Why You Should Play Fair When Managing Your Reputation Online
If you’re in the SEO industry here in the UK, you will have probably read about the rather unfortunate case of an agency caught giving poor scores to their competitors in a roundabout effort to improve their own rankings. I won’t name names or go into too much detail, particularly as this isn’t the only time it’s happened – nor indeed is it the most damaging case.
The issue that I want to look at today is one of your own business integrity. What are you willing to do to boost your profile online, and are false reviews for your company any better than those created to besmirch competitors?
Ethics is always a dodgy issue; it’s rarely as black and white as most would claim. If everybody on page one is benefiting from false reviews, ill-gotten links and other frowned upon techniques, why shouldn’t you? It’s a question that confronts many site owners and SEOs on a daily basis. After all, being entirely ethical all of the time won’t necessarily mean that you can pay the bills. It’s not nice, but it is a fact of life: the good guys don’t always win.
The trouble really comes when you’re doing these underhanded techniques right off the bat. If you haven’t even attempted to do the right thing, then how do you know if it works or not? It’s essential that you at least try to start off adhering to ethical practices before wading into the muddied waters of gaming the system.
So what should you be doing?
First of all, forget what your competitors are up to. Your entire marketing and branding campaign shouldn’t be dictated by outside influences. If they’re intent on writing bad reviews, keep reporting them to Google or the review site in question, and get on with your own work.
Ultimately your success and failure will come down to how you treat customers and the services you offer. It doesn’t matter if somebody is spreading malicious lies about you, deal with these accordingly but don’t allow that to detract from your real aim – to succeed online.
A good business will usually have a number of people that are willing to vouch for them without any kind of prompting. Whether this is on social media or review sites, these are the people that really matter. So your job, whatever stage of development your business may be at, is to get these people to engage with your brand and give them a reason to return. If you start badmouthing competitors or have chosen to invest all your time and money into dodgy links rather than a quality site, you could lose them before you’ve even begun.
Some might argue that this is largely dependent on the industry you’re in and the work that you do; that’s just nonsense. People respond to companies that they trust and have enjoyed positive experiences with. Whether it’s a hotel, an ecommerce store or a solicitors, building a reputation from the ground up will work wonders.
Therefore why should you spend valuable resources taking down competitors? If that’s your sole aim, then there will always be someone out there who will rise above such tactics and you’ll be fighting a losing battle. However, by maintaining a positive approach, you are in control of your own destiny. It might not be particularly cutting edge, but it certainly won’t end up harming your long-term prospects.