News reports are emerging about Google’s plans to announce something big and new about how its search engine works. It’s too soon to know for sure, but negative reviews that companies have received may begin surfacing higher on Google. Even if you’ve worked toward online reputation management in the past, what Google’s planning still deserves paying close attention to.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google has been developing a different approach to search engine optimization. Key employees of the online search giant have gone on the record about semantic search – a way to shows searchers more about a topic than they’ve asked for.
Semantic search is a smarter algorithmic brain. It doesn’t simply return results for the phrase you type into the search box; semantic search also does a great job of returning related or associated terms. If, for example, you do a search for “Microsoft,” the new algorithm might also automatically show you results for Bill Gates.
So, semantic search may show searchers things about your business they didn’t exactly ask to see . . . possibly to your chagrin.
A Few Online Reputation Management Tips
If you’ve buried bad reviews in the past, or if you currently have some bubbling too close to the top on Google, start working now to push them further down. Get busy implementing as many of the following tactics as you can…
Gives your existing Web pages more muscle to rank higher. Ensure that they’re properly optimized for your keywords and brand name. If they aren’t, add any missing meta information you discover (i.e., meta titles and page descriptions). Also create more links between similarly-themed sites that you own.
1. Audit all of your sites for weaknesses.
2. Build a few new websites and/or mini-sites (e.g., Squidoo, Weebly). Multiply the number of places that currently incorporate your domain name and keyword. Be sure to add a good amount of unique content when building new sites. This gets them be viewed as fresh and important enough to rank higher than the negative publicity.
3. Create a profile in various industry forums and online communities. Try not to simply create a profile and disappear. Participate in conversations and be helpful to others. This showcases the best of you to any potential clients or customers. Leaving a footprint of posts where you’ve proved helpful diminishes misconceptions that may exist surrounding your services or products.
4. Create profiles on several social media sites. From Facebook and Twitter to Flickr, LinkedIn, Zimbio and beyond, these sites can become powerful allies in reputation management. Create a profile on as many social sites as you can. Doing so goes a long way in helping you rise above any business-killing missives.
5. Issue several press releases. Produce a steady stream of good news media releases to a) showcase your company as the place to be, and b) trump any hostile, heavy-weight postings out there. Try to issue at least one fresh press release per month via sites like PRnewswire and PRweb. Google gives releases distributed on these sites high visibility on the search engine.
6. Start a WordPress blog. If you don’t currently blog, or haven’t been doing it aggressively, now’s the time to become more active. Blogging is one of the best ways to squelch reputation blemishes online. The more you post on your blog, the more fresh content there is for the search engines to index and prioritize. Remember to frequently use your brand or company name; failing to do this allows complaints in your name to bubble higher.
7. Line-up some interviews. This tactic goes back to PR101 – putting your best foot forward. Here’s an opportunity to spotlight what your business truly stands for. Discuss industry trends and news; offer helpful strategies and tips. While it’s best to get a few interviews published on other’s sites, simply post your Q & A on your own site if necessary.
Plan Now for Potential Semantic Search “Surprises”
If you’ve had the misfortune of having scathing write-up posted about your company, don’t despair. Just get busy! It can take a while to effectively bury a negative review, but people do clear up these matters every day . . . But it doesn’t happen “in” a day.
If you’d like help implementing your Online Reputation Management strategy, SS|PR offers this as a professional service to small business marketers. We have many years of experience clearing-up and managing for these kinds of issues.
We’ll help you take charge now, before Google’s new algorithm kicks in. You want to get ahead of the curve on this.