In company, track record counts for a lot. And its constituent parts, the contributing elements, are many and intricate, from the opinions that clients form about your products or services, to the way in which you interact with your various stakeholders, to your business governance and ethical practices– they all play a role.
Track records are tough won, and quickly lost. They are a possession as important as any that appears on a balance sheet, and should be increasingly safeguarded. And nowhere is that more true than online.
Now, more than ever, a business’s reputation is shaped by what people see online– and specifically what they see on the first page of Google search results. Why Google and not other search engines? Well, Google has an 88 percent share of search in the United States, so even if you use Bing, 9 out of 10 individuals do not. That’s nine out of 10 clients, investors, prospective employees, legislators, reporters … everyone you wish to affect.
And why do we speak about page one of Google particularly? Only 14 percent of people ever look beyond page one, so if we are considering where to focus our attention, page one is it. Forget your expensive site, page one of your Google search results page is your new store window. However it’s a window that others get to dress.
What you see when you Google your brand name is what others see. And for numerous companies– even numerous sophisticated, mature business– it’s not a flattering photo.
However why is that?
SEO is insufficient
Numerous business rightly invest greatly in search engine optimization (SEO), but inadequate attention is paid to optimizing branded search engine result.
Let’s be clear: what we are speaking about here is not SEO. If SEO is about ranking extremely in search versus the generic terms with which you wish to be associated, what we are talking about here is what individuals see when they look for you by name.
Attempt it on your own. Google your own business and what do you see? If you enjoy with what you see, then you clearly have this locked down, which is excellent. But if not, you certainly are not alone.
My associates and I conducted an analysis of the companies in the Nasdaq 100 and discovered that 64 of those companies have unfavorable, unflattering or damaging content sticking to page among their Google search engine result– what we have actually pertained to call ‘news gum syndrome.’ Negative newspaper article, bad evaluations, activist financiers, pressure groups, annoyed workers … it’s all there, doing unknown damage to these business’ track records (and, potentially, assessments).
What’s more, a great deal of that negative content is not the froth of what remains in the news today– we would anticipate that. No, it’s old. A few of it extremely old: 14 of those 64 business affected had unfavorable content that was more than a year old just sitting there on their search results.
Negative material is sticky … And some topics are stickier than others
There are lots of reasons unfavorable material is stickier than favorable news– it’s a combination of algorithms and psychology.
Google and other search engines do not rank negative material more highly since it is unfavorable, they do so since human beings are most likely to click, check out, share, and otherwise engage with unfavorable material. Our brains are simply wired that way.
Subsequently, negative material simply hangs around for longer.
As part of our research study, we analyzed what type of unfavorable stories most affected the Nasdaq 100, which business and sectors were most impacted by which subject( s), and how ‘sticky’ that content was.
The bottom line is that lots of business clearly lack robust strategies for handling the longtail reputational damage triggered by these problems.
Who’s managing your reputation?
A great deal of this comes down to who is charged with handling your corporate track record. Your corporate comms group, right? It certainly ought to be, but our analysis of the Nasdaq 100 suggests this area of online reputation management falls between the fractures in between SEO and corp comms. Which’s easy to understand.
There are treatments for ‘news gum syndrome,’ but those treatments require specialist skills that may not live within either department. So the unfavorable news just sticks around. But it can be repaired. Your credibility is an important possession– it’s time to safeguard it.
Published October 24, 2019– 11: 00 UTC.