ACCM: Search Engine Reputation Management

    May 19, 2008

There’s no doubt about it – getting the top spot in search results can be great for business.  But if searches for a company’s name also turn up complaints and negative reviews, whatever time and money was spent on SEO might be wasted, and so managing your reputation in search engines is critical.

(Coverage of the ACCM conference continues at WebProNews Videos.  Keep an eye on WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.)

Rob Key, the CEO of Converseon, pointed out in an ACCM session that approximately 92 percent of journalists use search engines to research stories, and 84 percent of adult Internet users use search engines on their own.  This is not a small or stupid group with whom complaints won’t register.

As a result, Key said there "really isn’t an option but to join and engage in this conversation to protect you and your brand."  Litigation isn’t the preferred method of communication, either, since it’s likely to draw more attention to the issue.

Instead, Key suggested creating a cross-discipline team, and coming to understand how your company and brands are searched.  Establish a SERP visibility benchmark, fully optimize your content across domains, and then join the conversation.

Websites, blogs, affiliates, and the social media ecosystem can all be used to respond to critics.  In regards to that last group, Twitter and Wikipedia are popular, although it’s not wise to edit the online encyclopedia’s entries about your own company.

Finally, Key emphasized that even after a problem has been resolved, it’s important to continue listening to consumer-generated media, and you should always respect the rules of a venue.

Lee Odden
 Lee Odden

Lee Odden, the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, then pointed out that even big corporations like Wal-Mart, eBay, and Dell have to pay attention to search engine reputation management.  He recommended monitoring keywords like company, executive, and product names in addition to terms like "sucks" or "scam."

Odden’s favorite reputation management tools include Trackur, Yahoo Site Explorer, Rank Checker, Search Rascal, Google Alerts, and TweetBeep.  "Search Reputation Management is absolutely something that has to be proactive," he stated, and "the bottom line is create and promote content."