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How Bad SEO Consulting Can Ruin Your Online Reputation

By Herb Tabin Submitted on February 22nd, 2011

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Most of those who are interested in online reputation management are probably utilizing Internet marketing as part of their overall business. If you or your business are using the services of a search engine optimization consultant, there are some questions you need to ask before you find your reputation in the toilet.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful form of online marketing that is utilized by everyone from big names and corporations to small individuals hoping to carve a niche for their business. It consists of several techniques to build search engine rankings for a specific website, page, or combination of the two. Most SEO consultants are good, honest people who really know their business. Many, however, are not familiar with how SEO can conflict with online reputations to create a bad name for their client (despite good Google rankings).

How does this happen?

Mostly, it happens because of some of the “link-back” techniques used, which might be good for search engines, but for humans reading them, they are seen as spam (or worse). Craig Agranoff and I have seen these many times and talk about it in our book  “Do It Yourself Online Reputation Management.”

Here’s what to watch for and talk to your SEO consultant about:

Paid Links

These can be beneficial in the short term, but paid linking sites (this is different from regular advertising) are often fly-by-night and themselves can end up on search engine black lists. So while paid links at ìlink farmsî can boost search engine rankings and traffic in the short term, over the long run, they can torpedo your reputation.

Comment Spamming

This is a very common way for SEO marketers to gain free “link backs” from reputable or competing blogs and forums. These can work very well in the short term, but comments are generally the realm of real people and those people will not like your spam (which is usually irrelevant to the post being commented on). Expect negative results to your reputation if this tactic is a keystone for your SEO.

Fake Reviews

These are also common to build ìlegitimateî link-backs. These are reviews of a product/service that are paid for and written to be glowing (no matter what). The reviews themselves aren’t always the bad part, though they can be if written by someone who has poor writing skills. Instead, the problem is where they’re posted. These sites quickly gain a reputation for being “review farms” that publish reviews of any number of items, for a fee, and always say the same things about those items. If these reviews get relatively high in search results, they will become obvious fakes to anyone looking and thus harm your reputation. Worse, they are often the hardest to get rid of.

Fake Profiles/Addresses

Many SEO ìexpertsî will build profiles for their clients on sites like Google Places, Yahoo! Personals, and others. These are bad for your reputation for an obvious reason: they aren’t you and you probably have no control over what they say. Worse yet, they often take on the look of a generic link farm for your site(s), articles, etc.

Before you embark on any SEO campaign, you should talk with your consultant closely and understand everything that he or she will be doing. Although short-term results are often the goal, your long-term reputation should be just as important and carefully guarded.

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Crisis Plans for Reputation Management Now a Must

By admin Submitted on February 15th, 2011

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As we progress through the beginning of the 21st century and social media takes a larger and larger role in our daily lives, we’ll become more and more open to attack. This is especially true for public relations in business, as social media gives an entirely new platform for building (and losing) reputations online.

Recently, one of the readers of our book “Online Reputation Management,” contacted Herb Tabin and I regarding crisis management. This person’s business had become the target of a local social media campaign by a political activist group. The attacks were focused, coordinated, and ultimately devastating to the business’ reputation on the Internet.

Months of mobile and local Internet marketing were destroyed and Google rankings were compromised as blog posts and news stories about the supposed nefarious deeds of this business appeared in search results.

The business is still recovering and the details are unimportant for our discussion here. The point is, over a year of concerted marketing by the business was destroyed in just a few days by an organized, malicious reputation-based attack. The business suffered because, as our reader pointed out, “We had no plan to counter anything like this. It hit us broadside and we went down like the Titanic.”

Reputation Management Should Include Mitigation Plans

Just as businesses drill for fires, earthquakes, robberies, and other emergencies that could potentially cause them or their employees harm, so should they work on plans for online reputation emergencies.

Contingency planning and crisis management should be core to any public relations plan as a rule. What do you do if your carefully planned PR campaign backfires? In our example above, the trouble began when the business began a PR campaign based on a charitable partnership with a group that the attackers were opposed to. So the attackers began a counter-campaign that was better organized full of sensationalism.

Building a Contingency Plan

To counter attacks such as this, a contingency plan for reputation management should include the following:

A Pullback or Community Response Strategy – some kind of strategy that either pulls you out of the PR campaign that’s backfired or responds to attacks with a strong community base of supporters to counter the attempt to sink your campaign. Neither is as easy as it sounds, but both are a must and will be possible if you follow the next piece of advice.

Use a professional for your PR – someone well-versed in online reputation management. Using interns or a random “social media guru” will likely sink your ship. A seasoned veteran with a strong knowledge base will be able to pull you out of most scrapes quickly and may even turn some of them to your advantage.

Build fire drills to anticipate and counter attempts to torpedo your PR. If you’re using a pro, this will likely be part of the marketing plans anyway. Everyone in your business, however, from the head office on down should be part of both the campaigns and the mitigation strategies you’re drilling for.

Using those three techniques, nearly any attack on your reputation can be downplayed, halted, or even turned around. It all hinges on being as professional about your online reputation and PR as you are about your more traditional marketing.

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Free Tools to Help With Online Reputation Management

By Herb Tabin Submitted on February 2nd, 2011

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In our book DIY Online Reputation Management, Craig Agranoff and I (Herbert Tabin) talk about how to facilitate your own, do-it-yourself online reputation management. Of course, because things online change rapidly, we did not go into detail about which online tools might be available for accomplishing this task. Otherwise, the book would have been outdated before hitting the bookstore. We do talk about these things on our blog, however.

This is our current list of favorite, free tools for aiding in online reputation management. You don’t need to use all of them, of course, and some have overlap with others. Your choice of tools will depend on your goals with your reputation and social media outreach. We’ll list these by favorites (best first) according to Craig and I’s assessment or experience.

Read more…

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Getting A Credit Score for Your Online Reputation
March 1st, 2011
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How Bad SEO Consulting Can Ruin Your Online Reputation
February 22nd, 2011
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Crisis Plans for Reputation Management Now a Must
February 15th, 2011
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Free Tools to Help With Online Reputation Management
February 2nd, 2011
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6 Simple Online Reputation-Building Steps
January 26th, 2011
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Five Good Habits for Reputation Management Online
January 19th, 2011
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Using SEO vs. Singularity to Clear Your Google Reputation
January 13th, 2011
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Internet Marketing Club Feature
December 15th, 2010
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Using SEO vs. Singularity to Clear Your Google Reputation
January 13th, 2011
1 Comment
Internet Marketing Club Feature
December 15th, 2010
0 Comments
Five Good Habits for Reputation Management Online
January 19th, 2011
0 Comments
6 Simple Online Reputation-Building Steps
January 26th, 2011
0 Comments
Free Tools to Help With Online Reputation Management
February 2nd, 2011
0 Comments
Crisis Plans for Reputation Management Now a Must
February 15th, 2011
0 Comments
Getting A Credit Score for Your Online Reputation
March 1st, 2011
0 Comments
Your Online Reputation and An Ounce of Prevention
March 8th, 2011
0 Comments
How Bad SEO Consulting Can Ruin Your Online Reputation
February 22nd, 2011
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