Google Dishes Up the Dirt

What is it about Google that it seems to love dishing up the dirt on people and companies? Perform a search on anyone or anything that’s had the slightest bit of controversy in the past, and you’re almost sure to see an article, blog, or review about that in the top search results.

This makes it hard when you’re trying to boost your online reputation by getting more positive sites to rank higher, pushing those negative sites down off the first page. But just when you think you’ve made progress, one of the negative sties will pop back to the upper part of the search results, like a buoy that’s been pushed deep underwater and suddenly released.

You know the kind of sites I’m talking about. The ones dedicated to airing complaints, revealing scams, and generally acting as defenders the First Amendment right to publish whatever you like about someone online, just because you’re feeling ornery about their customer service that day.

Of course, these sites provide a useful public service. The review sites in particular have become invaluable for consumers who want to perform a little due diligence before spending money. The main trouble for some of my clients, and thus for me, is that a negative review or complaint from years ago can still appear in the top ten search results. It’s as if every time you meet someone new they’re told about that lamp you broke when you were five years old — and now they’re not so sure they can trust you around fine furniture.

Any major scandal a company has been involved in will almost certainly come up in the first couple of pages, especially if there was a lot of news coverage. No matter that it was ten years ago, the controversy was overblown, the upper management was replaced, the company was reformed, and all was forgiven. It still tarnishes the reputation in the eyes of anyone performing an online search.

So why does Google seem to have a preference for all these negative sites? Does their algorithm just have a mean streak, as if it were developed by a surly, anti-social, anti-consumerist programmer who delights in seeing successful companies brought down and ridiculed in the eyes of the public?

Well yes, there’s something in their algorithm, but it’s not inherent meanness. It’s just that Google rewards sites that get a lot of traffic. If a page appears in the search results and a lot of people click on the link, the page is likely to rise higher in the results. Then more people see it and click on it, and it moves up another notch. A vicious — or virtuous — cycle, depending on your perspective.

And what kinds of links do people love to click on? Ones that promise to expose the truth about someone or something … that reveal scandals, misconduct, or shocking behavior … that give us the inside scoop on scams and faulty products … and that let us exercise our feeling of moral outrage at some offense, real or imagined. Reading about someone else’s misfortune seems to provide many people with a bit of guilty pleasure. Witness how popular the tabloids have been. As Bette Midler noted, “The worst part of success is to try to find someone who is happy for you.”

So we can’t really blame Google, since its algorithms are just serving up what people want. And if people want dirt, that’s what they’ll get.

Of course, that makes my job more challenging. Trying to get positive pages to rank above the negative sites means working against the forces of human nature, at least the part that derives satisfaction from another’s misfortune. And this is why you can never become complacent in your online reputation management efforts, because those negative sites will keep creeping up the search rankings if you don’t constantly work at making the positive pages rank higher.

How to Rate a Company’s Reputation

If you could have a “Nielsen’s Rating” of reputation, what would it look like? Well, the Harris Poll, owned by Nielsen, has the answer in the form of the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient. This is a yearly poll that gauges the reputations of the largest, well-known companies in the U.S.

Here are the six dimensions they measure: products and services, financial performance, vision and leadership, workplace environment, social responsibility, and emotional appeal. The goal is to help corporate leaders manage their company’s reputation among the general public. But the Harris Poll also publishes the list of the top 100 companies, so you and I can see how they rank.

For example, the top five companies with the best reputations for 2016 are Amazon, Apple, Google, USAA, and The Walt Disney Company. At the bottom of the list was Volkswagen Group, due to the recent scandal involving emissions tests. Comcast came in at a sorry 97 because, well, it’s Comcast.

Now, it’s likely that you’re not a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of employees. So should you care about the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient? Sure, the things they measure can be important when you’re in the public eye. But Acme Car Repair in Any City, USA is not going to show up on Harris Poll’s list of reputation rankings.

It’s just a fact that, if you’re not a well-known company, brand, or celebrity, you’re not likely to have any kind of reputation among the general public. Your customers know you, your suppliers may know you, and a few journalists who cover your industry or area of expertise might also be aware of your existence. But outside of that circle, you just don’t register on anyone’s radar.

