Using Author Rank for Better Reputation Management

Google has stayed at the top of the search engine game for so long because it continues to innovate, introduce new products, and continually improve its search algorithms to reflect changes in the real and online world. Overall, their goal is to make their search results the most useful on the web.

However, if you’re dealing with an online reputation management problem, sometimes it can feel like Google’s practices are unfair. If someone with high authority has written nasty things about you online, Google shoots it to the top of the results for your name—damaging your reputation and good image. But now Google has started to roll out a feature that can help you build some authority for you name on the web. It’s called “author rank,” and by implementing a few simple practices into the way you create and distribute content on the web, you can gain some great screen real estate in the SERPs.

What is Author Rank?

Google has now devised a way that you can link published content on the web to your personal profile. This creates two results. First, it means that your image will appear in the search results when someone searches for an article or other piece of content you’ve written on the web. Second, Google will be able to link ALL the content you create back to you, so you can start to build a solid reputation and some authority on the web. In fact, Google has said that when author rank signals are incorporated into your content, the amount and quality of that content will be used as a ranking factor for yourself and the websites that you spread content to.

In other words, the better online reputation you can build with author rank signals, the better your content will rank on the web. Then you can use your author authority to influence the rank of content around the web, bringing more positive results to the SERPs for your name and anyone associated with you.

How Do You Do it?

To start using author rank signals as part of your reputation management strategy, you need to implement a few pieces of code on your website and within the content you produce around the web

1) Get on Google+

If you’re web savvy and concerned about your online reputation you probably already have a profile, but, if not, create one now. Google can only track your authorship if they know where to find you on the web, and they’ve determined that Google+ will be where they can find you. Is it monopolistic? Sure. But that’s Google.

2) Create an author page

On your personal or company website, create an author page with a small blurb about yourself and a link back to your Google+ profile using rel=”me” or rel=”author” tags in the link. For example:

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/109637006071618937451/posts”>Your Name</a>

3) Link Your Posts to Your Author Page

If your blogging platform has an automatic author bio section added to your posts, make sure it links back to your profile page. Alternatively, you can manually link to your author page in every post. Also, when you author content for other sites, make sure you link back to your main author page, so that Google will recognize that the credit for the content goes to you.

Alternatively, on 3rd party sites, you can use the rel=”author” tag with a direct link to your Google+ profile. But if Google is going to encourage you to link back to an author profile on your site, why not benefit from the link juice that those 3rd party sites will create when you link back to your own site?

Improved Reputation Management

When you can successfully use the rel=”author” tags and show Google where you are publishing content on the web, you’ll benefit from increased rankings and an improved SERP—creating a better online reputation.

 

4 Reputation Management Tips for Millennials

The US population ebbs and flows just like the ocean. After WWII there was the baby boom, when the US saw the highest birth rate it had seen since it’s founding. Since then we’ve seen Generation X and the Millenials (Generation Y). The Baby Boomers are getting older now, and they are settling down, retiring, and becoming empty nesters. The Gen Xers are in their mid 30s to late 40s—in the middle of their careers—but the Millenials are just getting started. And growing up in the internet age, surrounded by technology and endless accessibility to data, has given them a different perspective on information sharing and personal reputation not shared by older generations.

Boomers aren’t interested in learning new technologies unless it helps them talk to their children and grand children. And Gen Xers are pretty tech savvy, but they understand that technology is simply a tool and a proxy for interpersonal relationships. Millennials, on the other hand, have grown up sharing all types of personal information online through social networks, blogs, and more.

Where Boomers aren’t concerned about online reputation, and Gen Xers are aware of how damaging it can be. Most Millennials have yet to face the consequences of bad reputation management. And for a generation that has shared so much online, that’s a problem.

However as they leave college and enter the workforce, the problems of sharing anything and everything online will start to become apparent. Not only are prospective employers cruising social networks to check out job applicants but being easily found online is quickly becoming a mark of prestige. As a result, negative and embarrassing online content is a bigger liability now than it has ever been in the history of our culture, and a lack of being easily found can be a sign of lack of experience and engagement.

