Managing your brand on the Web is critical and even the strategies you employ to market your organization can influence your consumers. The evolution of SEO has made quality a priority and has also greatly reduced the success rate of “black hat” search engine optimization campaigns.
Why has Google cracked down on unethical tactics? While there are several definitive (and largely correct) answers to this question, the primary reason is often cited to be disruption of the user experience. Often times, strategies such as keyword stuffing or spun articles are an eyesore to users (and potential consumers) that may be looking for relevant and useful information.
Today, these not only impact rankings, but they can also lead to negative reviews and complaints from disappointed readers.
Online marketing firms such as WebiMax have weathered the Panda and Penguin updates and emphasize quality and originality when developing content. By applying our knowledge and philosophies to our client’s campaigns, we have avoided complaints related to low-quality content or other black hat tactics.
It is essential for every business to understand the importance of quality within digital marketing and that “cutting corners” can lead to serious reputation concerns. Designing an SEO campaign with a strong focus on proven “best practices” will help to protect your brand from damaging user-generated content and diminished revenue.
What are your thoughts on White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO? Give us your feedback in the comments below or send your Tweets to @WebiMax!
You are your reputation.
Search engines are a great tool, but they add to the vulnerability when the wrong information gets exposed online. It doesn’t matter whether the misinformation is from neglect, a disgruntled former employee or a jilted lover, the damage can be real and sometimes, devastating, both socially and to one’s career. People finding the bad data don’t stop to ask questions, they just make an assumption and move on. That can deprive you of opportunities, or expose you to punishing consequences.
Keywords and Citations are the language used by search engines to define who you are (Citations) and what’s important to you and about you (Keywords). No one can tell search engines like Google what to do. All we can do is make suggestions, so talking the search engines’ language can be a strong advantage.
Citations are just that – references to a bit of data, plain and simple. Just as your English professor used them to check on the accuracy of your term paper’s quotations, so Google uses them to establish the credibility of bits of data, such as name, address and phone number. Google looks for exact match data, and applies trust to the data based on how many times it is accurate (and where it is listed).
Citations may arise as a tool in a hostile competitive or disinformation campaign. Bad data can be misleading, thieves may use false citations to steal business leads, or simply to confuse readers. Incorrect data can hamper local search results. Unwanted disclosure of some data, such as credit card numbers, or unlisted phone numbers, represents a vulnerability that it is best to defend against.
What Can You Do?
Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) is a free ‘clipping’ service that can send you E-mail alerts when particular keywords that you select are found on the web and newly arise in their search index. Your Business Keywords may be:
- your personal name,
- a unique brand-name,
- company name,
- product name,
- leader, officer, spokesperson,
- or even a competitor.
A carefully-chosen bunch of keywords (when limited by ‘negative keywords’) can feed a warning system for personal and business purposes. As new mentions of your keywords are crawled by Google on the worldwide web, you can click through to them and find out if the mentions are positive, negative or neutral. Each type of sentiment expressed requires its own strategy to profit from any interaction. Some times it is even better not to react at all. The key is knowing the difference, and for that it pays to gain knowledge from a Reputation Management expert.
An even-handier tool for personal use may be Me On the Web, https://www.google.com/dashboard/ (part of the Google Dashboard). It offers email alerts when your personal information (name, company name, home address, email address, phone number, etc.) is posted on the Web. It automatically includes things such as one’s E-mail address. Even better, it includes guides to “Manage Your Online Identity”.
To use it requires one’s Google services log-in. Clients and prospects must be cautious when providing this to their Online Reputation specialist, potentially making this a strictly personal tool. Information that’s confidential, embarrassing, or just plain wrong should be addressed by taking the time to click the “How to remove unwanted content” link to request the removal of a page from Google’s search results. That way, one can reduce the risk of exposure of unwanted material.
An Online Reputation professional who is made aware of the undesired presence of personal information or incorrect listings in Google has strong tools at their disposal. They may apply effort to ProActively or ReActively alter listings in Directories or Business Indices in order to correct the data. They may add more and better Citations. They have experience in how best to respond to Comments and Remarks, whether complimentary or complaining. They may even advise on contacting Google or other methods to improve the situation. Results are tracked and reported on a regular basis. That way, the successful improvement of your Citations, Keywords and thus your Reputation will be clear.