And that’s where your online reputation comes in. Because, if someone doesn’t know much about you, they’re going to Google you.

When we talk about online reputation management, we’re not talking about the kinds of things that the Harris Poll looks at. We care about what someone finds when they do search on you or your company. That’s the point where your prospects begin to gain a sense of what your reputation is, mostly by seeing what other people say about you online. And since this could be the first exposure they have to your company, it had better be a good impression.

Curiously, one of the things the Harris Poll evaluates is someone’s “willingness to say something positive, and intent to purchase or recommend your products and services.” But you can easily find that yourself. Just look at the first couple of pages of Google search results and see what people actually say about you. No need to poll them about their intentions. The good, the bad, and the ugly of their recommendations is all right there for you — and everyone else — to see.

So a simple way to rate your reputation is by looking at the number of positive search results on the first page of Google. You’ll get a number like 6 out of 10 positive, or 9 out of 10. The higher the better. You can give it a fancy name like Search Results Online Reputation Quotient, but it comes down to the same thing. Managing your online reputation is then a matter of getting more positive results to show up above the negative results. That can be a challenge, but that’s what we’re here to help you with.

How to Use Social Media to Avoid an Online Reputation Crisis

Most corporate cultures have a crisis management plan to fall back on in a reputational emergency. Online reputation management done right, especially with the use of social media, can prevent and mitigate problems before they become full-blown crises. Use social media to take control of your presence online and avoid a potential crisis with these 6 steps.

Plan and Prepare

Many brands are quick to jump on the newest social media bandwagon but slow to plan how they can best use it. Most crises can be prevented by planning important factors ahead of time, including:

  • what and how often to post on each social platform
  • which metrics are most important to the brand
  • how to measure and report on those metrics
  • how the brand will respond to both positive and negative comments
  • what the brand will do to show transparency, build trust, and boost engagement
  • how social media managers, employees, and others will react to, contain, and minimize the damage of a social media reputation crisis

Monitor Constantly

The best thing about social media is that everything happens in real time. That can also be a bad thing if you’re not constantly monitoring and moderating your social media accounts. Use tools like Sprout Social or Trackur to keep an eye on what others are saying about your brand, people, and products. Effective monitoring is the first step to protecting your reputation and helps you spot problems before they have time to snowball.

Moderate As Appropriate

Your social media profiles are an extension of your business website and company culture. That means they need to be moderated to reflect your brand in the best light possible while also providing transparency. This type of moderation means the removal of inappropriate content such as racism or pornography. Catching and removing this kind of unsuitable content as early as possible prevents high levels of “unlikes”, “unfollows”, lost customers, and lost reputational capital.

Prepare Against Threats

Hacked social media accounts can be devastating to your brand’s reputation. You must have strong threat detection and escalation processes in place to regain control of your social channels and prevent lasting damage to your reputation.

Watch Campaign Sentiment

Poorly timed or thought-out social media campaigns can inspire strong negative sentiment that spreads quickly online. Avoid negative sentiment in the first place with strong, research-based campaigns that appeal to your audience. Then if you see negative sentiment spreading, react to it quickly to appease your audience and save face.

Respond Quickly

The real-time nature of social media means your customers expect interaction and answers more quickly than ever before. Fast and proactive responses, especially to celebrities, thought leaders, and big names in your field, can help you both avoid a crisis and build a reputation for excellent customer service.

When used effectively, social media can be a powerful tool for not only building and maintaining your reputation, but also protecting and saving your online reputation in times of crisis. Follow these guidelines to make your social platforms work double-duty for your brand image.

Celebrity Reputation Management: Tips on Maintaining a Positive Personal Brand

For celebrities more than most other people, your name is your brand. It takes a lot of good work to build up a positive brand, but only hours to destroy one, thanks to the far-reaching possibilities of the internet. That’s why online reputation management for celebrities is so critical.

Once you’ve got a solid brand image associated with your name, follow these tips to keep it positive.