So it is now the tricky job of Millennials to walk a fine line between sharing too much information and sharing just enough content online to build a positive reputation. Millennials have to be vigilant reputation managers of their identity like no other generation has been. But they can get things straight and cultivate a positive online reputation if they start early and follow a few basic principles.

1) Be mindful

First and foremost, Millennials need to be aware that what they do and say online matters. In high school it’s easy to think, “I can do and say what I want, no one cares.” But you have to keep in mind that the thing you didn’t think was important four years ago is still there, and people you want to impress can find it easier than you think. So the first step in cultivating a positive personal reputation management strategy is to only post positive content to social networks and blogs. Don’t post embarrassing information or (heaven forbid) brag about doing something illegal or unethical.

2) Get a head start

Because most Millennials are not concerned about these things, those that recognize the importance of reputation management have a fantastic opportunity in front of them. Grab up as many personalized online properties as you can while you’re young. And hang onto them. For example, personalized social profiles, name specific domains, and more. You may not need to use them now, but one day they will come in handy. And you want to grab them before someone else does.

3) Create

One of the best things you can do to cultivate a positive online reputation is to create content. That is, start a blog, curate content through your social networks, and become an influencer online. Even though you may still be young, start building a professional profile now. Colleges and future employers will be impressed with the work you’ve done so early in life, and you’ll be a shoo-in compared with applicants who aren’t aware of their online reputation at all.

4) Take care

As you look toward the future, think about reputation management as you go about your digital life. Look toward the future with a goal of being easily found online (for positive reasons) and work toward it. If you don’t take control of your online reputation, then your carelessness will. Stay on top of new technology and new platforms as they arise so you can always be ahead of the reputation management game.

7 Tips for Reputation Management With Twitter

Just a couple of years ago, many companies balked at the idea that Twitter could be useful for their business—“It’s just a bunch of people talking about what they ate for breakfast, right?” Today, social media marketing is the mainstream, and those who aren’t doing it are missing the train to better customer relationships and higher conversion rates.

But Twitter isn’t just about telling customers that you’re having a sale this Friday or informing them about your latest press release. Twitter is also a great tool for reputation management. Because Twitter allows you to deal directly with the public on a near-realtime basis. and it allows you to monitor all public tweets, it can be a great place to listen to the chatter surrounding your brand, address potential problems, and build positive relationships online.

For starters, here are some great ways you can use Twitter as part of your reputation management strategy and reap the benefits of increased positive sentiment about your brand.

1) Monitor

Twitter is like a giant fire hose of consumer information. People tweet about all kinds of products and services. They tweet about the latest Sony TV they bought or the dress they just got at a steal from a Nordstrom’s sale. If you have any sizable customer base, and that base is fairly tech savvy, chances are that you are being mentioned on Twitter—and you may not even know it. Once you create an account, you can set up a keywords search for mentions of your company and product names. When you see users talking about you you’ll begin to understand how Twitter can be a useful reputation management tool.

2) Identify issues

One of the great weaknesses of Twitter is that people use it to complain about the products and services in their lives. But that also means that, as a reputation management specialist, you can use those complaints to your advantage. If many customers are complain about a new feature you just added to one of your products, you might reconsider that feature. If they’re having trouble loading your website, it’s time to walk down to IT and see what the problem might be.

3) Give thanks

You can also build positive sentiment on Twitter by thanking people who compliment your business and products. Just shoot them a quick “thanks for your kind words.” They’ll be impressed that you’re paying attention and feel personally closer to the brand. You just made a life-long customer.

4) Respond to problems

You’ll gain some great business insights if you monitor Twitter for complaints, but you’ll gain more customers if you actually respond to those complaints. If someone Tweets in frustration about one of your products, send a tweet and ask them how you can help. Point them toward resources and offer to fix the issue yourself. When you can do that, you’ll have changed that customer’s mind about your company and product.

5) Be a resource

Once customers understand that you are online and want to interact with them, you can become a great resource by fielding questions about your products and services. Give your audience the resources to solve their problems and give them tips and tricks to have a better experience with your product. They’ll thank you and recommend you to their friends.

