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In the world of reputation repair, engaging Google and the other search engines is crucial. Would you believe, though, that engaging the search engines is largely dependent on engaging readers? It’s true, and it’s exactly how Google likes it; with its recent Panda and Penguin updates, the search engine has sought to ensure that the content it rewards is content that will prove interesting, relevant, and above all engaging to readers.

What this means is that reputation repair pros need to write with human readers in mind, if they ultimately want to appeal to the search engine algorithms. This may seem non-intuitive, and it is, admittedly, a slight oversimplification. The bottom line, however, is that search engine success is unlikely to happen if readers aren’t engaged.

So the question is… how do you engage the readers of your content? Read on for a few reputation repair tips.

  1. One of the most crucial steps that any reputation repair professional can take is the establishment of an authorial voice. Your content, for a given campaign, needs to have some sort of a personality to it, whether it’s a tone of professionalism or something a touch more provocative. Think about the kind of tone that the client/topic ought convey, and work to write all of that client’s content with a unified authorial voice.
  2. Skip passive verbs in favor of action verbs. Of course, words like “be” and “have” might sometimes prove necessary, from a grammatical standpoint, but in general you’ll engage readers better if you use words that convey action.
  3. Make sure that your content does more than just read well. Make sure it skims and scans well, too. The simple reality of Internet-era attention spans is that not everyone is going to have the time or the interest to read every word you write. Reputation repair professionals will want to break up their content with numbered lists or bullet points, or even just sub-headings, to ensure that a hurried or on-the-go reader can locate pertinent information quickly.
  4. Make the content about the reader in some way—because really, that’s what people want to read about. Write content that focuses on the benefits offered by your client, not on the processes involved.
  5. Eliminate anything that smacks of spam. Here’s a good way to do that: Read all of your content aloud. See if it sounds natural and flows organically—or if it sounds like you tried to stuff in too many clunky keywords. Engaging text is text that sounds like it was written for human readers, not for a Google search bot.

Writing with human readers is an important part of the SEO and reputation repair process—because it is only through engaging readers that you can keep Google happy. These tips should offer some insight into how your content creation processes should work. Remember that Google is always seeking to weed out low-quality sites, but these techniques are more or less Google-proof, and sure to bring focus to your content efforts.

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One of the toughest parts about working in search is that the business is constantly changing. It changes just as frequently as Google itself changes—which averages out to a couple of times a day! For SEO and reputation repair professionals, keeping up with algorithmic changes, as well as shifts in search industry convention, is perhaps the trickiest part of achieving search success.

And yet, it’s necessary. Look no further than to the practice of link building. Link building has always played a big role in SEO, and there are a number of popular link building practices that worked wonders, way back when. SEO isn’t the way it used to be, however, and a lot of these battle-tested strategies simply don’t work any more—and in fact, some of them could get you penalized!

Even so, many reputation repair professionals insist on using these antiquated link building techniques. Don’t be that guy. Make sure that the following five strategies are nowhere to be found in your SEO playbook.

5 Painfully Dated Link Building Techniques to Avoid

  1. Link exchanges. In the post-Penguin era of search, what Google wants to see is that you’re able to build natural, organic links, without resorting to shady practices—or flat-out begging. That’s why link exchanges are no good—because really, can you imagine anything more transparent, or less organic, than a link exchange?
  2. Press releases that don’t have any news. Now, an actually good press release can be helpful, but that’s only when you have something newsworthy contained in it. If you’re just throwing up content, formatted like a newswire but not actually containing news, then you’re not doing yourself any favors. Google sees through this ploy, and besides, what news syndicate is going to pick up a hacky press release?
  3. Article submissions and e-zines. In the early days or SEO and reputation repair, article marketing was all the rage. These content farms simply don’t work the way they used to, however—and in fact, it’s unclear how much good they ever really did. Don’t waste your time with article database sites. Link building is something that takes time, and a quick fix like this simply cannot provide the results you need.
  4. Badly designed websites. A website that looks like crap probably is crap, and you’re not doing your clients any favors by portraying them this way. Badly designed and transparently link-grabbing websites are ultimately just serving to undermine your attempts at reputation repair.
  5. Badly written content. Finally, content that isn’t up to snuff—content that’s only intended to get links—is going to backfire. We have said this a thousand times before, but it always helps to reiterate: Google wants high-quality content that is relevant and engaging. If your content isn’t that, then it isn’t doing you any good.

Not All Strategies are Created Equal

Remember that just because an SEO strategy worked way back when, that hardly means it will work now. For reputation repair professionals, it’s important to remove all of these techniques from your repertoire, ASAP.

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In 2012, SEO and online reputation management pros have been all abuzz over Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. There has been much discussion over how the search landscape has changed in recent years, even in recent months. There has been discussion about how the old-school SEO tactics that once worked so well don’t work at all any more—how Google is cracking down on anything that even resembles spam.

Here’s a secret, though: As good as Google has gotten at penalizing disreputable SEO practices, there are still some ways to game the system. These methods are not cheating, because Google actually rewards them. They’re slick maneuvers you can use to give your online reputation management campaign a little bit of an extra edge.

Please note, however, that these strategies come with an important caveat. Google is changing all the time, and constantly refining its algorithms. The tactics expressed here will likely incur Google’s wrath weeks, months, or even years into the future. For truly future-proof campaigning, quality content and organic links are still the only things we fully recommend.

For online reputation management pros looking for a quick fix, however, here are a few still-acceptable keyword strategies:

Top-of-the-page Keywords

Have you ever seen a website that has a random keyword, floating somewhere in the top left corner of the page? SEO professionals throw these in all the time. They serve absolutely no purpose to the end user. As of right now, however, Google still okays them, even rewards them!

