Something as simple as starting a blog for yourself – particularly a blog related to an industry you work, have worked, or want to work in – can help you create positive content for yourself that fixes your online reputation by pushing negative content off of SERPs for major search engines like Google.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when starting a blog to repair a damaged online reputation:
Consider using a blogging platform like WordPress.
Platforms like WordPress or Tumblr allow you to put all of your content in one place and present it professionally without paying for expensive design services.
Because of these sites’ social-media like features, you can also promote your blog for free on-site and connect with other bloggers who may be interested in your content.
We recommend WordPress because it’s easy to use, easy to optimize for SEO, and functional enough to create an entire website with – not just a blog. We also use WordPress for our site!
Register a relevant domain name for the blog.
If you’re worried about searches for your name turning up negative results, register the blog to a domain name that matches your name (or business name).
If you already have a business site, start the blog on that – in addition to giving you opportunities to improve your reputation, it will likely improve the SERP standings of your business.
Create new content regularly.
Starting the blog is the easy part – filling it up is the time-consuming and challenging part.
Try to update your blog at least once a week. Make sure all the content is relevant to you/your business, positive, well-written, and optimized for search engines.
Share your blog posts on your social media accounts.
This is a great way to get your blog some initial traffic, and can also help boost both your blog and your social media presence in search engine rankings – which can push negative content back to pages 2 and 3 where it belongs!
As your blog grows, consider writing guest posts for other blogs.
If you have the clout to do this, it can be another way of getting your name attached to some positive content, and pushing that negative content even farther into obscurity.
In conjunction with press releases, a major social media presence, transparency, positive change, and other actions and internet properties you or your reputation enhancement professionals may take or create, a blog can be a huge part of a successful plan for fixing your online reputation.
If I called you right now and asked you what matters most to your online reputation, you’d probably say something like this:
Someone else with a name similar to mine
No matter which one of these you’d say – or if you’d say anything else like one of these things – you’d be wrong.
When it comes to long-term professional and personal relationships, things like the quality of your work or your trustworthiness might be the single biggest factor – and in this face-to-face setting, a single mistake or stroke of bad luck might doom your reputation. But on the internet, that just isn’t the case.
Although Google’s algorithm is always changing and there’s always new content on the internet, what individuals (such as potential customers and employers) can see when they type in your name doesn’t change too often – and it’s what they see that determines what they think of you.
The bad news is that, if you’re here, there’s probably already something out there you don’t want people to see. The good news is that it’s very easy to push that content out of the way and replace it with something of your choosing – and all thanks to the same search engines that dredged up the bad content in the first place!
One of the first things you should do as a step toward fixing and better managing your online reputation is set up a Google alert for your name or any other searches that are currently bringing up negative results related to you.
Being able to see what the search engines and their algorithms see means being able to see what others can see when they look for you – and knowing what’s out there is the first step to changing it.
Fixing the content that appears on that first page is a hard job – and it’s one that many individuals and businesses choose to hire outside helpers, such as our own company, for. However, whether you take our help or go it alone, the first step is knowing what really matters – and what really matters to your reputation is what the world can see.
If you’ve ever Googled yourself to check on your online reputation, or even searched with another engine like Yahoo! or Bing, you may have noticed something – those pesky negatives articles from news sources (even tiny unreliable sources like a badly managed small town newspaper) seem to stick in the same place on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) no matter what.
Why? The answer is simple, and once you understand the problem you’ll have a better idea what you can do about it.
Google and the other major search engines exist for one reason: to bring their users the content they want as fast as possible. I’m sure you know by now that each of these search engines has a complex algorithm to determine what pieces of web content are relevant to a user’s search, but there may be some things about those algorithms you don’t yet know.
To get so many results to users so quickly, each major search engine’s algorithm has a couple shortcuts built in. These shortcuts are designed to put the content Google and other search engine users want the most at the front of the pile, faster than a speeding bullet.
What kinds of information and other content does Google prioritize? Often things such as Wikipedia, major social media sites, and news take up the top half of a Google SERP for a person or business name. But why is this?
