Search Engine Reputation Management (or SERM) tactics are often employed by companies and increasingly by individuals who seek to proactively shield their brands or reputations from damaging content brought to light through search engine queries. Some use these same tactics reactively, in attempts to minimize damage inflicted by inflammatory (or "flame") websites (and weblogs) launched by consumers and, as some believe, competitors.
Given the increasing popularity and development of search engines, these tactics have become more important than ever. Consumer generated media (like blogs) has amplified the public's voice, making points of view - good or bad - easily expressed. This is further explained in this front page article in the Washington Post.
Search Engine Reputation Management strategies include Search engine optimization (SEO) and Online Content Management. Because search engines are dynamic and in constant states of change and revision, it is essential that results are constantly monitored.
Social networking giant Facebook has been known to practice this form of reputation management. When they released their Polls service in Spring 2007, the popular blog TechCrunch found that it could not use competitors' names in Polls. Due largely to TechCrunch's authority in Google's algorithms, its post ranked for Facebook polls. A Facebook rep joined the comments, explained the situation and that the bugs in the old code had been updated so that it was now possible.
Also until social sites like Facebook allow Google to fully spider their site then they won't really have a massive effect on reputation management results in the search engine. The only way to take advantage of such site is to make sure you make your pages public.
It is suggested that if a company website has a negative result directly below it then up to 70% of surfers will click on the negative result first rather than the company website.