As a busy search engine optimization firm, we are regularly approached about reputation management. The usual motivation is that a negative review from an angry customer with a blog has managed to place a high-profile negative piece. This can be extremely damaging to business. The RipOffReport.com seems to have a high percentage of these reports. Many clients are particularly troubled by the fact that the RipOffReport people refuse to remove claims even if they are completely false. HubShout regularly engages in reputation management campaigns specifically designed to "push the bad stuff down" by promoting positive reviews and articles about our clients.
Questions naturally arise out of campaigns such as this. As we fight tooth and nail for the first 10 slots of Google, it can start to feel that information warfare has taken on new meaning. Is this okay? We have generally taken the position that our activities to promote positive news via SEO is ethically clean, as long as the information is true. But those are our thoughts - and we're an SEO firm. Well today I came across a VERY interesting quote from Google confirming my position. And that has been rare ;-)
Specifically, NPR reported the following quote today in a report about SEO for reputation management:
Google doesn't seem to have a problem with the whole game. As the world's largest search engine, a spokesman there says creating new content to hide negative material is fair play.
While we at HubShout think this is the only defensible answer, it is again surprising to hear Google taking such a high-profile position on the topic. Taken in the context of my post about Rand and Aaron a few weeks ago, I am starting to see a fairly systematic shift on Google's part.
As SEO has matured there is hardly a firm that doesn't engage in some type of search engine marketing strategy. As the masses have realized that the "build a great website and wait" strategy is a fallacy, Google is starting to update it's PR. It makes me wonder where they will be in 5 years on the topic ;-)