6) Listen

This is similar to “monitor”; however, listening is like monitoring with your heart. Be open and welcoming to your customers. Don’t shrug them off when they ask what you think is a stupid question, but rather encourage them to talk about their problems and issues with you. Be sympathetic and give your brand a human ear.

7) Offer suggestions

When you notice a customer struggling, offer to help before they even ask. Your company has a lot of expertise and knowledge. Offering to help with their issues will go a long way to building trust with the customer and help them form a positive reputation of your company.

Tips for Using PPC as a Reputation Management Strategy

Most people in the world are completely unaware of how search engines work and how it’s possible to use search algorithms to manipulate the results you see on the page. As a result, many SEOs and reputation management professionals are thought of as magicians who use dark sorcery to “trick” Google into doing their bidding. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many people are flummoxed as to how Google makes any money. They don’t sell anything, right?

Well, those in the industry know that besides a handful of premium services, Google makes the vast majority of its money selling advertising. And you can use Google’s ad system to help your online reputation, just like you can use any other tactic to mold a results page that is optimal for the reputation of your company.

PPC (or pay-per-click) advertising are the ads that run at the top and sides of a Google search page. They don’t take up a spot in the results, but they do push the “natural” results lower on the page, taking up screen real estate. And many users can’t tell the difference between the paid and non-paid results on a serach—which is one of the reasons these ads work so well.

Google sells these ads on an auction basis. In other words, whoever is willing to pay the most for the ad space gets the best spot on the page. In terms of reputation management, it’s not likely that many other companies will be bidding for space on a search for your company name (however in some industries this is the case), so your PPC rates should be fairly small. Perhaps as little as a few cents per click.

If you feel that it might be worth it to buy ads on a search for your company name and take up some extra page real estate, here are a few tips you’ll need to keep in mind to save money on your campaign:

1) Use the ad scheduler to limit your ads to peak search hours

When you buy ads from Google, you have the opportunity to use the ad scheduler to specify the times of the day you want your ads to run. Running your ads 24 hours a day is a good way to catch everyone who searches for your company names, but it could cost you a lot of money. Instead, use your Google analytics tools to find out what days of the week and what times of the day are most ideal for capturing the maximum amount of people with your ad. Then schedule your ad to run during those times, saving you money and giving you the most benefit at the same time.

2) Use “standard” delivery method

On the other hand, if you are on a budget and can only devote a small amount of money to PPC, you may opt to limit placement of your ads to the amount you can pay each day. If this is the case, you’ll be offered two options when buying ads: standard delivery or accelerated delivery.

With standard, your ads will be evenly spaced out through the day. With accelerated delivery, your ad will run on every search possible until you run out of budget. In some cases this means that your ad will appear in searches for your company name only in the morning—leaving the afternoon wide open.

Although some PPC marketers advocate for accelerated delivery, with reputation management, you’ll want to opt for standard so you can save the most money and still get exposure throughout the day.

PPC and Reputation Management

Granted, PPC is not usually the first option for a reputation management strategy because searches for your specific company name are generally low-competition keywords. But if you’ve had trouble with certain results showing up near the top of a search, or if your competitors are buying ads for branded searches, then PPC is an option you might consider. And these basics will get you started down the right path to a stronger reputation management strategy.

Stop Banging Your Head Against the Wall: 4 Reasons to Change Your Reputation Management Strategy

Why would you want to bang your head against a wall? It hurts, it wastes time, and it looks pretty silly to boot. But many companies are metaphorically banging their heads against a wall with their reputation management strategy. Although the search world keeps changing, these companies still employ the same tactics they always have in an attempt to mold a great search engine results page and solidify their online reputation with continually diminishing returns.

Albert Eisntein once said, “The definition of stupidity is doing same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So why are these companies using the same reputation strategy they’ve used for the past 2-4 years? Mostly because they don’t know they need to change, or they simply don’t want to put the effort into creating a new strategy.

Well, if you aren’t changing your reputation management strategy to reflect the current trends in search, get ready for some headaches. On the other hand, if you’d like to try something different, here are some reasons to update your reputation management strategy.

