3 Mistakes Small-Business Owners Make When It Comes to Managing Their Online Reputations
Having worked with a number of businesses across the globe, assisting with their search engine reputation management over a number of years now, our online marketing team has a good grasp of what works and what doesn't.
For business owners, marketing teams and those responsible for PR however, false expectations created by misinformation on the internet can be difficult to grapple with. Here are a few search engine reputation management (SERM) mistakes that small businesses make with that misinformation.
1. Creating lots of links and profiles.
SERM can be defined as reverse-SEO, where instead of trying to improve one link with lots of keywords, we're trying to improve one keyword with lots of links.
However, often people think they should simply build hundreds and hundreds of links in the hope that the sheer volume pushes us over the ledge and delivers us with top rankings. That's completely wrong.
Instead, you need to perform typical SEO activities on all the links you create (backlinking, content creation, optimization, etc.). That takes time. You might start by creating social media profiles, business listings and other backlinking profiles, but then you need to populate them with content and make each one as valuable as the core website.
If you sat there, just creating link after link, you might improve one website (the core one), but if the top ten results for a certain keyword contain five negative links, how are you going to move them all down with only one strong website?
It just doesn't add up.
2. Building a Wikipedia page.
It's cool to have a Wikipedia page, and maybe it will help you build backlinks to your website -- add some prestige to your business. But while Wikipedia offers fantastic backlinking opportunities and reflects well upon the strength of your business, there are two issues:
- A random business, CEO or corporate figure can't just have a listing on Wikipedia. You need to be newsworthy and have done something important and of value. Very few tick those boxes.
- Wikipedia's content isn't frozen in time. So, if you're struggling with negative reputation, disgruntled customers might want to jump on, call you nasty words and let the whole world find out about you.
Even if you go years without an incident, one day someone might deface your whole biography and potentially cause a greater issue than previously encountered. That's only a hypothetical, of course, but the point is that it's not always wise to build something you can't control.
3. Thinking SERM is more important than SEO.
It can be daunting to stare down a barrel of some really nasty online sentiment. You might worry that every customer under the sun can see the spiteful, seething negativity and are purposely avoiding you like the plague. You might even want to do everything in your power to destroy those links and hijack the SEO strategy to focus on brand reputation management.
But while people do trust online sentiment more than almost any other source of information they hear, people also like to find out things for themselves, so the negative online sentiment might not be as bad as you expect -- it's not great, and you do improve that sentiment. But, you shouldn't focus on SERM at the expense of your whole business plan.
SERM and SEO need to be viewed as two separate campaigns, that can and do work in tandem at times. They should even be acutely aware of each other, but they don't form a singular strategy.
Allow SERM to take its course.
Search engine reputation management can take time, which can be frustrating and painful when you are desperate for immediate outcomes, but it is worth the hassle in the end. Trust a team of experts to do a good job of reasonably building a set of quality links that can overcome any negativity you receive.
It won't turn around overnight, but it will happen. All search engine practices are like building a tower: You've got to start at the bottom and work your way up to the top.