In the days before the Internet was popular, stalking just happened in the physical world.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you want to view it) I’ve never been stalked. I’m not quite sure why that is. Probably because I’m sarcastic enough to the point where you might fear that I’ll punch you in the face 🙂
Jilted lovers or political activists might follow you home, but they weren’t very difficult to spot. In the computer age, however, the evolution of stalking has led to some frightening and disastrous results. Web stalking, also known as net stalking and cyberstalking, is incredibly common, and in many jurisdictions, law enforcement is lacking on this particular front. As an online business owner, you may be experiencing a specific type of cyberstalking, the sort that comes from an obnoxious, unhappy customer.
Upset over their experience, these individuals may go around to various forums, blogs, and sites, declaring that your business is an unholy scam. This is the rough equivalent of a small group standing outside of a brick and mortar store with picket signs, screaming at anyone who tries to enter. So, how can you get these disgruntled people to go away, or at least diminish the damage that they’re doing? Here is a quick guide on how to protect your brand from cyberstalking.
The first thing to do is get lots of your own content containing positive messages onto the web. If you don’t have at least enough websites to fill up the first page of Google (in other words, 10 results), then any negative reviews will float to the top by default. One way you can get content out there quickly and easily is by using social media. Social networking on sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube can create pages that are likely to rank better than someone rambling on their blog about a bad experience.
Other content can be created using alternate domain name extensions. If your site is a .com address, creating the same address but with a .net, .org, .tv, .us, or .info extension can do a lot of good. After all, an “exact match” domain name ranks incredibly well in almost every search engine. Just create some unique informational content for each site, and you’re good to go.
Do you need to get really aggressive? Do you have Better Business Bureau complaints overflowing on the web? Rip off reports? Jaded customers working day and night to optimize their viciously worded blogs? Well, first of all, how did you upset so many people? Maybe you should consider whether some of these people have valid concerns. And second, maybe it’s time to hire out your reputation management.
Major reputation management companies can be costly, but they have multiple services that can help you. Putting a positive spin on articles that you simply can’t get rid of, contacting and negotiating the removal of a damaging article or entry, creating new content with positive information, and optimizing sites with existing positive reviews can all be used to drown out the screaming voices of one or two persistent disgruntled customers.
The real point is to get 10 pages with good reviews ranking on the top page of Google, and reputation management companies usually get that done.