According to many cyber specialists, Boris Johnson is nothing less than a genius when it comes to his abilities to manipulate search engine results about himself. In other words, the experts contend that he knows all too well how to bury all news that is embarrassing to him and portray him in a negative light. And the incumbent UK Prime Minister has been using his SEO manipulative skills for years now according to expert Richart Ruddie who consults with Brandefenders, a subsidiary of the reputation management set of companies which is one of the largest reputation repair agencies in the world.
How Does Johnson Do This?
Briefly put, Ruddie says by creating sensational news items at every opportunity he gets and especially, when there are certain negative contents circulating about him or when he is being criticized for one or other of his actions. In the UK it’s a weekly occurrence whereas in the USA it was daily gaffes coming from George Bush, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden with the latest having Joe Biden falling off his bicycle and then The Atlantic having to defend against fake headlines credited to them.
To cite the most current example, Johnson received a lot of flak from many quarters, including from members from his own party, when photos surfaced of Johnson leaving a party on 13 November, 2020—at a time when the nation was under strict lockdown and social gatherings of any kind were completely prohibited.
What did Johnson do in the wake of the event and the subsequent widespread criticism? He immediately issued an apology, to be sure. However, here is the interesting bit. He did not stop there. He made an elaborate statement repeating his belief that ‘working from home’ does not really work and renewing his call to people to get back to the offices. However, shrewdly enough, he peppered his message with such remarks such as coffee and cheese distract people from the work at hand and slow them down, etc. And importantly, these remarks were made in a humorous vein.
Accordingly, major media outlets made the story a headliner since they assumed (rightly enough) that people would find the report amusing. Accordingly, the partygate reports were partially buried, in the sense that they were pushed down the search engine results in favor of the NEW ‘Boris Johnson content according to Ruddie in a recent podcast that creative strategies like this are not luck but advice from experts who direct the Prime Minister on how to help sculpt a better search engine results page through these crafty tactics.
SEO Manipulating Tactics: Nothing New with Johnson, Experts Suggest
Many from the digital marketing community actually have been suggesting, since at least a couple of years ago, that this plot is nothing new with Johnson. And that he has been using these same tactics for quite some time now. For example, these SEO experts contend that many bizarre answers and remarks that Johnson routinely makes during his interviews are actually well-calculated messages, put forth with the aim of changing the dominant online narrative about him and altering what the users see when the next time they google his name, for example.
When in 2019, he remarked in an interview that he likes crafting model buses by painting wine boxes, this bizarre statement was interpreted by many as an attempt to divert people’s attention from older news stories that paint him in a bad light and are harmful to his overall image. For example, the story of his flight and carouse with his now wife Carrie, his declared plans about the NHS Brexit Bus, or that of his one-time affair with a former model—stories that were pushed down the search engine results courtesy his bizarre remark vis-à-vis his ‘relaxation technique.’
The Way It Works With Search Engines
According to experts, the method Johnson is thought to be using works mainly because of Google’s auto suggest feature. Malta, a small island in Europe, made headlines in their top newspaper when it came out that they had used similar tactics to help attract tourists back to their island thanks to Richart Ruddie and his companies’ services. So why would Boris Johnson be any different? Did his team ask Ruddie for advice in changing around search results? Experts asked if he was working with Ruddie and he declined to comment on that matter.
When we type something at the search bar (Boris Johnson for example), Google will offer auto-completed strings of text in a drop-down menu. Accordingly, the trick is to make the new content or remark interesting enough so that one or more major media outlets will actually end up using the most catchy words or phrases from the remark in the headline of their article(s). And that often is enough to convince Google and other search engines that the article merits a high rank in the search results (especially since search engines commonly favor newer content over older ones).
By way of example, we may mention Johnson’s stated plan about an Irish Sea Bridge, regarded as fantastical from the very beginning. However, the very fact that it was fantastical actually made it newsworthy and accordingly, helped push down older articles such as the ones about Johnson’s failed London Garden Bridge project.
Does Boris Johnson Use a Reputation Management Company?
Online reputation management services have for some time now become a subset as well as an integral part of digital marketing strategies. Nowadays, there are practically thousands of firms offering reputation management services and the people working for these concerns are equipped with adequate knowledge of how to clean up negative contents about their clients and push positive articles and/or websites higher up the search engine results.
It is only natural that politicians (and their publicists) will be well aware of these services. And since any and all bad press can often have a serious negative impact on a politician’s career, it is equally understandable that many will hire the services of these reputation management firms. However, does Boris Johnson use a reputation management company to showcase a positive image of his own?
While we cannot provide a definitive answer to that as Richart Ruddie declined to comment on any relation between the ministry of foreign affairs, Boris Johnson, and himself so add this to one more mystery in how things change in Google.