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Online Reputation Management in 2007 Part Six: Controlling Your Online Visibility with Optimization
Monday, August 13, 2007
Continuing our series on online reputation management, this week we discuss how you can control your online destiny/visibility with fundamental optimization efforts. We have previously discussed the following areas with regards to developing an effective online reputation management strategy:
This installment delves into how you can "control" your online visibility with simple optimization.

Let us assume that you have performed a search in the major search engines for your top branded phrases. Initially you may just want to focus on Google, Yahoo, MSN/Windows Live, AOL and ASK. In addition begin with evaluating only the top 10 organic listings. (Ideally you will want to focus on at least the top 30 listings within each engine.) If you have located any "questionable" listings, you will then need to optimize your website(s) in an attempt to push the "questionable" listings down in the search results. (ie. If you are experiencing a negative listing on the first page of results, you will want to focus efforts on pushing this listing to page two and eventually page three and so on out of the top organic results.) Why only the top 30 you ask? Well studies have shown that the average search user will not scroll past the third page of results. In fact the majority of users may not scroll past the second page of results. The search engine results page default settings are set to show 10 organic results. The average user does not change their settings for their search engines results page.

Once you have reviewed the search engine results listings and have identified a negative or questionable listing, you should focus on optimizing your site's presence to improve your site's visibility over that of the negative listing. Here's how to optimize your brand to help control your online reputation and project a positive image.

Here's an example, let's say that I was Micheal Vick and was concerned about my online reputation. I conduct a search in Google for "Michael Vick". On the first page of listings I notice that five out of the ten results are "negative" results. Now imagine if this was your organization's brand. This could have a strong impact on people's perception about your product, your business and your brand. While having five negative listings is above the norm, there is really only one way to "remove" these listings and communicate a positive image of your brand... optimization of your brand.

10 Ways to Optimize Your Brand & Increase Positive Online Visibility

Consider these methods of improving your organic visibility for each branded phrase that you have identified that has a negative listing in the search engine results listings.
  1. Optimize your Existing Results - if you have existing listings in the top 30 that are below any negative listings, optimize these listing by improving keyword density on these pages for your branded term in question.

  2. Create new Content on your Site - create new content that could consist of a simple page or two about the branded phrase in question. Ensure that the new page that you create contains an optimized title (place the branded phrase at the beginning of the title) and description (again placing the branded phrase near the beginning of the description.)

  3. Improve External Link Inventory to your Web Pages - whether its the new page that you just created or an existing page, improving the link inventory will help improve authority to that page. As the search engines re-index your site, your page will be treated as more authoritative by the search engines and as a result should improve in the organic rankings.

  4. Create a MySpace Page for your Brand - the search engines tend to rank popular social network pages fairly high in the organic listings. Creating a MySpace page for your brand can help force any negative listings down lower in the search results pages.

  5. Consider Creating a LinkedIn page for your Brand - Preferably for noticeable employees who may be in the public eye. Of course if there is any controversy surrounding these employees you may not want to create a LinkedIn profile for them.

  6. Create Sub-Domains for Your Products/Services - sub-domains are in essence separate sites that can promote your brand. If you have the content available to create sub-domains, they can be a great tool for removing any negative listings that may be affecting your reputation. Perform a search for "google" in Google and you will see that each of the top 10 listings are for sub-domains of their various product and service offerings.

  7. Consider Creating a Wikipedia Page for your Brand - if one doesn't currently exist, try submitting an entry to Wikipedia. At this time you may notice a number of Wikipedia listings near the top results in Google. This can be an easy way to control the valuable online real estate that my be currently occupied by negative listings.

  8. Create A Video Clip for YouTube - This can be effective in removing negative listings in Google as Google's promotion of Universal Search results continues to become more prominent. Creating a video clip that promotes your brand in a positive manner is another great way to optimize your brand for the organic search results.

  9. Create a Presence in other Social Communities - consider setting up in other social communities such as MyBlogLog, Friendster, Ryze etc.

  10. Blog, Blog, Blog - set up a corporate blog or even multiple blogs that can be used to promote your brand. Of course you will want to implement a company wide blogging policy as you do not want everyone to blog about you (in case of disgruntled employees etc.)
If you are faced with negative organic search results listings, the easiest way to deal with it is through well optimized content. Developing content that promotes your brand as a positive entity will help reduce and can even eliminate negative listings from showing up in the search engine results. Controlling your online visibility with fundamental optimization efforts should be a part on your online reputation management strategy. While you cannot always control what is said about your brand, you can have some control as to what the search engines display about your brand.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, August 13, 2007  
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Home: Kelowna, BC, Canada
About Me: SEO guy by day, family man 24/7.
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