And what of Social Media? Mentions on Social Networks can be utterly scathing, yet Twitter and other social sites’ messages are not indexed by Google. How will you know what is being said about you? WhosTalkin.com is a search tool focused on social media sites. SocialMention.com is another, very fully-featured tool. If people are talking about you or your company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the 60 other social sites that these sites monitor, this service will help you keep tabs on those discussions. How to respond then is up to you. Time is of the essence… most complainers resist any effort to change their attitude after about 24 hours have elapsed.
Any good, ethical Reputation Management specialist can talk knowledgeably about your situation. Don’t hesitate to contact WebiMax with any concerns you may have. After all, it’s our reputation on the line, too!
My parents always told me not to care about what other people think of me. But, let’s be honest–we all care a little bit.
Of course, we care what certain people think more than others. The high school quarterback’s opinion means a little more than the captain of the chess club. Your CEO’s opinion of you matters a little more than your average co-worker. From the lunch table to the conference room, let’s face it–we care.
As far as the Internet is concerned, Google is the high school quarterback; they’re the CEO. Their opinion means something. So if you’re on the Internet–personally and/or professionally–you should, to some degree, care what Google thinks of you.
How Does Google Perceive You?
Google runs on relevance. You type in a term and it spits back information it believes to be relevant to that term.
Google also uses relevancy for its own gains. They display ads in your browser based on your search activity (if you’re curious, be sure check out just how much Google knows about you–they’re either shockingly dead-on or shockingly off).
Take a second to Google yourself and see what comes back. Google your company and see what comes back. Google words that you think are relevant to your company. This is what Google currently thinks of you–where they rank you and the sites they associate you with. Do you like what you see?
If not, don’t worry just yet. There’s probably a lot you can do to get the search results you’re looking for and, essentially, get Google to change its perception of you.
Making Friends through SEO
If you own a website, whether it’s a personal blog or your company’s e-commerce site, you can improve the way Google perceives you through ethical optimization. They like that stuff.
To start, though, you need to know what Google looks for and see how well your site is currently optimized. This will provide you with baseline data for the elements Google looks at when crawling your site.
• Your link profile
• Site architecture
• Page Speed
When you address these issues and work to optimize your site, you’ll find that Google likes you a whole lot more. And when the most popular kid in school likes you, you can bet a lot of other people will like you too (i.e. sales).
Managing Your Reputation
People love to talk smack on the Internet. Whether they’re angrily writing a restaurant review or bad-mouthing a former employer, people love to vent in blogs and forums. Unfortunately, this form of therapy can negatively impact companies and individuals–usually for unjust reasons.
So, if you want Google to continue liking you, it’s important that you manage your reputation. This means keeping your site in shipshape as well as keeping an ear out for anyone talking behind your back.
Through active SEO and by keeping a watchful eye over your name and your brand, you can protect your reputation online and be sure that you’ll always be in Google’s good graces.
Let’s be honest, the SEO industry has been marred by scams in the past. Less than reputable companies would often promise things that there was no way of honoring and use unfair measures to attempt to keep their word in order to syphon more money. These promises included getting a company on the first page of Google rankings for a keyword within a short amount of time, saying they’ll submit a website to thousands of search engines and, most comically, they have cracked the Goggle algorithm. All of these are not true, involve deceitfulness or require broad interpretation of the promise in order to live up to it. These are just some of the many ways SEO has been linked with scams.
So when SEO and scams are linked together, it is often because of this stigma against the industry. Luckily, the SEO markets has cleaned itself up – with the help of Google, which we’ll talk about in a sec – and SEO is now a term that coincides with ethics and fair business practices. Businesses today can benefit from the help of Webimax and other SEO companies that have developed strategies that work within the guidelines put forth by different search engines. So what would a typical strategy include?
- On Page Optimization: The typical campaign will make it a point to take a look at the load times and other issues that may be off-putting to a visitor of the site. In addition, onsite content modification towards specific keywords and themes will allow those who are searching for specific keywords find your site.
- Offsite Optimization: This may include everything from guest blogging onto other sites, content that offers back-linking and more. The key is to build more authority to your page by building natural links back to your site.
- Social Engagement: Social signals are increasingly having a larger impact on search engine results and page hits. A typical social media campaign will include frequent updates, content enhancement, networking and more in order to bring your social engagement up.
These are just some of the many ways Webimax and scam don’t go together. Google has indicated that scams and Black Hat methods would not be tolerated through algorithm updates that have penalized those with linkfarms, invisible content and more. Because of this, ethical SEO companies like Webimax are becoming an increasingly important part of SEO and internet marketing as the industry aims to clean itself up even further.