Monitor what others are saying about you.

You can’t respond to a brand crisis or negative press if you don’t know what people are saying about you. If you monitor regularly and respond appropriately, you can often take care of a problem before it snowballs into something much bigger and much worse.

The most basic online monitoring tool is Google Alerts. Set up an alert for your name and other terms relevant to your career or fame, and decide how often to receive the emailed alert.

Other good monitoring tools include Monitter.com and SocialMention.com. Both of these specifically look for mentions of your name and keywords on Twitter and other social media.

Get good press.

One of the best ways to maintain a positive brand image is to keep doing the things that helped you build it in the first place. This could include but is not limited to:

  • charity
  • volunteer work
  • avoiding compromising situations
  • excelling at what you do
  • winning awards or competitions

Own your name online.

Celebrity online reputation management is much easier when you own your domain name (i.e. celebrityname.com). When someone searches your name online, your domain name is very likely to show up on the first page of results, pushing any negative results down and offering the best information to searchers.

Think of your website as the online hub of information about you. Regularly publishing up-to-date and relevant announcements, photos, news and updates will make your site more likely to show up on the first page of search results and will help searchers find what they’re looking for.

You can use this same strategy with related domains, such as celebritynameblog.com or celebritynamestore.com (if you sell a branded product line).

Other places you can own your name online include the major social networks, appropriate directories (such as IMDB), and possibly a Wikipedia page.

Create online “business cards.”

In addition to owning your domain name and creating an online hub about yourself, you can own your name on single pages of personal portal sites that act like business cards online.

The biggest personal portals are About.me and Flavors.me. They generally include a photo or two of yourself, as much pertinent information as you want to include, and links to more information about you, such as your website and social profiles.

Control photos of yourself online.

Depending on the source of your fame, this may be easier said than done. But being the biggest publisher of photos of yourself can be a powerful, if somewhat counter-intuitive, celebrity online reputation management tactic.

Why? Because if you do it right, most photos will take searchers back to your website and social profiles, which you also control.

Start by including your name in the name of each photo, such as name-ABC-awards.jpg. Then publish them on your website or blog and share them on your social profiles. Just make sure to use appropriate photos, like you doing volunteer work, speaking at a conference, or accepting awards.

Always be professional.

The most important thing you can do to maintain a positive celebrity brand image is always be professional–in the way you work, respond to negative statements about you, and treat others.

Putting the “Strategy” Back in Reputation Management Strategy

Most times, when you tell your friends or family that you do online reputation management, they either think that what you do is so complicated that they’ll never understand it, or they just think you have the most boring job in the world. Fortunately, neither of those is true. Reputation management can be fun and challenging and the basic principles behind it are not that hard to understand. Executing on them, however, can be a different story.

Although at the heart of reputation management there are a number of easy principles to follow, sometimes we can get so involved with all the little things that we forget about the big picture. So maybe it’s time to take a step back, look at your current strategies, and evaluate what they are doing for you.

Coordinate Your Efforts

Sometimes getting down in the weeds on a daily basis can blind us to the fact they we should have a diverse set of strategies that we are employing for any given client and that they should be working in concert. This may be especially true if you have a large staff or use a number of independent contractors. No reputation management effort should be working alone. Social should boost web properties, web properties should boost content and links, high ranks should encourage more social interaction, etc. Don’t get so involved in one method of reputation management that you forget about other efforts working in concert to provide the best results for yourself or your client.

Understand Your Audience

This is, perhaps, not a focus we normally have, but we need to keep in mind who we are building this reputation for. It’s not for ourselves or our clients—it’s for the people who are performing branded searches. You can create a beautiful SERP with a ton of great content, but if that SERP does not instill confidence in your particular audience, you’ll be failing. Find out who is searching for you or your clients online, understand what they think is positive or what will give them a positive sense of the brand. Then you’ll be creating not just a great SERP but an effective tool for building trust with your audience.

