Category Archives: Online Reputation Management

Is Google Responsible?

Interesting article on a 40-year-old restaurant whose weekend business dropped off 75% they think due to an erroneous posting that they were not open on weekends. In fact, most of their business was due to weekend traffic. When the Google Places listing stated that the restaurant was not open on weekends, the business dropped so dramatically, that they began to lay off employees and eventually closed their doors in April 2013.

So what does this situation represent? That online representations are critical for any business. I’m not sure the restaurant owner will prevail in his lawsuit, but monitoring your business’  online presence is absolutely essential in the climate of the Internet and business today. Unfortunately for this business owner, he was not an online type of guy and he was confused when his long-established business began to fail.

I have had this concept in mind for years: if you are not online, you will probably not be in business in three years; if you are online, but do nothing to positively manage your online presence, you will probably not be in business in five years. Seems in this case my projections were off.

No business can afford to ignore their online presence. Aside from the value of online marketing, if you are not aware of what is being posted about your business and someone with negative intentions posts for you, you are basically….well, screwed.

Read more on this story about the impact of Google.

Chesa
www.ormgoddess.com
www.computergoddess.com

DuckDuckGo the Search Engine to Use for Privacy

This is one of the best ideas I have ever seen on the Internet. And it was the recent discovery that NSA either can or does know everything about you (so to speak) based on our digital life. The NSA scandal has ended up providing a surge of web surfers heading over to DuckDuckGo (DDG) to use their search services in place of Google, Bing and Yahoo!.

Founder, Gabriel Weinberg, began seeing traffic and usage of DDG building quickly soon after the government’s use of the Prism program was revealed. Enjoying 1.7 million searches a day,  after the Guardian report hit the news the searches increased to 3 million searches per day within two weeks.

Why?

Weinberg has taken a different approach to online privacy – one I have not seen anywhere else on the Internet: zero tracking. Zero. No tracking whatsoever. No cookies are set; no data related to the users’ IP address is stored; there are no user logins required anywhere; and the connection is encrypted by default. In other words, NSA has nothing to request/require from DDG because there is nothing to turn over about any user of their search service.

DuckDuckGo web searches

You can read the complete article The Guardian has posted on this entitled:  NSA scandal delivers record numbers of internet users to DuckDuckGo. But first, look at this graphic that shows how much privacy is on everyone’s mind.

Interestingly, prior to the NSA revelation, few people really knew about DDG – I didn’t. Fewer than 4 in 100 knew that this was a search site, let alone a safe, secure and private search site. Within days, the traffic had increased more than 50% because this is the only search site that offers zero tracking. I know I’m being redundant, but what an amazing online business model.

And – this is a good search engine. I have tried all my main keywords for my many sites and I am coming up as expected.

What does this mean for your web searches?

Instead of getting junk ads based on where you have searched before, your searches result in pure information, based on the search term, not where you are and what you have searched before. For me as an SEO specialist, Online Reputation Management expert and Web Designer, it is everything I have needed in order to do pure analysis related to my client’s needs. Because Google looks at your IP address and locale, my searches tend to come back focused on my city and not my client’s reputation or search engine results page position for their keywords.

Not only that, but every time you search for anything, your browser remembers where you were and serves up ads on sponsored sites related to your past searches. The reported for The Guardian DuckDuckGo article has some great examples and it is well worth the read.

And don’t forget the main reason the traffic has jumped on DuckDuckGo: the desire for privacy. How sweet it is.

DuckDuckGo is my new search engine of choice. Join me? Thank you Mr. Weinberg.

Chesa
www.computergoddess.com

 

 

Joe Lieberman wants a Terrorist Button on blogs

Because Google has put a flagging opportunity for viewers on YouTube to “flag” a video for inappropriate content (violent acts, hate mongering and how-to-make-a-bomb videos), Senator Lieberman has written Google CEO Larry Page suggesting that a Terrorist Button be placed on Blogger sites to help us flag inappropriate content on Blogger blogs.

My concerns here are related to the fact that this is such a great way for someone to cause a blog owner problems for reasons other than terrorist acts. A competitor doesn’t like another business – flag ’em as a terrorist. Once things settle down, the situation will probably sort itself out – but at the expense of the flagged business. Cheap retaliation for those with a lack of conscience.

And why just Blogger? There are lots of other public places one can express themselves. There are so many blogging outlets, the proposed button would have to be placed at the browser level to give the viewers a quick and easy way of talking to the government about inappropriate content.

Do we want the government policing blogs through out readers like Senator Lieberman suggests? Do we want to worry about being mistaken for a terrorist because our last boyfriend is really pissed off? Or because a disgruntled employee is taking out her revenge?

I am someone who believes in the best of everyone. I think that people do the best they can with what they have even though sometimes they might look less than stellar in their actions. And I believe that I have the right to express an opinion without the fear of reprisal from those who may not agree. Granted, I’m not planning to overthrow my government. I’m no threat to anyone. But I do work with clients who are suffering from reputation damage online because someone is posting negativity online about them.

It is an awful experience when you are being attacked for no other reason that unfair competition. One of my clients finally gave up and closed down their business to restart under another name with a different business model.

I support free speech in almost every situation. I do draw the line at overtly harmful material posted online, anywhere by anyone. I don’t feel that an opinion is off-limits, but when the comments arouse the audience to harm to others, not acceptable.

When all is said and done, I think Senator Lieberman is being naive to think that a button to flag terrorist content on Blogger will do much to help stop terrorism. We stop terrorism at levels way higher than Blogger.

