According to Hubspot, 61 percent of Internet users around the world use the Web to research purchases online. With more people doing their homework, the information they find on the Web is gospel. That means it’s in your best interest to make sure a Web search of your company paints your organization in a positive light.
However, this is much easier said than done. People often search for negative terms in order to get the real dirt about a company. The terms “scam” and “ripoff” frequently appear in the suggested search terms of organizations worldwide. And although the company may be reputable and the site may have been written by an elite freelance writer, the mere presence of those suggested search terms may scare off potential customers.
What can you do if you find yourself fighting a battle with the search engines?
Ignore the Problem
You could pretend that people aren’t being offered negative opinions about your company every time someone types your name into the search bar. But doing this means that you’re inviting people to explore those options. People are much more likely to be swayed by something negative than they are to think positively. Do you really want to give customers that chance?
Clearly, you don’t want to ignore a potential PR nightmare. But to fight back, you’ll have to get your hands a little dirty. A minimally invasive way to do this is to buy AdWords based around the negative searches that people perform relating to your company. This way, if someone searches for “(name of company) sucks”, you can have your own custom message appear before the torrent of negativity that follows. It also gives searchers the chance to look at your site and see if it’s really as bad as people say.
(Note: This tactic is not to be confused with using the Negative Keywords feature on AdWords, which allows companies to remove their keywords from searches if certain other words are used in the same search.)
Create a Negative Page
If you’re feeling saucy, you can go all-in to fight the potentially negative perception of your company. You can create a page on your website or blog that’s designed to address the criticisms that have been levied against your company online. For maximum impact, you’ll want to have a URL that includes some of the terms that are commonly searched. The positive side to this is that people will see the many reasons why your company is not what the search engines suggest. Unfortunately, the negative — and it’s a sizable one — is that by acknowledging the bad stuff, you encourage people to do their own research into the less desirable aspects of your company. This can potentially turn positive leads into fleeing visitors.
What’s the Best Approach?
Every company is different and will want to tackle this issue in different ways. However, the worst thing you can do is to ignore the problem; surely it will not go away by itself. On the other hand, creating a page just to say that you’re not an awful company might draw too much attention to the negative for your liking. Should you find yourself in this situation, a good initial approach is to buy the keywords that are suggested terms and include descriptions that focus on your company’s reliability and integrity. It’s a happy medium that brings attention to the issue without hurting your company’s reputation.
Bryan B is a freelancer writer living in Long Island, N.Y. He may be the only writer in the entire world that doesn’t drink coffee.