1) The Google Crackdown

Ever since the Panda update early last year, Google has been going after content farms and link spam much more aggressively. And they’ll continue to do so in the coming year. Not only are their algorithms getting more complex and harder to “game,” but Google is handing out warnings and penalizing sites that don’t more strictly adhere to their policies and guidelines for quality sites. If your reputation management strategy has employed questionable tactics in the past, now is the time to change up your strategy to avoid penalties that could leave you open to attack.

2) The Growth of Social

Just a couple years ago, it was still okay for a company to ignore the social web. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others were still considered toys that kids played with. But that is no longer true. In fact, the fastest growing demographic for Facebook is the 55+ crowd. Today, social needs to be a part of any marketing strategy and is essential to your reputation management strategy. Social profiles are easy to create and they take up space in the results, giving you a stronger reputation management profile.

Plus, Google is increasingly relying on social signals to determine page rank. If you’re not using social at this point, it’s time to change your ways.

3) The Rise of Mobile

Many experts in the industry agree that 2012 will be the year of mobile. A larger portion of the population is using smart phones and other wireless devices to access the internet. This means that a larger portion of users are taking advantage of mobile devices to search for your company name as well as upload and create reviews and other content on the fly. And it is entirely possible that Google will begin optimizing results for content that is mobile friendly. So you need to be more vigilant about online reviews affecting your brand-targeted searches, and you need to get on the bandwagon with mobile.

4) The World is Changing

There is a reason you don’t see beeper stores anymore. Technology has moved on and the culture with it. As the access to technology and communication becomes easier and more affordable, the channels people use to access information about your company will grow, and you need to grow with it. Look for trends and be ready to adapt to those trends, or your online reputation may suffer.

Stop the Headaches

History has proven that companies and individuals who were unwilling to change and try new strategies and new technologies have dried up and failed (remember MySpace?). It’s a new year; a time for renewal and change. Take this opportunity to update your reputation management strategy and stop banging your head against a wall.

How Google’s New “Google+ Your World” Affects Reputation Management

If you had any doubt that 2012 was going to be the year that social media takes over the world, those doubts should be expelled by the recent introduction of Google’s new “Google+ Your World” features that more heavily, and more prominently, feature “personalized” results.

For a little while now, Google has been tying your Google+ social graph info into the search results, and we’ve already seen Google+ profiles rise in prominence in the search results—generally outranking Facebook and Twitter profiles (even though Google+ has fewer users). Now Google gives users the option to narrow their results to only their Google+ connections.

Simply put, if a user only wants to see what their friends have said about your company, they can completely skip the general search results and simply search through their personal connections to find out who has +1’d your company, mentioned it, or written a review about it.

For many companies, knowing that people can go directly to their social connections to find out about their company is a bit scary. But if you’ve been playing your cards right, you should be just fine. If not, here are a few things you need to start doing right now.

1) Join Google+ (and make a page for your business)

If you’ve been avoiding Google’s new social network up till now, it’s time to join. And it’s time for you to create a page for your business. If you already have a Gmail account, simply create a Google+ profile and start creating circles, and don’t forget to +1 your business—every +1 counts. The more information Google has about you and your business, the better it will be able to show that information in the personalized search results, helping your online reputation.

2) Add +1 buttons to everything

The more people that +1 your company website and other websites that you need to rank well for a branded search, the better. So make sure you have prominent +1 buttons on your site to make it easier for people to click them. (Notice the Google+ button on this page.)

3) Encourage people to +1 your web properties

Lastly, encourage people to click +1 on your websites. If you have a large company, give incentives to your employees to +1 your sites, and offer specials or other incentives for customers to do the same. The more people that click your +1 button the more your site will gain a favorable light online and with other users around the web. And both of those outcomes are good for reputation management purposes.

Be a Good Company

Slowly, Google is trying to move toward a system where good websites naturally rise to the top of search results without any manipulation necessary. And part of the way they are doing that is by leveraging the power of social networking. If they can show you only the things that your friends have liked or are connected to, they’re more likely to give you the results you are looking for.

However, Google’s goal is in direct opposition to many companies tactics of simply brushing bad press under the rug and turning a blind eye to bad user reviews. But the inclusion of Google+ connections in the results make a strong case for why your online reputation management strategy needs to encompass more than linkbuilding efforts to mold the search engine results page you want. It should go further than basic SERPs, by engaging users through social networks and creating fantastic content for your websites that show users what an amazing, helpful, and friendly company you are.

