”Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” George Washington
You’ve probably experienced a “I wish they hadn’t have done that” moment at some point in your life. Whether it was a friend posting a raunchy photo to your Facebook wall, or a business partner caught ripping off its customers. At some point, those you associate with will do something that causes a knot in your stomach and results in you taking a metaphorical step to the side, nonchalantly whistling as you try to disassociate yourself from their actions.
While the behavior of those around you can rub off on your own reputation, that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, for your Google reputation efforts, your friends, partners, investors, and associates can help you immensely.
Friends with benefits
There are only so many of your own web pages that Google will display when someone Googles you. The search engine looks for diversity in its search results, which is why on Day 20 you optimized social profiles, videos and images, in addition to your own web content. To further help the search engine’s spider, it’s time to rally those with whom you do business, or associate yourself, and encourage them to publish positive web pages about you.
When others publish positive content about you, your Google reputation is benefited in two ways. First, the content they create is about you. Therefore, as long as it is optimized, it provides Google with yet another page to show searchers when they Google you. Second, if you can also get them to link to your web site—or better, one of your sub-domains or social profiles—those links will push those pages higher up in Google’s SERPs.
In case you’re struggling to come up with ideas for finding partners who can help you, here are some to get you started.
Many companies will list their business partners somewhere on their web site. Unfortunately, your name in a long list of other names is not going to help you much. Instead, ask your business partner if they would mind creating a page on their site that focuses on how you benefit each other, and your customers, by partnering. You could even suggest that you write it for them, so as to save them the time and effort. That way, you can make sure that the page URL, heading, content and links are all optimized.
If you sponsor a trade event or industry conference, you should find that your dollars secure you many promotional benefits in return. The next time you sponsor an event, negotiate that the organizers also include a page on the event’s web site with your profile. It should include your name, personal or corporate bio, and a link back to your web site. Congratulations! You just provided Google with yet another topical web page to display in its search results!
Non-profits and associations
I bet there are at least a handful of groups that ask you for a donation each year. Perhaps you donate your time to the local shelter, or write a sizeable check to your alumni association. You should be commended and your prime motivation for doing this should always be to give back.
That said, why not inquire as to any opportunities to be featured on the group’s web site? Perhaps they could write a blog entry about all that you do to help. Maybe they’d be willing to create a profile page recognizing your years of loyal support. If they agree, you’ve not only provided the search engines with a new page for its index, but one that shows your charitable spirit. That will do wonders for any online reputation!
If you don’t already have an affiliate program, you should seriously consider one. It doesn’t have to be a complex nor require the expensive assistance offered by Commission Junction or LinkShare. We created one for Trackur and discovered an amazing side benefit.
Not only will affiliates work hard to refer you new business, but the smartest affiliates do one very clever thing: they write about you. They realize that the best way to get people to click on their affiliate link is to write a review of your company or product. When they do, they provide Google with a fresh source of web content, one that will likely be very positive. After all, they want to earn their commission, right?
Writing a guest post that will help your company reputation is tricky. If you make it too much about your company, it will likely be rejected by the publisher for being too self-promotional. However, for individuals guest posts offer a two-fold benefit.
Most guest posts include a space for an “About the Author” section. This is not something you should leave up to the publisher. Write it for them, so that you can optimize it for your name. That way, it increases the chances that Google will display one of your guest posts, when someone searches for you. The other benefit is that writing guest posts helps to build your reputation as an expert in your field. Even if they do not readily show up in Google, they become something you can point others to, when they ask about your background and general expertise.
The last tactic that can help create positive content for Google is co-branding. Co-branding has been around for decades. Two companies come together to piggyback off of each other’s reputation and cross-promote to each other’s stakeholders.
A very smart way to use co-branding for your Google reputation management is to work on a joint contest or sweepstakes. The benefit comes when your contest partner shares details of the giveaway with their audience. They’ll mention your name, they’ll likely write a blog post—or perhaps issues a press release—and spread the contest to their various social networks. You both build a reputation for being a generous company that loves its stakeholders and some of that goodwill will spill over to Google’s search results.
The importance of being proactive
As can see from the past couple of days, it’s important to be proactive in building your Google reputation. In the absence of any positive content you’ve created, Google will fill the void in its search results with anything that it finds relevant—even if it is something negative. The best defense is offense and taking the time to mold your reputation now will better prepare you for when your reputation comes under attack.
And it will come under attack.