What Negative Publicity Can Do To Your Business

Comments Off on What Negative Publicity Can Do To Your Business 22 December 2010

Anything online is pretty much fair game. Anyone can take potshots on anyone just for fun, and get it posted as the number one result. In fact, a couple of years ago, searching for “miserable failure” online resulted in the Wikipedia entry of the former President George W. Bush as the number one result. Good thing that Google was able to defuse that bomb. This just goes to show that in the hands of a malicious competitor, the efforts you’ve been making in spicing up your e-commerce site and ramping up your SEO online marketing will not be enough. You will also have to be vigilant against threats on your person or company through reputation management online.

Fair business practices are what drive healthy competition, but such offensive online content directed against you is simply hitting below the belt. Sure, slander and libel may sometimes be considered part and parcel of free speech, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it.

SEO experts have been known to use everything in their arsenal to beef up reputations of people online. Type the name “Simon Cowell” in Google and you get the sites with flattering or neutral content. Unsavory material is pushed down to the bottom of Google. In fact, ex-American Idol judge Simon Cowell has been known to retain a London-based SEO firm for reputation management. Political candidates are known to do the same.

Should you find yourself in such an unfortunate situation where a website gets a high page rank for an important keyword to your business, and it badmouths your products or services online, take heart. As they say, there are many ways to skin a cat. In this particular instance, however, only a few of the methods stand out to have any lasting result. Here are some things you can do separately or together.

First, you can choose to ignore the negative reviews. People will forget about it tomorrow, right? Let’s just hope that all the negativity will eventually blow over. Another option is to send a polite email or formal letter to the website owner to take down the offensive material. Third, you can bring the offending parties to court for slander. Get immediate relief with a court order to take down the site and seek compensatory damages. Lastly, you can consider a more creative online reputation management tactic that will push the offensive sites down 4-10 pages in the search engine results through reputation online repair services.

You’re obviously not going to get any result in the first option and even the second is a leap of faith that the site owner will respond favorably to your request if they know what’s good for them. Some web hosting firms will suspend an offensive site if they are violating the terms, but sites with malicious intent won’t. In fact, they’ll be careful not to!

Your next option would be to go to court. You can try to exact damages for defamation of character and cause the site to be taken offline permanently with a court order. But like any court proceeding, this is an expensive and time-consuming solution and you may not always see a resolution in your favor.

Nothing beats proactive and aggressive counter-action to neutralize malicious online slander. Brand protection is as much a basic marketing function as advertising and promotions, whether online or offline. Doing so online will often require the right SEO professionals to manage online reputation.

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