Solve Problems, Don’t Just Offer Solutions

When we’re in the thick of a campaign, sometimes it’s easy to simply implement the first strategy that comes to mind. But the easiest solution is not always the best solution for the long term. Before trying to offer solutions, try to understand the problem first. Back up, look at the cause of the bad reputation or negative press. Oftentimes, getting to the root of the problem will offer a clearer, easier solution than starting a whole new campaign or adding more work to your already large load.

Follow Your Plan and Evaluate It

At the creation of a strategy, you should define what you want the outcome to be and set a goal to reach it. Then stick to your plan. Remember what the Cheshire Cat said to Alice: If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. Remind yourself of what your goals are on a regular basis and when you’ve reached the end, look back and measure how that success came about, so you can repeat that success again. On the other hand, if you’re not reaching your goal, it could be because of unclear expectations or becoming derailed by not staying focused.

Overall, remember that reputation management will be much easier and more effective if you know where you’re going, can coordinate your efforts, understand your audience, and work to solve problems, not just offer solutions.

Affiliate Marketing as a Strategy for Reputation Management

Sometimes affiliate marketing can get a bad rap, but it’s a completely legitimate business model and there are thousands of people who have made solid businesses out of selling other people’s products for a commission. And there is no reason you can’t use the affiliate marketing model to help improve your branded search engine results page (SERP).

This model will only work if you sell a branded product or service. For example, if you sell “Fitpro Exercise Balls” and that is also the name of your company, using an affiliate marketing program could work very well as a reputation management strategy.

Essentially, you’ll be allowing a number of other companies to build their own websites to sell your product at a commission. And, if you have enough, every time a potential customer searches for “Fitpro exercise balls” they’ll see a SERP filled with mentions of your product on a number of different websites. You get a natural-looking SERP and increased sales at the same time

Setting Up an Affiliate Program

On your current website, you’ll need to set up an affiliate portal where potential affiliate partners can learn more, apply, and obtain the materials they need to get started. It’s a bit complicated, but essentially, you have to assign each affiliate a promo code that they can use in their links to your site. That way when traffic comes from their site to yours, you’ll be able to tell where the traffic is coming from and can serve site visitors a specific phone number or assign an online order code that will detect who sent the traffic and who needs to get a commission from that sale.

Promote Your Affiliates

One of the great things about an affiliate program is that you get to set the terms of the affiliate partnership. You can set rules about the way that your company name is used, how they can talk about your product, and more. Specifically, you can control how they link to you, so you can make sure that the majority of their links are branded, both to help you rank well in the SERPs and to help them rank well too.

They Work for You

In most reputation management campaigns, you have to do all the work of building blogs, creating microsites, building links to 3rd party websites, and more. But when you’ve created an affiliate marketing program, all your affiliates work to earn money from you—and they only get paid when they make a sale. Essentially, they’ll do all the linkbuilding and content creation to their own site to help it rank well for “Fitpro exercise balls” and all you have to do is sit back and watch your SERP turn completely branded.

Link Diversity

One of the best aspects of this model is that you don’t have to worry about your SERP looking artificially manipulated—because it isn’t. You have a number of independent websites that are all working independently from you and each other to rank well for your branded term. That way your branded SERP looks completely natural and is filled with a variety of information about you and your product.

An affiliate program will not work for everyone. But for those businesses that sell a branded product of their own, using affiliate marketing to fill a SERP with information about them might be a way to lighten the load on their own web marketing team and create an effective reputation management strategy at the same time.

Penguin and Reputation Management Strategy

Google has been raging a war against search engine manipulation for more than 10 years now. And it’s understandable. Their most used and most profitable product is their search engine, and in order to stay number one (by a wide margin), they need to offer user the best search experience possible. Essentially, that entails giving users the most relevant and highest quality results possible.

There are those who seek to manipulate the search results find holes in the Google algorithm and exploit them for their own benefit. There is nothing wrong with doing your best to get other websites to link to your site and boost your site rank, but there are a number of spammy tactics that some people use to get their sites to rank. One of these is to use “exact match anchor text” on a large scale.

