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Online Reputation Management in 2007 Part Five: Analyzing your Online Presence within the Search Engine Results
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
In part four of our series on Online Reputation Management in 2007, we discussed monitoring your existing online presence. We mentioned that consumers use search simply to find information. When they perform a query in hope of finding information on your organization or brand, you want to make sure that your website and online properties are listed high in the search results. In order to manage your online reputation, you need to know what is being said about your brand online.

As part of your total online reputation management strategy, in addition to the monitoring of your brand, another key component is to Analyze Your Online Presence within the Search Engine Results. The search engines update their index on a regular basis. As a result just because you rank in the top spot for a phrase doesn't mean that a negative story about your organization cannot rank in the number two spot or number five or number nine... With the increase in consumer generated content out there, it is not uncommon for a blogpost or negative article about your company to surface in the first page of organic search results. A company scandal or an ongoing law suit can provide fuel for the fire and can appear in the prime real estate of Google or other search engines. You need to get a grasp and develop a keen understanding of your search engine environment and that of your key competitors.

In order to analyze your online presence, you need to be aware of the top online destinations that your consumer may be attending. While it may be impossible to find every negative article or every negative blog post about your company or your brand, you can focus on the top online destinations where users may come into contact with a potentially damaging story.

Steps to Analyze Your Online Presence within the Search Engine Results
  1. Focus only on the Top 30 Search Results - Research has shown that the average user will not click on organic search results past the third page (if they even make it to the third page of search results.) Analyze and evaluate the top 30 listings in the major search engines for branded phrases, top product phrases, top executive names and the like. Start with Google but remember to evaluate Yahoo, MSN/Windows Live, AOL and ASK. Examine the environment and what sites (or videos, images and other items through Universal Search) are currently being found in the prime search engine results real estate.

  2. Take Note of any Questionable Listings - Are there any potentially damaging listings that are showing up in the SERPs? If so take a closer look at these listings and consider monitoring them through Google or Yahoo alerts.

  3. Evaluate Industry Forums - visit industry forums and other environments that elicit consumer response and feedback. It is not impossible for a negative forum post to suddenly appear near the top of the search results.

  4. Examine Top Social Networking Communities - perform a search for your top brand related phrases in social communities such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and the like. Social networks can be a popular place for people to communicate their disdain for products or poor service experience. These pages can also show up where you least expect it... the search engine results pages.

  5. Examine Search Results for your Competition - use your search engine of choice and type in a couple of branded phrases for your main competitors. Do any of the listings communicate anything negative about your company? If so take the appropriate action to have that listing removed. (We'll discuss this in more detail in our next installment.)
It's not enough to simply monitor your existing online presence. As part of your online reputation management strategy you need to regularly analyze the search engines results to see if there are any listings that may damage your online reputation. It's an on-going practice that can be an effective form of being proactive in the management of your online reputation. Protect your reputation at all costs. It is true that bad news/negative publicity travels at a rate of ten times faster than good news. The least you can do is to try and restrict the amount of "bad" publicity that is being communicated about your organization via the Internet.

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posted by Jody @ Wednesday, August 08, 2007  
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