Online Reputation Management Basics for Politicians

Image is everything in the world of politics, especially when so many voters aren’t as informed as they could be when choosing which candidate or bill to support. And since so much research happens online these days, politicians need vigilant online reputation management to stay on top of their game.

These basics provide a solid online image foundation for everyone, but are especially critical for anyone working in politics.

Wikipedia

Although Wikipedia does not allow politicians (or their associates) to create their own Wikipedia pages, having one is a tremendous asset to a politician’s online reputation. Wikipedia articles are almost always the first or second result in a search, meaning they are known for being generally trustworthy and receive lots of search traffic.

Additionally, most constituents begin their online research with reputable, neutral resources like Wikipedia, so having a Wikipedia page is crucial to educating undecided or independent voters about you. If someone else hasn’t created a page about you on the site, your online marketing or reputation management agency should be able to create and monitor a page for you.

Blog

A politician’s own blog and website are the perfect places to further educate curious voters and make clear their message, values, campaign actions, and other important aspects of their image.

A personal blog is an especially powerful political online reputation tool for several reasons:

  • It allows you to explain your views, ideals, and message
  • You can quickly and easily publish campaign news, such as press releases, videos, or news events that support your point of view
  • A regularly updated blog makes you seem trustworthy and keeps constituents interested and informed
  • Blogs tend to rank highly in search results, so searchers are more likely to find you
  • You are in complete control of what’s on your blog and website

SEO

A regularly updated blog won’t rank well on its own. Politicians must also employ search engine optimization (SEO) techniques for their blogs and websites to rank well. And the higher your own content appears in search results, the more people will visit your official site, blog, and other channels instead of seeing negative content.

The most important SEO tactics for politicians to be aware of include:

  • Using your main keywords (such as your name and campaign issues) in page titles and descriptions, URLs, headings, alt image tags, and throughout the content of the page
  • Updating your site regularly so search engines crawl your website more often (one reason blogs are powerful)
  • Link to trustworthy, helpful resources to benefit site visitors
  • Get links from trustworthy, helpful resources, such as your Wikipedia page and your party’s official website

Social Media

A politician’s social media accounts often appear high in search results, pushing negative results out of sight. They can also make the candidate appear more human and help disseminate his or her message. But they can be disastrous if handled wrong.

The most important thing to remember about social media is to not post anything that could reflect negatively on you in the first place.

As this Politico article states, “You are what search engines and social networks say you are. A bad online reputation can cost you the election.” Use these basics of online reputation management for politicians to keep a sharp image online.

SEO for Online Reputation Management

Although online reputation management works in a variety of ways, it often depends heavily on search engine optimization (SEO) to fill the first page of search results with positive content about your brand. Optimizing a webpage to increase its relevance and quality so it appears high in search results isn’t easy, and to top it off, search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to ensure they return the most relevant and high-quality results.

Simply having an abundance of positive content about your brand isn’t always enough. All that positive content needs to be optimized to appear in search results. Search engines use a combination of links from reputable websites and high-quality content–content that is not only positive but also well-written or professional-looking–to determine a webpage’s relevance and authority to a search query.

The more relevant the page is to the query and the more authority it has earned, the higher it will show in search results.

So how do you make the positive content about your brand more relevant, and the websites that content lives on more authoritative?

By using the right tools to give search engines what they want. The more freshness, diversification, and support you can give your positive content, the better. These are some of the biggest indicators of relevance and authority the search engines look for.

Freshness
A website’s freshness means how often it is updated. The more often a site is updated, the more often search engines have to “crawl” the site in order to find and index new content.

You can teach search engines to index your site more frequently if you publish new content regularly. If your site is being indexed often enough, it will start to move up the rankings on search results pages.

Another important component of freshness is what all those regular updates tell the search engines. If the website is worth all the activity of regular updates, then it is much more likely to be a relevant, authoritative resource for searchers.

The trick to maintaining freshness on the webpages you want to appear on the first page of search results is to always be on the lookout for positive content. Your marketing and public relations teams need to keep a sharp eye for any positive content that can be used to protect your online reputation.

