Recently, I received a call from a new search engine company who offered me a "unbelievable advertising deal" (as the salesman put it) for pay per click ads on their search engine. The salesman claimed that their new search engine was the fastest growing engine in the world, stealing millions of Google users every month. Naturally, I was skeptical and curious.
Since I had never heard of this particular search engine, I consulted Google. I searched for this company’s brand name and, as expected, their new search engine website appeared first in Google’s results. In positions 2 through 10, however, I found a number of forum and blog posts about this new search engine. I read through all of them and found one thing in common; every other site listed in the top 10 for their brand name had negative things to say about the search engine, their marketing practices and lawsuits related to their brand.
How silly, I thought. I would expect that a new search engine, especially one trying to sell advertising to other search experts, would do a better job at managing their own online reputation. Couldn’t they have guessed that I would do at least a little research prior to signing an advertising deal? Being an unknown in any industry almost guarantees that potential customers will research a particular company. Why wouldn’t this new search engine ‘clean-up’ their brand name search results before starting a new cold-calling sales campaign like the one I was just hit with?
When your customers search for your brand name, what are the top ten results they see? Hopefully, your business website appears in #1. Don’t stop there, though. What appears in positions 2 through 10? Do the results promote the positive aspects about your business or products? Are some of these results hurting your chances at gaining new customers? What can you do about it?
What is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is not about hiding your faults, but is about putting your best foot forward. Think of it like you would think of someone looking for a new job. You wouldn’t expect a job applicant to present their weaknesses on a resume or in a cover letter would you? Then why would you let the search engines present similar information to your potential customers?
Strategies for Managing Reputation
In this post, I want to review a few strategies for helping business get more of their own content and others’ positive content to appear for their own brand name searches. Of course, there are many other aspects of reputation management that aren’t covered here. Today, I want to focus on search reputation management.
Using the Social Networks
More and more, social media profiles dominate the search results for both individual and business names. You’ll see this most often when searching for an individual’s name. You’ll also see it for companies that have active profiles on given social networks. Begin by starting a profile/fan page for your business on relevant social networks. Take a little time to build out an informational profile on each network keeping in mind that this may be the first exposure that a potential client has to your business. Once the profiles are complete, link to them from your website to help improve their ranking in the search engines. Consider starting with these networks:
Press releases are a great way to help control the SERPs for your brand name searches. If you’re not already doing so, submit press releases regularly. Make sure your brand name appears in the press release title and copy. Again, building links to these releases will help move them into top positions. Here are a few free and paid press releases websites which are good for this:
• PR Web
• PR Inside
• PR Log
Wikipedia more or less owns the search engine results for countless numbers of keywords. The authority of Wikipedia makes it another good place to get listed. Often times, your Wikipedia listing will make it to the first page of search results for your business without too much effort.
To get listed on Wikipedia, you need to be ‘notable’. Is your company significant? Of course it is! Unfortunately, the editors at Wikipedia don’t always agree. There are plenty of articles to help you convince the wiki-gods that you belong. Once your listing is secured, link to it from other relevant articles in Wikipedia. This will help improve its ranking in the SERPs.
Sub domains and Websites
Have you ever Googled Google (say THAT 5 times fast!)?
What do you notice? You should see that Google’s many different websites and sub domains of google.com appear in the top results. This same affect can be seen for other major brands like Pepsi, Ford and others. If it makes sense, create addition company websites or break some of your content into sub-domains. Google will usually only return one or two pages from the same domain on any given search. By breaking your content out into sub-domains, you can bypass this limitation and can sometimes get Google to list more of your pages. Of course, breaking content into sub domains can have other significant impacts so plan this carefully.
Linking to other websites
In cases where there are positive articles (on other websites ) about your company that come close to ranking in the top 10, you can also try to help those link higher by linking to them from your own website. This is easily accomplished by creating a pres section and linking out to all the positive press about your company.
Over time, monitor the progress of each of these strategies to see if they helping move the best results into the top 10 listings for your brand name searches. You’ll notice that certain pages will naturally advance very quickly and others won’t make much progress at all. Focus your future efforts on the ones that have naturally moved up. In time, you’ll find that your new profiles, press releases and other efforts will give you more control of the top results for your brand name queries in the