Two weeks ago, Google made it clear that they will not remove a page that you don't like unless so ordered by the courts. As businesses shift their marketing focus to the internet, a huge topic being brought forth is reputation management. If a competitor, or anyone for that matter, wants to trash your good name, it is open season for them to say what they like on the internet. This is especially true now that sites like Twitter (and even Facebook to an extent) have turned into a real time search and update model. So the question arises; what can you do to protect your brand against those who wish to talk bad about you?
The answer lies in solid internet marketing. As an SEO, it is my duty to generate traffic as well as high rankings on search engines. Now that real time search is emerging, it makes the job of an SEO more important because we have to constantly monitor the web to make sure we are staying effective. This also lends into the branding aspect, meaning that if we do our job effectively we can push those negative comments made about your company down in the search results. This has always been a focus for websites I have worked with in the past, before the whole "reputation management" buzzword has been talked about as of late.
I can think of two simple ways to merely gauge how people are finding your brand: analytics and Google Alerts. These are both very straightforward techniques, as everyone with a website should already have some sort of analytics software running on their website to view their traffic. Check your pageviews, check your landing pages, view the entrance paths people are taking to find content on your site. It's all right there for you. The other quick reference is to set up Google Alerts and simply enter in the keywords you want to track (in this case, the keyword would be your brand). This will give you a quick alert as to the websites people are visiting via that keyword, and it will help you to focus on who is competing with your brand.
After this is in place, you now know what content people are reading about your brand and it gives you an idea of how you can combat these competitors. Now is the time to emphasize the positives about your brand, push those negative results down the search engine, and keep your reputation management in check.