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In the past, Google hasn’t talked much about online reputation management (ORM). But Matt Cutts recently addressed ORM directly in a video. Watch it below.
These warnings are, of course, centered around link building tactics that are meant to push particular items to the top of Google’s search results. For those who did not watch, the example used was an attempt to use artificial linking strategies to push a positive news article higher for someone who was also legitimately dealing with a great deal of negative press.
If you are in a position to be especially concerned about ORM, Matt’s newspaper article example may seem rather alarming. Does this mean that ORM is a no-go from here on out?
Of course not. It just means that ORM isn’t about sneaky link building tactics. The video also makes it clear that Google is focusing on discounting questionable links rather than directly punishing entire websites. It does mean that when you are focusing on ORM you should focus on the following “Google-friendly” reputation strategies.
Create Fair, Relevant Content
Repairing or managing a reputation is just like building a new brand – it requires a focused campaign of content creation. While links to those pieces of content can certainly help, those links can’t be manipulative or your work will just be wasted. Fortunately, if you create enough content the ranking of any individual piece of positive content doesn’t matter when ORM is your goal.
Take Advantage of Sites that Offer a Natural SERPs Boost
Some sites offer a lot of bang for your ORM buck. If you can legitimately place your company on Wikipedia, for example, you should. Wikipedia entries usually end up near the top of the search results without the need for any particular manipulation on your part.
LinkedIn provides another great example if you’re trying to manage an individual’s reputation. Your LinkedIn profile is something that might legitimately beat out any negative or defamatory information that you might be competing with. There’s just no need to “game” Google in order to take advantage of that fact.
Take Advantage of the Freshness Factor
You can always turn the freshness factor to your advantage. Negative content that is not updated constantly is certainly at a disadvantage if you are putting out a daily or a weekly stream of content.
Content Removal Needs to Be Part of Your Equation
Any content that is defamatory or unlawful should be targeted for removal. This might include a malicious fake review, an entry on a mug shot website, or a libelous post on a gossip website or complaint site. You don’t have to put up with any content that you don’t deserve, and you won’t have to compete with content that isn’t there. Some sites will remove content on request. Others will require a more intensive process. Either way, you should do everything you can to get rid of the content as quickly as possible.
Be Worthy of a Good Reputation
Don’t overlook the simplest cornerstone of reputation management: be the good person or company you’re trying to project online. This makes it far easier to manage your reputation with the fair play methods that have been listed here. And since you can expect Google will continue to find ways to discount the results of “black hat” tactics, in the end fair play is the only online reputation management strategy will remain viable.