There is your reputation and there is your reputation online, and the two are not necessarily the same. This is especially true when dealing with crisis and controversy.
Before powerful search engines such as Google became part of our daily routine, information had a much shorter shelf life. Radio and TV broadcasts were history in a matter of seconds, while headlines in a newspaper one day were fish wrap the next. Not so today. Thanks to the Internet, articles, photos, videos, posts and tweets have an infinite life online.
This is important to remember given that the Internet is often an intermediary between you and your next client, customer, employer or business partner. Chances are the next person you’re meeting for the first time, in person or by phone, has done at least a cursory search of your credentials online. What will they find?
The results can change your future, for better or worse. At Hoggan & Associates, we understand the importance of building and maintaining your reputation both online and offline. Our advanced understanding of the power of search engines has put us at the forefront of the burgeoning field of Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM). SERM ensures that your current reputation isn’t marred by past failures and controversies that linger on the Internet.
SERM uses the tools and knowledge developed for the field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The goal of SEO is to rank high in search results for keywords and phrases most valuable to your business. For example, If you are a law firm specializing in divorce and separation, you want your website to be the first search result when someone types in the phrase “divorce lawyer.”
SERM works in the same way as SEO, but the goal is often the reverse. Instead of wanting to rank high in search for specific keywords and phrases, SERM helps to move down the controversial headlines when someone searches your name or company online. We work with you to replace those bad headlines with news, links and other content that better reflects your current reputation.
Let’s face it, controversies happen. But when they eventually fade and, as you work hard to rebuild your reputation in the real world, you want it to be fairly represented in the digital world.
Here are four steps to successful SERM:
1. Baseline Analysis: The first step is to generate an analysis of your current search engine reputation.
We use advanced search engine tools to do this, while also identifying other searches people are doing related to you, some of which you may not even be aware of.
We then analyze the power or “link weight” of the negative links showing up at the top of your search results. Finally, we look at the current profile of you or your brand online to identify the opportunities. This includes the creation of new links and content that best reflects your current reputation. This baseline analysis is the foundation for a long-term SERM strategy.
2. Develop a SERM Strategy: A successful SERM strategy can take about six months to a year to complete, depending on the link weight of the negative search hits. That said, the timeline could be longer if the negative links are heavy, such as those from a prominent media organization or powerful activist group.
A comprehensive SERM strategy includes a series of recommendations on the development of new content, social media profiles and online activities that communicate across search engines. The focus is on who you are and what you are up to today, as opposed to in the past. Over time, with the strategic use of all this new content, your negative results will fade into the background.
3. Success Tracking and Reporting: Our advanced tools help to measure and report success and search engine results movement. This data analysis allows us to not only track success over time, but also to tweak our strategy based on real world results.
4. Search Engine Resilience: in the real world, a good reputation adds resilience in a crisis. A person or a company with a solid reputation is less vulnerable to attacks by opponents. It should be the same for search engines. When we build your SERM strategy, it is not enough for us to just replace negative results, it is also important to build resilience.
A solid set of heavy search results curated over time will help the next time you are the subject of bad headlines or an attack on your reputation.