Many of us have experienced the results first hand of a website showing above ours in the search engine results that is less than complimentary about our business, products, employees, customer service and so on. This obviously can cause havoc with potential and existing customers, brand reputation, enquiries and sales figures, etc.

Generally what happens is that either your own SEO has not been sufficiently well-purposed to ensure that any fly by night website cannot knock you off your top rankings, or the perpetrator of such an ‘offence’ just happens to be better at SEO than your SEO company.

The times when this last most often occurs is when you are in a non-competitive niche and have held the top spot for quite some time because of lack of competition on your particular keywords. It is too easy to think all is well with your SEO and leave it for several years, but you must return to it regularly.

It is far easier to build a site from scratch that is optimised for specific keywords than to optimise an existing site for those particular keywords. The infiltrator may well have done some substantial research to ensure that his site attracts a top SERP position. After all, when was the last time many companies actually did a serious SEO appraisal of their website and took stock of what SEO was working and what wasn’t? Which keywords are driving the most traffic? Which require further optimisation?

We all know the story – there often just are not enough hours in the day!

However, there are some easy steps to take should a non-complimentary site gazump you at the top of the SERPS.

Firstly, it is always a good idea to take a long, hard stroll around the offending website, and take note of whatever grievances etc are being aired. If there are actually some solid reasons for the complaints or name calling, it is worth considering what you could do to address these and nullify the purpose of the website by presenting solutions to its owner. If there is no good reason for the site apart from Mr Angry from Acacia Avenue having too much time on his hands, consider a friendly shot across the bows…..!

If you try this and it doesn’t work, then it is time to take more direct action. And I don’t mean a scaffold bar, but rather some standard and out of the box Internet marketing.

Look at all the sites that come up in the top 10 -20 on your niche terms. If any of those are directories, who always have a decent marketing budget and tehrefore feature highly in the SERPS, then compose an entry for each of them. Many are free, and you will bring in long-term traffic with entries such as these.

See if you can swap a reciprocal link with any of the sites in the top 20. Remember: complementary not competitive so don’t try to link to your #1 competitor!

Then think about all the social media websites. Set up a profile for your company or name on each one of them. Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Ecademy – these are all good places to establish a presence. You can even set up groups for your most popular products or brands. Make sure you include those allimportant keywords and phrases in your descriptions and copy.

Once you have profiles on these sites, search for groups or forums where you could join and post helpful advice. All these websites have places to promote and many are underused by companies, although they are cheap and effective solutions to marketing and enhancing your reputation.

Add photos to Flickr and include your company name, product and brand names in the tags. Ditto on Youtube – add a quirky video of your staff if you don’t have a promotional video to hand.

Find online forums that list highly in your subject area on the search engines and lurk on them until you get the hang of it. Ask questions rather than answer until you are confident that you have cracked the netiquette.

Search out blogs that are on topic and contribute to the comments section with a link back to your page. Although many ahve ‘nofollow# tags, it is surprising how many people will look up the best posters and land on your site as a result.

We will continue with this another day. Post your suggestions to for enhancing and raising your reputation.

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About the author:

ClickThrough is a digital marketing agency, providing search engine optimisation, pay per click management, conversion optimisation, web development and content marketing services.