Reputation management has been a lively topic of conversation recently…and a very enlightening one. Vanessa Fox has a good piece on reputation management that I especially recommend and not just because she’s a girl. Li Evans and others on Search Marketing Gurus have written about this as well. Since I am unimaginative, I thought I’d chime in with a post of my very own and, with this in mind, I give you the top 10 things that can kill your reputation faster than a duck can jump on a junebug. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the rural South, that means really fast.
1. Being blatantly wrong about something. Examples of this include thinking that it’s ok to use frames, mispronouncing nuclear, sporting a George W. Bush sticker/shirt/bandanna, stating that MSN is a great search engine, and using the word “their” when you really need to use “there”. Being wrong is something that is unforgivable. People will not let you forget it either. I know that I can name almost every occasion in which someone I know was wrong. I thrive on pointing out wrongness. It makes me very happy when other people make mistakes, so much so that, when someone asks “who the heck did THIS?”, I will immediately say “I might have!” just so I feel good when it turns out NOT to be my mistake. Big laugh at your expense.
2. Boasting about being right about something. Just ask anyone how this has made my reputation suffer. I thrive on being right and will go to great lengths to remind people about times when they were wrong and I was right. This must be very annoying to those of you who are routinely wrong when I am right. I will admit to being wrong about things like thinking Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! would have a good second album, but I still maintain that w is a vowel.
3. Telling everyone that you cloak all your sites/conduct major blackhat SEO campaigns. While I have no problem with anyone doing this, it’s not likely a good idea to open yourself up to scrutiny here, especially if you’re intoxicated and harrassing Matt Cutts at a conference. You may think it’s cool to cloak (and I do too, to be quite honest) but don’t think that it’s anything worth bragging to the wrong people about. If you must brag, tell us about how many Star Wars figurines you have or about how you know someone who might have seen Billy Bragg engaging in some non-leftist behavior once. Everyone knows that the best blackhats don’t generally advertise what they do.
4. Using social media improperly. Yes, it’s basically an extension of what goes on at the conferences and the bars afterwards, but don’t do the following: list your favorite bands as being anything gospel-related, joining support groups for people with incurable sexually-transmitted diseases (although the groups for curable ones are fine), or post photos of any part of you naked.
5. Arguing, at length, with people on forums. Since Threadwatch is gone, we don’t get to see this in action on a daily basis but you can still find this happening on many forums and blogs. Arguing, at length, with people in person is also annoying but it’s fairly entertaining for onlookers to watch a feud brew so that’s ok. If you’re going to argue, pick a decent topic that’s worth discussing, too. Don’t argue about how MSN sucks. It does suck. There is no need for argument. Argue about whether Annabella Lwin was taken advantage of in Bow Wow Wow (she wasn’t!) or whether you get better conversions in Yahoo or Google paid ads.
6. Getting your clients involved in a hostage situation. Unless Bruce Willis is coming to help someone out, I have no time for this crap. When you do shifty things like refuse to sell a domain to a client when you specifically BOUGHT that domain for said client, you’re a real piece of work. Likewise, doing things like conducting linking schemes that force a client to stay with you will cause serious damage to your reputation, especially if someone who knows what you’re doing finds out about it. Don’t build a fortress around a client and then threaten them with it when they try to leave you. Bruce Willis might just find out about it and I don’t know if you have seen the Die Hard movies, but that man will kick your arse all over hell and half of Georgia.
7. Refusing to help someone out. People who withhold information in times of need are nasty little monsters. If someone asks you a question and really could use your help, don’t be an egotistical nightmare and refuse to give out those pearls of wisdom that you’ve gathered during your tenure as a high-level SEO. Remember when you needed a question answered, and think about the greater good. In this same line of thinking, don’t be condescending to people, especially newbies, who ask questions on blogs and forums. It takes a lot for some people to ask a question, and if you shoot them down, it may be the last one they ask and that’s never good. There are situations where it’s ok to refuse to help someone out, of course, such as when your neighbor wants you to help hide a body.
8. Discussing something that was told to you in confidence. This includes ideas about new things to do in SEO, things you’re working on that might make you some serious cash, and your dirty dream about going backstage with The Raveonettes. Even if a person does not come right out and tell you it’s confidential, you should be able to realize when it is and act accordingly.
9. Turning people in for doing things that you view as unethical SEO. I wrote a piece about why you shouldn’t turn in your competitors, so I won’t go into it again. Suffice it to say, it’s not your place in life to blow the whistle on people who are making a living just like you are. If Matt Cutts finds out what they’ve been doing, oh well. Stay out of it. If you want to turn someone in, go follow your local politician around and see what he or she gets up to after the local town meeting. Or call your friend out on her love of Eminem.
10. Not having a sense of humor. If you don’t think Father Ted is funny, well hellfire…I don’t know where to begin to help you. A sense of humor is critical, especially when you’re meeting up with almost anyone at an SEO conference. Also, for those of you who do not understand satire, may I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the concept BEFORE the Vegas show? If it still doesn’t click for you, please avoid coming up and talking to me, especially if you see me with a drink in my hand and the Viking faithfully standing guard. Without a sense of humor, where is the joy in things like watching your fellow conference-goers try to ride the bull, or watch a bout of mud-wrestling?