In a recent Wired article, Jason Goldberg, CEO of the job-finding site Jobster, discovered what bad blogs can do, the hard way.
In December, rumors began swirling that Jobster was planning layoffs. On his blog, Goldberg stoutly denied everything. But internally, he was dropping clues, like reminding staff to use up their vacation days. And he posted a list of songs on his blog, including “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” and “Dirty Laundry.”
A week later, Jobster announced it was laying off 40 percent of its staff, something Goldberg had to have known all along.
The mocking blog entries piled on.
Goldberg probably hopes this little incident will quietly fade away. But it won’t, for one simple reason: When you type “Jason Goldberg” into Google, a link to an International Herald Tribune story detailing the entire debacle appears near the top of the first page of results. Anyone who searches for Goldberg will immediately trip over the biggest faux pas of his career. It has entered, as it were, his permanent record.
Where’s the buzz? Companies have watched and will continue to watch their biggest mess-ups quickly migrate to the top of a Google search. This illustrates an interesting aspect of the Internet age: Google is no longer just a search engine. It’s a reputation-management system.
Just think about how Google works. When you type in a term, the search engine puts the site with the most links pointing toward it at the top of the list. That means bloggers and discussion boards are extremely powerful in influencing Google’s search results. The reason? Bloggers and discussion-board posters are promiscuous linkers, constantly pointing to things they love or hate. Google vacuums up those links and makes recommendations based on them.
Jason Goldberg may prefer that people didn’t read that Herald Tribune story, but it doesn’t matter. Tons of bloggers and online writers have decided to link to it, and they have the final word.