Editor’s note: This article is part of a featured series that tackles the basics of reputation management. In our Reputation Management 101 series, you’ll learn about basic (but important) concepts, tasks, and tips for reputation management. Each post will include actionable advice and realistic ideas that you can use — today — to improve your online reputation. Join us as we explore reputation management resources that everyone should know!
Want to improve your online reputation? For many businesses and individuals, the bottom line on reputation management simply means looking better on Google. You can do that by actively managing your reputation and developing a positive reputation online, and a major part of making sure those positive results float to the top of search results is good search engine optimization (SEO).
Ultimately, you want positive content to rank higher in search engine results than negative or neutral content. That means you need to make the content you’re putting out not just reader friendly, but search engine friendly as well. While there’s practically no end to the list of tricks for search engine optimization, there are a few basics that are particularly useful when you’re working on search engine optimization for reputation management. We’ve highlighted the most important ways you can encourage positive search engine results using smart SEO.
- Create an online hub with links: You may have a Yelp page, a Facebook, blog, and more. But do you have a single page or website that serves as your online home? Everyone needs a space that allows you to create an online hub that links out to all of your most important properties online. This is where you want to create information about yourself as well as important links you want to share. Add your biography or history, experience, portfolio, photos, and more. You should also add links to your blog, social media pages, and any other online properties you want to highlight. This tells Google that they’re important and should be placed prominently in search results for your name. And of course, be sure to use your real name or full business name in this online hub, not just in the content, but in page titles and headers as well.
- Develop high quality content: Search engines are in the business of delivering high quality results to users, so if you want their links, you’ll need to give them what they want. Create informative pages with useful content like your location, history, operating hours, and more. Google especially appreciates fresh and unique content, so make it interesting! Make your text easy to read, avoiding grammar or spelling mistakes. Additionally, developing a blog is one of the easiest tools for creating content on a consistent basis, and Google loves to link to blogs, as they offer frequent updates with fresh content. Consider weekly posts sharing your expert knowledge.
- Pay attention to keywords: Keywords tell search engines and visitors that they’ve found the right page with the information they’re looking for. Search engines use keywords to determine which pages are added to search engine results, and this makes them incredibly important. Keywords should be used early and often in pages, but not so often that it’s unnatural. Remember, your website should be friendly for people, not search engine robots. And making your website readable and usable for people means writing readable content. Avoid keyword stuffing in particular, as this can hurt your rankings. Don’t forget: your name and business name are keywords, too. In fact, in reputation management, they are the most important ones of all! Avoid using nicknames or acronyms, and remember to use your location, industry, and other details if they’re relevant.
- Earn high quality links: Links tell search engines that your content is valuable and worth featuring in search engine results. Generally, the more links, the better, but some links are worth more than others, and low quality or spammy links can actually hurt you. Build links to your page by linking back on social media profiles, review websites, and other properties you control. It’s also a great idea to ask for links when you write expert posts or otherwise contribute to another website. Be careful, though: don’t buy links or submit your website to spammy directories, as this can hurt, rather than help, your search engine rankings.
- Pay attention to content details: Don’t forget about important details like titles, meta titles, meta descriptions, and image alt tags. Google looks for unique, accurate page titles, and meta titles and meta descriptions are used to populate search results. This can make your page more enticing on a search engine results page, and with the right keywords, can offer higher placement as well. You should accurately describe the page’s content, and make sure to include your name in the title. Image alt tags offer descriptive text to help visitors understand what they’re looking at, and search engines use them for rankings as well, so don’t miss this important step.
- Make your content usable: A website that’s easy to use for visitors is search engine friendly, too. Important usability details you should pay attention to are URL structure, mobile friendliness, and simple navigation.
- Avoid black hat tactics: Just don’t do it. Black hat tactics don’t work, and they’re dangerous to your long term online reputation. Google does not look kindly upon tricks, and you may even be penalized for using black hat tactics. Tricks to avoid include a high number of low quality links pointing to your website, keyword stuffing, hidden text, and generally anything else that just feels like cheating.
Want to learn more about search engine optimization for reputation management? Visit Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide to hear straight from Google what factors are important for helping your positive results do well with search engines.