For example, if you want your website to rank for “silk pillow cases,” you can submit links to directories or blogging networks with the text “silk pillow cases.” But this exact match keyword text link appears unnatural if 75% of the links coming to your site look exactly the same. And this is what Google has targeted in its latest search algorithm update to thwart manipulation, dubbed, Penguin.

So what does this mean for reputation management?

Well, in most ways, this is a very good thing for reputation management. The Penguin update is an update to the algorithm that looks at the backlink profile of a site, specifically the anchor text distribution. Google has determined that a “natural” link profile has about 60-80% of its links with branded anchor text, another 10-20% has keyword anchor text, and the last 10-20% is made of link noise (i.e., “click here,” “go here,” etc.)

Because, most of the time, reputation management is about creating a positive search results page for one keyword—often a personal name, company name, or brand—your reputation management strategy is in a good position when it comes to not getting penalized by Penguin. In general, linkbuilding for reputation management means having a personal, company, or brand name as the anchor text. But if other websites in your search are overoptimized for those keywords, they could be penalized and the material you want to promote can move up.

A warning

However, that doesn’t mean that everything is peachy keen. Although the majority of your backlinks contain branded terms or your name, to make sure you aren’t penalized, place a number of  links that contain link noise as well—up to 20%. That means that every once in a while, don’t make links like “company name.” Rather, create some link noise, like anchor text containing “click here” or “see more.”

The more natural you can make your backlink profile look for the websites you want to rank, the better. That way you’ll avoid any Penguin penalties and be one step closer to shaping the SERP you desire.

20 Tips for Creating an Effective Reputation Management Strategy

Most of the time, I agree with the sentiment that less is more. Most times a little bit of a good thing is better than too much. But when it comes to online reputation management, more is more. Why cover just a few principles and tips and leave out everything else that will help you create a better reputation management strategy? That’s why this list was created. Here are 20 tips for creating an effective reputation management campaign.

1) Own your SERPs

Don’t be happy with a handful of links at the top of a search engine results page for your name. Take full advantage of your SERP by owning it from top to bottom. Just make sure it’s a varied set of results that look natural and unbiased and you’ll make a great impression on anyone who is searching for you.

2) Be social

Claim your social media profiles and use them. Social profiles are easy to get ranked in the SERPs—especially for your personal name. So get out there, make your profiles, and use them so that they show up when people are searching for you.

3) Blog

Blogging is one of the best ways to get your name out there on the web. Buy a domain that reflects your name, like yourname.com, and then fill your blog with professional, positive information about what you do, who you are, and your personal or professional insights.

4) Look for opportunities

Opportunities to get noticed on the web abound. You can do the normal stuff, like start a blog or build links to your Google+ profile, but you can go beyond those strategies and think outside the box. For instance, hold a contest to give away a gift card or iPad, and have entrants blog about something you care about in order to enter. As long as you make sure they link to your website or blog with your name as the anchor text, you’ll get some great link juice and you’ll rank well.

5) Don’t forget press releases

Article marketing has a bad reputation in SEO circles, especially since Google’s recent Panda and Penguin updates. But as long as you don’t overdo it, putting out a few press releases here and there is a great way to fill your SERP with positive information. This is probably reserved for larger companies with big budgets, but there are free PR posting services out there as well for individuals and small companies.

6) Encourage reviews

If you own a business or provide a service, encourage your best customers to write positive reviews about you on the web. Yelp, Angie’s List, Google, City Search, and more are great places to write reviews and they tend to do well in the SERPs.

7) Own the scam

Just because there’s a “scam report” out there doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. If you’ve generated a controversy and there are a number of “scam” sites out there targeting your name, turn it around by owning the scam. Instead of trying to ignore it, write a blog post about how you are not associated with a scam. Or create a page on your official website, with the word scam in the title, that you can use it to clear up any misconceptions.

8) Don’t argue

Don’t argue with internet trolls or other detractors. If you are baited into arguing with them online, you’ve already lost. In some cases, it’s okay to respond to negative comments about yourself online. But always do so respectfully and take responsibility for your actions. Don’t get into a back and forth with a blogger or review writer, you’ll only end up looking like a fool for arguing.