First it’s important to note that the traffic on all of those sites is extremely high. Even small, local news sites get huge amounts of traffic compared to businesses or blogs based in the same areas.
In addition to high traffic, they boast a high volume of relatively meaningful and relevant content, and also usually have a ton of internal and external links boosting their page ranking.
All of this taken together could explain why some bad news regarding you or your business is still haunting you, sometimes even years later. But what’s more important than understanding why this problem exists is understanding how to beat it.
Remember this: news is time-sensitive. However, because Google may not have any new news articles on you or your business in its index, those old articles will keep showing up. The solution to this problem is simple, though it’s often hard to implement: you have to create new news that shows you and your business in a more positive or at least neutral light to push those old negative articles to the back pages where they belong.
This is actually one of the main techniques our staff uses to improve our clients’ reputations so quickly: by crafting professional, well-written press releases that we send to our various contacts in the news industry.
Getting yourself in the news for a good thing is never easy – especially considering how much people love to read bad news – but it can be one of the best investments you make in terms of your internet reputation.
When it comes to fixing a damaged online reputation, private individuals and business owners alike have a lot of questions. Foremost among these is often something like this: “Should I focus on repressing negative information or putting more positive information out there?”
It’s a tough one to answer, but we have all the facts right here. To figure it out, let’s look at the benefits of each in turn.
Benefits of Hiding Negative Information and Reviews
The other thing to keep in mind here is that most potential customers do not go through every single review and read every word – they pay attention to your aggregate score and common themes in reviews. This is good news if you have only one or two bad reviews – they shouldn’t matter much anyway if you have a much greater number of positive reviews.
But also keep in mind that if you have a few five-star reviews compared to a lot of average or negative ones, the few great ones won’t help you much at all. That’s just how customers’ minds work.
Negative news articles and other types of non-review online content can affect your business even more.
Although many potential customers don’t trust news sources or advertisers as much as reviews by other regular people like them, negative articles usually rank very high on Google and can sway opinion a great deal because in a negative article there’s no one sticking up for you – unlike on a review page, where there is bound to be a mix of opinions. Also, a negative news article often seems much more serious than a bad review, because whatever happened was considered by the writer to be “newsworthy.”
What does all this mean? Negative content related to your business online is one of the biggest things that could drive customers to never even give you a chance. That means that the benefit of hiding this information in the back pages of Google can give your business a huge boost.
What about Creating Positive Content?
Creating positive content can help negative reviews and articles seem less significant to potential customers. This is especially true on review sites.
Although review writers often focus on creating negative content, review readers are widely believed to focus more on positive content. This means that having positive reviews is much more beneficial to your business than simply not having negative reviews.
Having no information on your business available and easily accessible online will worry potential customers a great deal. Although they may not assume that they’ll have a bad experience with you, they’re more likely to go to a competitor than to try something they know nothing about. A little bit of positive content can go a long way toward allaying their concerns.
So… Both Are Important?
That’s exactly right. If your reputation is damaged online, the creation of positive content and suppression of negative content are both equally and highly important to bringing your business back.
It’s also important to note that creating positive content is one way of helping suppress negative content. If a positive news article ranks higher on Google, it pushes a negative review down a spot. If reviews are sorted by date, new positive reviews will appear before old bad reviews.
Fix and maintain your online reputation with TRANSPARENCY.
The staff writers at Kiss Metrics have produced a great guide to fixing your online reputation and managing your online reputation once it is fixed. Their ideas have been one of many big inspirations for our work and our blog, especially their Ten Commandments of Online Reputation Management (in the article linked to above).
One of those Ten Commandments is “Be Radically Transparent.” In order to give you a better idea of what that means and how to do it, we’re going to devote today’s post to transparency in business.
What is business transparency?
Transparency in this context essentially means “complete honesty.” It’s called transparency because it allows customers to see what is going on inside your business.
If your business has made some mistakes in the past, you want to face and fix them, instead of pretending that your customers don’t know about them. This means responding to negative reviews without being defensive or angry and truly addressing issues that customers bring up.
