The purpose of this article is to show you how to monitor your online reputation and get your brand or website to standout in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). As Google dominate search engine land, this article will mainly talk about their search engine and all their tools that can help you.
Sections in this article
- Give your company eyes and a voice
- Give your company ears
- Google Alerts
- Google Reader
- Adding RSS feeds to Google Reader
- Adding Twitter Search to Google Reader
- Yahoo Alerts
- Monitoring press releases
- Monitoring all social mentions
- Google News
- Increasing your online presence
- Manage your reputation on your website
- Job interviews
Search engine optimisation is not just about tweaking your pages and linking to them from external websites. It’s also about managing the reputation of your site, responding to customer feedback and lowering bad/malicious untrue comments about your company in the search engine rankings. These comments may even rank higher than your brand’s own website!
Reputation management is very import for any business or individual for that matter. By doing a simple search in Google for your brand’s keyword, will bring back every mention of your business or name in seconds, and some of the results that come back you may not want there or may even surprise you!
The first thing you need to do is take a look at how many times you appear in the top 10 for your company’s keyword search term, work out if you need to add more references to your company name or just respond to what is already there.
The remainder of this article will guide you through all the steps required to be able to monitor your online reputation and to be able to listen out to see what people are saying about you or your website.
So, you’ve done your research, you’ve seen how many times you appeared in the top 10 in the SERPs and you now know what you need to do, but still not quite sure how to do it.
The first thing you need to do is look at the sites that are talking about you. If it’s good then great, if it’s a disgruntled customer then take a detailed look at all the entries on the page and see what the issue is. Your first thought may be to reply to the comments, but before you do, take a good long look at the entire page and conversation on there and the last date it was updated.
If the customer is complaining about a shoddy product they bought and the date is still within the last 7 days then reply. Apologise for their bad experience and get the customer to send you some more details so that you can look into the issue. You may find that you have an issue with a batch of products and this proactive approach will instil confidence in your customer that you care about them and your reputation.
If you find a comment that is being argued between a few people and they very really mention your name and are just genuinely having a moan, then sometimes it’s best not to get involved.
If you find a comment that’s over 6 months old and you think it will do you more harm than good to post a reply to it then don’t. If the post is 6 months old with no comments or replies from anyone else then the chances are the issues has been resolved. Also, it would not look very good on you if it took you 6 months to respond:-)!
One thing you need to be careful of is that if a thread on a blog or forum starts up again, then that page can start shooting back up the rankings. If you are replying to a negative comment, you need to reply once if possible and give a resolution to the issue or give an avenue of contact. Don’t get involved in an argument.
It’s always a good idea, where possible, to get old threads closed off to stop them from ranking again. If it’s your own blog then after X amount of time, close the comments from further replies. If you don’t own it, then email the webmaster and state your reasoning for getting the comment closed. It could be an issue you had 2 years ago that one of your competitors is now jumping onboard and making false comments about you to get this post ranking again.
In general, just be transparent and honest in all your communications. Lies WILL come back to haunt you! If you want to keep your ear to the ground and find out every time you’re mentioned online, read on…
Now comes the fun part! There are many tools and techniques available that will allow you to listen and see what people are saying about your company. It’s all pretty straight forward and quite easy to setup, you’ll just need to invest a few hours of your time to get everything ready.
So without further ado, let’s have a look shall we?
Google alerts is a great web app that will allow you to listen out for mentions for any name or keyword you choose. This is very handy for keeping tabs on any mentions of your brand, or for just listening out to see what your competitors are doing. To start using Google Alerts, follow the steps below.
- Make sure you have a Google account and sign in.
- Go to www.google.com/alerts.
- In the search box. Type in your search term.
For this example I own the biggest supermarket in the world called “Chirpy” and I’m interested in what Tesco are doing. So, I type Tesco into the search box and the information on my competitor comes back below.
The information that comes back is in multiple categories like web, news and blog, so you can easily jump to the kind of information that you are after. See how easy it is to monitor your competitors? It gets even easer later as we use Google Reader to add many more searches and monitor them all from one page.