Search engines will continue to move in the direction of relying more on social signals than algorithms, so now is the time to get on the bandwagon and enter the world of Google+, so you can strengthen your reputation management strategy and rise to the top of any search.

Where Not to Link From: Future-proofing Your Reputation Management Strategy

2011 has been a big year for reputation management and SEO in general. The past year saw some pretty big changes to the way Google evaluates websites for ranking purposes, including an increasing reliance on social networking activity to determine the quality of a website.

And as the online world continues to move forward, become more intuitive, and ever-dependant on the signals of users to determine which websites are the best and most useful, the crutch of old link building tactics will continue to weaken. In terms of reputation management strategy, that means that molding a search engine results page to reflect positively on your company will continue to get more difficult. Forcing reputation management practices away from low-quality link building tactics toward a more careful evaluation of where links are coming from.

So, moving into 2012, here are a few tips on where and where not to link from when optimizing your reputation strategy.

Where Not to Place Your Links:

  • Sites with a lot of ads: The internet exists because we can make money on it, but when advertising overtakes a site to the detriment of its content, Google notices, and downgrades that site, making links from that site worth less.
  • Sites with bad content: Site that are not useful and don’t provide any type of value to their visitors are sites to stay away from. If you look at a site and it reads like it was written for search engines instead of humans, stay away. Users will shun those sites, and so should you.
  • Content farms: There are a number of websites out there that focus solely on ranking high for a wide variety of searches so they can make money off advertising. If the content of the site is not focused, but rather is made up of scattered articles on a wide variety of unconnected topics, you don’t want links from those sites. Google doesn’t like them and is specifically targeting them for search engine manipulation tactics.
  • Crowded sites: Crowded sites are sites that don’t seem to be taken care of by a human. That is, they link to any site that asks (of will pay them enough), they don’t moderate their comments, and their sidebars are filled will irrelevant links and RSS feeds from other spammy sites.

Where to Seek Links:

  • Sites with Quality Content: If a site is focused, well written, and provides useful content—it’s generally a site that a normal human being would consider “quality.” That’s the type of site you want a link from. Quality sites will always rank well in a Google search and links from quality sites will always be more valuable than links from spammy sites.
  • User engagement: One of the marks of a low-quality site is the amount of comment spam that appears on the site. When you are evaluating a site for backlinking purposes, take a look at the comments section. Are real people responding? Is useful discussion taking place? If so, great. If all the comments contain non-specific compliments about the blog  being “great” or “ well written” and they all contain links to irrelevant sites, move along.
  • Social Shares: As social signals continue to rise in importance, it’s important that you link from a site that is popular with users—a site that is regularly shared on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more. It doesn’t have to have a lot. But if most blog posts have a handful of shares, that can’t be a bad thing.

Future-Proofing

The simple fact of the matter is that the old ways of article spinning, article directories, comment spamming, and more are becoming increasingly less effective. Mass producing a large quantity of low-quality links may be easy, but they will eventually die. And you don’t want your reputation management efforts to go to waste on strategies that will eventually fail you.

Instead, you need to look at the future of search engine algorithms and where they are headed—toward quality sites and content. If you can get links from sites that are popular and provide users with sincere, useful, quality content, you’ll be safeguarding yourself against future changes in the Google algorithms that attack low-quality, spammy tactics. Build a stronger, longer-lasting reputation management strategy today by focusing on linkbuilding from quality sites, and you won’t have to worry about your company’s reputation online.

Using Press Releases to Improve Your Company’s Online Reputation

Reputation management is a very specific form of search engine optimization. Reputation management experts use targeted strategies and tactics used by SEOs to mold and massage a search engine results page for a company or brand name into something positive and free from misleading or erroneous information. Because of the way the internet works, part of creating that positive results page is a practice called linkbuilding.