Diversification
Diversifying is as beneficial for online reputation management as it is for investment portfolios: it reduces risks and increases the likelihood of gains.

There are two important aspects of diversifying your online reputation management.

The first is using multiple types of content. You can have all the glowing testimonials in the world, but if all you have is testimonials and no case studies or data to back up your results, that starts to look a bit suspicious. And search engines will only return so many results of one type of content, leaving plenty of room on the first page for negative content.

This means in addition to testimonials, you want to harness the power of reviews, success stories and case studies, press releases, articles about your expertise, and more.

The second important part of diversification is using multiple websites. The more websites you own and control, the more spaces on the first search results page you can potentially fill, with positive content you have complete control over.

Creating multiple websites isn’t as daunting as it sounds at first. Instead of putting all your content in one place online, simply spread it out by assigning a specific purpose and audience to each different website.

For example, a pharmaceutical online reputation management strategy might include a website for consumers and doctors, another for pharmacies and vendors, a separate blog, and another website for publishing survey results and other data.

Diversifying content in these two ways makes your content more relevant and authoritative because each website and type of content appeals to specific audiences and search queries.

Support
Good support means earning plenty of links to your website(s) from many different reputable sources over a long period of time. Flooding your website with too many links all at once is very suspicious and you will almost certainly be penalized for it. And trying to get links from low-quality websites won’t help your rankings, either.

The trick to getting good links is to create content so valuable you could practically sell it. When your content is that unique and useful, it draws attention from the kind of websites you want to link to yours.

Earning links that way takes time, though. When you don’t have a lot of time to devote to getting that support, you can create some of it yourself through press releases, article marketing, and blogging. Just make sure this content is as helpful and valuable as possible.

Building good support for your websites is an important part of online reputation management for two reasons.

First, it improves your off-page SEO, which helps your content appear higher in search results.

Second, the webpages linking to yours can also show up on search results pages, so searchers see even more positive content about your brand.

Getting plenty of support through high-quality links tells search engines that other people online think your content is relevant and authoritative, which strongly influences how search engines rank results.

Freshness, diversification, and support are not the only SEO tools to use in your online reputation management strategy, but they are some of the most important. Implement all three and you’ll be well on your way to presenting searchers with the best information about your brand.

Own Your Name: A Key Tactic for Reputation Management

Just about everyone carries identification. We usually carry a driver’s license, a credit or debit card, maybe a library card, or any other number of cards that display our name and possibly our image. Personal identification became a necessity when people started to travel more easily at the beginning of the 20th century.

Before widespread travel, everyone in the town or area you lived knew who you were. So there was no need for you to prove who you were. But as people started to travel more and intermingle with strangers, it became too easy for someone to give a false name, pretend they were someone else, or generally lie about their real identity. And because identity was so easy falsified, it became necessary for people to use identification so they could prove they were who they said they were.

The internet is now at a similar point. It’s so easy for anyone to hide their identity online, or assume the identity of someone else, that it is imperative for your company to claim its name online in as many forms as possible, in order to prevent fraudulent use of your name. Or, from a more pragmatic approach, to prevent a rival from claiming your domains and profiles first

Here are 5 tips for claiming your name in order to protect your online reputation.

1. Claim personalized domains

If you are doing reputation management for a company, you’ve probably already purchased these. Not only do you need to own yourcomapny.com, but also other domain extensions, like yourcompany.net, .org, .tv, and more. Owning these various domains will keep others from buying them up and pretending to be you. But it will also have the benefit of allowing you to create microsites or informational sites about your company that can appear in the SERPs and push down more negative links.

If you are an individual, make sure your snatch up your firstnamelastname.com domain—if it isn’t already taken—and then consider buying other extensions as well. You can use these domains as blogs or as hubs for your identity online.

2. Register branded social profiles

Social profiles tend to do very well for both company and individual name searches and can bump negative content out of the search results. But more importantly, you want to protect your online reputation by making sure someone else doesn’t claim these profiles and use them for their own purposes. A great place to find the majority of the social media sites is KnowEm.

