7 Proactive Rep Management Tips to Control the SERPs

Regardless of your SEO knowledge, there’s no doubt people are using search engines to obtain information before making purchasing decisions or submitting their personal information in exchange for the “deal of a lifetime”.  As potential prospects have been burned in the past they’ve become more cautious and likely to perform some degree of due diligence prior to making impulsive decisions online.  Own an offer? Running paid traffic?  You need to read this.

Get Your Target Audience Wet

Bold claims in advertising will get most demographics excited if your targeting is right and the emotional connection created is strong enough for a person to whip out their credit card or stop everything they’re doing and pay attention to the interruption you’ve created.

There are many different ways to reach your audience through advertising creatively. Whether you’re building an e-mail list for pennies on the dollar using a PPV network or you’re buying print spots in church bulletins, (seriously!) there’s always a way to get your message across while optimizing the campaign over time to eliminate paths of resistance.

As you start reaching more people the likelihood of your audience searching your brand or product name to learn more information about what you’re offering presents itself.

Are search engine results pages portraying you, your brand, or your product in a positive light? Are there “scam listings” appearing in the top 10 results? Are the SERP’s killing your conversions?

Own The SERP’s Before You Run Traffic

For advertisers using traffic sources other than paid search, it can be easy to overlook how simple it is to flood the SERP’s with negative listings and compromise the results for brand or product terms.

For new offers, it can be easy to manipulate the SERP’s and establish authority to guard yourself against negative listings (RipOffReport.com, etc.) from appearing out of nowhere on page one.

Additional Reasons To Own The SERP’s:

1) Prospects are more likely to buy or share their info if the SERP’s display favorable results.

2) It’s easy for a competitor to sabotage your brand or image if you’re not proactive.

3) Have an affiliate program? Protect yourself from organic affiliates out to steal your traffic.

4) Increase the longevity of a campaign. It’s an insurance policy to squeeze additional profit.

5) If you have a budget for paid traffic, you should have a budget for reputation management.

How to Bulletproof Your Reputation on Search Engines in 7 Easy Steps

Step #1: Stock Up On Domains

Having a stash of TLD’s is important for controlling the content on domains you’ll be using for ranking purposes and to “stake your claim” before competitors, rogue affiliates, or dissatisfied customers have a chance to get their hands on domains that could influence your target audience otherwise.

Buying branded partial query match domains is the best way to go in this scenario.

Examples: YourBrandProductType.com, YourBrandScam.com, YourBrandReviews.com, etc.

Still not sure how to get started? Type your brand name into UberSuggest.org (or a competitor’s brand) to discover more about the nature of user queries, then purchase domains accordingly.

Step #2: Host Your Domains On Different IP’s

If you’re trying to rank a dozen different domains for the same query (i.e “Your Brand Scam”) and all of the sites are hosted on the same IP, you’ll probably have more of a challenge ranking the sites than if you invested in a SEO hosting package from a specialized provider.

Using a web hosting package from Arctic Hosting will give search engines the impression that your domains are not all residing on a single IP, or controlled by the same party.

Your chances of obtaining added visibility in the SERP’s for queries related to your product or brand will be maximized when separating your sites on different C Class IP’s.

Step #3: Launch Branded Microsites With Unique Themes & Content

The key to successfully manipulating the SERP’s and proactively managing your reputation is to create an illusion that the SERP listings are not managed by the featured brand, but rather “enthusiastic” third parties sharing their thoughts and feelings about the brand, company, or niche.

Review sites are great for “niche coverage” as you can positively influence the SERP’s in your favor while reviewing competitors and potentially ranking for their brand names.

You’ll probably be creating more than a few microsites so it’s important you select a CMS that you’re comfortable working with and “built for speed” with respect to launching sites quickly. Using WordPress in this application is ideal, but feel free to vary it up for more diversity!

Element Variations For Microsites: IP’s, admin usernames, themes, site titles, non-www vs. www, timezones, date formatting, widget formatting, time formatting, permalink structure, plugins, pages, (about, privacy policy, etc.) and anything else you’d like to change to minimize footprints.

Last, you’ll be needing unique content for your microsites. If you’re up for writing the content yourself, go for it! If not, try finding a content writer on oDesk.com or OnlineJobs.ph that will write positive reviews about your product, brand, company, offer, or service.

Periodically posting new content (with images!) across your network of branded microsites is advised to stay on top of the “freshness” of the sites for search engines and to give users the impression they’re not reading old or outdated content.

Increasing the internal link weight of the microsites by dripping fresh content and creating new tags and category pages targeting the brand name can help accelerate the ranking process. Building out the depth of the microsites with quality content should be your only concern at this stage.

Step #4: Create Social Profiles

Services like KnowEm.com can speed up the process of creating and registering social profiles.

The pricing is reasonable when you look at the potential to flood the SERP’s with new listings featuring your brand or offer on authoritative websites. Turnaround times are quick too! (3-5 Days)

Why spend time creating social profiles manually or attempting to bot registration the processes?

