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Get started with search engine reputation management in 5 steps.

In business reputation is everything.

The smartest of business people know that their reputation is something to be guarded at all costs.

Word of mouth reputation is the most effective form that exists.  What people say about you to one another determines whether they will use what you have for sale or  not.

The Internet is not strictly word of  mouth, but it is a place where people are talking to one another all the time. Reviews and comments have a very strong impact on how your business is viewed online.

The best types of comments that other customers should be able to see are the most positive ones  where the customer has been very satisfied with your service.

If you have had some disgruntled customers,  they have the power to cause a lot of harm to your business through leaving negative comments and reviews which are visible online.

Fortunately there are strategies and measures that you can take to mitigate the effects of these negative comments and highlight the positive ones in order to put your business in a positive light in the search engines.

These techniques are known as search engine reputation management you are about to learn all about it.

When it comes to  online reputation there are several statistics to consider:

  • a massive 92% of online consumers have stated that they regularly read reviews about a business before making a decision to use that online business
  • according to the world economic forum, 25% of a company’s market value is based entirely on its reputation.
  • as for negative reviews, 45% of online consumers have confirmed that they have declined a business transaction as a result of  reading something  that they found in online research.

Now here is a strategy to protect your reputation in 5 steps.

  1. Ensure that your search engine results pages are showing links that benefit you.

    Here is where all your SEO knowledge comes into play.  You need to dominate the search engine results that are related to your brand.  In this way if there are any negative or reviews about your brand they will be hidden by the results pages that you have optimized for those search results.

    You can read all over the rest of this website about the ways of achieving this goal. It’s no mean feat, but with some hard work and dedication, it can be realised.

    Some other ways you can take control of your own SERPs (search engine results pages) are:
    – Put content on high PR (page rank) and web 2.0 sites about your business. Make it good quality and engaging so it will appear on the results pages.
    – Use social media. Have fan pages, profiles and groups all about your business. Keep them active and content rich. These will also appear in high search positions about your business.
    – Do newsworthy things so that others are writing and talking about what your business is doing. These other sites will have their positive articles appear in search terms for related keywords.

  2. When you screw up, own up to it

    If you as a business have done something that has ticked off a lot of people, the best thing to do in this situation is put your hand up and admit it.

    Recently in politics we’ve seen the results of doubling down on your position when it’s obviously wrong (mentioning no names). Those being, massive decrease in popularity, erosion of public confidence in your brand and the eventual abandonment of what you have to offer altogether.

    Don’t go that route.

    Your reputation will be strengthened by taking ownership of your mistakes. People will appreciate that you try to do the right thing, because everybody knows that businesses, and people, make mistakes.

    Take a leaf from Amazon’s book. We could say that Amazon is a successful business. One of the things that they strictly adhere to is customer satisfaction. If a customer is not happy with the service they have received, either the item they ordered was defective, or something else, they will offer recompense with very little fuss.

    This attitude bolsters their reputation and builds trust and repeat custom from all over the world.

  3. Make liberal use of social media

    Briefly mentioned in the first point of this list, social media is part of your arsenal of online reputation management.

    Aside from social media pages appearing in search results, these platforms are actually quite effective for interacting with your client base.

    Through social media, your business can have conversations and build relationships directly with the people who keep you in business. Also known as your customers.

    It may take time and logistics to manage your social media engagement, but the payoff in public perception makes it worthwhile. These are public forums where you can be transparent and responsive.

    In this day and age, social media management is almost synonymous with public reputation management. Consider that.

  4. Keep you ear to the ground – and respond

    If your business is being talked about, you want to know about it. You want to know what is being said about you, who is saying it and whether it is positive, negative or neutral.

    Respond as much as possible to commentary, particularly anything negative. You can be reasonable here, and don’t engage with straight up crazies. But any complaints or gripes that you notice online should be met head on with a level headed response. You come off as reasonable and fair, and you may just allay any ill feeling or nip it at the bud.

