A new face online
May 11, 2013
The right for consumers to be forgotten both online and in company databases has been one that has been increasingly in the public eye in recent months. In the EU laws, are in the process of being introduced aimed at ensuring that consumers are able to re-gain at least some measure of control over how their personal data is not only used but also stored by the enumerable companies and corporations that all of us interact with on a daily basis in an increasingly interconnected world. Since the Obama administration’s publishing of a “Consumer Bill of Rights” last year the topic has been one that has also been increasingly under debate in the US as well. Not only is the usage and storage of personal information online under debate but so too is the use of a person’s name or image, with many people focusing on the devastating effect that an article or image online, however erroneous or out of date, can have on a person’s future.
However one notable omission from all of this debate is the right of companies to be forgotten. Many people before making an online transaction will, wisely, search for that company online to find out more about who they are about to hand over their credit card details to. In some cases a bad review that shows up on a search for a company can be years out of date, targeted at a different company or just plain wrong. Regardless of any of these factors, those reviews can be poison to that company’s reputation and can have a very real impact on their ability to conduct business online. In an increasingly online world where more and more of America’s economy is migrating from physical to digital this can well be all that is needed to kill a business.
People assume that litigation is an option, but often for small business that is too cost prohibitive. So what options do we have?
No one wants to censor the internet and limit the scope and possibility that have seen it become what it is today and a great deal of the consumer side of the debate has focused on this aspect. But as anyone who has dealt with a dishonest review will know, online review sites are hugely exploitable and attempts by these sites to mitigate this are at best, hit-and-miss. So how best to deal with this and ensure that customers see only the material that they should?
An increasing trend in SEO services, Reputation Management, is aimed at doing just that. Normally SEO focuses on promoting a single site in rankings until it is seen before direct competitors. Reputation management is a different approach, in many cases, it doesn’t matter what pages they do see, as long as it’s not the review or page that is damaging your online presence. One of the benefits of this freedom is that rather than trying to promote a personal or company site that may have a much smaller web-presence than the site it is competing with, you are able to pick targets that can more easily pull rank over the offending search result. The key is in knowing which target URLs to go for. You want to ensure that the content being provided answers searcher’s questions while at the same time allowing you to present the best of your company to them.
Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, news sites, articles and other review pages are all ideal candidates. Not only do they allow you to present the best face of your company or industry to the searching public but the massive web-presence of their hosting sites allows you to very easily use them to dominate search engines results with a pro-active and focused SEO campaign. Similarly, the content on them is relevant to your customer’s searches and so encourages them to move forward with a transaction with you rather than continue their search for a reason not to. It is a balancing act between trying to control your online profile and presenting an honest and open image to potential clients.
The debate regarding personal and corporate rights to control their online data and record is one that will likely be going back and forth in the government for a long time and based on current trends the end result is far from certain. There can be no doubt, with the increasing digitization of the economy, that it is an important topic not only for individuals but for companies as well. Until the law-makers weigh in however there is still the possibility of rescuing a tainted online profile with a properly targeted SEO campaign.
Andrew Martindale is one of the Account Managers at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here. Thanks for reading the SEOhaus blog!