Social profiles can be used to promote your brand directly, promote the microsites you’ve created, or “hype accounts” serving as advocates for your brand. Update profiles regularly to stay relevant!

Social profiles are easier to rank when using authoritative sites. (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) Another benefit of social profiles is that users can “follow” your brand regardless if they buy or opt-in. Social profiles create additional promotional and continuity channels that should not be overlooked.

Step #5: Distribute Press Releases

Press releases are a great way to put fresh listings in the SERPs to feature your brand name, build links to selected URL targets, and highlight your “newsworthy” content on authoritative sites.

More importantly, press releases appear “credible” as the content is often featured on sites that people are familiar with. (finance.yahoo.com, online.wsj.com, etc.) You’ll have to pay-to-play if you’re going down the path of press releases, but the rewards can be sweet if you do it right.

Press Release Considerations For Online Reputation Management

1) Place the brand name in the first few words of the title to ensure it appears in URL structures.

2) Linking to authoritative websites is advised. Like drinking socially, a “two-link” max works.

3) Bait credible and related sources to share the release by working their recent news in the content.

4) Build links to the press release URL’s from your arsenal of microsites and social profiles.

5) Become a Spin Doctor with your words. Applying spinning techniques is strongly encouraged!

If you have the budget to get creative with press releases you can do more than just proactively defend or enhance the reputation of a brand if you’re willing to push the limits and take chances.

Step #6: Mechanical Turk

Mechanical Turk is a market place owned by Amazon which allows users to complete or assign tasks in human intelligence for a pre-defined bounty. Tasks are designed to be easy and allow those requesting to quickly obtain data from real users across the world by crowd sourcing.

Leveraging the power of Mechanical Turk has definitely become a big part of advanced SEO so if you’re the type of person that doesn’t embrace effective search engine optimization strategies deemed to be “manipulative in nature” you should probably stop reading this article now.

How To Use “Artificial Artificial” Intelligence?

A fundamental aspect of search engine optimization understands that ranking factors are comprised of more than just classification algorithms, filters, and “authority signals” (links, social activity, etc.) designed to control the visibility of data accessed by query.

It’s important to realize that machine learning is being used to enhance the search experience for users over time where factors such as query selection and associated frequencies, clicked results, on-page behaviors, click-backs, behavioral time sequences, click-through patterns, relationships of subsequent queries, pattern frequencies, and all actions in between.

While bots can be used to simulate and mimic human behaviors to influence the SERPs, leveraging the power of Mechanical Turk offers SEOers the ability to artificially manipulate machine learning algorithms tracking behavior signals by simply asking users to complete seemingly mundane tasks on massive scale. The beauty of this application is that results obtained from users on larger scales is pretty authentic and can be used to train bots if internalizing efforts is more your flavor.

Creating Human Intelligence Tasks On Mechanical Turk

You don’t have to be a social engineer to get the SERP results you’re looking for by using workers on Mechanical Turk to influence search engine algorithms. Use the strategies below to get started.

1) Ask workers to perform a query using the search term of your choice.

2) Have workers provide feedback on the SERP results for the particular query.

3) Ask workers to provide feedback progressively throughout the task series.

4) Instruct workers to perform an action such as clicking through a SERP listing.

5) Have workers validate the action by having them provide relevant feedback.

6) Direct users to perform significant actions that have algorithmic influence.

7) Continue validation processes as needed and approve the user task when complete.

The possibilities are endless where you’re thinking creatively! The task of flushing out negative auto-complete queries can be achieved and the ability to demonstrate that certain SERP listings are “more useful” than others can also be achieved. With great power comes great responsibility.

Step #7: Treat People The Way You’d Like To Be Treated

There’s a fine line between pushing marketing limits and doing wrong by people. Internet companies focused just on selling more product often times don’t consider the “little things” like enabling a support ticket system, answering e-mails promptly, updating terms and conditions policies, or having a call center to resolve challenges for consumers that wish to dial in.

By not having certain communication systems in place, a single person can destroy the reputation of a company or individual with one negative submission about poor customer service or product experience. Consumers are aware of the power they have today with their ability to “go public” and expose a company, product offer, or service which they consider not to be reputable.

There’s no reason not to be considerate of your consumers when it’s only going to help with sales processes, resolve challenges faster, reduce reputation management risks that may arise, and increase the longevity a business cycle.

Give Your Competitors An Inch And They’ll Take A Mile

If you’re not treating your consumers the way you’d like to be treated you’re giving your competitors going the extra mile a competitive advantage. Don’t think they won’t be using your negative SERP listings as a reference to gain an edge in the market. Internet marketing is a ruthless game.

Companies providing a strong consumer experience generally have less challenges in the rep management department. This isn’t to say those companies are immune from negative SERP listings or they should overlook the first 6 online reputation management tips featured above either.

The takeaway is that if you’re proactive in your efforts to “bullet proof” the SERP’s before you start marketing and make the quality of the consumer experience a top priority, you’ll reduce the chances of going into “crisis mode” where unpleasant realities that might arise could be irreversible.