How does that help? Won’t it just make my business’ problems more public?
There’s some tricky psychology involved here, but look at it this way: if a potential customer sees a lot of negative reviews on your Facebook or Yelp page, and you haven’t responded to them or made any statement about addressing them, the viewer sees a business that ignores its customers. And if there’s anything you don’t want to be seen as online, that’s it.
This doesn’t mean that you should share all your one-star reviews on your Facebook page. However, if someone posts a negative review in a public forum (such as on Yelp or a social network), respond to it promptly and let them know how you will address the problem. If someone messages you privately to complain, engage with them instead of ignoring them, and see what you can do to help them out.
Often, these tactics can turn a one-star review and a customer who swears he’ll never do business with you again into a five-star review and continued loyalty – possibly for years to come.
But can I really respond to all complaints? Some of them just seem unfair.
Of course, there are customers that either overreact to problems or are simply mean-spirited individuals. When you have complaints like this bringing your online reputation crashing down, its time to hire an experienced marketer and/or take legal action.
However, before you write off a bad review or negative comment as hateful or without reason, step back and ask yourself if there’s anything legitimate in it. Often, there is a problem you can fix – and even if it won’t bring one customer back, it could bring more in the future – people who see you facing your problems like an honorable business owner and doing your best to fix them.
If your online reputation isn’t as spotless as you’d like it right now, Google’s use of more semantic search techniques in its engine’s algorithm could be the big change you need to fix it – if you know how to work this new system to your advantage.
Sounds great… but what the heck does semantic search mean, anyway?
The Moz article is a great in-depth explanation, but here are the basics: Google’s new incorporation of semantic search techniques into its algorithm means that it will not focus only on the words typed into the search box when looking for results, but at context.
This context includes search term synonyms, the way the search is phrased (is it a question, for example, or only a search for a particular term?), and the matching of concepts. All these factors and more will become more important to Google’s search feature over the course of 2017 and beyond, as Google and its competitors seek to make search engines function in a more intuitive, conversational manner.
They believe this will also undermine the efforts of shadier SEO techniques like keyword spamming.
How can I put this to work for me, though?
Most of the time, your reputation is damaged because of something that happened in the past. If there are negative articles or reviews of your work filling the first page on Google, that could change – because articles that were relevant to the old, more keyword-based search functions may not be as relevant to the new semantic search as newer content.
This means that your reputation can be changed for the better and then preserved through the creation of content that meets new semantic search criteria. That means that your blogs, articles written by or about you, and other web content related to you should be crafted in such a way that it doesn’t just rank highly on Google because of keywords, but because of an actual, nuanced value and relevance to searches involving your name.
This new search will also probably place more emphasis than ever on high-traffic sites like LinkedIn, WordPress, and social media outlets – meaning that you should always keep your profiles on these services fully updated and fully professional.
Anything else I need to know?
Google is also changing the way search results are presented, especially search results for people. The newer format is detailed in the Moz article, and you can see another example of it by quickly Googling a colleague or a favorite actor.
Look at the types of information that are prioritized: news, biography, social media, pictures, associates, personal info – anything anyone could ever want to know about a person, all neatly arranged on the first page.
The bad news here is that anything negatively impacting your reputation now is probably even easier to find – the good news is that you can quickly fix it.
Because there’s so much about a person on page 1 now, and the focus is always on more recent material, it should be easier than ever for you or a professional reputation enhancer to clean up. If your associates are part of a bad reputation, form new links online. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile or it isn’t up to date, get that fixed straightaway, as sites like LinkedIn are often prioritized for professionals in the new results page format.
So your online reputation has taken a beating – it happens to the best of us sometimes. What separates the successful from the unsuccessful is the skill required to rebuild a reputation or brand once it has taken some damage.
One of the many ways reputation enhancers and brand crisis professionals do this is by creatively and effectively using social media. It’s a complicated science that only the top experts in the field of reputation enhancement often get right – but understanding how it can work to fix your reputation can be your key to renewed success online.
