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Anyone involved with online reputation management knows that the role of social media can’t be undervalued. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are simply vital for proliferating online content. But what about some of the less-established social networks? In particular, what are reputation management professionals to do with Google+?

As a social network, Google+ has struggled ever since it was unveiled last year. Its membership numbers are not even in the same ballpark as those of Facebook. However, there is one thing that does make is uniquely effective, and uniquely important to online reputation management. Google+ directly impacts search results. Its implications for SEO cannot be ignored.

But what is the impact of Google+, exactly? Basically, it allows users to more directly influence a website’s popularity, and therefore its ranking on Google. Google+ users can award a website with their stamp of approval by clicking the +1 icon. They can also send the link to anyone and everyone in their social network. When a friend is searching on Google and comes across that link, the +1 vote will be displayed. In short, users can “vote” websites into higher popularity and better search rankings.

The influence of Google+ on a Google search is profound. A +1 vote is, in essence, just as potent as an incoming link from another site, at least as far as PageRank goes. But Google+ is also significant for reputation management—or reputation destruction. Don’t like a particular company or product? You can post a negative comment and then ask all your friends to vote it to the top of the search results page. That’s incredible power over the way people find online information!

Of course, that company or product could be your company or product, or the company or product of your client. That’s why this matters so much for online reputation management. Negative votes on Google+ damage your brand, period. But what can you do to avoid them?

The first thing you can do is amass votes. Get a Google+ account and do a +1 for the sites that matter to you, then get all your friends to follow suit. For reputation management professionals, recruiting Google+ voters is as essential as recruiting Facebook fans or Twitter followers. Another thing to do is to get people who care about the company or brand in question to give it some positive publicity. Make it easy for folks to publish positive online reviews—and then to +1 those reviews!

The most significant and most obvious step, though, is to affix a +1 button to every page of content you produce. This is the best way to make sure people are using Google+ to boost the popularity of your content. This is truly interactive online reputation management, and, in the era of Google+, you can’t afford not to be utilizing it.

  • Renee

    The other notable thing about Google+ is its potential to help REPAIR your reputation. It’s not yet gotten the same bad rep that Twitter has in terms of business, and so it’s easier to nudge your consumer relations toward a positive direction. Look at Google+ as a platform across which you can interact with your consumers and your team. Put up content that’s designed to be viewed positively (which you should do anyway, but sites like Twitter allow for a slightly greater degree of controversy).

  • SteveS

    These suggestions also make me wonder if “pinning” is becoming a popular route to go?

  • JohnRuff

    Sometimes experimenting with new venues proves to be profitable and sometimes it doesn’t. But if we stop pursuing new venues (of which some WILL work) we will fall short of progress.

  • Will

    Reputation management can be a positive or a negative as made plain in this article. Thank you for the advice provided.

  • Jessica

    Perhaps social media evolves into a believable, trustworthy entity and new social media has to prove itself. Because these are rather new to advertising it may take time to know how each can be used or not used to provide a desired outcome.

  • John Henry

    Thank you for letting readers know how to make a site more attractive.

  • Jimbobb

    There is a lot of influence in a positive image. The idea to amass positive feelings and comments truly is a way for positve reputation management to happen.

  • Courtney

    This is a way that businesses can make their own sites and products more attractive. Everyone is concerned that one negatve comment can affect a product or service in a way that can months to overcome. This give individuals the opportunity to “vote” their offerings in a positive way. Thanks, Google!

  • Sorscha

    This is Great! There is nothing like watching having your reputation negtively affected on the internet and not being able to do anything about it. This gives the individual the opportunity to do something concrete to influence their overall reputation. Way to go, Google!

  • Matthew

    Reputation management will have such new options in the venue of promoting business. Kudos!