Quick! Google the name of your company. See anything you don't like? A Reputation Management service firm can make it disappear or so that was their sales pitch, that is, until now.
Yesterday we reported on Google’s roll-out of new, huge site-links that appear on branded searches, which pretty much crowds out the entire browser screen contents. Organic search listings not affiliated with the company (such as any damaging reviews) are pushed “below the fold” or to page 2 and beyond, where fewer and fewer eyeballs venture out to.
And of course, buying a paid advertisement on AdWords for your company’s name can now even further push stuff below the fold since ads are now also huge.
The Reputation Management industry has sprouted up in recent years to defend clients against potentially damaging information on the Web. With potential customers doing online product research, bad reviews or complaints that turn up in a search for a company’s name can turn into lost deals or negative publicity. Reputation management services promise to highlight positive pages and bury negative reviews deep in search results. For example, most reputation services do search engine optimization to promote positive pages (such as a company’s Twitter, Facebook or Linked-In Page, or positive reviews), thereby pushing off negative references off the first page of search results. Reputation Management services are typically pitched as another tool companies can use in their marketing and PR efforts.
It's still hard to say how companies who are using reputation management services will respond. While there’s more to Reputation Management than just monitoring the first page of branded search results for your company, for example, there's other stuff like social media reputation management – but social media chatter is pretty transient and quickly disappears over time. But now that Google seems to automatically heavily favor a company’s own webpage automatically via huge sitelinks, what becomes of Reputation Management? Are reputation management issues a thing of the past? Let me know what you think in the comments below.