In fact, just last year, a prankster registered the profile @MayorEmanuel on Twitter and commenced to tweet as if from behind the scenes of Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel’s election campaign. The profile gained a number of followers who thought they were following the real Rham Emanuel, only to find out it was a hoax.

Claim all your branded social media profiles immediately, so something similar doesn’t happen to you or your company.

3. Monitor your Wikipedia page

Although Wikipedia has in some instances been proven more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica, it’s still a playground rife with fraud and misinformation. If you don’t have a Wikipedia page for your company (or if you are famous enough to warrant a personal Wikipedia entry) go ahead and create one before anyone else has the chance to do it for you.

However, keep an eye on it. Because Wikipedia is an open community, any editor can change the information on your profile. If this happens, make sure you correct the information quickly and alert the Wikipedia editorial board if malicious acts are being perpetrated against your page by other users.

4. Grab business listings

Another great place to claim your name is on business listing websites. Search local and niche directories for instances of your business or personal name and create listings that reflect your actual information. These can also be great places to link to your main website, blog, or other web properties and help them rank better in the SERPs.

5. Don’t forget variations

Lastly, don’t forget about variations of your business or personal name. For example, if you are a car blogger, purchase domains like yournamecars.com or yournameautoparts.com. For social profiles, think about various ways you could be represented online, like “@MayorEmanuel,” so that you can avoid unnecessary confusion over fake profiles. It’s also a good idea to hold on to common misspellings of your personal or company name to avoid potential problems as well. You can even use those misspelled domains as redirects to your main site, so you can capture anyone who is looking for you online.

Although there are many aspects to reputation management that will keep your SERPs looking good, you can avoid potential disasters by claiming any and all instances of your company or personal name online before anyone else does.

Tips for Using Non-Branded Content in Your Reputation Management Strategy

As today’s consumer becomes more web savvy, they are increasingly searching for non-branded, or neutral, information when they want to find out more about your company online. That is, if a potential customer searches for your company name online, and all they see are a number of links that clearly point to content that you control, the potential customer may feel like they are not getting a holistic view of your company.

As a result, they may either move to the second page of the results, or they’ll try a new search for something like “ACME reviews” or “information about ACME.” But that’s not what you want them to do.

When managing online reputation for a company, you want to control what potential customers see and keep them from looking elsewhere for more information. But the only way you can keep them on the 1st page of results for your company name is to make them feel that the information they are seeing is natural and unbiased. And the best way to do that is to promote non-branded content as part of the reputation strategy.

Positive and Neutral

Potential customers will only believe they are seeing non-biased information when they see a mix of positive and neutral content on the 1st page of the results. So search for information about your company that already exists online. Here are some places to look:

1) News Articles

News articles are some of the best content to optimize and promote to the 1st page of the search results. They’re written by a 3rd party and they generally carry a good amount of authority with them. In other words, people find it very easy to believe news stories. And when looking for a story about your company, you don’t even have to find one that focuses on your company—one that simply mentions your company name is fine (as long as the mention is in either a positive or neutral light). In fact, it may even be worth it to pitch a story about your company to a local news agency. If they write about you—instant content!

2) Wikipedia

Wikipedia has pretty high domain authority on the web, which is one of the reasons it comes up so often in search results. If you company is of any decent size, it may be worth asking someone to write a short Wikipedia article about it. Although Wikipedia articles are taken with a grain of salt by most people, having a Wikipedia article show up in your search results give the impression that your company is important enough to have an article written about them. Which is never a bad thing.

3) Reviews

One of the great things about the modern internet is that absolute deluge of user-generated content, in the form of reviews, videos, pictures and more. There are dozens of review sites on the web, and it is definitely worth it to search these websites for reviews of your company. If you find a handful of positive or neutral reviews, build links to those pages and get them to rank for your branded search term. What appears most un-biased to a potential customer than 3rd party reviews of your products and services?

