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Reputation Management and SMO

Do you know what is ranking on your company or brand name? Are the first-page results littered with unfavorable publicity and negative information? Since user-generated content has proven its ability to rank surprisingly well in the search engines, reputation management has become (or should become) a top priority for companies and brands vying for a noticeable presence online.

From disgruntled customers to competitors lacking scruples, social media sites have made it easier than ever for users to post literally anything about anyone. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to regulate or completely depose negative postings about you, your company, or your brand.

And let's face it - there are few things more frustrating and infuriating than when some nitwit in the blogosphere is mudslinging, especially without justifiable cause. But don't get discouraged, there are ways to combat negative publicity without ever actually directly addressing such comments. In fact, the very sites they use to taint your reputation could potentially be your best weapon.

Leveraging social media sites to your advantage is one of the best ways to immediately implement an effective reputation management campaign. From YouTube to MySpace to Digg to Squidoo, the list of social media sites you can use to your advantage is virtually endless. For example, many user-generated content sites and online communities allow users to select a username that becomes the custom URL for the profile on that site.

Moreover, social media sites allow you to create site pages, profiles, bookmarks, articles, etc. that can rank for your company or brand name. The negative results will eventually be pushed down off the first-page of the search engines, if not farther.

Keep in mind that a successful reputation management campaign takes time to produce desired results. And as a few added perks, introducing positive information about your company can help generate buzz, position you as an expert in your field, and possibly glean potential customers who don't happen across your website naturally.