Articles for Webmasters     Search Engine Reputation Management

By Richard McSwain

Search engine reputation management, or SERM, is critical for businesses with an online presence. Unlike search engine optimization, SERM is not about people finding your web site when they use a search engine. Instead, SERM is about controlling web content posted by others that may affect your business's reputation.

Any web designer or SEO specialist worth his salt knows how to use Meta tags and keyword density to achieve good search engine placement. Your competition and perhaps even unhappy customers or disgruntled employees know the same techniques.

Perhaps you have searched for a business, and in addition to finding a link to their web site also found listings for other sites with similar names indicating they employed poor business practices.

Many companies occasionally have a customer they cannot please. It does not require an abundance of technical knowledge for this person to create a web site where they talk about how dissatisfied they were.

It can be damaging to have a site that is derogatory to your business listed in close proximity to yours. And there is seldom any legal recourse to have the site removed because it is generally not considered slander or defamation, but simply an exercise of their freedom of speech.

You may wonder how someone else can achieve the same page one rankings that you have worked so hard for. They can copy your Meta tags and key words to create a similar web site. If your site ranks high, so will another site that that is almost identical to yours.

This is where your SERM specialist comes in. He will create additional sites with similar content, create additional content pages on your existing site that produce their own search engine listings, create social network links, attract Twitter followers, and make sure that any search pertaining to your business or your product returns the results that you want customers to see, not those that detract from your business.

Another added benefit of SERM is name exposure. Everyone knows that to be seen in a search engine, you must rank in the top ten to twenty entries, and be placed on page one or page two. Seldom do people drill down deeper than that when looking for a business or product. They use the internet because they want quick results, and click links on the few first pages only.

Rather than being number one on the page, imagine being numbers one through ten. For instance, when someone searches for your business, they of course find you listed as number one on the page, but the second and third listings may be product reviews about the products you sell, then several listings about great things being said about you in blogs, then an article your local newspaper ran about your generosity to local charities. The types of additional listings are endless.

Using these strategies, you can not only insure that only positive results are returned in the top search engine results, but actually lower your competition's rankings, insuring that your link will be the one most often clicked.

So don't rely on SEO alone when it comes to getting found on the Internet. What people find is just as important as where they find it. Do a search for your own business, and see if SERM may be something your business needs.

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