Moderated by Jeff Rohrs of Exact Target, with Mike McDonald of Web Pro News doing the QA moderating. He introduces the panelists and hands it off to the first speaker.
Andy Beal of MarketingPilgrim.com will do a basic intro of what online reputation management is. Realizing that the perceived value of your brand is defined by information found on the internet, therefore requiring constant monitoring…”
Why do it? 52% of individuals put their trust in what others have to say about your reputation. Shows some other stats I didn’t catch. ORM in action: he will focus on monitoring. What are the benefits? Product ideas, customer reactions, keywords, blog sentiments, news articles, industry trends, scandals, product recalls, client opportunities.
What to monitor: company name, name of CEO/executives, name of products, business partners, employee blogs, competitors, and more. How to monitor? You can set up RSS feeds for free with a variety of tools. Moreover.com and Yahoo are examples. You might want to monitor your reputation in mainstream media. Google news is a great mainstream media aggregator. If you did nothing else but monitor Google, you should see about 70-75% of the news about your business. Monitor news buzz at digg.com. Subscribe to the red button to get the feed regularly from Digg.
Blog posts: use Technorati for monitoring this. You can also subscribe to the results here and send via your favorite RSS reader. Google also has a great Blog search engine as well.
Look for bookmarks. Using del.icio.us you can monitor when people mention a product name. This can be used to keep an eye on TMs. Images: go to Flickr, type in name of CEO, and off to the races. Same with video.google.com…keep an eye on the same names. Again, you can subscribe to the RSS feed. You do not have to keep going back. Monitor tags: use keotag.com to do this. You can switch among the various tag-using sites right within their interface.
Forums: use boardtracker.com to monitor. Miscellaneous: (he wrote “Miss Ellaneous”). Monitor your Wikipedia profile, customer reviews in Amazon or ePinions. Copernic’s Tracker is a great tool. Google alerts will help you to monitor Google properties by email instead of RSS. Twitter is also really important…lots of conversations bubble on twitter before they ever make it into a blog post.
He will be giving away 50 copies of new book this evening in expo hall. Trackur.com is a new site of his you should check out. Also see radicallytransparent.com.
Jeff asks how to assess the quality of the different tools that are out there? Andy suggests searching “reputation management monitoring tools” and you will find a nice selection…not much bad out there right now. This is still a young enough space that you can build your own tool and/or provide your own reputation management services.
Next up is Chris Bennett of 97th Floor. “Understanding Google’s Algorithm to better Your Reputation management Objectives.” He suggests if you ever lose your voice and have to do a presentation, to gargle Tabasco sauce…it actually works. First thing to do is to understand your foes. Why are the negative rankings there? How do they rank? How recent is the cache. Use basic SEO knowledge to first understand why they are ranking. The more you understand this, the better you will be able to prepare to attack the issue.
You can combat some foes easily by simply being a copy cat. Create equal pages…pound for pound, keyword for keyword, comment for comment, links for links. A lot fo the stuff is rants and raves…and it is like justified keyword spamming since people will mention the name over and over and also in the comments. “Rinse and repeat.”
Do’s and don’ts: don’t interlink your social media pages. Don’t waste your time filling out 100 profile pages, with airy light weight content. This is typically not unique or good content. Do: build quality social profiles. Use your company name as the profile. he suggests taking the time in Digg and StumbleUpon to become a true member of the community…don’t just use it to spam articles or pages. Use co-citation. Stay in it for the long haul. Build pages as if reputation management isn’t an issue. Write it as a legitimate marketing piece, and don’t rehash the same stuff over and over.
next up is David Wallace the CEO of SearchRank. He will talk about using social media profiles to manage the first three pages of the SERPs. He is not endorsing using this for keyword rankings, but rankings for your brands and names. What does your online rep say about you? the thing about the Internet is that you are communicating to the masses. the consumer has a lot more power. It is inevitable that people will talk about you. Sometimes the conversation is not so good. Internet – allows people to communicate to the masses. Blogs, review & comparison sites give people the power.
What do the pages say about you? Most companies will hold the first or second spot…so why worry about this? people look past the first listings. There are a variety of ways to gain more control over what is said about you. You can use multiple domains or sites all the way to using social media networking sites. Where to start? There are literally hundreds and hundreds of opportunities to create user accounts at social media and social networking sites. he gives a list of some of them, including Facebook, MySpace, MyBlogLog, Mashable, etc.
