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.