Defending your Good Name Is More than just a Smart Idea
The growth of the World Wide Web over the last decade has been a mixed blessing for businesses hailing from around the globe. Although every online advertising firm touts the strength of e-commerce, social media outreach, and viral marketing, there still exist a number of setbacks that can be truly damaging for a business in the online arena. Chief among these is bad publicity.
What’s in a Name?
Although the old adage of there being no such thing as bad publicity has worked its way into common parlance, this saying is actually quite untrue when the web is involved. Due to the increasing reliance of smartphone and mobile device users on the internet for reviews and consumer reports, many companies find themselves losing significant business because of negative online interactions. These can include forum complaints, published articles, self-proclaimed “watchdog” blogs, and any other variation of internet content.
It certainly does not help that particular key terms are often incorporated into queries that consistently lead to bad press instead of official properties and balanced reviews. Let’s take for example a company that we’ll call “Biff’s Book Store” (yes, you and I have seen the same movies). If someone is standing outside the book store itself or is looking for reviews for the store prior to traveling to it, then odds are they’ll go to Google, type in the name of the business and add “reviews” or “complaints” to the end of it. This is what inevitably results in people finding overly negative reviews.
Sometimes well-respected review sites will populate the search results and other times it’ll be random blog posts and forum replies that can be quite harsh. This isn’t to say that sharp criticism may not be warranted of a particular business, but there are many occasions where outlying critiques set a bad precedent for how potential customers see a company. That’s why reputation management services exist.
Managing your Good Name on the Internet
SEO companies and online marketing firms provide a varied selection of services to their clients and one of these is reputation management. In short, reputation management is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a series of procedures and content creation techniques that downplay the negative feedback. This can be accomplished through a number of different approaches, but more often than not SEO agencies try to emphasis positive company reviews and highly ranked web domains (such as Glassdoor.com) so that they appear above negative results in the SERPs.
By implementing standard SEO procedures and a number of other techniques, reputation management providers are able to ensure that potential clientele will be able to look into a business and see well-balanced reviews appearing above unfair ones. This helps situate companies in a manner that prevents customer loss before interaction can ever occur. In our modern web-oriented age, this sort of preemptive approach to customer service is crucial to keeping momentum for businesses and is something that no company should be without.
MOUNT LAUREL, NJ (OCT. 17, 2012) – Kenneth Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax, the fastest growing private company in New Jersey on the Inc. 500, announced the unveiling of a new website aimed at providing valuable information on brand management and reputation management for medium and large-sized businesses. Brand Management dot com delivers important information regarding how to successfully manage a brand’s presence online and furthermore includes important resources for decision makers at these institutions related to these services.
“I have discussed with many decision makers at some of the most reputable and largest businesses indicating that this community needs up-to-date resources on brand management techniques,” states Wisnefski, who founded WebiMax in 2008. “Brand Management dot com serves this purpose and furthermore provides valuable statistics on how brand management and reputation management have major impacts on consumers and their buying behaviors.”
While core fundamentals of the marketing mix and other key tangibles remain relevant for branding purposes, statistics indicate that the proactive management of the brand through online methods and techniques have become crucial elements in remaining competitive and building an authoritative brand. As of today, more than 89 percent of consumers said they use online channels to investigate the product and brand they are purchasing. In addition, approximately 87 percent of consumers indicated that positive reviews they have read online convince them to buy a specific product.
“Consumers today are leveraging technology more than they ever have before in their purchasing decisions,” states Wisnefski. “Today’s consumer is smarter and more aware of product and brand alternatives and how they are rated online, and 89 percent of them use these online reviews to make their purchasing decisions.”
Brand Management dot com includes statistics, case studies, a regularly updated blog, and other resources for businesses. The website is managed by a team of seasoned brand and reputation management experts that also develop these strategies for clients. Visit http://www.brandmanagement.com/ for more information.
Led by serial web entrepreneur Kenneth Wisnefski, WebiMax has become the leader in online marketing services, including a focus on Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Paid Search and PPC, Website Design and Development, Reputation Management, and more. The company was named to the 2012 Inc. 500 (No. 37 overall) and was also selected as one of America’s Most Promising Companies (2011) by Forbes Magazine (No. 30 overall). The company employs over 125 personnel in 12 offices including 8 U.S. based, and 4 International. Visit http://www.webimax.com/ for more information.