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    Online reputation management help? What an evil first suggestion, Google..


    Let me begin by saying that I've been through the forums and I've found some good insight on online reputation management -- but nothing on my specific problem, which is...

    In Google (only Google, not Yahoo, not Bing), typing in my company's name brings a FIRST suggestion of "[Company Name] Scam".

    I'm not quite sure why this is a first result, being that Adwords approximates this phrase gets less than 100 local searches a month. The results page for the phrase includes four links on a competitor's website and blog, and some complaints from dissatisfied customers on high-ranking complaints websites. Obviously we can't contact the competitor, because they will likely never take the posts down. I'd like to continue trying SEO tactics before our company resorts to any sort of litigation -- if we ever resort to that. As for the results from customer posts on the web, our customer service manager has responded to these complaints. I haven't asked her if she's tried contacting the customers directly, but I think that could be a next step after going deep with SEO.

    On a micro level, I'm looking for a way to push the negative results down the page, at least below the fold -- in favor of OUR content (see below). On a macro level, I'm hoping to REMOVE "[Company name] Scam" from the FIRST suggestion spot on Google. I assume the latter will take some time.

    My strategy so far has been to build content including the phrase "[Company name] Scam". Here is what I've done so far:
    -3 articles on 3 different URLs, with the target phrase in each URL
    -Squidoo lens using the phrase
    -Ezine article using the phrase in the title (pending)
    -Internal linkbuilding for the content
    -Social media promotion for the content

    Does anyone have suggestions on external linkbuilding opportunities, or specific ways to complete my first or second goals? PS: Please don't tell me not to worry about negative results. I've been assigned this project, & I intend to complete it! haha

    THANKS IN ADVANCE!!!
    Last edited by bostongirl; Nov 9th, 2010 at 03:58 PM.
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    Can you give us the site URL? - I'd want to have a good look around before giving you advice.

    The low competition you describe should work to your advantage.
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    I wouldn't fight fire with fire. You should figure out a creative way to use the negative attention to your advantage. If they are a competitor then spend more time developing the primary keywords and saying good things about your product.

    Every big player has yahoos trying to ruin reputation, but smart people will use the bad to their advantage. You can start by taking the example that your 'scam' result discuss how it's a) not true, b) you've learned from it, c) totally not your practice and then ppl can recognize it was in fact fabricated..... many options.

    Of course, maybe you are a scam and it's true.......

    Comments on this post

    • WhiteHatSEOMktg agrees : my thoughts exactly
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    Originally Posted by WhiteHatSEOMktg
    Can you give us the site URL? - I'd want to have a good look around before giving you advice.

    The low competition you describe should work to your advantage.
    I'd rather keep this strategy out of Google SERPs, so I've emailed you my company's name. Thanks for your response!
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    Originally Posted by distinctseo
    I wouldn't fight fire with fire. You should figure out a creative way to use the negative attention to your advantage. If they are a competitor then spend more time developing the primary keywords and saying good things about your product.

    Every big player has yahoos trying to ruin reputation, but smart people will use the bad to their advantage. You can start by taking the example that your 'scam' result discuss how it's a) not true, b) you've learned from it, c) totally not your practice and then ppl can recognize it was in fact fabricated..... many options.

    Of course, maybe you are a scam and it's true.......
    I've thought of addressing the problem directly -- I could discuss this with my boss. I think part of the reason for the customer complaints is that they don't fully understand the way we work before they sign on. It might work to create a page on our site with the phrase in the title, explaining common misconceptions. I've always found pages like these helpful on consumer websites, anyway. Thanks for the insight! You got me thinking.
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    Samantha - I'm flattered that you bothered to write to me.

    The problem that your employer has is really that there are lots of web pages which associate your employer's name with scam by virtue of their content.

    The negative information all looks to be in reasonably good faith.

    In your email you've indicated that one of the companies posting a negative review is your competitor, but that is only partially true. They operate a different business model and they slate yours as they are entitled to. You have to come up with a robust defence.

    As you've started to realise in your previous post, you need to provide a better service to make this go away but lets get real if you start to explain the common misconceptions you may get less sign-ups. So to me I'm getting the impression that you're not actually going to educate your customers better to lose their business. Just like I'm getting the impression you've somewhat mis-represented one of the posters as a "competitor". The post doesn't seem like malicious misrepresentation.