  5. Stay vigilant in monitoring your online reputation

    This should be quite an obvious point by now, but how does one go about “monitoring” their reputation online?

    Thankfully there are tools to help with this.

    Social Mention is one such tool which will show you sentiment-based social media buzz about your company. You can also monitor multiple other websites from the same place. Useful to check up on your competition. Another useful feature here is that you can retrieve the keywords that people are using when talking about your business or company.

    Another useful tool is Topsy, which is a Twitter search tool with far greater power than Twitter’s own search. This is used primarily to find what influencers and heavy hitters are saying on Twitter, about various fields (yours included).

    You should know what the influencers in your industry are talking about. Because, well, they influence. You particularly want to know if they are talking about you.

Kiddle the Kids Search Engine Powered by Google

As a recent parent myself, I’m intrigued by the idea of a search engine that will restrict adult content from my child

It’s a brave new world out there, and kid’s innocent eyes these days get exposed to more debauchery than my Great Grandfather had seen in a lifetime.

I am resigned to the fact that I’m not going to be able to stop it. As soon as my boy makes friends at school with someone outside of our family circle, I will consider him exposed. That is at least from where he will learn the search terms to type in.

Though I cannot fully shield his eyes and mind from the more distasteful parts of the world and the internet, that does not mean I will allow unrestricted access to all content starting from day one.

Here’s where Kiddle comes in.

Powered by Google safe search as well as manual editors, Kiddle will allow my child to search the internet to his heart’s content, without running into images of human and animal anatomy that I would rather he not see in a particular context so early in his young life.

Tech Times tells us that there is quite intensive human intervention in the search results. The top three results for any search term will always be hand picked by editors. These will be sites actually created for children and deemed safe by the editors.

The rest of the results will be normal Google results that have passed through the safe search filter.

If/when the kids do type a naughty word in to Kiddle, they see something like this:

The rather upset looking robot tells them to try again.

Kiddle’s database of “bad words” is extensive and contains words you and I didn’t even know exist. So all bases are covered there.

Another filtering ability of Kiddle means that if a child runs a search on their favorite pop star, they will not see news and images of their latest drug fueled and scandalous orgy. They will only see the child friendly version of said pop star.

As I said, you will not stop your child from ever seeing unsavory or explicit content. They will hide round the garages with Timmy’s rooted smartphone, they will sneak onto a parent’s unlocked laptop late at night during a sleepover, they will hack the school firewall, or the one you put on place.

You can only try to do your best.

A Brief History of Google

Two PhD students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin started a search engine named BackRub in 1996

Fortunately in 1997, they changed the name to Google! and moved their operation into a garage.

A rather decent chap named Milton Sirotta devised the name Google by altering the word “googol”, which is a mathematical term for the number one followed by 100 zeros.

Google has not yet reached this number by any metric, even if you count the total number of bits processed by their servers since day one. Or the total number of atoms that make up the entirety of Google, or the planet Earth.

But what is clear is, they are having a mighty good whack at somehow getting close to that number, even if you count the number of electrons used to power the entire entity that is Google for 1000 years, you still don’t come close to a googol.

Here is the current warm and safe Google front page at the time I am writing this article

Pretty slick eh?

Clean, uncluttered, easy on the eye. Bear in mind though, we have almost 20 years of familiarization with this brand. If you were seeing this for the first time, you would have no clue what it’s all about.

Google became a registered domain on the 15th of September, 1997. The initial idea was that it was just a searchable database that would return information from said database, triggered by queries.

Here’s how the front page looked back then:

Google began as a research project by two Ph.D. students at Stanford University, but it didn't become a registered domain until September 15, 1997. The goal of the website was to provide users with a database of information that could be easily tracked down based on queried searches. The name Google was taken from the mathematical term "googol."

Not too shabby, actually, even for the ’90s.

