January 23, 2013, 11:27 AM — You have lots of happy customers, but they don't feel any particular need to review your product or service online. Meanwhile, a few dissatisfied customers waste no time trashing you on Yelp, Citysearch, TripAdvisor, Twitter or any other forum they can think of.
Because those sites have strong authority with the search engines, the negative feedback is likely to show up on the first search results page for your company name. The net effect: Even though you largely have a happy customer base, suddenly you have an online reputation challenge.
It's something many businesses have experienced. Here are three examples of businesses that faced such challenges, as told by the online reputation management experts who helped them bounce back. (The experts we interviewed didn't disclose details about their clients' identities.)
Online Reputation Management Nightmare #1: CEO Gets Ill-Timed Bonus
The situation: The CEO of a publicly traded company received an $11 million bonus around the same time that the company reported disappointing earnings and its stock was being hammered. Not surprisingly, a leading national newspaper reported on the situation. The article showed up prominently in the executive's top 10 search results and remained there for months, says Brad Beiter, vice president of SEO strategy and growth for search marketing firm Performics. Beiter spoke during a fall 2012 Online Marketing Summit session on online reputation management.
Search engines such as Google tend to give leading national newspapers and other prominent media sites high authority and trust. Thus, an unflattering article from a top media site poses a particularly difficult online reputation challenge, since such articles often rank highly for months or even years.
The solution: On the CEO's company website, Performics optimized content that would rank highly for the CEO's name, such as a detailed leadership bio. In addition, Performics optimized profiles for the executive on high-authority sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube and linked them to the CEO's corporate bio. Finally, Performics created and promoted across the Internet new content about the executive's nonprofit work to balance the negative impression from the newspaper article.
The result: Within six months, the newspaper article sank from No. 3 on Google to No. 18.