Google Real Time Search: The Reputation Management Nightmare of 2010

<Cue cheesy announcer voice>

Tired of having to spam blogs, write nasty comments on forums and get repetitive stress injuries just to ruin someone you don’t like?

What if you could run a smear campaign against your competitors, slandering them in front of millions of people per hour?

Well, good news, kids! Now, thanks to Google, you can do it in seconds!

Yep, it’s Google real-time search. If you want to chop up someone’s reputation, Google’s new ‘cutting edge’ (hah, get it!) technology will slice, dice, frappe and otherwise grind it into pulp.

</End cheesy announcer voice>

I wish I was exaggerating. But Google real time search will be the biggest online reputation management (ORM) nightmare of 2010. They make it so damned easy.

I’m going to show you how it works. This isn’t earth shattering. All the bad people out there have figured it out. But you need to know so you can defend yourself (somehow):

1. Find a trend

First, go to http://www.google.com/trends

Pick a top-10 trending topic. Those topics are sure to have real-time search results. You can double-check. Just go to Google and search for the trending phrase. Look for the ‘latest results for…’ and your keyword. If it’s there, you have a winner:

OK. Now you have the territory staked out. Time to do some damage.

2. Commence abuse

Now it’s time to have some fun. Go to Twitter (if you don’t have a Twitter account, you’ll need to set one up). Type in the message of your choice:

3. Watch the results

Go back to Google and watch the real time results. In a short time, you’ll see your message show up:

That’s it. Do this consistently for a little while and you can create an online reputation management disaster.

Who cares?

You do. No one gives a flying crap about me, so I can beat myself up in social media all I want. You’re different. If you:

  • Sell a product;
  • Offer a service;
  • Look for a job;
  • Are a public servant;
  • Or otherwise matter in the universe…

…I guarantee folks search your name and check on you before they call. And it only takes one negative listing in the search results to drive away customers. I’ve seen it time and again. If you and a competitor appear identical to a consumer, but you have one negative comment and they don’t, you’ll lose every time.

What to do

Remember that big kid that used to slap you silly at the bus stop? Bet your dad said something helpful like “ignore him and he’ll go away”. Didn’t work for me either. You can’t stop assholes from slandering you via real time search. You can make sure they do little or no damage:

  1. Take ownership of your brand name on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
  2. Monitor what people are saying about you. Get a report at least once a day (hourly is better).
  3. Make checking that report part of your normal routine.

Last, and possibly most important: Network with others online. The bigger your network, the more people you have to help you stand up to the bully.

I wish I knew…

…What the brainiacs at Google were thinking when they came up with their real time search model. Hopefully, they’ll fix the algorithm and make it harder to abuse the system. For now, though, your best bet is to think like a bully, keep an eye on the conversations that are going on out there, and know when someone’s abusing you.

About Ian

Ian Lurie is the CEO of Portent Interactive, and writes the internet marketing blog Conversation Marketing. He’s been an internet marketer since 1995. Recent calculations show he’s had over 30,000 hours experience in the field. Which may explain his tendency to rant like a lunatic. He’s co-author of the Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and author of the book Conversation Marketing. When permitted he rants and raves about internet marketing at various conferences, and attempts to use his powers of sarcasm for good.

Tags: google search results, ian lurie, Online Reputation Management, orm, portent interactive, realtime search, Social Media, Twitter

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Comments

11 Responses to “Google Real Time Search: The Reputation Management Nightmare of 2010”

  1. Andrew Kinnear on January 5th, 2010 2:06 pm

    Ian– this is definitely scary!

    What I’m noticing for the big brand I work for, is that people’s status updates on Facebook are getting auto-tweeted, and so my ‘monitoring’ fire-house is getting rapidly larger, all for irrelevant mentions. Luckily I’m in a fairly slow moving industry, so I don’t think we’ll make a trending topic anytime soon– but your sabotage by competitor idea still fits.

    Yikes.

  2. Brendan on January 5th, 2010 2:39 pm

    They were probably thinking ‘real time search is becoming more relevant and useful to billions of people’, not ‘wow, this is going to force marketers at Coke to work a little harder.’

    I agree with them. While I don’t doubt your points at all, Google doesn’t exist to serve brand managers.

    B

  3. ian on January 5th, 2010 3:09 pm

    Google exists to deliver relevance.

    Real time search as it stands allows me to insert irrelevant stuff into the results, as I proved above.

    I don’t care if they make me work harder – I just make more money.

    But I don’t like it when the industry leader does something stupid.

  4. Ryan Waggoner on January 5th, 2010 3:19 pm

    I’m going to use this to abuse Google, so that gradually fewer and fewer people will use it, thus solving the problem with the problem itself.

    In all seriousness, I think you’ve raised an important point here, but I wonder if this kind of thing becomes widespread, will people stop paying attention to these kinds of things? After all, we’ve been pretty well-trained by the “online marketing” industry to sniff out the authentic from the promoters (or dispromoters, in this case). It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

  5. ian on January 6th, 2010 12:05 am

    That’s kinda why I wrote this article :)

    I sure hope folks figure it out. As I said in a blog post today, a stream of real-time poop is still poop.

  6. Joy-Mari Cloete on January 6th, 2010 8:19 am

    Yeah, but how long does the offending results from Twitter et al stay up there?

  7. Synthesio on January 6th, 2010 3:56 pm

    Great article, Ian. Real-time search will certainly be interesting to follow in 2010. Our mantra last year was listen, listen, listen, and engage according to what fits your strategy, but that mantra will have to change now! As you point out, being ACTIVE online via social media marketers and/or the opinions of influencers will be essential to maintaining a positive online image.

    Best,
    Michelle
    @Synthesio

  8. Synthesio on January 6th, 2010 4:03 pm

    Great article, Ian. Real-time search will certainly be interesting to follow in 2010. Our mantra last year was listen, listen, listen, and engage according to what fits your strategy, but that mantra will have to change now! As you point out, being ACTIVE online via social media marketers and/or the opinions of influencers will be essential to maintaining a positive online image.

    Best,
    Michelle
    @Synthesio

  9. Joy-Mari Cloete on January 7th, 2010 9:00 am

    Btw, did you experiment with the social search, Ian? I twittered 2 things about CES and neither of my tweets showed up in Google’s ‘latest results’ box. And then I tried ’3D TV’ and still nothing.

  10. Mark Tinger on September 27th, 2010 8:42 am

    There are lots of good online reputation companies about. The key is value for money. I found ClydeStan most helpful in their approach and costing structure. They specialize mainly in celebrity reputation but I am sure they take on other clients, too. It seems they have connections behind the scenes where actual links and posts are being deleted and not only pushed down in search engines. I have used them twice now and the results are just fine. No problems, would recommend anytime.

  11. Mike on March 9th, 2011 3:46 am

    Nice experiment. Thankfully Google decided not to give so much weight to real-time search, probably not because they don’t want to, but most likely because they cannot control it well enough to generate relevant search results.