SEO’s own online reputation mess
When examining the increasingly social quality of the web, the Los Angeles Times spotlighted Blekko, a start-up search engine company delivering results curated by a user’s social network.
Here’s an interesting case of keyword matching. The ads by Google on the article page include google.com/sem and an ad for an online college’s SEO course, while a paragraph below, writer Mike Smith characterizes SEO as “manipulat[ing] keywords and links to try to promote their client in search results.”
Later in the piece, Swift recounts his experience using Blekko. His review mentions Blekko’s strengths when comparing relevance and quality of results to Bing and Google. He points out that for some queries, “Google and Bing, which were jammed with commercially sponsored links,” provided less interesting links.
Is it just me or is there an underlying bias against search marketing happening here? Swift more or less works off his assumption that Blekko’s strength is avoiding the major engines’ pitfalls, including SEO and search advertisements. I don’t have to explain why this assumption puts a pessimistic light on Internet marketing channels of significant interest to this readership.
It’s just such an online reputation management issue as this that falls into the jurisdiction of a big-picture minded SEO. By taking part in a collective SEM industry effort to correct public misunderstandings, we can put into practice the same recommendations we give to clients responding to negative comments or reviews.
Shake a bad reputation: Response mode
Addressing online reputation management is vital whether dealing with a natural catastrophe, such as the BP oil spill, to a logo snafu á la Gap. A brand must have champions and defenders to respond to feedback and actively take part in a community process. The industry has vocal members who defend quality SEO against critics and to the mainstream media, and who take part in internal debates among industry members. Contribute to discussions of SEO’s value or trustworthiness where you feel you can help move the discussions forward.
Gain support for the cause: Recruit happy customers
My doctor has some unfavorable reviews of her practice on major local search services, including those that show up on a Google Places search. When she learned of my experience in local search marketing, she asked how to improve her situation. I told her that as a comfortable patient, I’d be happy to give her a review that reflects my positive experience. I also recommended that she ask long-time, happy patients if they might take a moment to add their review on key review sites.
By providing quality SEO services that maintain a client’s search presence within search engine guidelines, and by delivering on expectations, a client may be a future reference to the benefit SEM provides.
Be the solution: Stay on top, look ahead
It’s said that the best defense is a good offense, and a proactive approach can save on overall efforts and spare headaches related to online reputation management. Any business with a presence on the web—essentially every one—regularly should check major local listings and applicable review sites. Stay informed of the temperature of online discussion surrounding a brand to quickly respond to issues as they arise. Beyond that, maintaining an active community presence can improve brand recognition, authority and trustworthiness.
Search marketing is gaining awareness and recognition among the business community. Online reputation management, relevant search ads and social media outreach yield positive results for businesses everyday.