    I may be wrong and if I am I apologise, but the point is that's not what matters.

    You're caught between a rock and a hard place because unfortunately you are as you've just admitted your employer makes money out of signups that don't add much value to your clients.

    That's why I asked for specifics before replying. Most of these reputation defence type enquiries end up being people taking a disgruntled stance that people dare to complain about them when really there's some grounds to the complaint.

    The efforts that you've taken so far will make matters worse, not better by strengthening the term suggestion.

    You come across as a very determined person but a positive mental attitude and a lot of drive is no substitute for experience in this field.

    The bluster about legal action looks off beam to me. These people are making legitimate complaints, there's no defamation.

    I'm afraid you are very much barking up the wrong tree. Try to take the energy out of this initiative for your own sake, nothing but bad things will happen if you continue with your negative SEO campaign. As another poster has said the situation would be in your favour if you really do offer something better than the "competitor". You can promote that you're not a scam. Efforts to date aren't focussed on any materiel with such substance.

    It's interesting to have talked to you. I've done the best service to you I can. You genuinely should drop this approach. If you take that advice and swallow humble pie then I've helped you.

    Your boss has put it on your plate to make this go away and that's not fair. Everyone has choices in life when this kind of thing happens. Learn from it.
    Last edited by WhiteHatSEOMktg; Nov 9th, 2010 at 05:59 PM.
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    Originally Posted by WhiteHatSEOMktg
    Samantha - I'm flattered that you bothered to write to me.

    The problem that your employer has is really that there are lots of web pages which associate your employer's name with scam by virtue of their content.

    The negative information all looks to be in reasonably good faith.

    In your email you've indicated that one of the companies posting a negative review is your competitor, but that is only partially true. They operate a different business model and they slate yours as they are entitled to. You have to come up with a robust defence.

    As you've started to realise in your previous post, you need to provide a better service to make this go away but lets get real if you start to explain the common misconceptions you may get less sign-ups. So to me I'm getting the impression that you're not actually going to educate your customers better to lose their business. Just like I'm getting the impression you've somewhat mis-represented one of the posters as a "competitor". The post doesn't seem like malicious misrepresentation.

    I may be wrong and if I am I apologise, but the point is that's not what matters.

    You're caught between a rock and a hard place because unfortunately you are as you've just admitted your employer makes money out of signups that don't add much value to your clients.

    That's why I asked for specifics before replying. Most of these reputation defence type enquiries end up being people taking a disgruntled stance that people dare to complain about them when really there's some grounds to the complaint.

    The efforts that you've taken so far will make matters worse, not better by strengthening the term suggestion.

    You come across as a very determined person but a positive mental attitude and a lot of drive is no substitute for experience in this field.

    The bluster about legal action looks off beam to me. These people are making legitimate complaints, there's no defamation.

    I'm afraid you are very much barking up the wrong tree. Try to take the energy out of this initiative for your own sake, nothing but bad things will happen if you continue with your negative SEO campaign. As another poster has said the situation would be in your favour if you really do offer something better than the "competitor". You can promote that you're not a scam. Efforts to date aren't focussed on any materiel with such substance.

    It's interesting to have talked to you. I've done the best service to you I can. You genuinely should drop this approach. If you take that advice and swallow humble pie then I've helped you.

    Your boss has put it on your plate to make this go away and that's not fair. Everyone has choices in life when this kind of thing happens. Learn from it.
    To clarify - the "litigation" I was referring to was not for our customers - they have a right to complain wherever they please. I was talking about the competing company's 4 pages they've posted about our company being a scam. (It's not.) I am not considering legal action, I was only mentioning it because it was a *frequent suggestion* from other threads I've read on the forum, and elsewhere on the web. I was only trying to narrow down my options, so I could invite other strategies from people with more experience in my field than I have.

    I appreciate your thoughts and the time you took to answer my email. I am a determined person as you say, and I will admit I'm new to the field -- I'm in my 20s, fresh out of college with a year of SEO experience.

    I do think following a "negative SEO campaign" as you say is a rather crappy approach to the problem -- however it is still a problem. Instead of giving up, I'd like to spend more time brainstorming solutions.

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