Many stories that spread and stick do so because we so desperately want them to be true. Urban legends (and urban truths) fill a niche that we’ve built for them.
Miss Teen South Carolina has been watched nearly 20 million times over the last few weeks… because her inane prattling confirms our funniest dreams of empty-headed beauty queens. Doesn’t matter whether she is actually a dolt or not… the story matches our worldview, so we embrace it. It makes us feel even smarter than we did yesterday.
Jeff points us to Done, an SEO firm that claims it can quash bad reviews from showing up in Google. Sort of a reverse SEO play, they offer to take angry customer rants or riffs on sites like Consumer Reports and
make them less likely to show up in a Google search. MSNBC reports that they point to success with companies like WebLoyalty.com. (Typical search here). Marketers love this story. They love the idea that SEO could be done in reverse and that unfair and unjust besmirchments can be made to disappear.
The problem, of course, is that while the story is seductive, it’s not particularly true. As soon as a company starts to push the bad stuff down, someone writes about it or new bad stuff shows up and on it goes… Even worse, not only is there always another bad thing to push down, but the act of writing about what the company is doing (like I’m doing now) makes it even more difficult to "manage your reputation" by burying the critics.
The real answer is simple: be transparent, do good work, answer your legitimate critics in the same forum or through your actions.