dk or Purpose Inc Appeared In:

August 17 2009

Yeh they’ll google you, but what will they find?

Written by / Posted in reputation management / 14 Comments

There are some real scoundrels out there. People who have nothing better to do than talk badly about you or your company. Are you listening? Your customers are!

Up to this point, I have danced relatively well above these ne’er do wells,  bouncing from cloud to cloud with a pretty angelic reputation online. It isn’t because I haven’t pissed anybody off. It’s just that I haven’t pissed anybody off “enough” to write too badly about me online so far. :)

I was recently speaking to a business guy who was pooh pooing the effects of google. Believe it or not, some very successful companies, like my favorite Mexican food and Friday night caterer for thinktank, Tacos El Gordo de Tijuana, don’t even have a fricken website! This place literally serves over 5,000 people a day in their combined locations, actually has the best Mexican food I’ve ever had (tied with Chipotle) and has zero online presence.

Unfortunately, no matter what someone may “think” about the effect of google, googles got us all by the butt, even if you are friends with Matt Cutts. Having your own site rank well for your name, or your key terms is great for getting customers, but what about the next 30 sites down blabbing about you?

In my opinion, there are a few different categories of searches that people do.

1. Entertainment – These are people just cruising around because they don’t have anything more important to do.You might grab someones interest with an article or add, and then gently steer them in some direction. They will rarely notice the bad stuff written about you online unless by chance they come across it.

2. Know What they want, but not Who to buy it from – These are the ones who have made a decision to buy, and now they are looking for the best place. This is the sweet spot in SEO, and why you want your site to rank high for your keywords.

3. Researching a particular topic before they close. – Again, this is where good SEO will lead them to your site, or another site to educate them on your product.

4. Researching your company before they buy.

We are going to take a good look at this last one.

They are at that last step before they send you that e-mail, spend the money, or sign the contract.

Researching about your company before they buy in my experience is still a relatively new way to use search.

For those of us who can type faster than we can speak this is probably second nature. I hear a brand name, a website, a T.V. commercial or even an individual, and before I say a word, I google it. I even do this while talking to someone on the phone. I could give a flying piece of toast as to what they say about themselves if we are not already friends. I do care what others say about them.

A prefect example was yesterday. My right heel had gotten so dry and cracked it barely looked human. I’ve never had a pedicure in my life, but realized that this had gotten to a point where I needed professional help.

I know if I google pedicure San Diego that the top site is most likely going to be the one where the owner of the salon has a friend who does SEO, or the site designer bought a few links, or something of that nature. Honestly, the whole system is way too easy to game for me to trust my delicate heel to it.

So I went to Yelp and entered in pedicure – San Diego. The place that popped up is called LuLu’s. There is a reason they popped up as the best place to get a pedicure in San Diego. They ranked well in yelp because they had a ton of reviews, and overall the reviews were very positive. To earn this they do an amazing job, and are less than dinner for 4 at Mc Donalds. For this I got Leslie, a beautiful estitician, spend half an hour soaking, buffing, scrubbing and filing my cracked calloused feet into submission. She won. The place is adorable, in a cute older neighborhood, easy parking, offered us tea when we arrived and were warm, friendly and safe. It was also super clean.

The next thing I did just to be safe was googled LuLu’s salon San Diego. As you scroll down you see nothing but “best place in San Diego”, “love this place”, “what an amazing experience”, on and on and on down the page. Not a single whinning compaint!

I’ve been working for years on reputation management, and John Andrews recently really got me thinking about exactly what I was doing, and how it all worked.

I would wager a bet that if you took the group of all Americans.

Then you removed everyone who makes less than $100,000 per year.

The group you would have left are the movers and shakers of our economy. They for the most part make the decisions that effect everyone else, what they do, what they buy, and even what will be available to them.

I’ll bet over 90 percent of that group, when making a buying decision of any significance, google their final choice before they actually purchase. If they don’t, they will be once they figure out the power in this.

As a business owner it is pain in the butt keeping track of what people are saying online about you, and correcting the damage when they do. It can also down right hurt ones feelings when the people writing are mean, and inaccurate. An unhappy customer obviously should come to you first, give you a chance to resolve it, then if you don’t resolve it, they can write about their unhappy car buying experience later.

As John Andrews suggested in his blog, the time to get positive reputation management is now, before the world gets the idea of the damage they can do you online. On the other hand, if you are aggressively getting your name in place properly before hand, it will take a pretty powerful internet marketer to knock you down online.

As consumers understand the internet and especially rating sites and blogs, I predict it will eventually be considered stupidity unless you google the name first to see what it is.

  1. Eric Itzkowitz said on August 17th, 2009 at 11:07 am

    DK I agree! Online reputation management is indeed pain in the ass, but oh so necessary. This is especially true because there are scummy complaint sites out there with good SEO allowing them to rank in the top 10 for a company’s brand.

    They knowingly allow people to post fake and libelous comments via not requiring registration. AND they have no intention of removing these comments because they are generally monetized via AdSense, and removal of the content would mean a decrease in AdSense revenue for them.

    The best way to combat this, per my own experience, is to create solid company profiles on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Techcrunch, Technorati and the like. But, I have had the most success with sub-domains. Yeah, you should have a valid reason to use a sub-domain, but I can think of a ton. (:

  2. purposeinc said on August 18th, 2009 at 1:47 am

    I totally get your between the lines thinking on that. It is an area where you can be very, very creative, and still be totally within googles guidelines. The funny thing is that most people who read this will have no idea what we are talking about! LOL. We can share notes in September.

