Reputation Wars - McDonald’s vs Burger King

This is the first of what we hope will be regular posts comparing the online reputation of major brands. This initial post is a bit of a stab in the dark, whilst we try to come up with a good and repeatable way of coming up with a score for a company's online reputation.

This "Reputation War" is between McDonald's and Burger King, so let the games begin...

##Reputation at a glance

The graph below is a representation of how well the two contenders fare when someone searches for their company name online. I have used to perform the searches (though interestingly if I used - the UK version the results are somewhat different, but that may be the topic of a follow up post).

Image: mcdonalds-burgerking-graph

The graph shows the first 20 results of a google search with a visual indication of the strength of a page. The colour of the bar indicates whether the story is owned by the company in question (grey), positive or neutral (green) or negative (red).

- The vertical axis is page strength as shown by the fantastic tool over at SEOmoz. I used this to give an indication of how important the page is. It is likely, though not guaranteed that a page with a strong page strength will cause more damage than a page with a low page strength. This is because the reach of a strong page is likely to be more than that of its weaker competitor so more people are likely to see it.

- The colour of the bar, and therefore the nature of the page is far from a science. Hopefully you will agree with (or temporarily forgive) my judgement. Note only those pages that aren't owned by the company in question are coloured. It is assumed that a page owned by the company says positive things.

##Reputation by Numbers

As we see it there are (at least) two components to a company's online reputation. One element can be described as reputation management and covers how well the company is protecting their brand online. This is obviously easier for some companies than it is for others, which brings me nicely on to the second component of a company's online reputation, which could easily boil down to how good a brand they have. Do people love it or hate it?

We have come up with a repeatable way of scoring a company's online reputation. We give a company a score out of 100, so a company with an online reputation of 100 is both super squeaky clean and is doing very well with their reputation management. Anyone approaching a reputation of 0 should not be trusted, since they have an awful reputation and they aren't doing a good job at hiding managing it.

###Scoring a company's online reputation

To represent how well a company is managing their reputation, we give a score out of 50 depending on how well they control the first 20 results for their own name.

The factors affecting this score are the number of results a company owns, the number of positive results and the number of negative results. We have weighted these based on the position in the SERPS (so a page high up the search results is worth more than one lower in the results). We then weight it further so a company owned result is better than a positive result (since a page not controlled by the company could change at any time). A negative page removes more from the score than a positive result would have added.

With this score, we are trying to measure how well a company is doing at managing their online reputation. Anyone with a low score for this section would almost certainly benefit from reputation monitor!

The second element is giving a rough indication of how the company is perceived ignoring any effect from reputation management. For this we have looked at the ratio of positive mentions (an albeit inaccurate, but nonetheless quick search using allintitle: companyname rocks vs allintitle: companyname sucks)

###Ok, show me the numbers

The totals are... (drum roll please)


46 / 100

Made up of:

33 / 50 for the "top 20 results"

13 / 50 for the "starting reputation"

Burger King:


57 / 100

Made up of:

42 / 50 for the "the top 20 results"

15 / 100 for the "starting reputation"

The Winner:

So the winner of the first Reputation Wars is Burger King with a score of 57 / 100 versus McDonald's with only 46 / 100.

Some Conclusions.

The conclusions we have drawn are as follows:

- Both companies own an incredible number of the top 20 results for their name. - McDonald's suffers online from a few strong negative results. We think that this is mainly due to the size of the company making them more of a target (I suspect that Supersizeme would also have had the same effect if he had only eaten Burger King) - Burger King owns less of the top 20 results but has more positive mentions than McDonald's - Overall I think McDonald's does a better job of managing their online reputation, but is starting from a much weaker position (more so than is reflected in our scoring). Burger King does a good job, but has a much better starting point.

##Why do I care / What can I learn

I think the lesson that we can take from these fast food giants is that controlling the top 20 results is a good thing. If you do get any negative press being able to amend one of your results to respond to it is a step in the right direction.

As this is the first of what we hope will become a regular slot I would love your feedback. What would you use to score a companies online reputation? What would you do differently? Do you think the scores (46 and 57) are a good reflection of the online reputation for McDonald's and Burger King?

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About the author
Duncan Morris

Duncan Morris

Duncan founded Distilled with Will in 2005. Duncan was CEO of Distilled for just over 5 years before he handed the reins to Will in 2014. Duncan is now Chairman, a non-executive role that, amongst...   read more