Keywords in the Domain

Google insists that keywords in the domain don’t contribute to better rankings. They make this claim over and over again—and yet study after study shows this to be purely false. Spammers use domain-based keywords all the time, for the simple reason that is really does work. There’s no reason why the same strategy might not work for online reputation management pros—for now, anyway.

Navigation Keywords

Having a link at the top of each page that reads “home” is, of course, a perfectly reasonable way to make on-site navigation easier. Having that “home” link also include the name of a brand or a product, meanwhile, doesn’t really add much to the end user experience. It does, however, generate some solid Google ranking success.

“Title” Attribute Links

This is another one of the oldest link-stuffing tricks in the book. Using the alt-text field to cram some keywords is something that provides zero benefit to the reader. It does not ease site navigation or anything else. Again, though, it does offer some SEO value—until Google gets wise and changes its algorithms.

Is it recommended to build an entire online reputation management campaign on these tricks and tips? Absolutely not, for the very reason that these tricks could all have expiration dates attached to them. Google may or may not start to penalize these tactics in the future, but you don’t want to risk your entire campaign on it. In a pinch, however, these are some online reputation management techniques that just might offer some quick results.

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ReputationChanger.com

 

For companies in all industries, reputation has never been more crucial than it is now, in the digital age. Once upon a time, a brand’s identity was determined largely by word of mouth; these days, that word of mouth happens instantaneously, via mobile devices, Google searches, and online review sites. All it takes is a second for a consumer to locate Yelp profiles or BBB entries for the brand in question—and if those listings are negative, it’s all but guaranteed that the business will start to lose sales in a hurry.

 

That’s why online reputation management is so important. It’s also why so many brands are turning to the services of professional reputation management firms, like ReputationChanger.com. Not every brand has the kind of marketing spend necessary for a professional-grade campaign, however, which is why ReputationChanger.com provides these DIY tips for maximum brand protection.

 

Tip #1: It all starts with monitoring. For a brand to protect itself and defend its online reputation, it must know exactly what that reputation is. ReputationChanger.com begins all of its campaigns with a thorough monitoring process, and urges business owners and marketing managers to do the same. Conduct Google, Yahoo, and Bing searches for your brand name, and set up news alerts to keep you abreast of any new listings.

 

Tip #2: Protect your online real estate. The domains that will rank the best for your brand are the ones that correspond with your brand name; if your company is called XYZ Enterprises, then, sites like XYZEnterprises.com and XYZEnterprises.net are likely to be the first entries on a Google search results page. Protect yourself by buying up as many of these exact-match domains as you can—thereby preventing your enemies from using them against you!

 

Tip #3: Engage with social media. Similar to exact-match domain names, exact-match social media accounts will also lend you some search engine traction. Sign up for accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, even Pinterest. Again, this is a matter of protecting yourself, insulating your brand with these high-ranking listings.

 

Tip #4: Build your reputation. Protecting your brand requires you to get truly proactive. Start flooding the Web with as much positive content as you can, taking control of your reputation and establishing a strong presence on the web. Post blogs and company bios to some of those domains you bought, and maintain regular activity on your social media profiles, as well.

 

Tip #5: Be Smart about responding to bad reviews. Responding promptly and politely to a positive review, or even a bit of constructive feedback, can help you enhance your brand image. Responding hastily or angrily to negative reviews can do serious damage. In fact, responding to a review is only going to give it more search engine clout, and draw more attention to it—so the best way to handle negative reviews is often to avoid commenting at all.

 

Building a brand, and protecting its reputation, is never easy, but ReputationChanger.com’s battle-tested tips should point your business in the right direction.

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Link cleanups are pretty trendy in reputation management and SEO circles these days—and it’s hardly difficult to see why. Remember all the hand-ringing over Google’s Penguin update, a few months back? A lot of the concern was over Google’s new, more stringent regulations concerning organic versus inorganic links. In other words, Penguin made it urgent for reputation management pros to think long and hard about their links, and ensure that they didn’t have a negative link profile—lest they get penalized by Google itself!

The question is, how valuable is a link cleanup really? Is it something that every reputation management pro should engage in? Is it really worth all the time and effort? Read on for our take on the situation.

Why Needs to Clean Up Their Links?

There are three basic categories of webmaster here. The first is the reputation management or SEO pro who has received a warning from Google, alerting them to the potential consequences of their negative links. If this is the boat you’re in, then yes, you absolutely need a link cleanup—and pronto! When Google starts knocking on your door, that means things have gotten dire.

The second group of folks is those who have not received any kind of Google notice, and who have not experienced any decline in traffic. If that’s the group you’re in, then we might recommend an “if it ain’t broke…” mindset. Why mess with your link profile if it’s serving you well, and if Google is okay with it? You may have some bad links, but they’re obviously not causing much of a problem.

The third group, however, is made up of those who have not received a Google warning, but who have experienced declining traffic. These are the folks for whom a link cleanup process may or may not have value.

Steps to Take

Reputation management pros who fall into this last group should first pause, take a deep breath, and try to determine the extent to which that link profile is really the problem. When traffic decreases, all of us immediately jump to the conclusion that links are to blame, but you don’t want to invest in a link cleanup until you are positive it’s necessary. Think about whether social media might be the issue, or some other mitigating factor.

From there, you might also think about some link alteration techniques, rather than a full-blown link cleanup. For example, contacting webmasters and asking them to change the anchor text can sometimes make a difference. Removing sitewide links, that all point to the same page, might also help.

A link cleanup is, sadly, a very costly and time-consuming venture—but it can also be necessary for many reputation management professionals, especially those who have run afoul of Penguin. Of course, there are some alternatives, and there are also plenty of cases where link cleanup isn’t necessary. More than anything else, though, take this as a reminder of how important it is to pursue only high-quality links—hopefully sparing yourself this kind of trouble down the road.