Cleaning up your internet presence, or online reputation management, can be an important part of your digital marketing strategy. Here are some examples:
- A murder took place in a hospital parking lot some years ago. The murder had nothing to do with the hospital, but suddenly it was the first thing people saw when they Googled the hospital.
- An angry blog post mentioning a doctor showed up when she searched her name online.
- A dental office worried about the reviews they might be getting when a major insurance company changed their policies and began refusing to pay for some treatments.
There’s nothing wrong with Googling your name or the name of your facility. Just bear in mind that we all see different things when we search. The news stories about the hospital were very damaging, even though they had done nothing wrong. The blog post? That was very hard to find, except for the physician who had visited it several times. Online reviews can be unfair, and it takes diligence to keep track of them.
Online reputation management often comes down to being aware of negative content and getting rid of it. Sometimes, the information is just outdated, rather than negative. The same methods work in both cases.
How can you get rid of these things?
- Remove it. Surprisingly, companies often have outdated information online at sites which they control. Your Google and Yahoo local business listings, Merchant Circle page, etc. are things you can fix. Often, they’ve been set up back in the mists of time by someone who no longer works for you, so there’s some detective work involved in getting into the interface to update the information. You will be able to correct or remove these references, though, with persistence.
- Correct it. Sites like Manta or Rip Off Report aren’t under your control just because they have content about you, but they do have places where you can submit corrections or additions to the information they list. Do so. Your calm and well-reasoned response to a negative review or just plain inaccurate information can help to undo any damage. We’ve also been able to have inaccurate or abusive reviews removed by requesting it, with evidence.
- Bury it. Often, the item you want to get rid of is outdated, or simply not the best source of information about your company. You can use honest SEO and SEM to move that item off the front page, and people simply won’t see it any more. That hospital no longer has the embarrassing stories showing up, because they produced good content that pushed those stories down the page.
Sometimes, clients are unaware of the need for a cleanup until I tell them about it. You can use Google Alerts to keep track of your online reputation, or just search for your company occasionally to see what your customers are seeing. Then respond to any problems swiftly.
And, of course, if you don’t have the time or the skills to keep track of or correct these things yourself, you can hire someone like Haden Interactive to do it for you.