Lee Odin's recent post on Managing ORM with SEO has allowed me to rehash some of the main points he covers in his post, for a treatment based on our specific experiences. It is hoped that by putting these points out in the open, it will foster a vibrant discussion and debate that will assist in making sense of how the SEO and ORM management spaces are maturing.
|The importance of safeguarding one's reputation has created the impetus for a wide-range of SEO and Internet monitoring strategies to take shape and form. While we would like to believe that these strategies are carried out in coordinated manner, we continue to see a much different approach than Lee's graph convey's.|
The strategies our firm continues to see is more based on a core/peripheral approach. The core can either represent the corporate mandate, or the overall strategy to build and safeguard brand reputation. The periphery is occupied by the vendors providing SEO, Monitoring, etc. The periphery also appears to be the point where the analysis occurs, and this is a unilateral communication between each peripheral function to the core, rather than happening on a multilateral level.
So in other words, social media monitoring/measurement vendors are very rarely in the loop about what SEO strategies (if any) the company has deployed, and this makes it fundamentally impossible for convergence or coordinated strategies to develop and form. While it is vitally important for any strategy to be built on coordinated ideas and action, there is a concern that this makes it also difficult to keep a pulse on ethical conduct.
While there have been attempts to create standards in the SM space, with Gartner vouching on its worthiness, I think that pinning down things like being able to distinguish between aggressive tactics and the perpetrators of harm will be vital to the future of ORM, and its ability to flourish in a positive and organic manner.
As an example, our Reputation Measurment™ platform is the basis for experimental technology and research, and with it, we have identified a rise in activity which could threaten monitoring programs. While the majority of these threats were originally discovered on free-blogging platforms, they appear to have gravitated to more popular social media outlets and seem to be resistant to the measures each site provider puts in place to prevent malicious and unwanted software.
The worst of these threats is what we call "malware-roulette" - these examples have now been discovered in almost every type of SM source at least once (i.e. blog, forum, social network, etc.), and are making repeated appearances in the more popular social networks. The way they function is to redirect visitors who click on a tweet or a blog link, and the code will redirect them to a page which has been preconfigured to randomly point them to a different location each time. While some of these can be targetted and identified as spam content which attempts to scrape text from news sites, they can often be passed-off as legitimate because the randomization of the redirect script will contain at least one valid link source claimed in the original post. This discovery was only made possible when we started to notice that our comment tracking platform was starting to record hyper-linking (of malicious origin) unrelated to the original discussion.
The question becomes whether these forms of spam/malware are being created as part of aggressive SEO tactics, or whether this is something that derives from those with an intent to cause harm. More specifically, if the SEO or SERM firm you use is not the same as the firm your company uses to perform online brand and reputation monitoring, you may want to consult with the online monitoring folks before tasking anyone to "bury" or "raise" what is percieved as being "positive/negative" online incidents.
The reality is that ORM is still at its infancy, and most companies are scrambling to take control of their specific situation. While corporate buy-in for reputation management solutions is happening at a healthy rate, it is in our opinion that ORM strategies need to be aligned with exisiting and future corporate mandates. There is no doubt that the lack of convergence or communication between the peripheral functions will have an effect on the precision, quality, accuracy and delivery of any/all strategies.
Treating each pod in the periphery as an island will mean the inevitable shoring of that message in a bottle, often arriving too late to take any corrective action. The caveat is that it is always a good idea to screen the experts you call in to provide reputation management, whether they are providing SEO, Internet monitoring services, or both, and that includes getting a good handle on the type of services they offer, questioning the reliability of their technologies/techniques and their general stand on "code of ethics" as it pertains to using techniques which may do more harm than good.
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RepuTrace™ is the All-in-One Corporate Intelligence Tool which can also be used to assist in the areas of brand and reputation monitoring, investigations, competitive intelligence gathering, market intelligence analysis and research or even to protect against counterfeit brand issues.
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Below are some links to product or company mentions in mainstream media:
Protecting the firm’s name on the web | Law Times
Safeguard Your Brand Reputation Online | Inc. Technology
They’ve got their eyes on you—are your ears burning? | ComputerWorld Canada
Blog author threatens to go "on a killing spree" | CNW Group
Blog author threatens to go "on a killing spree" | PR Newswire
Tips on Safeguarding Your Online Reputation | WSJ Startup Journal