When I’m researching a product, I go to the Web. When I’m looking to hire a candidate, I go to the Web. All day long, I’m running searches in Google and other search engines. So it only stands to reason that customers, prospective customers and prospective staff are likely running Google searches on my company, Matrix Group. And when they do, what do they find?
Some call it ORM – Online Reputation Management – or the art of managing how you and your company are perceived online. ORM starts with tracking mentions of your company on the Web, anywhere on the Web, in every nook and cranny. So how do you that? There are tools and services, but I like:
- Google Alerts. Google lets you create e-mail alerts for keywords and phrases. Every time Google indexes a new page with your keyword or phrase, you get an e-mail.
- Of course, you should also be checking how your company shows up in the main Google search and the Google blog search.
- Twitter search. This is a real-time search of Twitter posts that Google doesn’t necessarily index and certainly not fast enough. You can even create an RSS feed out of specific searches.
Ultimately, ORM should be part of your overall company branding strategy. What do people think of when your company name is mentioned? You need a strategy for getting the word out about your company, for distinguishing the company from competitors, and responding (or deciding when to do nothing) when negative things are said about your firm.
I was intrigued by this company – Online Reputation Management – which claims to “specialize in removing and suppressing all negative and unfavorable search results that can impinge on your online reputation.” Hmmm… can anyone really do that?
I was amused by this story about Cash4Gold, which tried to bribe a blogger whose blog had unfavorable mentions of the company and was turning up as one of the top search results in Google. Talk about bad publicity. Instead of suppressing the negative post, the blogger actually blogged about the e-mails from this poor company. So this is the story of how NOT to kill a bad blog post.
Sometimes, the best way to kill a story is to bury it. Unfortunately, things have a way of resurfacing on the Web. If the information is wrong or misleading, you can and should file a complaint. Otherwise, investing in some searh engine optimization will at least get your presumably accurate and positive company information higher up in the Google rankings.