#1 Build Links to Your Brand’s Off-Site Profiles and Social Media Pages
When someone Google’s your company name you want to own that first page of results and control the content that shows up. The first and best way to do this is to build the reputation and raking of your social media properties.
This includes your Facebook and Twitter pages, Linkedin profile, Youtube account, Pinterest account, and any other social media/business profile pages that you control. This will increase the SEO strength of these pages and make it more likely that these pages will show up in the #2, #3, #4, #5 spots in the search engine results when someone searches for your name.
This can give your brand name some protection from people who may be writing negative things about you on the internet. When someone searches for your brand name, they will see your main website in the top-ranking spot, followed by all of your social media accounts and profile pages. This is a wonderful result compared to a scenario where someone searches for your brand name, and they see a wide range of people writing negative things about you on sites like Ripoffreport.com, Yelp, Tripadvisor, or perhaps in their own blog articles or news postings.
For some nightmare stories about Negative Yelp Reviews, follow the link to another blog post about this very subject.
You can see this concept at work in the screen shot below. The green arrows represent websites where we are in control of the content. The red arrow is shown next to Yelp – a website where we do not have the ability to control the content. Ideally, you would want Yelp to be completely off of the first page of the results or at least below the fold.
We offer search engine brand protection services, better known as reputation management to our clients here at seo4anyone.com and you are welcome to contact us if you are interested in these services for your own brand.
#2 Subscribe to Google Alerts for Your Brand Name
Google Alerts are part of a free service that is offered by Google which will notify you when someone writes about you on the internet. You won’t see 100% of the things that are written about you, and it doesn’t allow you to see things immediately, but you will be taking a large step in the right direction by monitoring these alerts. Google is able to provide this service because they are constantly indexing new webpages as they are published throughout the internet (this is done by ‘Google Bots’ that crawl web pages automatically).
A popular website that is respected by Google will be indexed relatively often. This means perhaps every few hours for the busiest websites and every 2-5 days for a busy website that is on the lower end of the “busy” spectrum. A less popular website may only have its new webpages indexed every 10 or 20 days. In some cases the Google Bots that do the indexing may visit less often than this or perhaps never at all.
You won’t receive your Google Alert until a new piece of content containing your brand name has been indexed by Google. In general, you can expect to see the majority of things that are being written about you within 1-5 days.
#3 Subscribe to Google Alerts for Your Domain Name
This may seem startlingly similar to #2 above, but this serves a much different purpose with regards to protecting yourself. In this case you are not just looking for people who may be writing about you, but you are looking specifically for people who are linking to your company website.
There are some fringe benefits to subscribing to your domain name in addition to your brand name. Google Alerts are not perfect in terms of functionality and some indexed content is missed by the alert system. Subscribing to alerts for your domain name will help to catch some of the new content about you as it is indexed.
In theory, this could also notify you of any kind of “Google Bowling” attack; aka, a negative SEO campaign against you. Negative SEO is a large topic that is unknown to the majority of legitimate business owners, and will just be briefly addressed here. Please check back on this blog and we will be publishing a more detailed blog entry that specifically addresses the topic.
This term essentially refers to the concept that one of your competitors could (in theory) convince Google that you are trying to cheat in the search engines by violating their terms of service.
It is possible for a competitor to buy an absurd amount of incoming links to your website regardless of whether or not you have asked them to do so (in the range of perhaps 20,000 very low quality links). There is a very small possibility that in some cases – Google’s algorithms will be convinced that you were in fact trying to cheat in the search engine results by buying these links for yourself, and your website could incur an SEO penalty because of this.
It’s extremely unlikely that this will happen to most people, and extremely difficult (and in many cases impossible) for someone else to do this to you even if they try their hardest. In the rare case where this may actually happen to someone, they will have a better chance at thwarting the attack if they can learn about it before a penalty is incurred.
What should you do at this point if this ever happens to you? Just one year ago there would have been very little that could be done. The world has now changed and Google does have a solution that helps to protect business owners from this type of activity. See tip #4 below.
#4 When Needed; Use Google’s Link Disavow Tool
This is especially helpful if you have been penalized by a search engine for building links, or for some other reason there are some “spammy” links in your backlink profile that you believe may be effecting your website’s performance in the SERPs.
This function essentially tells Google not to count those links and to ignore them. You can use this to clean up your backlink profile if you have been penalized, or to prevent a penalty if you see some sort of spam influx (perhaps a Google Bowling attack in the worst case scenario).
I have seen some cases where search engines were “doing some strange things with regards to indexing some even stranger links on some yet stranger websites” where this has been handy.
In order to disavow links to your website, you will need to create a .txt file that looks like the one seen below.
I would not suggest using this if you have not incurred a penalty and you are not seeing something strange that is significant in proportion to your overall backlink profile. It’s not an all-inclusive fix and Google has made no promise that it will be 100% effective. The link disavow tool should be used sparingly as per my advice above. You can listen to Matt Cutts giving his own advice about using this tool in the video below.
#5 Search For Your Brand Name On Twitter
This is more of a social media interaction tip than a brand protection tip (assuming you run a business that doesn’t get a lot of people complaining about you on Twitter). However, this is something that is nonetheless important. You should keep up with what people are saying about you, and when you can, you should interact with your customers.
Some business owners may find some additional benefits to seeing this content in a timely fashion rather than waiting for it to get indexed and sent to you in your Google Alerts. Perhaps you are a restaurant owner and someone is writing about you while they are sitting in your restaurant. You may have the chance to extend your hand a give a great/surprising thank you to the guest. It’s also possible that you will have a chance to fix a problem before it grows or continues to worsen.
We offer a full range of SEO and marketing services to our clients here at seo4anyone. This includes monitoring and implementation of all of the concepts that are discussed above.
We also offer a free website analysis to all of our potential clients. Just fill out the brief form on the seo4anyone Homepage, or give us a call at our office and we will tell you what Seo4Anyone can do for you.
Feel free to give us your 2 cents in the Facebook discussion box below.