Online Reputation Defending

Today something interesting happened. I was offered a deal to link to a web page. I checked the web page. It was about someone who was born in the first quarter of the last century. So, why would anyone bother about doing search engine optimization for this man? What’s the need? I was completely baffled.

Then I started my investigation. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out the reason. Now this person’s family follows naming their future generations with the same name but adding those roman numerals like “So and so, the third”. And it turns out, this person’s grand son happened to have gotten some bad news articles. So, when you search for the person, you get web pages for all the three generations. But it so happens, that the bad news is glaringly visible as one of the top posts.

I won’t tell who this person is, I would just provide a few hints for the curious to do their own research. First, the family is rich and publicly known. Before I give the second hint, I want to tell about another interesting thing.

So, the bad news article I am talking about is not like just recently published. It’s almost a year old. Hmm, so why would anyone bother to defend their reputation now? Either they may have done it then, or just don’t bother about it and move on. It may be possible that only recently Google started showing that article higher up. Not sure.

But there was another turn of events that slowly unraveled today in the tech industry. Something that started on Sep 21st concluded on Sep 22nd. It’s significant news for the stock market and the silicon valley. So, in fact, that’s what actually made me to piece together easily.

I know there are companies making money out of getting rid of the bad publicity from the web by doing all these types of SEO techniques. So far I have mostly noticed it for companies. But over the last year or so, the activity seems to be picking up for individuals, especially the rich and public figures with some skeletons in their closets (either for them or their family members).

While I am at this topic, another interesting thing I noticed in this area of “reputation defending” is, one small company is a so called “certified partner” of a very large company and the large company has a page on their website about this partner (they have a directory of their partners and this is one of them, nothing other than that from SEO point for the large company). So, the small company (or the people whom they are working with to improve their image) has chosen to do SEO for their profile page on this large company. This is interesting because, while it may be difficult for a small company to get better SERP even with all SEO techniques, as their website itself may not have a good pagerank, it’s likely to be very easy to get a better pagerank from a larger company. Never mind that there is no link back to this small company, never mind that the large company web page will be showing up when searched by the name of this small company, it’s still OK, I guess. Mainly because, when searched by name, since the domain name has sufficiently large weightage, the first result is likely to be the small company anyway. So, they are just trying to push down some other undesired results off of other websites, by increasing the ranking of another page from a more popular website.

Interesting technique. Black hat? White Hat? I don’t know, I don’t care, I am not in the SEO business myself. But I do like to monitor what’s going on in these areas because, a) just out of curiosity b) I can make sure I am not getting dinged for my websites by others because of this type of techniques.

I am going to write my next post about how I did get screwed by a rogue competitor and there is not much that can be done.

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