Nowadays, almost everyone is at least a ninth dan in Google-fu, but earlier on, instructions on how-to-use were necessary:

Other features then were Google Friends, a newsletter service that updated users on new searchable areas (now we just assume that we can search for absolutely anything) and Google Stickers, which you could embed in your own website and save the searches you made there. Very different form how we use Google today.

Google has come a long way, and can still go further. Here’s a list on Wikipedia of all the products and services available today on Google.

SEO – Google Likes Facts As Well As Backlinks

The credibility of web content will be taken more into account in Google’s search algorithms to determine its position, not just that of inbound links

Image result for just the facts ma'am

Would anyone really tell lies on the internet?

The answer is yes. Not only that, but given the chance they will push their unsubstantiated information all the way to the first position on page one of Google herself.

There is no shortage of fringe groups and whack-jobs online with an agenda to push.

As things have stood for a while, these types of dubious web pages have been able to rise to prominence on Google simply by gaming their main criteria of determining rank.

Just make a nice backlink profile referencing your wild delusions and the world’s your oyster.

The backlinking system stands on the principle that if a number of established websites are linking to your page, then it must be “good”.

On the face of it, this idea is almost overly simple and leaves the search results wide open to abuse and manipulation. However, it’s cheap computationally and generally produces reasonable results.

The evolution

Google is now looking into more sophistication in the way that it processes its ranking algorithm.

A research team within Google is developing a means to quantify the “trustworthiness” of a given piece of content. We can infer that the intention of this research is to gain the ability to use the metric in isolation of inbound links.

That doesn’t mean that Google will stop using backlinks in search algorithms, just that they will have an extra dimension to evaluate against a web page.

Put simply, Google will read the “facts” presented in content and count every  “wrong” fact which will add up to a score. The fewer wrong facts Google finds, the higher the trustworthiness of the page, therefore the higher up the rankings it can go.

“Wrong” and “facts” are in quotes above because the question still hangs – how does Google know what a “right” or “wrong” fact is?

The answer is that Google maintains a gargantuan Knowledge Vault, which they got from…er…the internet. So we’re back to square one as to what is a “fact” on the internet, but these are facts that have unanimous agreement. Also, Google considers them to be facts, so that’s that.

Cynicism, you say that you detect? Well I never.

Very Cool Infographic On Video SEO

Video is massive

You, as an internet using professional, are well aware that video is becoming more and more vital to your online presence.

In many cases, video has overtaken written content in driving traffic and generating leads for businesses.

No doubt about it, video marketing is a searing hot topic right now as we speak (or you read).

Wyzowl has conducted a survey that reveals up to 60% of online business runners have already dabbled in video as part of their business development and marketing efforts. The future for video is even more bright – 91% of entrepreneurs have the intention to invest more time, money and effort on video marketing in the coming year.

How to be a video SEO hero/ heroine

There are certain best practices to adhere to if you want your video production efforts to show fruitfulness.

The same basic rules apply to video SEO as it does to any other form of web content. You should have title, tags, description, etc all in place. Use the right keywords and stay on topic.

With videos you can also add subtitles, closed captions and transcriptions to massively boost search engine discoverability, because with all the written text, they have something to get their teeth into and figure out what the video is actually about.

Here is the infographic which I got from Take1 Transcription that really shows off some valuable information, including actionable tips about what effects you can have on video with SEO.

video seo info

YouTube’s Advertising Platform Gets Updates (p.s. Good For Advertisers)

Image result for youtube ads

The user gets more control, across the board

This is not yet fully implemented, but word on the internet grapevine says that Google is going to add an option for users to block certain advertisers.

This is already possible but now when you hit the “I hate this advertiser” button,  the block will take effect both on Google and on YouTube.

What does this mean for advertisers?

Don’t make annoying ads.

Mobile is becoming ever more important

I’m getting this information from Google’s announcement about the advertising updates on all device types.

They show that more than 50% of YouTube views now take place on a mobile device. If this were a democracy, mobile wins.

