An article in yesterday’s Washington Post follows the online reputation misfortunes of Sue Scheff, a consultant to parents of troubled teenagers. Scheff found that Google searches on her name produced many negative results from a disgruntled customer, and she didn’t know how to fight back. Scheff hired an online reputation management company to fix the problem.
Online reputation management has been around for some time. And with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies and social media, the opportunity for feedback itself outranking a website is greater than ever. Companies, and even individuals, are finding it more important than ever to outrank (or even push out for that matter) the negative results about them in the search rankings.
Just how close to home does this hit for folks? Well, one of my own employees is facing negative comments on search results on her own personal matter. Catherine Potts, our link strategist, has been embroiled in a battle over the past two years over property owned by her late grandfather (SR DeBoer) in Denver, Colo. Catherine has been fighting a lot of misinformation that’s receiving rankings. And whether you agree with her point of view or not, the issue of reputation management is still an urgent one in her case for both her family and their property.
This begs the moral question here too — who is right and who is wrong? What is misinformation and what is not? Is it right to force others down in search engine rankings because you do not agree with their stance or believe they are incorrect?
An article on Forbes online last week reviewed some of the ways that folks sabotage Google. While most of the techniques were old stuff we all know, it was interesting to see some of these techniques being mentioned in a more mainstream way.
What do you think? Is reputation management really just a nice way of sabotaging search engines? Has it come to the point where we have to sink to the level of Google bombers to protect a client’s or our own reputation? What do you think? I’m curious to know…