Marketing Pilgrim had a great blog post yesterday about the difference between SEO and reputation management. It got me to thinking, which is a bit dangerous at times.
What many companies do, and Jordan McCollum provides enough good examples, when they get into reputation trouble is try to hire an SEO firm to “knock down” negative results about themselves, thinking that this will somehow fix the problem. But it won’t. Usually, those negative results are still there. They just may be a little more difficult to find. But someone intent on finding them will find them nonetheless.
SEO is good; don’t get me wrong. But reputation management is not SEO. They are two different things. SEO is something that you can do only as you are doing it. You can not pre-SEO your website, in other words. As you build your website, you built into it the SEO necessities to help it rank in the search engines. It starts with keyword research.
Reputation management, on the other hand, is something that you can do before you need it. SEO you do as you need it. But your reputation is too important – much too important – to leave to the vagaries of search engine algorithms. Your reputation is a lasting impression and even long after the evidence of negativity has been buried there is still a lingering issue, at least in the mind of the one person who saw fit to blast your name everywhere on the Web, with regard to your reputation. Those negative impressions are hard to erase; not impossible, just difficult.
The time to manage your reputation online is before you need to. Don’t wait for someone to post negative comments about you to start managing your reputation. Do it before you need to and when the time comes to defend it, you’ll be in a much better position to be able to do so.