When brands choose a reputation management firm, they have many choices. But these firms can use methods that will last or end up harmful.
Search Engine results are critical for any company - they need SEO to show up early or first in the results list, and subsequent entries with positive or negative feedback on the company has much impact on a potential customer. Online Reputation Management is becoming a priority for businesses, and according to BIA/Kelsey, small and medium businesses spent 1.6 billion in reputation management in 2011, and should spend up to 5 billion by 2015. Being aware of the importance of ORM is one thing, but it is another to choose the right ORM company since they all have different approaches and ideologies.
Some ORM firms work against search engine mechanics, others work with them
ORM companies use different methods to help their clients. The two dominant ideologies are known as Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO. Basically, Black Hat SEO sees the search engine as an obstacle to overcome and White Hat SEO sees search engines as an ally. Black Hat SEO tactics are becoming increasingly common, where search engines are manipulated to alter the results list and displace negative listings. Results often do not last long with this method as search engines eventually locate these erroneous listings and remove them, leaving the client with its original problem. In contrast, White Hat SEO approaches search engines as a set of tools rather than as an obstacle course like Black Hat SEO does. White Hat creates “compelling and original content,” as well as uses code to advance positive listings, pushing negative ones off of early results.
White Hat SEO usage improves reputations for clients and the firm that uses it
Reputation Changer recently set up a blog that helps companies restore their reputation themselves using White Hat SEO techniques. They stress original content to rank keywords, quality design for high user engagement and to not spin content to trick search engines. In a press release, Reputation Changer CEO Justin Singletary recommends using White Hat techniques for DIY reputation management rather than a Black Hat approach, which he considers to be more “dangerous”: “The danger in Black Hat SEO is that it often prompts Google to remove these erroneous listings and restore negative ones to prominence (…) Black Hat SEO often leaves the client right where it started, with negative listings on the first page of Google.” In other words, Black Hat SEO usually consists in providing short-term solutions to a long-term problem.