You can’t beat the web, but you can certainly join it.
Today I was talking to someone about a client that I used to work for, who had a spot of trouble couple of years ago. On the whole their web presence is pretty solid but there’s a fly in the ointment: when you type its name into Google, a piece about their little spot of bother appears on one quite prominent site.
The client doesn’t like this. Well, you wouldn’t, would you?
We talked about ways to get around this. Try asking the client to live with it? Nah.
You could try working with the site that had posted the piece, but the horse has well and truly bolted and it would look ridiculously heavy-handed to do this.
And you can’t ‘game’ Google that I’m aware. Not unless you create an almightily large Google Bomb, so large that everyone notices the resultant mushroom cloud.
So how about ‘pushing’ the piece down from the first page? That is, embark on good social media practices that ensure you’ve got good coverage, or at least can mitigate bad coverage, so that when you look at the first page of Google, you can say it’s ‘your page’.
I’m not the first to think this: as e-consultancy says, “For brands such as Sky and Argos, the Google search results look good, with no negative results at all in the first page, even though each company must have had a few unhappy customers at some point.”
I almost own ‘my Google page’. If you search for me, there’s only one other Brendan Cooper who, remarkably, also works in digital media (is this nominative determinism at work?). And there are quite a few other Brendan Coopers around. I’ve got a Facebook group for us.
So if I can do it, surely the client can. If Google hits are a vote of relevance, then if the client were to start taking even basic steps towards producing its own highly linked and relevant news stream, then that would eventually surely float to the top of Google results and ‘sink’ the story off the first page?
Let’s be clear – I’m not talking about seeding or gaming tactics here. As I said, it’s probably impossible and certainly impracticable to do so. What I’m saying is that, wherever there’s news about this client, if the client can be there too, then it can do something about it. I’m talking quality and time, not quantity and muscle.
I’m not talking command and control either. What I mean is that, if the client were able talk to its audiences when there’s news, both good and bad, then it could start to cause little eddies in the flow of news that continue to circle to its advantage – and, because it’s listening to its audiences, their advantage too. What’s to lose?
Let’s go back two years. Let’s see the client go through its bad patch but that, as well as the sterling offline crisis procedures that were put into action, it also incorporates online tactics. Suddenly the bad news is surrounded by the client’s action, reaction and proaction (is that a word?). Two years later, they have a pristine Google page.
The adage holds true: be wherever your audience is. It’s probably a fair bet that a lot of your audience is often ‘at’ Google, especially the types of audience that aren’t as skunk drunk on the kool aid as us social media types are reckoned to be.
So how’s this for an objective: own the first page of Google. That is, when your company name (at least) is typed into Google, all the hits on the first page have attached to them some sort of presence that has come out of a strategy of monitoring and engagement with the people talking about them.
It’s certainly measureable. And, as I say, if I’ve (nearly) achieved it, so can anyone.