This means that Google will be putting mobile optimisations ahead of anything so paleolithic as a view from a desktop machine.

Pixels and cookies do not gel perfectly with mobile user data, so Google may well phase these methods out in favour of technologies that match YouTube’s various apps.   

Google believes that this move will benefit both users and advertisers in the long term.

Laser targeted advertising

Image result for laser targeting

This is something that Google is always working on. Those Adsense contextual ads are not always related to what is currently on the page, but more so about what your personal interests and buying habits are.

Often they get it wrong. Like if you’ve just bought a new Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera, and then for weeks afterwards you see ads for the same thing on every other page you view. You already have one, you probably aren’t in the market for another.

But I digress.

YouTube will now serve ads to the viewer based on information gathered from a user’s Google account. They will take into account everything that they know about you, including age, weight, preferred tastes, income bracket, etc, before serving you with an ad.

The idea here is the ads shown will be as close as possible to the precise ad that the user is most likely to click through and spend money on.

What does this mean for the advertiser?

Your ad may not get shown as frequently or as widely as before, but your CTR and conversions should go up.

A Search Engine that Plants Actual Trees.

planttree

You read the title right

Ecosia is a search engine that, every time you use it, they donate like half a cent towards planting a tree in Burkina Faso (that’s a country in Africa, for the geographically challenged).

The reason Burkina Faso gets the trees is that it is part of a program to reverse the massive drought that has stuck in that region for fifty years.

Trees help with that because, well, trees are just awesome.

How does it work?

You search, get your results as usual, and know that a tree is half a cent closer to being planted. That’s all. One tree costs 28 cents to plant, so after 56 searches, you’ve got a tree! Of course you wont be the only person searching, so the more people use Ecosia, the more trees get planted.

Bing

Ecosia is powered by Bing. Which you might think “meh, Bing”, but actually Bing is pretty darn good when it comes to delivering search results. Anyway, you can quite happily use Ecosia and never even think about Bing as it’s tucked away behind the scenes working busily to make Ecosia look good.

Anyway, I’m going to start using it because what other search engine plants trees?

Film Student Adds a Human Touch to Adidas Commercial

The Pro’s could take a few tips

Wow. This commercial, not even sanctioned by Adidas, really hits on the human touch. He also manages to associate those tremendous emotions with a well known and historic brand.

Eugene Merher, the German film student who made this commercial, sets the scene. We see the drudgery and dissatisfaction of a former long distance runner’s life in a retirement home.

Then he finds his old pair of Adidas running shoes. Not the latest flashy pair fresh out of the box, mind.

The end of this short story is truly satisfying.

Adidas received the piece but did not respond. Probably too dumbstruck by it’s brilliance.

No More Ads on the Right Side of Google Search Results – except…

Google test worldwide

It was confirmed earlier this year. Google will stop showing ads on the right side of their search results, everywhere in the world.

The only places you will see paid ads are at the top and bottom of the search page.

This might tidy up the SERPS, but there are two exceptions to this hard and fast rule.

google-four-ads

Ah, but there’s more

Google instead now shows more ads at the top of the results, up to four, for “highly commercial queries”.

It has been confirmed by Google that this change is global. No more ads on the right hand side of search results, except for…

  • Product listing ad boxes. These are the ones where you search for a camera and you get to see them for sale right on the search page. They may still appear on the right and have ads in them.
  • The knowledge panel. This very convenient Google feature that can save you from having to click through to a website to get the basic information that you queried. Can also appear on the right with ads included.

Google has been testing the four-ads-at-the-top layout since 2010. Mostly in countries outside of the US. The results, over six years of testing and tweaking, have convinced Google that this is the way to go worldwide.

Here’s what they officially have to say on the matter:

“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”

The “commercial queries” mentioned are the competitive strong buyer searches, such as “great gifts for christmas” or “the best life insurance”.

