In today’s digital world, your online reputation is one of the most important things to protect. When people search for you, your company, or your brand, all the available information online about you comes together to create a cohesive picture—either negative or positive—and that picture informs how potential customers, clients, and connections see you.
Most people only seek out online reputation help when that cohesive picture is negative. Whether it’s bad reviews, negative press, or unflattering personal information, if something negative is tarnishing your online reputation, it makes sense to reach out to a firm like Go Fish Digital to help mitigate the damage.
However, online reputation management (ORM) is not only reactionary—it can be proactive too. There are concrete steps you can take now to protect and secure the positive reputation you have worked hard to build online. That way, if something negative happens in the future, your online reputation is as protected from the impact as it can be.
Preventive online reputation management is simpler than you think. Effectively, you want to make sure these three things are true:
- All (or the majority) of the links that show up on the first page of your search results are positive
- Any positive links that you own or control are optimized to continue ranking well
- Any positive links that you do not own or control have a high Domain Authority and are linked-to from your owned sites
Now, let’s get into each of those three things individually:
1. All (or the majority) of the links that show up on the first page of your search results are positive
For most people doing preventative ORM, this will already be the case. Ideally, you want to be able to type your brand’s name, company’s name, or your name into the Google search bar and come back with only positive results on that first page—your website, your social media, positive press, and/or positive reviews. However, if you’re seeing irrelevant or negative content show up in your first page of results, that might be worrisome.
If you’re seeing many negative results, or a few particularly high ranking negatives (in the first 4 or 5 spots on Google), then it might be worth reaching out to a professional ORM agency to help remove negative search results. If you’re only seeing one or two negative or irrelevant results, and they’re close to the bottom of the page, then you don’t need to worry as much. The next two steps will help.
2. Any positive links that you own or control are optimized to continue ranking well
Like I said in the first point, ideally, the majority of the positive links on the first page of your search results will be links to sites you own or control, like your website or social media accounts. If your owned sites do rank well, you want to make sure they stay that way. If they don’t, you’re going to want to move them up in the search results. The best way to do that is to optimize them for your targeted search terms using some basic SEO tactics.
For example, if your restaurant is called Carrot, and you want the Carrot social media accounts to rank well for searches of “carrot restaurant DC”, you’d want to optimize those accounts for the term “carrot restaurant DC”.
There are some basic SEO tactics that anyone can use to optimize their social media and websites to rank for their targeted search term:
- Make sure you use the whole targeted search term on the page as much as is reasonable. Using the same example from before, that could mean changing your Instagram handle from @CarrotRestaurant to @CarrotRestaurantDC or adding “Carrot Restaurant DC” into the “About Us” text on your Facebook page. On a website, that could mean adding the term into the alt-text tags for images or into your site’s metadata.
- Make sure that your usernames are the same on all social media. For example, if your handle is @CarrotRestaurant on Twitter and @CarrotDC on Instagram, pick one and use it across the board. Consistency is key for SEO.
- Keep social media accounts fresh. The fresher the content is, the better it’ll rank.
- Link to all your other accounts and websites on each one of your owned sites. Anywhere you can put a link to your other owned sites, you should. More backlinks will send strong trust signals to Google and help link your accounts together.
If you implement each of these techniques on all of your owned sites and social media accounts, it will help move them up the search results and help cement their positions high on the page.
3. Any positive links ranking that you do not own or control have a high Domain Authority and are linked to from your owned sites
If there are positive press pieces or positive review sites ranking in your search results and you want them to continue ranking, there are a few things you can do to make sure that happens.
The first thing to do is to check the site’s Domain Authority (DA) using a tool like Moz. If the site has a high DA, that means it’s trusted by Google and has a high likelihood of continuing to rank. In that case, there isn’t much you need to do. If the site has a low DA, that means it’s less trusted and at a higher risk for being pushed off the page by a potential future negative piece of content. To bolster a low-DA site and help keep it ranking, try to link to it from your owned sites. Creating more links to it might help increase the site’s DA, and it shows Google that it’s relevant to you.
If you’re worried about low-DA positives falling out of the search results, you could also try moving high-DA positives up to take their place. Adding links to those high-DA positives on your owned sites would help with that too.
If you can make sure these three things are true of your search results then you will have positioned yourself and your company or brand as best you can to withstand online reputation challenges. What did you think of my pointers? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below!
This is Chapter 8 of our Online Reputation Management guide.
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