Online Reputation Management – It’s been at the forefront of the SEO community lately with the Dave Pasternack SEO Contest, the Jason Calacanis incident, and to a lesser extent Scott Karp’s questions about SEO.
On a personal level, I don’t think it is too cool to try and rank for someone’s name and wouldn’t maliciously do it myself, but most of these instances could have been avoided. I don’t feel bad at all for Dave Pasternack of Did-It, after all he did stir the pot. I do however feel bad for the real Dave Pasternack. And this Dave Pasternack, too. As far as Jason — I think he knows what he is doing and can handle himself. With Scott Karp, his scrape with the SEO community was definitely more low-key and he managed to turn it into some goodwill and probably some friendships within the SEO community he could turn to for help. Where he messed up was quickly forgetting most of that when he saw that a particular SEO forum thread was ranking for his name.
I was going to title this post, “Why You Don’t Mess With The SEO Industry,” but I thought I would take a more open-handed approach. To all the well-meaning SEOs out there, can you explain how this SEO smack against me in one of your forums got to be the #2 Google result for my name?…My gut tells me that this is in fact what happens to you when you mess with the SEO industry — which
leaves me feeling a bit like I’m dealing with the mafia.
To be fair to Scott — I think the original threadwatch post he was referring was not phrased in a very nice manner and I’d probably have some bad thoughts if I saw something similar ranking for my name. Also, at the core of his post I think he was just trying to learn how Google might decide to rank their results, however his tone accusing SEOs of manipulating the results left something to be desired.
I was the first one to respond to his post and I tried to give some basic information on why the result was ranking for his name.
“Actually, it could happen when “you mess with” anyone not just the SEO industry. It happened because threadwatch has some decent authority in Google. It has your name in the title element. Some people linked to it. And to some extent it’s “recent news” about you. In time, you’ll probably see threadwatch slide a bit in the results for your name. However, this does highlight the increasing importance of online reputation management for companies and individuals whose name is important to them.”
Aaron Wall followed up with some more detail on the same thoughts.
“Google’s algo currently places a lot of weight on core domain authority. Threadwatch has a lot of authority. And the relevancy algorithms may also add weighting on fresh documents (and weighting on old established trusted documents). Once the freshness boost drops off if it does not pick up many more links it will rank better. Was it intentional ranking for that phrase? I didn’t intend it to, and I am not sure if Natasha did, but it’s ranking will probably fade over time, unless a big issue is made out of it and controversy causes more people to link at it.”
For full-disclosure, not only was I the first person to comment on his blog post, but I was also the person that posted the follow up on threadwatch.
As I was making the post to threadwatch, I considered not doing so — but I also knew that this was relevant to the threadwatch community considering the site’s involvement — so someone was going to post it anyway. I figured this might even prompt something along the lines of a “Nathan Holman is a SEO Jerk” titled post or update from Scott — which it didn’t (but now this post will probably rank for my name with the snippet stating that I am a jerk. )
However, there was this update to his post mentioning me indirectly.
“Of course, another SEO, among those determined that I retain my lingering doubt about SEOs as a group, posted another post on Threadwatch with my name in the title and a link to the original Threadwatch post, which will surely rank for my name on Google. To whoever posted that — this why there are unfair bad stereotypes of SEOs!”
He is correct that my post did mention his name in the title. To be fair what else was it supposed to say? Would a better title have been “A “Person We Are Not Allowed to Mention By Name” Wants Your Help” ??? Perhaps, but it sure isn’t straight and to the point. My initial thoughts at the time were that a post titled in that manner probably would have caused a bigger stir than to be straight and to the point. I wouldn’t have done so if I thought for a second the post had the potential to permanently stick for his name. To be fair again, the tone of my post could have definitely sounded more even-handed as well – as my intentions were to allow threadwatch readers to contribute to the conversation.
Scott seems like a nice well intentioned guy, but my point is… To put the blame squarely on others for news you created is anything but “Publishing 2.0” — it’s old school and archaic “Denial Public Relations”
Just because we’re SEO’s doesn’t mean we should be accused of trying to rank for someone’s name every time it happens. Everyone with a presence on the internet has the ability to affect the search engine results — not just SEO’s. That is why you should be concerned with Online Reputation Management – Everyone has this ability. The primary person that has the ability to influence what the search engines say about you is YOU. Taking the time to think about what we say and how we respond to what is said about us goes a long way in influencing the online conversation. I’ll follow up sometime this week with Part Two with some more general thoughts and best practices to protecting your company’s online reputation.