Effects on your marketing

If you’re running Adwords, then there’s a benefit in knowing that Google has done extensive testing of this new layout, and it most probably generates better, more targeted click through rates.

After all, this has been a six year long split test, which only a business the size of Google could afford to carry out, to come to this change.

The lesson we can take from Google is, it pays to test your design – thoroughly.

Extensive SE Study: Why You Still Need Backlinks

A huge study was done, the results are remarkable

Our good friends over at backlinko took it upon themselves to trawl data from search engine results.

They did a deep study of over 1 million search query returns from Google herself.

1 million.

That’s how dedicated to SEO they really are. They did this in an attempt to “reverse engineer” Google’s search algorithms.

What does Google want to see in a website before ranking it at the top?

The results they got from the study are fascinating.

Backlinks, backlinks, backlinks

They found that the inbound link (IBL) remained a very strong ranking factor across the majority of the 1 million search results.

However, it’s not just as simple as lots of IBL’s = top Google positions. Domain diversity is far more important than basic quantity in this case.

The incoming links need to be from different, individual domains. The higher the authority of these domains, the more weight for your ranking.

If the domains are related to your niche, even better. There are some domains that will boost your rankings regardless of domain. These are the mainstream giants such as CNN, BBC, Huffington Post, etc.

For a better overview of how to determine a quality backlink, read this post I made earlier.

Other nuggets from the study

Images, video, media.

The presence of at least one image on a page turned out to be a significant factor.

This is because Google considers content to be more engaging to the user if there is media present other than just the written word.

So the fact that Google likes to see multi-dimensional content should be borne in mind for on-page SEO.

The need for speed

Slow loading pages are strictly barred from the top results on Google. If your hosting providers can’t push out data fast enough when called upon, you will need to ditch them for a better (faster) service.

You might have everything else right about your SEO, good backlinks, great content, rich media, perfect keywords, but if your site is a slow loader, forget about your front page dreams.

Security

HTTPS counts. Google gives a certain preference to secure websites. It is certainly an extra pain in the rear end to manage and keep up to date, but the general advice is that if you are starting up online, build in HTTPS.

Is it worthwhile to switch your whole operation over to HTTPS? The experts advise that it is not necessary for SEO purposes at the moment (but do it if you can).

User retention, no bouncing

Brian Dean has made an interesting video explaining how he discovered this independently from the big study. Due to a keyword mix up, he shows how he was ranking for the “wrong” keyword for a particular post, as well as for the “right” one at the same time.

Due to the users landing on the “wrong” page and then bouncing away, he observed that due to the bounce rate being high, his rankings plummeted for the “wrong” keyword, while they steadily increased where users found what they actually wanted and stuck around.

Here is that video:

Long content

Ever  wondered why you never see an individual tweet on any search result, even though Twitter is easily one of the highest authority domains on the entire planet? Even though some  people may pack a lot of information into 140 characters, it is simply not long enough to show as a result.

You do, however, often see Pinterest or Tumblr posts on the front page, where there is enough content for a user to get stuck in to.

The backlinko study found that content with around 1900 words generally ranked higher than shorter blocks of information.

Make sure your keywords match your topic

The keywords of a page should match the overall topic of that page. Google has the ability to scan for this and figure it out with a high degree of accuracy.

If you’ve used keywords in the usual places, title, header, description, etc, then the body of your content had better match the topic suggested by those keywords.

This measure is to prevent the targeting of popular keywords to get a bigger audience, but then switching to a different context once they are there.

Basically, as should be obvious by now. That won’t work.

Google’s perfect web page

To sum up what Google wants to deliver to their users, we could say they like:

  1. very high quality content
  2. with pictures and interesting artifacts
  3. on a (secure) page which loads at lightning speed
  4. that has lots of backlinks from similar, or better types of sites from a wide range of domains

If you can deliver this within your niche, then your site is in with a chance of hitting the front page. After that point, you just have to hope that your competition is not as diligent as you are.

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