There is nothing worse for a caring, legitimate business owner than to perform a search for their business by name in Google, Bing or Yahoo and find out that there is a negative page or comment at or near the top of the search results. In many cases these negative pages can be put up by unscrupulous competitors or those customers that are never happy with anything no matter how many concessions you make and regardless of how far you bend over backwards (you know the ones I am talking about). It is truly unfortunate that many sites on the web, such as Scam.com, Topix, Yelp, etc. have no accountability and in many cases will not even provide for an owner statement or response to the comments or complaints. In many cases the owner could provide a link to their Better Business Bureau page or some other reputation site with accountability as a testament to their good name.
If you have fallen victim to one of these sites, don’t panic, there are solutions. One nice thing about the Internet and search in general is that people are generally impatient. They want to find what they are looking for on the first page and rarely go beyond result #10 when they are looking for information. Hence the key to protecting you reputation with 90% of the population is to own the first page for your business name. Many of you may think that this is easier said than done, but in reality there are a number of fairly simple methods a business can use to take control of their first page for their business name.
Branding: Be sure that your site is listed across the web in local sites, appropriate directories, and other appropriate places. The more quality places that your site is listed the better it is likely to rank in general. If you “own” the brand name Google in particular tends to provide you with extra results which has the potential to knock down any negatives which may be on the first page. The more popular your site is for you name the more it also helps improve the ranking of other content such as social media which is linked from your site. This leads me to…
Take advantage of Social Media: Social media, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn in particular tend to rank fairly well in search engines, and with a little help can rank even better for your business name. With a little work, your social media sites, on which you control the message and the content, should rank just behind your web site for you company name. The keys with social media are the following: Keep it up to date with fresh, interesting content; Encourage likes or fanning from your customers, employees, friends and others, but don’t stop there. Also encourage participation. In addition to having the positive effect of pushing negative items down the page, social media can also show a positive face for your business and encourage users to trust and use your services.
Use local sites, but beware: Getting local listings in place like Google Places, Yelp, Insider Pages and the countless others can both help with your branding efforts and snatch top rankings in the listings for your company name, but the downside to some of these sites is that they do offer unfiltered reviews. For most well run businesses this should not be a problem. Even in the case of the occasional negative review, you should be fine as long as there are also a reasonable number of positive reviews to counteract the effect.
Overall, as a website owner or manager, there are a number of techniques you should be able to take advantage of to own the first page of Google and other search engines for your company name or domain name. If you do however feel that you need help, there are plenty of reputation management companies that can assist you in both increasing your presence at the top of the results and in demoting the negative pages.