SEOWhen bad news about your brand goes viral, you need to act fast to minimize the damage. Once a bad situation is no longer getting worse, you can promote optimized content associated with your brand and keywords to bury the bad news in the search engines.

1. Talk to the source.

As soon as you learn a bad news situation is brewing, attempt to negotiate with the unhappy party. Talk this party on the phone, rather than through written messages that can be quoted out of context.

2. Review guidelines for third party sites.

When the information appears on a third party site, check the site’s Terms of Use, Terms of Service, or comment policy to see whether the posting violate site rules. If so, you can ask the site to remove it.

3. Do not draw extra attention to unflattering information.

You do not want to help drive traffic and attention to the content involved. You want to focus on finding resolution with the source before things get worse and then promote more favorable content about yourself or your organization.

4. Accept responsibility and apologize.

When appropriate, own up to a perceived problem. Many times, an aggrieved person simply seeks acknowledgement of his misfortune. Say you are very sorry. Promise to find ways ways to correct the situation for the future.

5. Settle with a refund or future discount.

Offer an unhappy customer a refund or discount if necessary to make the customer happy. Some claims are better settled quietly than protested loudly in the search engines. He-said-she-said arguments could go on for years, and these arguments will live forever if published on the Internet.

6. Tell your story, your way to anyone who will listen.

In a 21st century world, we can no longer pretend away small claims. One person can bring down the mighty with a campaign that resounds with the public. The best an entity can do is to bury the bad content with a new search engine optimized (SEO) campaign that presents the company or person in a better light.

7. Be Honest

You have nowhere to hide in the 21st century. The truth will come out, and everyone has to face criticism at times. Using negative feedback to improve your company can become the silver lining you pull out of a reputation storm. You can tell the story of how you took a bad situation and improved it. You will then own the honest conversation about the topic.

Once you have a situation under control, consider an SEO plan to protect your brand from future crises. You can make it difficult for bad news to rank higher than you by dominating the search engines.

Do you agree or disagree? Perhaps, I missed something? Either way, I would just love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic… just let me know your alive!