  3. Corey said on August 18th, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Its always good to be pro-active online versus re-active with reputation management like you said(though it does help when people don’t pay attention then need help!). A lot of people wait until they have a problem then try to fix it and then its a lot harder.

    Eric or DK, either of you try yet? Its pretty slick…

  4. Eric Itzkowitz said on August 18th, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Hey Corey. I’ve seen, but have not signed up. Did you give them a try? Results?

  5. orieroberts said on August 18th, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    the scary thing that was brought up to me was using false negative feedback to hurt the reputation of a competing business. my old boss kind of joked about that idea but it made me think though, is there any way to decipher the legitimacy of these complaints?

  6. purposeinc said on August 19th, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Yeh, Michael did a great job with that. I have played with it. It is amazing that there are so many social sites out there now.

  7. purposeinc said on August 19th, 2009 at 3:56 am

    I have caught people doing that, and with a light legal threat got them to remove their info. There are sites though that pride themselves on not removing info, even if you can prove it is false. I have found a large percentage of consumers now expect a small percentage of negative comments, and even find it suspect if you have tons of positive feedback with no negative ones. The game is definitely still evolving.

  8. Eric Itzkowitz said on August 19th, 2009 at 11:34 am

    @all Since many sites won’t remove the fake comments, the best thing you can do to somewhat counterbalance them is to post a genuinely professional corporate post that reiterates what your company stands for and includes a real person’s contact information. I’d go so far as to recommend adding a direct line to somebody in support (i.e. Supervisor or Manager). This has worked pretty well for me, as I have people call me directly to say they saw my comment/post and wanted to give use the benefit of the doubt.

  9. KGood? said on August 19th, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Let’s also not forget the power of, an oftentimes first listing in Google. ANYONE can change anything and add their own information, again touching on the aspect of libeling and hurtful comments — what’s true/not true? My step dad (a politician) recently mentioned being grateful people didn’t hate him enough to make a wiki about him. This can be done for anyone in any field and though wikipedia prefers “facts” (comments) to be cited, they don’t HAVE to be and therein lays the danger of the internet in general.

  10. Fajar said on August 19th, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    I agree… like it or not online reputation management is a must. Anybody can comment on everything and anything online.. bad or good.. It is so unfortunate that there are people out there who intentionally are trying to ruin businesses by bad-mouthing good businesses.

  11. Roseanna said on August 21st, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!” I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Now that we live in a world of google local reviews, yelp, and blogging, our business’s reputation may rely on those words, truth or untruth. I have had personal experience with my office on this one. We do incredible work and thus, our office has A TON of truly fantastic reviews. To the negative nancys of the world, it is seen as a track record to be dinged!! On two seperate occasions I have had people (who were never even patients) complain about our office. Fortunatly, review sites don’t want to deal with any legal issues so, when told the reviews were phony, they gladly removed them. If a prospective patient/client reads a negative review they make think twice before chosing you! Be proactive on getting a positive name out there for yourself! Amen!

  12. Dean said on September 12th, 2009 at 4:25 am

    Great article! This article really resonated with me personally, To be certain, I personally suffered the effect of this type of incident. Four years ago, I started an on-line business with a former business partner. My former business partner had inimical former acquaintance. When said inimical former acquaintance found out about our business venture, he being a computer programmer not to mention an ex-convict, posted a litany of defamatory information on about 40-60 different yet active forums. Within about a week or so, these forum posts were ranking on page 1 of Google for all of our product sites, company site, and our personal names. Of course, he did this anonymously which made things difficult.

    My former business partner had a very good idea who was writing these forum posts. We had our attorney contact all of the forums and they pretty much refused to remove the content despite the fact that we provided information which contradicted these forum posts. We subsequently sued said individual and his attorneys were successful in arguing a case for lack of venue by my understanding. Essentially, our business was in the United States and this individual lived in Canada.

    Long story short… When you’re selling products on-line and page one of Google is filled with posts on forums named “Scam..” or “Fraud” or “419 Legal” and contain patently false derogatory information, you’re out of business. To this day, these forum posts can be found alternately on the first two pages of a Google search for my full name.

    An egregious act of a lunatic who has a criminal record has pretty much destroyed my personal reputation and there’s absolutely nothing that I can presently do about it.


  13. Dean said on September 12th, 2009 at 4:47 am

    @Erik… Yeah, the tough lesson is that these sites generate adsense revenue from these types of forum threads particularly if said forum threads generate a ton of traffic as they did in my particular case. I agree that most of these particular forums seemed to pride themselves in refusing to remove content. Instead, they suggested that we post a response to the false information. However, an internet forum is not an effective place to argue your case nor is it productive when your first two pages of a Google search is lit up with forums with domains such as scam, fraud, etc.

    Though some of the forums did remove the content, many of them did not in my case. As Erik suggested, our immediate reaction was to expand our SEO campaign and included registering several domain names/subdomains in an attempt to bump these forums down in search rankings. Though it did work to an extent, it was a never ending battle as these forums have very good SEO not to mention the individual who orchestrated this continued attack on my company.

  14. SnowBall said on July 17th, 2010 at 12:44 am

    I know nothing about all of this, but I do know that protecting a reputation, regardless of what its for, is always a pretty necessary thing. Why would anyone want a bad reputation? And yes, there will always be people that talk crap. And yes, a lot of those people will talk crap without any reason to. But in the end, it our job to keep our reputations spotless.

    Oh and dk, I love Yelp. And I have been looking to get a mani/pedi soon and will research LuLus. Sounds like a lovely place.

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