Here’s a recommended process that many online brands are adopting: - Examine marketing partner and affiliate contracts and work with your legal team to include provisions that spell out how your company’s brand terms can be used and what enforcement measures will be taken. - If you don’t already have a database of your company’s branded terms, now is the time to create one. You will want to share this database with your affiliates and channel partners so they will know which branded terms are off limits for their use. Of course, the database will be subject to updates as your company adds additional brands or changes existing brands. - Set up a formal online monitoring and enforcement process with the legal team to track misuse and take action according to the terms of your newly-revised contracts. Proactive monitoring should track the offenders, the terms, geographical markets and time of day when misuse occurs. There are a number of software applications available that automate this tracking process. - Bring your social media manager into the conversation to identify how your efforts to protect your brand can complement each other and add to the overall online standing for your brand. As noted in a recent Search Engine Watch article by Lisa Buyer, ‘control your branded search results before there is a problem.’ - Become familiar with the process for reporting brand search term misuse to the major search engines. The responsibility for informing the search engines on abusive practices rests with the brand itself. Your monitoring program will identify instances of competitive ‘bait and switch’, which is actionable with the search engines. - Consider creating ad landing page policy for channel partners that forbids offering contextual ads or suggestion alternative hotels. - Be realistic about the usability and transaction path of your own website - could you be driving customers away because your site is too difficult to use? Get the full story at Search Engine Watch