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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Search Engine Reputation Management on the Rise in 2007

I predict more search engine marketing (SEM) firms will be offering search engine reputation management services in 2007. Many firms already offer these sorts of services. Examples include Prominent Placement, Converseon, Scoreboard Media Group and SuccessWorks. Search engine reputation management is by no means new, but companies are starting to realize the need to influence the search engine results pages (SERPs) for their brands' keywords. These keywords could be a company's products, key employees or corporate name itself.

Part of the need for online reputation management stems from the fact that it is easier than ever for competitors or disgruntled consumers to impact the SERPs. For instance, it's pretty simple for a consumer to launch a blog, write something negative about a company and then spread the word online. As others link to this consumer generated content, the search engines will pick up on the content and it can creep its way into the SERPs for a company's brand keywords. Consumers don't even need their own web site to do this. Blogs can be hosted by blogging companies and a variety of, for lack of a better term, web 2.0 companies make it easy to create content that can rank well on the search engines. For example, consumers can "piggyback" on the search engine strength of sites like Squidoo. Consider this Google SERP for Ted Leonsis:

ted leonsis serp
Ted Leonsis - Full SERP | Titles-only SERP

Notice search result #7 is this Ted Leonsis page on Squidoo. (Psst, that's my entry in the SEO contest. Shhh!) Search engine reputation management requires both SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click) advertising. Often, the PPC ads are only required in the short term since SEO efforts usually take weeks to impact the SERPs. If reputation management needs to happen immediately, PPC is an essential tool. For a humorous look at PPC and reputation management, read my previous post, PPC Advertising Comedy.

I want to stress the point that a search engine reputation management strategy will likely involve both SEO and PPC tactics. It will go beyond those to blogs and web 2.0 sites, as well. But, contrary to what many people thought when I wrote Top 7 Reasons Andy Beal's Answer to Question #8 of Lee Odden's 10 Questions is Wrong, I think both SEO and PPC are essential. In 2007, look for SEM firms that currently offer SEO and PPC services to start advertising search engine reputation management services as a specialized option.

Note: This is my entry in the ProBlogger Group Writing Project - Reviews and Predictions.

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