Use your company name as the profile name, like Chris said. The social media sites are already teed off at SEOs because they feel we are abusing them. So be legitimate. Add contacts and join groups…be active, get involved! Link to other social media profiles (don’t overdo this, like Chris said). he then talks about where to add the profile links such as in the About us page, within blogs or blog posts, adding contacts in social media sites will help indexing. Link to social media profiles in process releases.
David uses the example for the search for “SearchRank” and how many listings he has going all the way down to the third page. He has most of the links (much like when you do a search for Chris Boggs you’ll see the same thing ;) ). This will help you manage the first three pages of listings. Will end with additional benefits: there are branding opportunities, you can build link popularity, you can attract traffic if in the right industry (like entertainment industry – MySpace users). Interaction with public allows for two way conversations. Lastly there are great networking opportunities by using this tactic.
Next up is Niki Fielding from Digital Brand Expressions. She will talk about having a contingency plan to be prepared if any negative listings show up. Most of the focus on the panel today has been regarding natural listings. You should also look for paid search listings…if someone is really targeting your company they will use this to attack as well. “Proactive SERM” is a strategy for fortifying your brand before there is a problem. Acknowledge that negative info can and will be out there…instead of hoping to make it go away, it is more realistic as marketers to be able to create a sort of counterbalance.
By developing a game plan early, you give the search engines the opportunity to start finding this brand information often on your site. Adding social media to the mix ensures that the brand will be found and that the messaging in part will be what you want to be out there. Again this is a practice of counter balancing the negative. For SEO think about the content that you most want to appear for your company or brand and optimize accordingly. For paid search have campaigns set up and ready to go to defend the brand if needed.
Develop “outpost appropriate content.” Different messaging at Digg than Facebook. Many social media outposts are disappointed with how SEO is being pushed on to their audience. Digg doesn’t want anything to do with anything that even looks like optimization. Instead of looking at everything as a direct marketing effort, look at it indirectly and become part of the community. ZoomInfo – claim the information on your company. This shows up very quick in SE’s for brand searches. Same thing for FastPitch for executive names. Use LinkedIn. At Facebook set up a profile and actively manage it. Shows an example of a client that wanted to reinforce their reputation through the program. Within 2-3 weeks of them hosting their Facebook page, it is showing up #3 at Google for their company name.
Last speaker is Jonathan Ashton from Agency.com. “Playing brand defense when complaints hit the search results.” How to find ways to incrementally improve on the ability to mitigate complaints about your site/brand. Asks how much you have to spend to stand out in the crowd? Search can really magnify the impact of a single complaint. You cannot control messages in a third party environment. Millions are spent in branding can evaporate in an instant for an individual customer with just one bad stories. Shows examples of major brands like Tylenol, Wendy’s chili, The Ford Pinto, and how the “bad buzz” can last forever. Kryptonite replaced all the locks for any one that could be opened with a Bic pen. This was smart…Tylenol also did a good job in the rep management.
In the area of social computing, word of mouth, customer reviews, comparison shopping, etc now carries more weight than Madison Avenue. Recommends the book “Co-opetiton.” In some cases your competitors may actually be able to help you improve the view of your brand. What do you do after the “xxxx” hits the fan? Uses AllState as an example of a brand under siege. They are up against allstateinsurancesucks.com and allstateinsurance.org which is the “AllState or Allsnake?” site. Proactively get in front and try to own as many domains as possible like this.
The solution is to push the complainers beneath the fold. Build link popularity for pages that can move. he shows a screenshot of the Wikipedia listing at #11 and suggests that in the spirit of co-opetition you build some links to that page to move it up, ads well as even optimize the content within the page a little (of course the second part is against the Wikipedia rules – which Jonathan doesn’t mention). He also uses the example of Bekins movers and the issue they have with bad listings around “customer service” terms. Their own customer service page doesn’t even use the page title “Bekins Customer Service,” which would be a great start..
He then talks about Orkin’s problem in this area. Slide tiled Orkin: Bug Control or Buzz control (don’t worry Rob C. I’ll get a copy of that section of the deck and send it to you). One solution for them would be to engage HR to optimize the actual job listings at Monster and Job Builder with links to them. Another idea would be to optimize the Orkin Insect Zoo more heavily. He even suggests helping out the sites about “Ruth Orkin” and “Bob Orkin” to move their listings up above the bad results.
He then talks about Barrack Obama’s issue with this problem. Bottom line: you cannot put the genie back in the bottle, so use the other pages in the SERPs to push down the complainers.
Note this is live coverage of SMX West 2008, and there may exist grammatical or typographical errors in this post. Please share your thoughts in the comments!