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International Reputation Management – International Search Summit

28 October 2010 BY

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Mikkel deMib started session 3 off with a great quote on SERM.“Everyone has the right to free speech but that doesn’t mean everyone needs to hear it”

All prospects search and search results form opinions. Negative results cause people to switch brand loyalty. In general negative search results undermine a brand. It could harm investors, life-time customers and brand campaigns.

Some examples:

Paypal: has website Paypal sucks, dedicating to fighting Paypal and impacts their brand
Coke: Campaign to stop killer coke

3 groups of strategies to implement SERM:
1) Legal strategies – most often its not illegal and could be in a different jurisdiction
2) Paid Strategies –
3) Organic Strategies – SEO on steroids, you cant get rid of it you want to displace it

Never ever talk to your lawyer as a first thing in the reputation management case. Get a SERM strategist to.

Organic strategies:
You can’t remove negative websites reliably and it is very risky. Hacking is also illegal and can also backfire. Make sure you check your robots.txt file to make sure it hasn’t been hacked. The aim is to push down the negative results, its more work than normal SEO as you want to rank 10, 20 or 30 websites.

If an article is on a very prominent website you can displace this by promoting a positive page in the same domain. Link-build to the positive page and Google will switch. If it’s a community site you can add neutral pages onto the site. If it’s a major newspaper that doesn’t have a positive page use a PR expert to create bait. Read up on your social engineering skills.

Paid Strategies
PPC allows you to come out with your side of the story. You could also buy the negative websites and close it down. Use stealth acquisition agencies to do that. You could also bribe people to reverse the story, again ensure its legal.

Steps to good SERM
1) Do your keyword research: include brand search, key employee name search. Limit it to a priority scale. Don’t search that on volume it’s more about impact.
2) Collect search result Data: use relevant engines and search locally. Use a local proxy to mimic the results as closely as possible.
3) Rate each unique URL from positive to negative: Allows computing the data and really important to be able to gauge the progress of the strategy.
4) Use conversion and weighting scales: a bad result in position 1 has more impact in position 1 than position 10
5) Collect additional data for each unique domain: use majestic and look at backlinks for each domain. Analyse each keyword: is the keyword competitive or not? Is it mostly negative or fairly balanced. This will affect budgets and timeline.
6) Analyse the negative websites: who owns it, can you buy it? Check for domain strength.
7) Decide on the right strategies: look at the legal, paid or organic strategies to identify which is right.
8 ) Tail gating: create a block at the top of the search phrases by optimising partner sites etc.
9) Be very Careful: SERM can backfire
10) Monitor and benchmark Results

See other related posts on the conversion conference:

AUTHORED BY:
h

Louis Venter is the founding director and CEO of MediaVision, a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) company specialising in all areas of search. His particular interests are organic search marketing, paid search marketing, conversion strategy and online PR.
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