The ability to control your corporate or individual online reputation is now largely a matter of learning effective search engine optimization. The ability to push favorable articles, blog posts and message board threads higher in the search results and thereby pushing the unwanted links further down is the most efficient way of controlling what users see. In other words, whoever is better at search engine optimization will win the battle of online reputation management.
Although there's recently been a heavy emphasis on making corporate websites search engine friendly, most company websites still don't do a terrific job and therein lies the rub. These days blog and message board software that can be installed by just about anyone automatically "search-engine-optimizes" every single post and message thread - making them powerful information sources in all the search engines. It's ironic, but the gaudy and unattractive free WordPress template blog will often blow away the the million-dollar website of a corporation in Google simply because it's installed from the beginning with all the right tips and tricks to make it quickly searchable and available worldwide. And the blog owner may not even realize it.
The next time you're trying to convince the boss to hire an in-house or outsourced SEO expert for the website, be sure to remind them that is no longer just about brand marketing - it's about being able to compete in a world where anyone can install a simple SEO blog and shoot straight to the first page of the search engine results using your own company name - without knowing a single SEO strategy themselves.