I’m putting the finishing the finishing touches on a presentation I’m giving this week in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA at the Terranea Oceanfront Resort for a large trade association. My talk is on Brand Turnarounds about how companies prepare for potholes and recover after a brand hit.
As I conducted my pre speech research for the engagement I discovered several of the large and respected companies scheduled to attend had some not so favorable search results when I Googled them. Claims of scams and questionable business practices populated the front page search results. Many of these negative results were old, but still they were prominent on the front page. It was not a good first impression for anyone checking out a brand.
Grant it some companies deserve the dark comments, but many times it is a few sour grapes venting their opinions resulting a brand black eye for an innocent brand.
All companies and brands need to regularly audit their search engine results look when someone types in their brand name. This audit should include all of the major search engines, Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com, AOL not just Google. And, if the first or second pages are showing a slew of negative posts, you need to clean this up.
If they are legit, you need to reach out to the posting party and try to correct the situation. If they are not, and are just some pesty, cranky pants people venting their “hate the world everyday attitude”, you need to bury this bad rap with positive search results.
Here’s how you do it.
1) Conduct keyword research monthly so you know what words are most popular with online users looking for brands like yours.
2) Post educating, positive content on your site and other high traffic sites. Move from hard selling tactics to helpful, useful and “on brand” related consumer relevant information.
3) Earn honest links from other online channels and use services like PR newswires to send out news about your brand. These PR service can earn 1000 links or more in minutes, depending on what size list it is blitzed to.
4) Tag content, images, video, both on your main website, and on social media channels.
5) Update your content often; spiders will have more confidence in your expertise.
6) Buy and use your brand name in as many URLs as possible and related ones. This means to use different combinations of your name with .com, .net, .org, etc.
7) Be social. This means have a strong presence with all of the top social media sites. Social media sites invest a lot of resources to make sure they show up in results. This is an easy, low lost effort. Don’t underestimate the power of social media results in search.
8) Become viral. I recently watched a great video from the head of YouTube’s content department. It is a great video, you should see it. He claims the top three ways to become viral with a video are: Post content where large communities will participate and share the clip, expose Taste-makers to your work. Taste-makers are anyone with big influence like celebs, bloggers and news venue reporters. Lastly, create content that is unexpected, shocking or just plain amazing.
9) Maintain a killer blog; post every 30 days and seed in the right rivers (high traffic channels), not low traffic creeks.
10) Request deletion from search engines or party that posted negative comment. This is not an easy task, but all search engines have a contact department where you can request they remove a result if you can prove it is malicious and or false.
Negative results always stink. But with the right efforts you can bury the bad news and push forward your brand story.