In a nutshell, linkbuilding is the practice of proactively creating links on a large number of websites that point to the websites that you want to rank higher in the SERPs. Doing this tells Google that the site that is linked to is important in some way, shape, or form, and it gets ranked higher than other websites. This is one of the reasons press releases should be an important part of your reputation management strategy. But how and why should you consider using press releases as part of your online reputation strategy? Here are a few reasons.

1. Press releases take up a spot in the SERPs

First of all, press releases tend to rank well for searches related to your company name. Today, every press release given to news organizations eventually ends up on the internet. By their very nature they talk about your company and use your company name multiple times (and usually link to your company website). And in most cases online press releases are published on a wide number of news sites on a regular basis. Google recognizes the context and use of your company name and can easily use it as a result when somebody searches for your company or brand name online. Since press releases are generally positive, they can give a nice spin to your first page results and bump other information lower down the list.

2. They’re cheap

For the purposes of reputation management, your press releases don’t have to be personally delivered to a New York Times reporter. National distribution or regional targeting of your press releases costs money and is completely unnecessary if your company is not releasing news worthy of national press attention. But simple web distribution of your press release isn’t very expensive. You can place a 400 words press release on PRWeb or other online press release services for as little as $89, compared to—potentially—$1500 or more for a high-end release. You can write it yourself and it will get automatic distribution to online news sites, creating a great variety of links to your website and taking another spot in the SERPs without much effort or money.

3. Link to whatever you want

Remember, one of the ways you control the SERPs is through linkbuilding. Distributing a press release online through agencies like PRWeb will allow you to create a good number of links on the web to products, services, or websites that you need to rank higher in a branded SERP. For example, in your press release, not only can you link to your home page and other pages on your site. You can also include links to YouTube videos, other articles, social media profiles and more. These links are then distributed all over the web and increase the number of links that point to your properties and other sites that you want to rank well for your company name.

That’s an instant rank boost to sites that you want to do well in the results, pushing negative information down further.

4. You control the content

One of the biggest hurdles to online reputation is the fact that user-generated content is beginning to rank higher in the SERPs. That means user-created reviews and rants can easily pop up in a branded search, resulting in someone else controlling your message and reputation. A press release allows you to take a place in the SERPs with information that you control. You write it, you control the message, and you distribute it. No one else is controlling your message.

Press Release Strategy

Overall, press releases should be a part of your online reputation strategy—if they aren’t already. They serve multiple purposes and can give a lot of benefit with very little effort. If you’re looking to expand your reputation management strategy, give press releases a try.

Being Nice: The Best Reputation Management Strategy

Thanks to the increasing rapidity and availability of communication online, brands and customers are coming closer together. 2011 has seen the largest rise in social media users and social media use since social media was invented, and today customers don’t simply expect to buy a product from a brand, they expect be able to follow their favorite brands online and to be able to easily access them and communicate with them.

That means that companies can no longer afford to keep their customers at arm’s length. Gone are the days when managers and executives could ignore customer complaints and comments. Today, if your company keeps its customers at arm’s length and ignores them, you can expect not only to receive bad reviews online, but a barrage of bad comments on social media sites where people share and give recommendations. And those reviews and comments are now showing up in search results that can hurt your company’s image and bottom line.

That’s why one of the best ways to build customer loyalty and bring in new customers is to be nice. This is what I mean:

1. Respond

Before the social media revolution (back when information was slower and only a handful of people used the internet) companies didn’t have to respond to criticism on an individual basis. But today, not responding to bad information about your company online can be fatal. Bad reviews and ugly blog rants can prevent new customers from coming to your website. So you need to do the nice thing and respond.

Reach out to those that criticize you online and ask if you can help. Be sincere in your apology for the bad service or product they received and offer to make it up to them. If your online critics feel that you care about them, you’ll have a shot at turning negative reviews positive and taking down negative content.

This goes for social media as well. Monitor social media for mentions of your company and brand names, and reach out to those that ask questions and criticize you. Not only will you help turn those critics into loyal fans, but you’ll be changing the way they talk about their experience with your company to their friends and family, improving your reputation all around.

2. Give stuff away

This is not to say you need to give your products away for free. Rather, give away useful, cool stuff on your website. For example, make your product manuals available online for free. Give away pictures of your products for free. Give away widgets and blog badges. These things cost very little to make, but giving them away will encourage your customers to see you as an engaged and generous resource. As such, they’ll talk about you highly on social networks and they’ll link to you from their websites, improving your search rankings and your level of reputation management protection.