In addition to news articles and a few other specific types of relevant information, Google prioritizes updates from major social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook in its search results. Usually a bad reputation comes from having a negative article or bad reference on the first page of your brand’s or your own Google search results, so having frequent and high-quality social media updates regarding you or your business can quickly boost your reputation by pushing those bad apples off of Google’s (or any other search engine’s) first page.
The effect is temporary, though, as these updates become less relevant over time. Despite that, they’re still extremely useful for two reasons. First, they can provide a quick boost to your reputation to protect you in the meantime while reputation enhancement services like our own work in the background. Second, if social media posts mention you often enough (or you create enough relevant content on your own social media profiles), this temporary reputation boost can be extended indefinitely. Usually only professional reputation enhancers can fully utilize this second benefit, though.
You can also use blogging sites, a sort of cousin to social media, to create more long-lasting results to push negative content related to you off of Google’s first page. Internet marketers and online reputation specialists have figured out how to best utilize blogs in this manner over time, including a wide variety of possible search terms and tweaks to search engines’ algorithms so as to most quickly and completely fix your online reputation.
Last but not least, social media and blogs can serve as a point of contact with potential customers, employers, or others, showing a side of you beyond the bad press. In other words, social media and blogging are good not only to push negative search engine results out of the way, but to work to put you and your brand in a more positive light by introducing others to all of your successes and good qualities.
Whether you’ve used our services here at Reputation Enhancer or you’ve worked on your own to make your online reputation (or your brand’s reputation) better, you don’t want to let all that time and effort go to waste. That’s why we’ve put together these three tips to help you keep your online reputation spotless.
1. Check your online reputation regularly.
Ever heard that old adage “the first step is admitting you have a problem”? It rings true for everything from minor problems like not tidying your desk often to big ones like addiction.
On the Internet, however, there’s another layer. Before you can admit you have a problem, you have to know you have a problem.
The easiest way to be sure you know whether or not you have a problem with your online reputation is to check as frequently as you can. For most sites, such as search engine Google and social media network Facebook, at least a daily check is recommended.
The important thing is to check any site where you or your brand may have a presence—whether that’s a search results page, a social media profile, or a presence on a review site like Yelp. We have an article right here at Reputation Enhancer to help you get started and learn the basics: “What Are the Crucial Steps to Checking Your Online Reputation?”.
Read that article to start, and make a list of sites you’ll check every day. Make sure you add any sites not in that article to your list if their content could affect you or your brand!
2. Resolve negative reviews.
Although it can seem like the world of the internet is a cruel one, most people online are just like most people in the real world—they may be critical or difficult, but they’re not usually outright hostile.
That’s good news for your reputation and your brand’s reputation, because you can turn some of those negative customer reviews out there on the web into positive experiences for your customers and yourself.
The important thing here is to be fast and thorough. You might not be able to do much to change a negative review from three years ago—but if you got a negative review last night and noticed it first thing this morning, that customer might still be open to change his or her mind.
Reach out to the customer if possible and let her or him know what you can do to resolve the problem. You can also make changes at your business that improve on whatever area the customer aimed his or her critique at.
Exactly what you do depends on your personality and the type of business you run or represent. But all of your actions should show one thing—that you care about the customer, even when a customer is against you.
Making the customer feel better or showing the general public an issue is resolved could turn everything around for you, and make a potential negative into a big positive.
3. Offset the bad stuff with more good stuff.
What do you do about those customers you just can’t reach, or a bad review or unfavorable article from years ago that is too late to resolve but still visible to the public?
The best thing to do is to get rid of negative reviews or other content bringing your reputation down entirely, but that is often not possible. And no matter how well you run your business, there is always going to be something on the internet that doesn’t look favorably on you, whether it’s from a customer, a competitor, or a personal acquaintance.
If you can’t expunge a piece of bad content from the internet, you can offset it by creating more positive or neutral content about your business. Consider starting a blog for your business, for example, or giving discounts or other promotions to customers who write reviews.
Although Google and other search engines often list thousands of pages for each search, most internet users never go past the first page. If you can fill that first page up with positive or neutral content like blogs and good reviews, it will push negative content out of the public eye.
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