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The Role of SEO in Crisis Management
Minimize bad up-top hits with search engine optimization.
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 by Jonathan Bernstein
Bernstein Crisis Management

Jonathan BernsteinWhat do you want people to find on the first page of results when they search for your organization's name on Google (which has 60 percent of search traffic) or the other major search engines? 

You would probably prefer that they don't find:

A) a vicious blog started by disgruntled former employees; or, 75 percent of the links leading to websites or blogs critical of your business; or,

B) websites and blogs that you don't control, with your own sites buried on later Google pages; or

C) your name prominently and negatively mentioned on legitimate (e.g., Better Business Bureau) or quasi-legitimate (RipOff Report) consumer-focused websites; or,

D) your name connected with an investigation by any regulatory or enforcement agency.

These are all situations that have been brought to Bernstein Crisis Management by clients in the past couple of years, with the crisis facing a growing number of organizations "simply" being the damage they are incurring online. The innocent are portrayed as guilty. Minor offenses are portrayed as major offenses. Criticism that sounds legitimate is purely or mostly fictional.

There are quite a few crisis management tactics that can mitigate the situations described above. Increasingly, one of the most essential tactics has been a form of search engine optimization (SEO) focused specifically on preserving and restoring reputation, when the crisis is already in progress, followed by creation of an "SEO shield" to preserve reputation going forward.

Just as relatively few public relations practitioners have extensive experience with crisis management, relatively few SEO consultants understand how to engage in SEO reputation management. Chesa Keane is one of them, and I'm pleased to bring you Chesa's...

    Top 10 Tips For SEO Reputation Management
     By Chesa Keane

  • Focus on Google for search results; the other search engines will follow suit over time.

  • Review your website for keyword placement and density (keyword/total word ratio); you won't be found if the keywords are not present in the proper configuration (i.e. there are requirements for the number of keywords used in different parts of the code that creates the page).

  • Update your website frequently; stale sites drop fast and fresh information keeps your site sticky (viewers stay and return).

  • Present clear calls-to-action; give your visitor a reason to respond.

  • Validate your web pages for error-free code; Google will downgrade poorly constructed websites.

  • Content must be relevant to both the website and the web page.

  • Avoid Flash content and frames pages; these websites cannot be reliably indexed.

  • Obtain inbound links from relevant, high-profile websites with good PageRank.

  • Create multiple points-of-presence (e.g., blogs, article publication, activity at forums, social media), where you can get as many positive messages out as possible, pushing the negative messages down on a search engine results page.

  • Monitor your results constantly and adapt quickly based on the results.

Chesa Keane, principal of Reno, Nevada-based TAO Consultants, Inc., has been offering web design and search engine optimization (SEO) advice since 1995, soon after the advent of the modern World Wide Web. She is Bernstein Crisis Management's preferred provider of 
SEO Reputation Management services.

Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., editor of the Crisis Manager newsletter, and author of 
Keeping the Wolves at Bay: A Media Training Manual. 

In 2005, PR News recognized him as one of 23 consultants 
nationally "who should be on the speed dial in a crisis."

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