Receiving a bad review can feel like the end of the world. Seeing negative results in an online search of your company name can greatly damage your business. Online Reputation Management & Repair can be costly. There are some Do-it-Yourself solutions to try before seeking professional assistance. Give these 5 Key points for Cleaning up your Online Reputation provided below a try.
1. Include Your Name Within Positive Content
There may be good content about you already, but if your name isn’t closely associated with that content, it’ll be less powerful than any negative content specifically targeting your name.
For the sake of search engine algorithms, you’ll want your name in the text on the pages of good content, and you’ll want it to appear in a number of advantageous places in the page code. Of course, this is assuming you’re able to influence or edit the page(s) in question.
2. Ensure Positive Pages Contain Your Name In The Title Tag
The page’s HTML title element is perhaps the most important item for zeroing in on your name and making the page rank well when that name is searched. The page’s title should contain your nam—spelled exactly like you spell it, leaving out initials or additional titles (Jr., Dr., Mr./Mrs., etc.) if you don’t commonly use that when listing your name. (Conversely, it should be included if the people who search for your name online are likely to use it when conducting searches.)
For things like your social media profile pages, the user name or field where you specify how your name appears will automatically handle publishing this in the title—so you don’t necessarily have to have direct access to the page’s HTML code (or web development knowledge) to edit the title tag.
3. Ensure Positive Pages Contain Your Name In The URL
Ideally, the page’s URL should contain your name, just as the title should. Example: www.awebsite.com/Your-Name.html
As with page title elements, many social media services and online directories may automatically parse your proper name into the URL. In other cases (such as websites you control or have access to), dashboards or settings pages may require you to manually specify the page URL.
When including your name in a page URL, it does not matter if the name is in uppercase, lowercase or a mixture—search engines are primarily case-insensitive. Note that most websites will not allow one to have spaces in URLs, which makes a real difference in multiple-word names (ex: “John Smith”). Instead, they may allow dashes, periods, underscores or even parenthesis.
Google and other search engines treat some of these types of other characters as “white space” characters, essentially using them just like spaces and enabling them to influence rankings for multi-word searches. While visually appealing, underscores are not treated as white space characters, so one should avoid them. It’s best to use a dash or a period, which are considered white space characters (ex: “john.smith” or “john-smith”). Your second best choice is probably a URL term that leaves out spaces (ex: “johnsmith”).
If those options are unavailable, you still might opt for using the underscore (ex: “john_smith”) as your third choice, as it may still enhance your search rankings some, albeit at a weaker level as a “fuzzy” match rather than the stronger exact match option.
4. Register & Build Out A Domain Containing Your Name
It’s good to have a website that has your targeted name as the domain name (ex: www.johnsmith.com). If you have this, it already accomplishes including the name within the URL—and having the keyword as the domain name is a very strong ranking element in SEO terms.
Businesses will likely already have a domain name that’s a variation of their brand name, but for individuals that have common proper name combinations (like our hypothetical “John Smith”), there’s a high chance that an exact-match domain name will be unavailable or already owned by another person. In that event, one would hope that the other individual has a good reputation online and presents a positive identity on their site! If that’s the case, you could consider that other person’s site to be an advantage in your reputation repair struggle (see my note below about leveraging other, unrelated pages for a positive effect in your efforts).
What top-level domain (“TLD”) should you have? The .COM TLD performs the best in most cases, though .NET will work well, too. (For a nonprofit organization, it might be best to select the .ORG TLD.)
There are additional TLDs that are quite strong as second choices, such as .TEL, .BIZ, and .ME. I primarily advise against other, oddball TLDs, though research indicates that new TLDs can perform well in terms of searcher clickthrough behavior—however, I suspect these may not perform equally in other search engines. There can also be additional considerations regarding distinction, trustworthiness and professionalism, so proceed carefully if you go outside of the more common .COM and .NET choices.
Remember, it’s not enough to simply register a domain for your name. You also need to build out content on that domain.
How much content you’ll need to build out will vary from case to case, but it’s good to start small. Create some simple text that includes the target name, and be sure to include the name in your title tag and in HTML header tags (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) as well. This text is easily read by search engines and can increase your domain’s relevancy score for your target name, thus enabling it to more effectively rank higher for searches on that name.
5. Set Up Social Media Profiles In Your Name
It’s important that you have robust, public social media profiles on some of the most popular (and thus strongest) social services out there, like Facebook and Twitter.
Frequently, businesses or individuals may already have a few of these—if so, you should insure that they are set up optimally by including your name and claiming a custom URL containing that name as described above (ex: twitter.com/johnsmith).
Consider also that there may be many more social media services that could prove valuable in cleaning up your name online. MySpace, while used less these days, still has some ranking power. Other popular services can include Delicious, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Reddit.
In addition to creating a profile, it may also be necessary to develop those social profiles to some degree. For example, you may need to expand your numbers of followers, engagement levels, and influence on those services in order to give those social accounts the power necessary for them to rank well for your name. (As a bonus, this will also make them strong properties for helping your other content to rank.)
Your influence scores, as reflected by services like Kred and Klout, can be used to give you an idea of how you’re doing as you engage with those services and develop them out.
If these tips are too time consuming for you to accomplish on your own, we can help. Brainjar Media can improve your company’s online reputation for you. Just give us a call today at 503.492.6500.
SRC: Learn the remaining 4 Key Points for Cleaning up your Online Reputation Nightmare at: marketingland.com/9-key-points-cleaning-online-reputation-nightmare-via-seo-121924