4) Video

Video is a little trickier. Unless you already have a very large customer base, there probably aren’t a lot of videos made by third parties about your company. However, they may exist. If you can find one that mentions your company, build links to it to get it to rank better in the results. Videos have an incredibly high click-through rate and carry a good amount of authority with them. If you find a video that mentions your company by name, it’s probably worth it to contact the person who made it, ask them to put your company name in the description and meta tags of the video and tell them you want to promote it. Chances are they’d like increased views of their video (especially if they’re part of the YouTube advertising partner program), giving them an incentive to help you out.

There are other types of 3rd party, neutral content on the web as well, like business listings, BBB pages, blog posts, and more. But these four types of content above may give your reputation management strategy a stronger boost, so it is definitely worth it to give them a try so you can build a more natural looking results page for your company.

4 Principles for Clearly Defining Your Reputation Management Goals

It’s been said that you can define the difference between management and leadership with a mountain climbing expedition. The leader will sit the group down and talk about getting to the top of the mountain, how glorious it will be, and how we all have to work together to get there.

On the other hand, the manager will coordinate the ropes, carabineers, and make sure everyone is wearing the right equipment for the trip.

Both these jobs are essential for making it to the top of the mountain successfully, but sometimes, in our reputation management strategy planning, we might be too much of one or the other—focusing too much on what we want to achieve, without much detail as to how we’re going to do it, or focusing so much on the details that the overall goal is never reached.

For that reason, it is important to define your goals clearly before creating your reputation management strategy, so everyone is on the same page and all your efforts are focused toward singular goals. That way, you don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it.

If you want your reputation management strategy to succeed, here are four things to keep in mind when setting goals.

1) Keep it Simple

Create a defining statement that clearly summarizes our goals. But don’t make it too complex or include multiple sub points. A great goal statement is simple, direct, and easy to understand. In fact, if it takes you more than one sentence to define your reputation management goal, you probably ought to try again.

For example, “To gain a majority link position in the SERPs though a variety of optimization and linkbuilding activities, including social profiles and business listings, focusing on positive outcomes, to be achieved in the first quarter of 2012,” is not the way to go.

Something better might be: “To achieve 7 of the top 10 results for our branded search term in the next 6 months.” It’s direct, easy to understand, and there is no ambiguity about the goal that needs to be reached.

2) Concrete

In the previous example, the second goal is also more concrete. It focuses on a specific number of results that need to be achieved and sets a specific time frame for when the goal should be achieved. All your reputation management goals should have a concreteness to them that makes them tangible and real. Without a grounding in reality that focuses on specific numbers, timeframes, and outcomes, you run the danger of getting lost, losing sight of your goal, and failing altogether.

 3) Achievable

It can be extremely tempting to set goals that sound great on paper but won’t work in the real world. For example, attempting to get 20 positive articles about your company to rank for a branded search term in 30 days might sound ideal, but it’s probably not achievable.

Although 20 positive links in the SERPs isn’t a bad overall goal, 30 days might be a little quick. And when you don’t achieve it, it can be depressing and disheartening—especially if you worked hard to achieve it. Set smaller goals that you can achieve on your way to your bigger goal. You’ll feel good about your small achievements, and they’ll all build to a bigger goal with a more reasonable time frame.

4) Measurable

Lastly, make sure you set goals that you can measure. If you don’t set measurable goals, you’ll never know if you achieved them or not. For example a goal like, “To improve our company’s online reputation.” Is a commendable, but how do you know when you’ve “improved” your company’s online reputation, when the first 5 results are positive? The first 10? 15? And when are you supposed to complete this goal?

Rather, set goals that you can measure and have deadlines. That way you can stay focused. And when you achieve your goal, you’ll know you’ve accomplished something, and you can move on to the next big milestone.

Any Road Will Take You There

The Cheshire Cat once told Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” With a lack of simple, concrete, achievable, and measure goals for your reputation management strategy, you’ll end up wandering down dark paths and dead-end roads instead of glorying in an improved online reputation.

So, as you sit down to create your reputation management strategy, take a look at your goals and see if you know where you’re going before you leave the path and start heading up the mountain.

Other Reputation Management posts:

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.