With even a moderate understanding of how vital your online reputation is to your brand’s success, it’s mostly likely true that you have worked and you continue to work very hard in order to establish and maintain a strong online presence. This means running websites, blogs and social media accounts in order to better connect with the public, provide the transparency that is expected and so highly desired, answer questions and solve problems and much more. It is simply unfortunate that the avenues you depend upon in order to build your online reputation are the very same avenues by which you can be caused extensive harm.
Online Reputation Crises and Search Results
There are many ways that an online reputation crisis can occur, but one of the primary ways is through the posted comment or review of a consumer. This review can be entirely true and written by a consumer who did not make their concerns known to you directly, but who has chosen to speak out on social media or review websites. This review can be an error, intended for another brand but accidently posted in relation to your brand. This review can be a complete fabrication, written by an individual who intends to harm your brand for some reason. Regardless of the source of the crisis, however, the fact is that it can rocket one’s brand to the top of search results for all the wrong reasons.
Shocking and sensational news can be incredibly attention-grabbing, which means that individuals will go searching for information about specific situations that are made out to be shocking or sensational. This interest alone can drive bad news, stories and reviews to the top of search results. Media outlets can compound the situation by capitalizing on bad news–further promoting it without even verifying its validity. In fact, one study from ING revealed that nearly half the journalists surveyed openly admitted that they first try to publish news stories as rapidly as possible, and then they will correct the information in the story later if it proves necessary to do so. This means that before you have had a chance to respond to a disgruntled consumer and make things right, rectify a review that was accidentally published against you or disprove a completely false story, media outlets will share it more broadly, allowing it to gain even more momentum in search results. The survey also revealed that many journalists rely on social media as their main source of information, even though the information on social media is far from reliable.
Unfortunately, a negative article written about your brand can take some time to slowly drop in search results. Even if you seek to publish the truth or “your side” of things, the negative article can still remain high in the search results, and your response article lower. References to the negative article, either from the initial publication results or even from articles that are using it as an example of a false, negative article, can cause it to continue ranking high. Public interest in what you have to say about the matter may simply not be as high as public interest in a piece of news that seems scandalous in nature.
Search Reputation Management
Unfortunately, even if you try and work quickly to resolve an online reputation crisis, it can continue to negatively affect your brand’s search results for some time to come. Search engine reputation management is critical to establishing and maintaining a strong, positive search reputation and protecting it against potential reputation crises before they occur. Search engine reputation management will also work to focus consumer attention on positive news and information about your brand, which can further drive down negative search results that would take time to move down slowly on their own.