chip paper

I read the Think Tank article in the Telegraph with interest today: they reported that ALLOW, a British company, is offering social media insurance to protect the online reputation of businesses and individuals.

Unusually in our ambulance-chaser society, this policy is interesting because it doesn’t seem to actually pay out a penny – the insurance provides legal advice, reverse search engine optimisation services and deletion services.

Whilst a negative piece of content in an offline only publication (admittedly not many of these left) can impact badly on a company or an individual, it was soon forgotten – chip paper if you will. However unfortunately a snide comment or poor review can often hang around like a bad smell online – despite the fact that it could have been written by anyone at all – a disgruntled customer, a sacked employee or worse still, a competitor.

If these comments were posted on particularly well ranking sites, it is quite likely that they will be eyeballed by many people.

A quick search for reverse SEO techniques explains that reverse SEO is strongly linked to ‘black hat or negative SEO techniques’ where a company may try to derank a site that contains the negative comments.

I’m not for one moment suggesting that ALLOW will use these negative techniques but I for one, believe that reverse SEO doesn’t have to go to these extremes…

First of all, with so many tools at our fingertips, it’s not hard to find out who actually wrote the initial negative piece of content. A quick Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin search will provide vital clues as will a discussion with a company’s HR and customer services department. That way, a company can decide whether to tackle the individual head on. More often than not, if they are a real person, they simply want to be heard and receive an apology for whatever went wrong and in some cases can be persuaded to retract the offending content.

If the person in question is difficult to track down or actually has a high profile online and a one-on-one approach seems rather confrontational or could stir up a hornet’s nest, then rather than fighting fire with fire, resorting to white hat techniques – especially online PR, can provide a solution.

Create really interesting stories, research, press releases, interviews, infographics, guest blog posts for sites that outrank those that contain the negative comments. The negative comment will then be pushed southwards and hopefully into oblivion (well at least page 2 which statistically receives only 6% of clicks.)

Most people (whether interacting with a website on a B2B work-related basis or as an individual) know the way of the online world and a company without any negative review online is, well, lucky and few and far between.

As long as you have a sufficient amount of quality content surrounding your brand, it’s more than likely that those undesirable comments will be overlooked.

The ALLOW policy is, for now, mainly focussed on Social Media and whether that is defined as Twitter et al  or in a broader sense I don’t know, but it’s an interesting idea that’s got a lot of people talking. Certainly any negative comments should be reviewed and dealt with, and ALLOW is right in flagging that up. Burying your head is not any way to deal with criticism or negativity on or offline.