The Court of Public Opinion

Here is a perfect example of how the Internet becomes the “court of public opinion.” Our team is working on this project with today being the worldwide announcement of our client’s lawsuit. If you follow this case online, you can see how the process works.

First, we created a blog, www.morrisvswestfield.com, with the complaint and the facts of the case presented online. Once everything was in place, a press release was sent out for worldwide release. Within minutes, the story began showing up everywhere. Additional support for the release was offered through Twitter postings and retweets.

If you wish to follow this as a case study, it is the perfect example of how a well-managed reputation management campaign can get your message out to the right audience.

Chesa

Ethical or Unethical?

I’m in a quandry.  I was hired by a group of doctors manufacturing a single-use, disposable gynecological product to build their brand and market their entry into this new market.  After four or five teleconferences, three or four proposal modifications, and the final go-ahead, I felt I was dealing with a group of honorable men.

Apparently not.  After one month into this one-year project, I billed them for the first month’s work and continued working.  Oh, by the way, I never work this way — billing in arrears.  As any consultant will tell you, you need advance payment to begin your project because work done as a service can’t be recalled for lack of payment.  But I softened on these guys — they have a good product. I know I could build their brand recognition and increase their sales using my strategies.  And after so many conversations, I also thought I was dealing with an honorable company.  Not to mention that I was working with my partner who was doing other work for them when he referred me to them.

Well, I billed mid-November 2009 and here it is the first of February and not a dime has come my way.  I have talked to them, emailed them and offered to accept payments. Nothing.

What is their reason for not paying?  Well, it seems a little false, but they said they didn’t see any results from my work after one month.  Anyone who know anything about SEO, ORM and the Internet knows that immediate results are a pipe dream especially for a start-up company with a relatively new product.  I was in the first month of a 12-month project building the foundation for the year.  Since sales were down from the month of October, they seemed to be looking for any excuse at all to simply not pay.

Two Courts

I have two options:  the Court of Law or the Court of Public Opinion.  Given the cost of a lawsuit, you can imagine that I am pondering the Court of Public Opinion. My dilemma is that it is my job to help my clients manage their online reputation.  I help repair a negative online reputation; I help build a non-existent online reputation (like this client); or I help pave the way for future problem solving by creating a strong online presence in a troublesome industry.

I am simply not interested in damaging anyone’s reputation online.

Likewise, TAO Consultants has been in business for more than 27 years, I am not used to being taken advantage of and my own reputation in my area of expertise is impeccable. I have earned my reputation with successful results for my clients. Ignoring this lack of payment puts me into a frame of reference I am simply not used to.

So let me ask for comments. What would you do? Let it go or go over to the dark side by going public with this client’s name and web address?

I leave it to you.

Chesa Keane

Manage your environmental crisis before it happens

An article on Forbes.com points out the how too often a company fails to prepare for the unknown crisis that could threaten their business continuity and lead to online reputation management problems.  As the article states, “The time to put together a management plan for handling all the negative press you get from an environmental or social crisis is before it happens, not after.”

Two companies that have experienced reputation problems in 2009 are Trader Joe’s and Sigg.  Trader Joe’s was ranked 17th out of 20 grocery store chains and the worst among national chains in sustainable seafood practices because of its lack of publicly available purchasing policies.  Around the same time, Sigg, a water bottle brand popular among environmentally-conscious consumers, revealed that its bottle linings contained bispenol-A, a hormone-disrupting chemical.  Worse, the CEO had to admit publicly that he had known about it long before the public revelation.

These two companies had a slight advantage in managing these crises because of their well-established brands and good environmental track records prior to these incidents.  However, without strong branding, a company faced with environmental issues can be in jeopardy of irreparable damage before the problems are corrected.

Authors Stephen Linaweaver and Brad Bate suggest that there are three steps that any company should take to manage crisis:

  • Know what you know – and what you need to find out. Environmental issues are often complicated and proactive research to determine a corporation’s vulnerability can shorten the time of response in the face of crisis.
  • Acknowledge the event, and put it in context. Responding to an event quickly in a manner that recognizes the big picture rather than focusing too closely on specifics can place the proper emphasis on the issue without dwelling on it.
  • Engage in dialogue. Environmental issues create an opportunity to communicate with the accusing organizations because their acknowledged purpose is to bring about change, not simply attack the “bad guys.”  Developing a positive relationship with activist environmental organizations can open the doors to both sides sharing what they know, believe and want, leading to a positive resolution.

For the full articles, read more…

Chesa
www.computergoddess.com

Now that’s what I’m saying

Julia Angwin was frustrated because every time someone Googled her, the top results were for an article she wrote for the Washington Post in 2005 about Lewis “Scooter” Libby who was indicted for making false statement, perjuring himself and obstructing justice by lying about how and when he learned the identity of CIA operative valerie Plame.

Now you might think this is not such a bad thing, but Angwin as a journalist felt stuck in the past and her work as a longtime media and technology reporter was not shining or showing up well-positioned for a search on her name.  Frankly, this one article wasn’t representing her career very well.

This issue is a prime example of someone who wants to change or enhance their reputation online.  However, this isn’t the worst issue I’ve come across, but annoying for Angwin just the same.  And she decided to go about changing her online reputation and her story is outlined clearly in an article, It’s a New Me (As Seen on Google) in The Wall Street Journal | Personal Technology.

The really interesting thing about this article is that it follows the strategy we use in our business to change, enhance, subdue, or repair reputations online.  While she did the work herself, she had some good advice and she followed it well.  Read her whole story about changing her online Google image for the details.

Then contact TAO Consultants if you need help changing your online reputation.

Chesa
www.computergoddess.com