A common search reputation management timeline (Guestpost)

Thu 18 June 2009 10:30, Editors

A common search reputation management timeline (Guestpost)

Louis Venter is not the most famous name on this list, but that just might change in the near future. Louis is someone with a lot of knowledge which he doesn't hesitate to share with others, a quality which can get you very far in this industry.

Louis is the CEO and search engine reputation management specialist of MediaVision, a specialist search marketing agency with offices in London and Cape Town. He specializes in search engine reputation management.

From customer to anti-brand campaigner, a search reputation management timeline

Many marketers and PR execs have experienced a major PR crisis that has resulted in a search engine reputation management nightmare. There are a great deal of skeletons out there from Bernard Mathews (June 2007) to HBOS (May 2009). Universal search creates its own set of nightmares, just ask Kentucky Fried Chicken.

While these certainly are significant threats, in my opinion the biggest threat to your search reputation management is inaction.


Why should you care about your search reputation management?

With as many as 9 in 10 searches in the UK being brand related, Hitwise research shows that navigational search is here to stay. All forms of brand advertising increase navigational search volumes, yet the SERPs aren’t under a brand’s control, which is both a threat and an opportunity.

The opportunity is to keep your brand’s nose clean; ensure your PR strategy includes online endeavours, monitor brand mentions and respond where appropriate. A positive first page result speaks volumes about your brand and your products/services. Peer review has a significant effect on conversion rate both positive and negative.

The threat is to ignore it and hope that any negativity will “blow over”. It won’t, it gets more difficult to turn the ship as time progresses.

The transition from customer to an anti-brand campaigner can start from many paths. A common path lies in forums with a grumbling forum thread. These initial threads are unlikely to impact a major brand’s search results if they are executing their online PR strategy well enough. Again, the threat is inaction.

Typically, the forum thread gains momentum with a few more customer stories and this, again, presents an opportunity. Engage with them, sort out the issues and it can end there. Ignore them and they grow.

Collectively the forum post creates a super page of brand hate. It’s lengthy, it attracts inbound links and it contains a good balance of brand mentions. It can’t help but rank well.

A good example of this is Yes Loans. The forum interest has grown so much that it not only impacts a brand search but also becomes more interesting to the main stream press. The BBC covered the story last month impacting the navigational search and the brand’s overall reputation.

If the issues continue to be ignored hate sites are usually created. Fitness First currently has its nemesis in FitnessFirstSucks.com. As you can imagine, a site like this takes a lot of effort to create and often a forum “ring leader” makes that effort. In extreme cases, many of these sites are created and they cross link amongst each other making them even more difficult to displace.

As you can see, the best response is to act. Immediately.

Since that action involves content, it is very important to optimise and distribute that content online to readdress the balance of negative and positive. Keep monitoring, keep acting and integrate online with your offline PR activities. It will go a long way to improve your brand’s search reputation.

  • Comments (9)
  • Guestposts
  • Tell-a-cowboy

Comments (9)


    • JaxFrost

    This is an excellent article. Professional services firms are also in the firing line, especially when they apply their (not-so-nice) HR policies to redundancy consultations during this difficult economy. Bad press from disgruntled ex-employees is rife.

    Do 18 jun 2009, 13:08

  • great point JaxFrost. I think the whole point is that if you dont monitor and react things can escalate really quickly on you

    Do 18 jun 2009, 14:07

    • JaxFrost

    It all starts with a few disgruntled people on forums, then the press gets hold of it, then it gets silly. I agree that the best thing to do is to handle it immediately, put it to bed and get on with business as usual. Everyone gets bad PR from time to time, it's how we deal with it that says more about us than the initial complaint.

    Do 18 jun 2009, 18:17

  • Some very thoughtful insights. However, one thing that author has skipped is how would you tackle with these negative results. In case of Yes Loans, how would you outrank BBC from top 10 search engine results pages. Also, if you counter the negative comments by posting positive comments in forums, it will only help the website more powerful and it would be quite difficult than to outrank that website from top 10.

    Vr 19 jun 2009, 11:20

  • Hi Manish, thanks for the comment.

    To be honest each strategy needs to be aligned to their overall PR strategy so it's difficult to comment on any one tactic or situation in isolation. It's important to realise though that posting in consumer forums on behalf of a customer is illegal in the UK. Andrew Girdwood touched on this at SMX London 2008.

    It really needs a more comprehensive approach that will optimise all positive content surrounding the brand. A lot of the time this content is promoted offline but not adequately online and that tends to be a very good opportunity.

    Vr 19 jun 2009, 11:45

  • Hi Louis, Thanks for your response.

    As you know, the content of the Search Engine has a significant influence over the decision of consumers to make a purchase. That is solely depends upon your search engine-reputation i.e. How someone and something are seen on the search engines.

    According to a survey, 60% of users use search engines to find information on a product and / or service. If they are getting some negative results (whether they are legal or not) about your company, they will never avail your services.

    As you mentioned in your reply, it will take lot of time to promote positive content that simply means, negative results would not be outranked overnight. So in-between, what are the possible ways to counter with these negative search results?

    Vr 19 jun 2009, 12:08

  • Hey Manish

    It really isn't a short term project. That's one of the first things we stress when speaking to a potential client. There needs to be a realistic timeline set, if you dont do that youre really in deep trouble.

    You will have relative success quickly through good online pr but that will flux a whole lot.

    Interested to know the source of that survey though do you have it to hand? What was the sample size?



    Vr 19 jun 2009, 12:30

  • Great post. Good to see somebody writing something that isn't just the same old thing.

    Vr 19 jun 2009, 22:46

    • Saint Louis Website Design
    • [website]

    Agreed; it's much easier to write about the same thing all the time lol

    Vr 17 dec 2010, 07:50


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