Scouring through Feedly this morning, I came across this article written by Dave Fleet. Reading through it, I found myself nodding a lot and I wanted to expand on it somewhat, as this is a particular bug bear of mine. Perhaps not so much in press releases per se, but in internet content and online reputation management in general. Far too often I am seeing people completely forgetting that they have a human audience in their zeal to dominate the search results, ‘push negative results down’ and generally satiate their panic that someone else has said something that might have damaged their reputation.
I keep saying it and saying it. You are judged by everything that appears on the internet about you. Sure, with some cheap, effective SEO tricks you might be able to fill the top ten search results for your company or actual name. Job done, you might think.
*Brief pause while I remove myself from the office and scream in frustration*
Your purpose is to tell your story. That is the whole purpose of any kind of PR. And telling a story implies that there is a human being at the other end listening to it. Not a Google bot. A living, breathing human being.
In order to produce some decent content which coherently tells the story (as opposed to writing for the sake of cramming in keywords) you have to reconsider who you are actually writing for. There is no point writing a blog for the sake of the Google bot – a blog should be a conversation, a method of communication between you and the people you want to talk to. Similarly, set up profiles in social media sites because you actually want to be social, not because it gives you another search engine place.
I think this is the most difficult things about the job of an online reputation manager – to convince the client that a reputation is made or broken by other people, not by a Google bot. How on earth do you think you are going to repair any kind of reputation issue by flooding the search engines with pointless but beautifully optimised content? It is just sticking a band-aid over the problem, patting yourself on the back, and going on your way. Believe it or not, people actually read what they find in search results – they don’t just do a search, get to the SERP page and think ‘oh, that’s ok, I can’t see anything bad in the two line description’. Your reputation is a wholly human exercise – the search results are a very distant second.
I feel very strongly about this as you can tell, and not just because I adore the English language. I feel strongly about it because I want to see the internet develop as a conversation facilitator – not just a place to dump stuff in the hope that problems might go away.
Phew…that’s my Friday rant done!
Thank you to FlySi for the image