An Online Reputation Management Case Study

I’m not claiming that below is particularly impressive or difficult but if anyone out there isn’t quite sure how you can use the search engines to protect/control your brand online then here’s a quick example:

Tom Critchlow Google Search Results

While this is obviously a very unique search and not a competitive query at all I think it is representative of how you should approach reputation management in the search results:

##First, the pages you control

These are the pages which you will always be able to control and (should) always rank no 1. These are the pages which you want people to find and they should be where everyone clicks. Note how I only have two results here but could easily use a sub-domain or other site we control to gain more spots like this.

##Positive pages about you which you don’t control

Then you have pages on sites which you clearly don’t control such as SearchEngineLand & Marketing Pilgrim (no link to Spannerworks since they didn’t link to us or even approve the comment I left on their blog!). Blog posts from other people which mention you can be a great page to rank since they not only take up search results but they also say positive things about you.

##Some random pages which aren’t related to you

Then we see some pages which are about another Tom Critchlow (yes, there are a few of us out there! clearly no others into SEO though ;-) ). These pages are great since if someone is looking for information about me and they start seeing pages about someone else they’ll most likely give up and refer back to the pages they’ve already seen. Also, pages like this make it look like you’re not dominating the search results and make the page look more natural. The last thing you want is for people to KNOW that you’re covering something up so having these pages rank is a good idea. Depending on your search term though these can be hard to come by.

##Some more pages about you

Sure, why not :-) - this time it’s flickr which makes an appearance. This page ranks as Danny links to it from his page on SearchEngineLand.

##How do you create search results like this?

Easy - just drop them some links! For example, a couple of pages I’d quite like to push onto the first page are (don’t forget to include your anchor text in the link):

Tom Critchlow’s one and only mention in Wired magazine

Tom Critchlow works for Distilled right? SEOmoz seems to think so.

Closing note - I don’t have anything to cover up in the search results, hopefully you knew that anyway but thought I’d mention it just in case. I’m really just playing around here to see what works and what doesn’t. I’d encourage you to do the same since playing with search results that are easy to manipulate is always a good way to learn.

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8 Comments

  1. I see you've finally pushed my article "The Critchlow Brothers Hate Babies and Eat Puppies" to #11 ;)

    That's impressive stuff. It's nice to see you actually put your techniques into practice for yourself. So many of us (myself included) are guilty of not practicing what we preach, usually just due to poor time management and getting tied up in client projects. It's important to be able to show clients that you not only know what you're talking about, but can put it to work for yourself.

    Sorry you guys couldn't make it to PubCon; hopefully, we'll get a chance to meet in person sometime. Speaking of, I learned that Ciaran Norris works only about 20 minutes from you; you guys should go have a pint or whatever it is you Brits do :)

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  2. I've found that hoping and praying that people spell your last name incorrectly helps when "covering up" undesirable search results :) It also helps with unflattering photographs. But seriously...

    I would really like my Drivl.com profile to go away. It consistently ranks on page one for my name, even though we haven't worked with the site for quite a while. I may have to start dropping links to my Facebook profile, which ranks second at Yahoo and nowhere at Google...

    I've also found that conducting searches for "easy" terms (vanity searches being a good example) is a wonderful way to find which sites can potentially rank well for more competitive terms. It's also a good way to see which sites the SEs are cracking down on (does your Myspace page or Squidoo lens rank anymore? No? Then those sites aren't going to rank for anything else, either!) Slideshare.net profiles and posts are pretty competitive. Of course, you have the staples like LinkedIn and Flickr as well, but new ones are always popping up.

    Having a past life where you did something very different but which garnered positive searches is good too! My college swimming results still outrank results from the SEO world. Not that... um... any of those are less than glowing. You have to love those .edu links / mentions...

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  3. @Pete - I'm glad that's not on page one anymore, clients were starting to worry about the babies. Surprisingly no-one cared about the puppies.... Yeah shame about Pubcon but we're angling for some of the US SMX events next year so hopefully we'll get a chance to meet soon! Ciaran is indeed ridiculously close - it's just a case of organisation of which I think we all lack some basic skills ;-)

    @Jane - Damn, wish I was featured on .edu sites. I wonder if I could enroll in a US college just to get me some of those linky goodness .edu links! You're spot on that playing around like this gives you a good insight into how well domain profile pages will rank. It's also really interesting for us brits to see which rank in google.com well and which rank in google.co.uk well.

    Oh yeah - I had to drop a fair few links (well, about 4 I think) to my facebook profile before it ranks but now it ranks really well.

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  4. I don't rank first for my name in Google.co.uk due to a BBC narrator called Jane Copland. For some reason, .co.uk thinks that you will be more interested in her than in me :P Yes, I ego-searched when I was in London. I was curious!

    If only I'd maintained a .edu page from when I was in college. However, I had no idea I'd get into SEO. What I'd do to get my hands on that again!

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  5. In many cases, the business oriented social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, are a good bet - perhaps even better than Facebook, from a professional point of view. In old Europe, Viadeo and Xing are worth considering especially for their local language support. More detail: http://www.antezeta.com/blog/social-networking-services/

    Also worth keeping an eye on is Spock, where yours truly is currently on page 2 of SEO results, although this will become page 20 once the word gets out :-)
    http://www.spock.com/q/seo/2

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  6. I can't believe we haven't caught up with Ciaran yet. It is on the cards though. How hard can it be? Really?

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  7. Just stumbled across this post, contains some great information

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  8. Usually a few links to the Facebook profile pushes it into the top 10 and the beautiful thing is it never goes away. If your Twitter is not in the top 10 make sure it has you full name on it then a few links to that will also make it pop in the top 10.

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