9) Ask to take it down

If you find negative information about yourself online, your first step should be to respectfully ask that it be taken down or removed. In some cases, that’s all you have to do to remove negative information. So why not give it a try?

10) Fix the problem

If someone has had a bad experience with your company or a service you provide, and they’ve posted negatively about it online, offer to fix the problem. Nothing quells anger like an offer to make up for something that went wrong.

11) Be civilized

In all your online dealings, be civilized. It doesn’t matter if you’re posting on your personal Facebook page or responding to a negative email. The nicer you are to people, the less likely they will be motivated to post negative information about you on the web.

12) Be an author

Embrace being a publisher. The more content—blog posts, pictures, etc.—that you can make and post on the web, the more likely Google is to pick it up and help it rank in the SERPs for your name.

13) Make some news

Many individuals and companies work extremely hard to build blogging networks and a myriad of social accounts so they can create a positive image online, but a great way to get a positive result is to be mentioned in the news for something positive you’ve done. Giving to charity, going for a Guiness world record, or offering your services as an expert in your field to a local reporter can help you get mentioned in local newspapers—and those are some great links.

14) Make friends in high places

It pays to make friends in high places—especially well respected bloggers or online journalists. First of all, they can use you in something they write that is related to your field. And, second, if you find negative information about yourself online, you can ask your friend for help. They may be able to accomplish something you can’t on your own.

15) Be a publisher

You can be a writer on your own blog, but you can also publish other people’s articles on your blog. Ask for quality blog submission from professionals in your field and post them on your website. Not only will you be making friends but you’ll also get traffic to your blog and links. Which will help you rank better in the SERPs.

16) Get listed

There are a number of ways to get yourself listed about the internet. Start with professional organizations, blog lists, and more.

17) Picture it

If you include any of your own photography on your website or if your organization has a large stockpile of corporate photos, make them available to be posted on the internet under a creative commons license that requires a link back to your website. The more links to your site, the better it will do in the SERPs and the more it will help your online reputation.

18) Be everywhere

Whenever there is a chance for you to put your name down on the internet and link to your personal or professional web properties, do it. One of the best ways to do this is to offer yourself as a guest blogger on websites that pertain to your field.

19) Use the group

Another way to create positive buzz for yourself is to join groups and professional organizations. Not only will you make some friends, but you have a chance to raise your online profile and make connections that will help you get your name and web properties to rank well in the SERPs.

20) Don’t forget about offline

Not everything you do to enhance your online reputation online has to take place online. Go to conferences, introduce yourself to colleagues, and go to professional meetups. The more people you meet and can make a good impression on (both online and off) the more you will raise your profile. And when people in the real world respect you, the online community will follow.

4 Keys to an On-Page Reputation Management Strategy

When you think about online reputation management, most likely you think about ways to clean up your search results. Maybe some one wrote a bad review of your restaurant or a “scam alert” website has written some harmful things about your dental practice and you want to clean up your search engine results so that the people who are searching for you online will form an opinion of you without being influenced by inaccuracies and negativity.

But reputation management isn’t just about the search results. Your online reputation carries over onto your website as well. It doesn’t matter how well you clean up your search results. If your site visitors don’t feel safe when they visit your site, or if your landing pages don’t boost your authority in their eyes, your reputation will suffer. Not that you won’t have a great SERP, but that your site visitors will bounce away from your site because they don’t trust you.

However, these on-page factors can be fixed. And it’s usually much easier than cleaning up your SERPs. In fact, here are a few ways that you can achieve a better online reputation by concentration on your on-page elements.

1) Give them what they want

First and foremost, follow through with your audience’s expectations. If they are searching for your name, they are probably searching for information about you or your company. They don’t want to know about your sales, your deals, or other information you want to tell them. They are looking for YOU. So give them what they want.

There is nothing that will kill a site visitor’s confidence in a website more than clicking a link that promises one thing and then receiving another. That’s when you lose your audience and your customers. So, make sure that people can find what they are looking for easily and that you meet their expectations.