If you want to refine your search then this can be done from the filter boxes on the left. To get the most up-to-date information, I would recommend the following settings:
- Type = Everything.
- How often = As-it-happens.
- Volume = Only the best results.
- Deliver to = Feed (Will explain more on this in a few moments).
- Now click on the Create Alert button.
You will now be taken to your Alerts management screen where you can see all the alerts that you have setup. If you want to create a new alert, click on the Create a new alert link. Now would be a good time to think of all the words and phrases that you want to monitor, to listen out for mentions about your company.
Now that you have all your alerts setup, you can now go over to Google reader and view them. To start viewing your alerts, follow the steps below.
- Go to http://www.google.com/reader.
- Sign in to your Google account, if not already logged in.
- Have a look on the left-hand-side for the subscription item and have a look below it, all your alerts are there.
- To view any updates within the alerts, juts click on the alert and the updates will appear on the right.
- When you have read them all, click on the Mark all as read button to rest the number of alerts in that category to 0.
- Even though you have marked all the updates as read, they are still there should you need to read them again at a later date, they are just greyed out.
Google Reader not only shows you Google alerts but you can also observe a few other sources of information as well. Read on the find out how.
To add an RSS feed to your Google Reader account takes about 20 seconds, so follow the steps below to find out how.
- Find an RSS feed that you’re interested in and get the link to it.
- In Google Reader, click on the Add a subscription button just under the Google logo.
- For this example I am going to use the BBC’s news RSS feed and paste it into the box and click on the Add button.
- Congratulations, you now have alerts and RSS feeds displaying in your Google Reader account!
Now you can go to any site that you want to monitor and add their feed in the Google Reader too. If things start to get a bit messy then you can create folders and start to categorise your alerts. But, don’t stop there, there’s more!
Did you know that you can also search Twitter for certain keywords that you’re interested in and add them as a feed into Google Reader? Well you do now. Follow the steps below to set it all up.
- Look at the link below and change the 2 keywords to two that are relevant to you or your business
- Copy and paste the line above into Google Reader's Add a subscription button section.
- Click on Add and it’s all done.
- You are now searching Twitter for mentions as they happen.
If you are active on Twitter then you can also try the following query string to follow people’s updates.
Then you need to choose a feed and subscribe to it.
If you want to keep an eye out on certain hash tags, then use the query string below. Change apples for your keyword.
If you don’t understand what the %23 & %40 is is all about then not to worry. Is just the way URLs encode special characters. A full list of them can be seen below of you’re feeling a bit geeky.
Another way to listen out on the internet is to use Yahoo alerts. You can type in the keywords that you want to monitor and add them all to a list to be sent to you via email, messenger or even your mobile phone. Follow the steps below to set up your own Yahoo alerts.
- Go to https://na.edit.yahoo.com/registration and sign up for a yahoo account.
- Go to http://alerts.yahoo.com/ and sign in.
- On the right-hand side in the Most Popular Alerts section, click on Keyword News.
- In the include box, type in the keywords that you want to listen out for, you can also exclude words in the box below it.
- Then choose how often you want the alerts. If you want to be proactive then it’s probably best to have the alerts as they happen.
- Finally, choose how you want to receive the updates. Either email, yahoo messenger or via a mobile phone
- Click on the Save Alert button and you will be redirected back to your alert page with the saved alerts listed below.
If you are going to release a “Press release” then you can monitor how it propagates around the internet and news sites. All you have to do is give your press release a unique name that is extremely long tail (that means it has many words in the title), but probably less than 10. Also, don’t forget to put a link in your PDF back to your website, you could get a whole load of links back to your site if the content gets scrapped onto other sites.
By having a unique title for the Press release will make it easy to search for and you can just add the title as an alert inside Google Alerts and view the mentions through Google Reader.
You can also use a website called Copyscape in a similar kind of way, if the press release is on your website as a HTML page. Here’s how to check if your content is elsewhere on the net.
- Go to http://www.copyscape.com/
- Copy the URL of the page on your website that you want to check and paste it into the Copyscape search box and click on go.
