A new face online

The right for consumers to be forgotten both online and in company databases has been one that has been increasingly in the public eye in recent months. In the EU laws, are in the process of being introduced aimed at ensuring that consumers are able to re-gain at least some measure of control over how their personal data is not only used but also stored by the enumerable companies and corporations that all of us interact with on a daily basis in an increasingly interconnected world. Since the Obama administration’s publishing of a “Consumer Bill of Rights” last year the topic has been one that has also been increasingly under debate in the US as well. Not only is the usage and storage of personal information online under debate but so too is the use of a person’s name or image, with many people focusing on the devastating effect that an article or image online, however erroneous or out of date, can have on a person’s future. However one notable omission from all of this debate is the right of companies to be forgotten. Many people before making an online transaction will, wisely, search for that company online to find out more about who they are about to hand over their credit card details to. In some cases a bad review that shows up on a search for a company can be years out of date, targeted at a different company or just plain wrong. Regardless of any of these factors, those reviews can be poison to that company’s reputation and can have a very real impact on their ability to conduct business online. In an increasingly online world where more and more of America’s economy is migrating from physical to digital this can well be all that is needed to kill a business. People assume that litigation is an option, but often for small business that is too cost prohibitive. So what options do we have? No one wants to censor the internet and limit the scope and possibility that have seen it become what it is today and a great deal of the consumer side of the debate has focused on this aspect. But as anyone who has dealt with a dishonest review will know, online review sites are hugely exploitable and attempts by these sites to mitigate this are at best, hit-and-miss. So how best to deal with this and ensure that customers see only the material that they should? An increasing trend in SEO services, Reputation Management, is aimed at doing just that. Normally SEO focuses on promoting a single site in rankings until it is seen before direct competitors. Reputation management is a different approach, in many cases, it doesn’t matter what pages they do see, as long as it’s not the review or page that is damaging your online presence. One of the benefits of this freedom is that rather than trying to promote a personal or company site that may have a much smaller web-presence than the site it is competing with, you are able to pick targets that can more easily pull rank over the offending search result. The key is in knowing which target URLs to go for. You want to ensure that the content being provided answers searcher’s questions while at the same time allowing you to present the best of your company to them. Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, news sites, articles and other review pages are all ideal candidates. Not only do they allow you to present the best face of your company or industry to the searching public but the massive web-presence of their hosting sites allows you to very easily use them to dominate search engines results with a pro-active and focused SEO campaign. Similarly, the content on them is relevant to your customer’s searches and so encourages them to move forward with a transaction with you rather than continue their search for a reason not to. It is a balancing act between trying to control your online profile and presenting an honest and open image to potential clients. The debate regarding personal and corporate rights to control their online data and record is one that will likely be going back and forth in the government for a long time and based on current trends the end result is far from certain. There can be no doubt, with the increasing digitization of the economy, that it is an important topic not only for individuals but for companies as well. Until the law-makers weigh in however there is still the possibility of rescuing a tainted online profile with a properly targeted SEO campaign. Andrew Martindale is one of the Account Managers at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here. Thanks for reading the SEOhaus blog!  

Don’t Fake the Funk (on your Google+ Local page)

If your business has received a negative review on your Google+ Local page, the first reaction is to find a way to take it down. Unfortunately, Google has time and time again stressed that they do not take down negative reviews (unless the review violates Google guidelines), nor do they work with third party reputation management companies. The next logical step then is to generate more positive reviews and get the negative ones pushed down. Businesses will often write fake positive reviews or have SEO or reputation management companies write them. Another method is to have customers fill out paper comment cards that are later digitized as reviews. Google is warning business owners not to go these routes. Google is all about natural, quality content so they urge that all positive reviews come from the customer’s first hand experience and are not posted their behalf. Furthermore, Google advises that customers do not write reviews on computers or tablets located on the business’ premises. Businesses should send reminder emails that encourage customers to write reviews on their own time. Offering a discount to write an impartial review? Of course! This is business after all and why not give your customers a reward if they write up a review, be it good or bad! Don’t however try and offer a discount for a positive review, it seems desperate and your customer will see right through it. Also, 1) reviews should not include links in the text, 2) they should be written about a specific location if there are multiple business locations 3) not be written by someone who currently works for the company. By keeping these things in mind, your business can have quality Google+ Local positive reviews that will help attract new customers and ensure that your conversion makes it ahead of the competition.

Creating a Strong Profile – AKA – Your Profile on ‘Roids

Social Networks and Business Directories can be very beneficial to your website if you take the time to give your profile that “extra something” that other businesses may take for granted. You want to include as much relevant information as possible to create a profile that is part of the site’s internal linking. There a few things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your profiles. Your username, title, description and profile tags should always focus on your targeted keywords. The title should be your most important keyword and the name of your brand (Example: Designer Sunglasses San Diego – Ray Ban). It is also helpful to use the same avatar for all of your profiles. This will help with branding and making your business more recognizable. A picture that includes the company’s name is your best bet. “What’s next?” you ask……INTERLINKING, interlinking and more interlinking! Lucky for you there are a lot of ways to interlink. First, be sure to link all of your profiles to each other. Your Facebook to your Twitter to your Yelp to your Linked In to your etc…etc…etc… Most of these sites have easy to follow directions to help set this up. Just a couple of clicks and you are linked! You can also interlink by commenting on profiles, pictures and submissions, writing reviews and commenting on threads in another site’s forum. These are easy, fast and inexpensive ways to help give your website and keyword rankings that certain je ne sais quoi….  So take the little bit of time to enhance your profiles with an extra boost and in return they will PUMP YOU UP!…or your website at least. J