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.