Reputation Management is going to play a very large part in the Future of SEO and everyone with a name or brand they care about needs to pay more attention to what the search engines are telling their potential customers. Google validates everything and if joe schmoe says you suck and it ranks in the top ten for your name, well then guess what? You Suck.
There are two major sides to Rep management, image and brand control and crisis management. Most of you are hopefully in the brand controlling stage where there is nothing negative about your company or brand in the engines, and you can get a great head start. Or you may have pushed some customers to the edge and their blogs rank for your name with a nice nasty 700 word article mentioning your name a bazillion times with Google love slathered all over it. If you are in the crisis mode and don't have an in house seo or an seo firm you are working with it may be time to hire one.
For those of you that just wan't to control the top ten there are some very useful sites in the social media world that can help you achieve that. Most social media sites provide you with the ability to create static search engine friendly urls for your profile name, coupled with the ability to choose your title tag and header. This is a very good start at gaining control of the top ten for your brand. The other thing that is on your side when using these sites is that you are building a page on a trusted domain, and anyone that is watching seo right now knows that it is all about trust. These sites can rank for your brand fairly quickly especially because your brand is most likely not a money keyword.
Here is a quick example of what you can do
*Other really good sites that get indexed right away are 9rules and Yahoo 360.
Make sure you are linking to these pages (with your brand as the anchor text) to help them get indexed. Also a great tip from Gray Wolf is to be active on these sites, not only will it bring traffic and contacts but it will also keep the content fresh and keep you from getting stale pages removed from the social sites.
**Tip look to the right of Gray Wolfs Blog under "Gray Wolf Online" Think someone understands brand management.
Make sure you link to your site from these as they are good trusted sites and may help with your link pop.
Marketing Pilgram has a great post on rep management and monitoring for beginners.
On a side note when I decided on the name 97th Floor the top ten results were all occupied by trusted news domains referencing the 97th Floor in one of the World Trade Center Towers that was heavily effected by the 911 attacks. We have since moved them all to the second page.
Using these methods coupled with advanced seo we are now control 17 out of the top 20 pages for two clients that hired us in late Jan. 07. One of them was loosing $2,500 a day due to negative sites ranking. That is nearly a million a year if you count weekends and over 600k a year if you don't either way in the last 6 weeks we have destroyed the results and are saving them a cold million a year. The other company would have lost more than that but they jumped on it with us asap. They are loving life right now. Im putting together an advanced reputation management post that will go into more detail on these two case studies.
Score Board just released the Definitive Guide to Reputation Management
Brian Provst dabbles in the VC world which I am sure has brought him many opportunities in Rep Management, he has some great take aways in the article. "buying domains for yourbrandsucks.com" and canonical issues, as well as getting pro active bloggers to promote your image. It is a great guide. In my advanced rep management article that is in the works I will talk about how I got over 300 bloggers to blog on one of my companies in one weekend. All underground, it was sick.
I also agree with Brian's Article most companies out there selling Rep. Management are crap reselling blog search products and alert programs, they probably couldn't clean up a .gov if needed (that is a new one in the works it will be a nice challenge) do yourself a favor and get a serph username and pw and create some rss for your brand, employees, and products and save some more money.
Get started now before you are losing 2,500 a day.