here.

JCPenney and Online Reputation Management 2

The Backlink Explorer, shown here with display date turned on, lists inbound links along with the anchor text, date acquired and a measure of the linking page’s importance on the web.

Your business is not JCPenney. However, there are countless stories of online reputation challenges, with more happening every day. Every online user has a megaphone via social media that can be used for brand advocacy or antipathy. The majority of online businesses haven’t experienced a public brand beating quite like JCPenney’s currently facing, yet the importance of ongoing ORM is as real and pressing for every brand today.

Arienne Holland

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.

Arienne has spent 20 years in communications, ranging from graphic design to journalism to PR to marketing and formerly Raven's Director of Marketing and Education.