Thursday, June 02, 2005

Companies subvert search results to squelch criticism

Coming from a PR background - this type of "search engine reputation management" fascinates me...And I must say that I've done my share of working to get bad results down in search engines so as to protect a client's reputation.

The article below, however, I feel is infused with unrightous indignation about what was done by Quixtar.

If you don't want to read the article, the gist is that Quixtar (basically the online arm of Amway) decided to battle some negative comments about them on the Web by creating Web sites and blogs with positive comments about them. The then worked to push these "positive" sites up in the search engine results.

The article's author seems to imply that this type of technique is "spammy" and "manipulative" - however in his effort to give both sides of the story, he quotes a representative from Google saying they are ok with results because they tell both sides of the story.

In my opinion, that's all most company's want to do - tell their side of the story and let the consumer decide. We're definitely seeing a PR war in the search engines. After all, anyone can start a blog about your company and post negative things there that can hurt business. And as long as they know and understand libel laws, there's not a whole lot you can do to stop it. But you can get your side of the story out there. There are so many reasons why a disgruntled customer or employee might try to damage your reputation - and if you have no recourse to fight it, then what do you do, just sit back and watch sales go out the door?

I don't think Quixtar did everything right (I wouldn't post false blogs that aren't blatantly obvious that they are company sponsored) but I applaud their efforts. I say good luck - and call me if you want to talk about how to do this better.

Companies subvert search results to squelch criticism


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