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Manage Your Reputation Online for Free
With the instant access to information that the internet provides, one disgruntled ex-employee or malicious competitor can completely destroy your reputation online. Your company's reputation online is paramount to the success of the organization. Reputation Management, or online reputation management (ORM), is a specialty that deals with providing the search engines with information that presents a positive picture of a company or personal brand.
Professional contacts, potential clients, and hiring managers may do a search of your name online to determine what information exists. You want to make that information to be as positive as possible. That's where SEO (search engine optimization) comes into play. SEO is the formula by which search engines locate information on the internet. The more relevant a webpage is for a search term, the higher it will appear in search results. Since most users only read the first page or two of search results, the reputation management process focuses on pushing negative information to lower pages.
The Method. You can't completely erase bad information, but you can make it all but disappear. The first step is to formulate a plan of action. Here are some action steps you can take to push positive information to the first pages while simultaneously pushing negative information back.
-Post a blog. Keep it updated weekly or even daily. Hire a professional blogger that is trained in SEO and can use your target keywords. This is the quickest way to get to the top of the search engine results page.
-Create a YouTube page. Post videos about your product or service. Include testimonials, commercials and other media. You Tube ranks very high in search engine credibility.
-Join social networks. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Naymz are your friend when you're defending your online reputation. Build up contacts and keep fresh content on your site.
-Post articles. Article directories are a great way to get your name out there. Not only do they provide information on your company, but they are open for other webmasters to post them on their sites. This gives your name higher credibility and better search engine rank. Search engines like Google and Bing love Hubpages and Squidoo. Hire an article writer to write on these sites and link back to your web page.
-Give good PR. Good public relations is essential in creating a favorable online reputation. Announce changes in management, upcoming events, or new products. There are many great press release distribution services out there.
-Own your name. Purchase your own name as your domain name. Not only will it show up in search engine results, your competitor can't purchase it and defame you online using your own name. Johnsmith.com may already be taken but JohnLaurenceSmith.com may still be available.
-Don't feed the trolls! While it may be tempting to defend yourself by responding to negative postings, doing so only makes them more credible with search engines. This pushes them back to the top of the search queue, sabotaging your work.
-Don't keyword stuff. If you're selling vacuum cleaners, don't write an article and use the keyword phrase "vacuum cleaner" in every sentence. Search engines are wise to that trick and will punish you with low rankings.
-Don't write for the search engines.Write for your customers or intended audience. If your page has useful information, the search engines will find your site.
-Don't register variations of the same domain name. Buying vacuums.com is a good strategy. Buying vacuums.org, vacuums.info, vacuums.net, and vacuums.biz, etc., will not be effective.
This process does not happen overnight. Depending on how much information there is, it might take several months to erase all of it from the first page. However, with diligent effort, you should see positive results in no time.
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Image credit: Morguefile.com, MConnors