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Dealing with an Impostor URL
So you just found out your new client, who has a new brand & new site, has a fairly big problem with brand name search results: There’s a defamatory 3rd party blog that uses your client’s brand in the url, lets call this "bogusblog.com," & this blog is posing as a ripoff report announcement in order to divert customers from the brand. Upon further investigation you find links in forums that suggest going to the “Credible” competitor’s site after linking to the defamatory blog & making a bogus claim.
What should you do? Well, what you need is a plan on how to deal with this, prioritize what needs to happen and in what time frame. For me it was:
1) Push bogusblog.com off of the first page of Google.
2) Permanently get rid of bogusblog.com, if possible.
3) Begin positive brand rebuilding to so when customers search for the brand they find not only the site but other sources that prove the legitimacy of the blog.
4) While doing the above continue to build links & work the normal SEO approach.
Let me run you though this list.
1) I began by increasing the press releases that we had planned for the client. I also immediately took up all the free 3rd party blogging urls that I could to make sure new sites couldn’t pop up as easily. At first I would simply syndicate the blog we had already established, while working on unique posts & links to get them ranking. The press releases, along with a preconceived coupon code campaign dropped the bogusblog.com off the first page fairly soon. Unfortunately it only dropped on Google.
2) As “bogusblog.com” happened to be a .blogspot blog, I thought Google surely had a means to remove or deal with sites that misuse a brand name. After searching for a non-existent direct contact I was only able to find a “report abuse” section. For blogs with slander and or libel Google would only take action if a court order was presented. Effectively stopping my efforts for the time being.
3) As touched on in the PR post by Natalie, a positive approach to PR & brand management is effective and addresses the problem without being confrontational or provoking an increase in slanderous strategies from the bogusblog.com creator(s). As you want customers to know your brand is trustworthy and reputable, it’s a good idea to "take the high road" and not get embroiled in a war of words with your competitor.
4) Probably one of the most important steps here is that you can’t forget to continue your SEO & link building. While it may seem like it needs to be dealt with immediately, you can’t use that as an excuse to take up time you would normally use to build links. If you neglect your SEO responsibilities you not only hinder the long term rankings for the client, but you also play into the bogusblog.com’s “evil” plan. As one of the reasons things like these pop up is to distract & disrupt marketing efforts, remember that. Don’t play into their game. Keep a steady course & adjust your resources so you can improve both the brand and the rankings.
Now I hope none of you have had to deal with something like this, but if you have keep in mind some of my advice & hopefully you’ll be able to quickly & easily get rid of a problem like this for your client. This is an on going issue for me, but it opened my eyes to new link building strategies & ideas to test out in order to combat
(img source: hoklife)