2) Design for authority

When was the last time you landed on a page that looked poorly designed? How did you feel about the company or the individual whose page it was? You probably thought they were spammy, amateurish, and untrustworthy. And that’s what your site visitors will feel about your website if you haven’t designed your site to look authoritative and trustworthy.

Make your design clean and well organized. That means clean lines, organized information, clear navigation, and more. For example, make your contract information prominent, highlight your awards, and given them a reason to trust you through the sentiments expressed in your headlines and website copy.

Lastly, feature social elements that display a healthy number of people who “like” your website and products or people who have tweeted positively about your service. All these things will help boost customer trust in your website and you.

3) Connect with your audience

Today it is not enough simply to fill a need. Savvy online customers today want to feel like they can connect with you or your brand. Tell your story, let your personality shine, and give your site visitors easy access to resources and the information they’re seeking.

When your audience can see your company personality and feel like you are more than just a cold website among millions, they’ll build confidence in you and help you build a positive online reputation.

4) Test

Lastly, test. And then test again.

Creating your website is only the first step to creating a trustworthy image. Once you have the first version done. Test different elements, buttons, pictures, navigation, and more. Hopefully you can find out which elements of your web design are encouraging site visitors to explore further and which are impeding them. As you test your site, be open to changing elements and creating a site that fully engages your audience. Help them build trust in your site and they’ll come away with a positive view of your site and your brand.

Beyond SERPs

When you can build a site that has a clean search result page and builds a positive reputation on-page, you’ll have a winning combination that will create a fantastic online reputation.

Active Engagement as an Online Reputation Management Strategy

Too often, people and organizations wait until they have a reputation management crisis on their hands before considering a strategy to clear their online reputation and get back on track. Ideally, reputation management should be part of any business or individual’s strategy for creating a positive image online and being found by the right people—like customers.

And today’s media landscape makes it easier than ever for anyone to implement a reputation strategy that is proactive and preventative. Through blogs, social media, and more anyone who wants to get their name out in the world in a positive way has many avenues open to them. And being active online is s great way to prevent a future crisis.

Being actively engaged online gives you great advantages for your online reputation. For instance, the more you can get your name (or company name) mentioned, the more instances Google has to draw from when compiling a SERP for your name. And if there are more positive or neutral mentions of your name online than negative, then the SERPs will reflect that. Also, if you are actively engaged online, chances are you will be making friends and acquaintances across the world that can help you if a reputation management crisis should occur.

Being Actively Engaged

The benefits of being actively engaged online before a crisis occurs are apparent, but how do you start? How can you build a positive reputation right now?

1) Blogs

If you don’t have one already, get a blog and use it as a home base for information about yourself or your company. This is a great place to publish content about yourself as well as quality content that other online communities and individuals can access and link to. If you are regularly publishing quality content, your blog will gain regular readership and rankings in the SERPs, giving you a positive online reputation.

2) Social Media

Social media is another great way to prevent future attacks on your reputation. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profiles all rank well in the search engines—especially if you have a high number of followers who regularly share your links and comments. This is key: if you are actively engaged online through social networks, you will naturally increase your rank for those profiles in the SERPs and prevent the invasion of negative information should it ever arise.

3) Forums and groups

Another place to be active online is through forums and groups. Online forums connected to your niche or area of expertise are a great way to be helpful and answer questions, raising your online profile and the chance that people will link to your blog, social profiles, and more. LinkedIn is an especially good place to form some great relationship through professional groups. These friendships and positive relationships can come in handy for promoting your content and boosting your online profile to guard against future attacks.

4) Conferences and Meetups

Online is great, but offline encounters can also help you build clout and a positive reputation online and off. The more people you encounter within your field, the better your chances of being mentioned online, trusted, and used as a resource. The result is that you’ll garner more attention for the positive things that you do, building a great online reputation before something negative comes along.

5) Be a Resource

Lastly, be a resource to people in your field. If you can create a website, social media account, or other online repository for great information, your online community will link to you and use you as a source around the web. And when that happens you’ll be sure to create a rock solid online reputation.