- Any pages that contain your content will be shown below.
So, if you find any pages that contain your content without your written permission, have a quiet word with them! If they refuse to budge, complain to Google below and get your content removed from their site!
If you want to monitor just social media avenues for references of your company/brand then there is a great website called http://socialmention.com/. It will search the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Stumleupon and about 17 other social media sites too.
Social media tends to be extremely current and this site also shows you the sentiment of the conversations or mentions about you. You can also see the top users that are talking about you. If they are having a good experience and you can get in contact with them, then thank them, probably ask them to endorse your product if you are just starting out in return for some freebies. If the comments are negative, get in contact with them even quicker and find out what the problem is!
You all live in the digital age and there is no excuse now for ignorance. It’s time to own your customers, give them unprecedented customer service and customers will be loyal to you forever!
Google News, by default, will display all the news in the country that you specify. You can also take a look at news around the world or look at subject specific news by choosing one of the options in the left-hand menu.
If you log in to Google News, you can personalise your news screen and create custom searches based on the keywords that you want to monitor. To personalise your news page, follow the steps below.
- Go to http://news.google.com/.
- Sign in using your Google account details.
- Click on the Personalise button in the top right.
From this section you can change the amount of references to certain news story areas and the papers that supply them. You can also type in the keywords into the Add any news topic box and press the + symbol at the end of the box to add it to your left-hand menu.
To update the left-hand menu with any new keywords that you have added, click the Personalise button again and the left-hand menu will be updated.
If you look on the first page of Google for your brand or company name then you may find that there is a reference to you there that you have no control over. If it’s good then it’s not too much of a problem but if it’s a negative comment and one that does not really deserve to be there anymore then you need to try and push it down a little. To help you dominate the search engines a bit more for your brand/company name, you can do all of the following.
- Create yourself a Facebook page for your company and start to get a following. Get some links from all your websites and blogs to this and after a short period of time, your Facebook page could be appearing on page 1 with your main website
- Create a Twitter account and be active on it and get some followers. Much the same as Facebook, you could also start ranking highly for this too.
- Linked in is more for individuals than businesses, so get the Director of the company to create a page, fill in all the details and mention your company name etc
- Create yourself an official Wordpress blog. Blog aren’t all their cracked up to be but buy a domain name similar to your main one, and get talking!
- Create a Google+ account. I think this is still for individual people at the moment but the head of your business can create one. I think Google+ for businesses will be out very soon.
- Create yourself other social media accounts like, Digg, Redit &Stumbleupon etc. They can rank on the first page quite quickly.
- Comment on blogs that specialise in your area of expertise and leave your name or company name there. http://answers.yahoo.com/ would be a good place to start.
- Donate to charity as a company. This will get you ranking too and you will be doing something worthwhile in the process. Create yourself a just giving page here http://www.justgiving.com and fundraise for your favourite charity. If you like the charity and you have a few million in the bank, make it a substantial donation!
If you want to give people a voice on your websites then a solution to this is could be to create a forum. Forums are useful as they can act as a self-help channel for your customers to help each other, and you can listen out for any comments that you need to act upon.
I personally hate forums as they are usually just rows and rows of impersonal comments with no face to them. This can lead to spam and fake comments from competitors trying to discredit you. So, you really do have to weigh up the pros and cons before implementing a forum as it would need to be moderated, and the bigger the forum is the more people you will need to manage it.
Another solution to giving people a voice on your website is to use Facebook comments. This requires all your visitors to have a Facebook account. This then gives you a face on each comment and only quality comments, be they positive or negative. You are more likely to get honest comments on your blog as people are using their own personal accounts to post from, which all their friends can see too.
There are many other commenting platforms available that you can use to. There are some examples below. It’s really up to you how you want to manage it and what features you need.
Got a job interview lined up soon? Got a bit of a shady past on Twitter and Facebook? Now might be a good time to clean up your image and see you many times you rank on the 1st page of Google. If you've never done a search for your name before, now might be the time to try, before your future employer does! If you find things that you would rather be hidden, you now have the opportunity to bury a few things.