Facebook is practicing Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM). TechCrunch, one of the leading tech blogs on the net, wrote that Facebook polls would not allow you to include competitors’ names in them. This was at the time when Facebook Polls had just launched and could have easily been a major PR problem for Marc Zuckerberg’s billion dollar+ company.
I recently announced that SEO ROI would be offering clients search engine reputation management services. In the announcement, I explained that SERM is used to garner more traffic from qualified searchers looking up your brand. But it’s also used to protect your brand by dominating the results pages so that you control the message about your company. That is, if you have control over 6 of the 10 results, other people only get four of the 10 spots ranking for your brand. If you have 10/10, you’ve got total control over your message.
Now TechCrunch has nearly 600,00 subscribed readers. As you can guess, the mega-blog’s domain is very well trusted, and thus it ranks for the Facebook poll (which is how I found out that Facebook was practicing search engine reputation management). So for a good few hours, Facebook was getting negative publicity from this part of the search results for Facebook Poll. People were weighing in with comments to the effect that Facebook was practicing censorship of free speech and the like.
Along came a Facebook spokesperson to explain that the Polls had some old code. This had been preventing the use of competitors’ names such as Myspace. They fixed the code, apologized for the error and that was that. TechCrunch posted an update in the main body of the post. As fast as they could say “Oops, our bad,” Facebook had minimized or even neutralized this part of the search results. And that’s proactive search engine reputation management for you!
On a related note, Facebook users may need their own reputation management services to deal with their nude pics (yes, that’s safe for work).