You don’t have to be around the Internet for very long before you figure out that you’re in a really weird place. Think about it. With a couple of clicks through Google, you’re standing in a room full of hundreds of people who all share your name. If you have a name like mine, there are thousands of other people you’re suddenly lumped together with.
People who Google “Ben Richardson” will find a filmmaker, a real estate agent, an assistant professor, and a potter. Plus, there’s some guy on Twitter who is self-described as, “Just another dude, but infinitely more awesome.” How is that the sixth result for Ben Richardson?
Enter Reputation Management…
The lesson today is Reputation Management. If you’re a small business owner or a freelancer building your brand, you want to be in the top five results. And, eventually you want to dominate the entire first page of Google results! Sound intimidating? It’s actually a lot easier than you think.
You don’t even have to be a search engine wizard to do it. The key to building your brand with reputation management is totally intertwined with your knack for repurposing content. Not sure what repurposing content is all about? Check out our guide for a quick run-down! Essentially, you’ll want to create a few stock pieces of information that you can then flood the Internet with. No, this is not Spamming 101. Let’s look at it this way…
He Who Has the Loudest Voice…
… doesn’t always win. But, a loud voice will take you a long way on the Internet. If you share your name with a sea of people, you want to make sure you are the one who’s most frequently heard from. In a nutshell, you want to provide search engines with unique content that makes good use of your name (the keyword).
Buy up all domains related to your name. These will be some of the first things to appear in search results, so you want to have the control. .com isn’t good enough. Pick up .org, .us, .net, .tv, and whatever other domain names you can. Often when you purchase a .com domain, the registrar will throw in these other domains for a greatly reduced price. Simply redirect all of these extra domains to your primary one.
Now, start creating content. Good content. Use Google’s rel=author tags. If you don’t know how to do this, Jill Whalen has a very helpful article about implementing these tags in your content, as well as explaining the technical side of why these tags are essential. Essentially, these tags will help boost your search engine rankings. Working with Google’s system pays.
Also, make sure you’re submitting your content to directories. The more it gets published, the better. Our Content Equals Money articles, for example, are syndicated with Business2Community, which boosts our writers’ online profiles. Focus on ways you and your business can be repurposing content.
Answering questions on sites like Quora, and being an active commenter on high-traffic news sites and blogs is another great way to get your name in the top of the search engine rankings. Not only are you practicing good reputation management skills, but you’re also building your brand, and gathering a following.
Build a Hub
This cheat sheet from Mixergy is loaded with great advice on reputation management. But the best suggestion on their list is number three: “Build a top-ranking hub.” Whether it’s WordPress, Facebook, or some other platform that works best for you, it’s critical that you have a web home base. This is where you want to point everyone back. Your social media profiles, author bios, and forum signatures should all point web searchers back to one place that contains all the information you’re sharing on the web. If you aren’t sure how to get the ball rolling, Laura’s recent post on How to Be a Social Media-ite has a few ideas to help you get started!
When Things Go Wrong…
If you’re in business long enough, eventually somebody somewhere is going to have a complaint. You could have Ritz Carlton quality customer service, and someone is still going to be dissatisfied. Take a deep breath. Accept the inevitable. Now, let’s fix it.
The first thing you should do when someone writes a complaint about you online is address the issue as soon as possible. Don’t let it sit around on the web without your voice. Be clear, polite, and explain the entire situation for readers who may have no frame of reference.
Secondly, discreetly ask a friend to come to your defense. When someone else vouches for you (especially someone who has a high profile reputation on the web), it can help your case a lot!
Thirdly, bury it! If you’re not tech-savvy, or you don’t want to hire a third-party reputation management company, you’re probably not going to get rid of the complaint. However, you can bury it. Do this by issuing press releases via sites like PR Newswire and PR Web. These press releases will probably get higher rankings than the complaint about you and your business.
When you push something to the second page of Google, you help your online reputation a lot. Check out this graph, which breaks down the value of Google search result positioning. The second page of Google can work in your favor when you’re trying to bury bad press! For more on this subject, check out this blog post at the Content Marketing Institute.
Reputation Management for Your Business
Reputation management doesn’t have to be left to the tech-savvy. With some common sense, and consistent effort to deliver quality content, you can boost your online reputation. And, remember, repurposing content should be a key part of your strategy when it comes to reputation management. It reduces the amount of work you have to do, and delivers effective results.
As for me, I need to start working on boosting my Twitter account up past the Ben Richardson who’s “just another dude, but infinitely more awesome.”
What first steps will you take today to start managing your reputation?