Sinu gets asked about online reputation sometimes.
We discuss this complex topic with customers and explain the SEO world and how search engines work. We thought we would put some of the thoughts we have expressed into this blog post.
It is important to understand and accept that search engines just reflect what is already on the Internet – if it is not out there, they won’t show it. This is important to recognize because it focuses your attention on what is out there about your company and trying to influence what people are saying about you.
A great exercise is to create a Google alert on your company name and the top words that you think would lead to your company – for example, list your industry, types of services you provide, location. Also, try doing a Google search of your company. If you are happy with what you see, then congrats you are doing a fine job of being a good company in the public’s eye. If you do not like what you see in search results or Google alerts, pay attention to who is publishing these things about you and why.
Would any of then remove the content if you asked? (It’s worth asking.) Some companies make money by publishing public information, so look for the source and see if the source will remove it. Google’s official position is that they won’t intervene, by the way.
The best way to fight unwanted information is to promote wanted information. This means posting information about the good your company and your company’s people are doing for the world. Post these on social networks and make sure they are publicly searchable by search engines. For instance, make a web page or Facebook/LinkedIn page that focuses on the good your company does for the world. Maybe you have a charity initiative or a yearly drive of some kind? Make sure the Internet knows about this and your company promotes these articles in places where your industry goes to for more information.
What most people do not realize is that Google and other search engines are just a reflection of reality. If someone out there is posting information about your company, removing a reference to that existing information does not remove the original information.
The tough pill to swallow is that the best way to remove negative info about your company is not to give people reason to write negative things. While sometimes this is out of the control of the company, a good company should have more positive info about them out there than negative. In many ways, this transparency is a more accurate and believable reflection of a company than their manicured PR images used to be.
We may be headed to a world where you have to conduct business in a way that is genuine and good for humanity because negatives get spread quickly and permanently on the Internet. This dives deep into company culture and their view of the world around them and how they decide to run their business.
Bottom line, search engines reflect reality – all of reality, both good and bad. This highlights the importance of not only doing good things for the world your company can impact but also making sure people know about the good you do. If it is really great stuff, it will get out there without you even trying – so think about what your company can do to make the world around you better. Be unique so people notice and follow through on the initiative. You may find that it not only benefits your company’s reputation but your team might also feel better about where they work.