3. Provide useful content

Most companies that are web savvy nowadays know that a company blog is one way to boost your search engine rankings. But another way to show how nice your company is, is to create compelling and interesting content all over your website. Make your blog interesting and useful—something web users will want to link to. And make your website information rich and interactive. When you create a pleasant website experience for your customers, you’re telling them subtly that you care about them and want them to come back. What is your current website telling your customers?

4. Don’t be evil

The founding principle of Google is “do no evil.” That’s a great way to think about your company’s reputation online. Don’t implement practices at your company that you wouldn’t want implemented at a company you bought from or want to use. Your customers are not your enemies; they are your friends. And when you starting treating them like friends, they will be loyal to you and your brands. They’ll continue to buy from you and link to you—which means you’ll only increase your positive reputation online.

Being Nice

It’s cliché to say that corporations are people, but in terms of reputation management, the more you treat your customers like people—instead of numbers—the more they will respect you online and the better reputation you’ll begin building.

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Online Reputation Management

2012 is here and it’s time to start implementing the resolutions and new business goals you’ve created for the coming year. You’ve probably already set personal goals, financial goals, business goals, marketing goals, and others. But have you thought about reputation management goals for the next 12 months?

Whether you’ve had problems with your online reputation in the past or you’ve never faced an online attack against your company, SEO experts and reputation management gurus are predicting that there are a lot of changes coming for search in the coming year. So right now is the time to get ready, set your plan, and focus on a strategy that will get you to your goal by the end of 2012. To start, here are some good resolutions to make for the coming year.

1) Start using social media

Just about everyone in the search industry has been predicting that social media will play an increasingly larger role in the SERPs and page rank in the coming months. And we’re already starting to see that social shares and profiles are having an effect on search results. In fact, right now Google is making a big play to turn Google+ into the most prominent social network on the web. In fact, right now, Google+ profiles are generally outranking Twitter and Facebook profiles for all types of searches. And as Google continues to diversify their search results, they’ll keep boosting social elements to the first page of search results.

Now is the time to get your social profiles in order and make them more prominent. They are great neutral results for a company name SERP, and having multiple profiles can help kick a lot of bad info down further in the results.

2) Cleanup backlink profiles

Google is getting more aggressive about going after spammy sites that use questionable linkbuilding practices to get their sites to rank better. Before you receive a warning from Google, or they de-index the sites you’ve been working to get ranked on the first page of a company SERP, do a backlink analysis and gauge whether you’re getting the kind of links that Google likes to see. Also, make sure your profile has a nice natural curve too it—not too heavy on either the high- or low-end page ranked sites.

Once you’ve done the analysis, make an effort to convert bad links to good ones, and get out of bad linking neighborhoods so that your backlink profile will appear cleaner and more natural. When you can clean up your link profiles, your sites will do better in terms of online reputation management and you’ll make a much stronger play for page-one domination for your company-branded SERP.

3) Monitor the web

If you haven’t been paying attention to the way people are using your company name online (and the way they are linking to your reputation management targeted sites), now is the time to start. With the steady rise of mobile internet use, more people are creating reviews on the fly—right after they visit your store, eat at your restaurant, or try on your clothes. This increase in user-generated content means you need to be vigilant about what people are saying about you online. Not only is Google increasing visibility of online reviews in the SERPS, but word of mouth is a killer for business.

Your online reputation is much more at risk today than it was even just a year ago, so now is the time to monitor how people are talking about your company online on a daily basis. And when you find negative information about your company, reach out to those users to correct the problem. If you find compliments, thank people for their kind words. Not only will this help people write nicer things about you online (cleaning up your company SERP), but you’ll build a better reputation offline as well.

2012 and Beyond

Although no one knows exactly what 2012 will bring for search and reputation management, virtually everyone agrees that Google is getting better at what they do and focusing much more on increasing the quality of their search results. If you can do the things that make your company sites look good online, you’ll be off to a good start and a stronger online reputation management strategy.