When you have a crisis concerning your online reputation, what do you do? While this is covered often, it is always valuable to have a reminder because reputation management is a job professional SEOs are called on to perform regularly. With a little tutoring, many reputation management crises can be avoided. Unfortunately, there will always be a handful that require professional help to clean up. This is true because although you may conduct yourself professionally, not everyone else will.
Before you react in a rash manner, step back and assess the situation objectively. Ask yourself if the accusations made against you are warranted. Then consider how rational the person you are dealing with appears to be. The next step is to assess the nature of the “attack” and how much it can potentially hurt you. If you are dealing with an irrational person that actually poses little or no threat, they tend to blow hard fast and then die down like a passing wind. If that is not the case however, you need a different approach.
If you have actually done something to warrant a negative accusation, there is often an easy fix. Respond publicly at the point of the attack in a calm manner. If for instance you used an image without permission and where served a take down notice, simply comply. Post an apology stating that you were in error and acted with no malice. Be sincere! State that you will reacquaint yourself with applicable copyright law and make a strong effort to not repeat your mistake. Apologize for the infringement. It is hard to attack someone that made a sincere mistake and then remedied the situation.
What you do not do is attack the person that is in the right. Don’t engage in name calling. Don’t be a troll and cyber stalk them trying your best to hurt them and anyone you believe to be associated to them. That will come back to bite you harder than you want and will certainly require a professional SEO to clean up the mess and possibly an attorney to handle your legal liability which can be massive.
If you are a victim whose reputation has been damaged, act fast! Don’t engage the third party without consulting someone that regularly handles reputation management that can lay out a course of action. If the party that is damaging your reputation has made a campaign of it spreading the harmful material around the web, you will need an even more concerted effort to combat that. That is the type of thing few individuals can handle on their own. It may be expensive in some cases, but when it is your reputation that is at stake you need to protect it.
Working with an SEO firm experienced in reputation management can push those negative pieces of content down while strengthening your overall SEO. You do not want to wait to get this process started. You do not want to go it on your own and risk making the situation worse. You may be rational, but the people attacking you may not. Using an SEO firm to combat reputation management damage fallout is often the best option.