Online reputation management is a hot topic at the moment, and rightfully so. Never before have brands been so vulnerable as they find themselves today. Vulnerable to the mercy of the public and their own efforts, whether proactive or destructive.

I’ve shared many important realities, tips, strategies and warnings with you here this week. To close the week’s theme, I thought I would end with an interview with SEO for crisis and online reputation management expert, Colton Day, with whom I work on a regular basis for my own clients’ needs, pre, during and post crisis.

Colton Day is an SEO expert who specializes in online reputation management and search engine optimization targeted specifically for crisis management.

The following are additional tips and strategies that Colton wants to share with you:

Q: Colton, you said in Monday’s post that it’s best to focus on SEO for crisis management BEFORE a crisis strikes, and I whole-heartedly agree. Can you dive a little bit deeper, explaining why and what the advantages are of doing so?

First and foremost, proper Search Engine Optimization takes time, it’s not instantaneous. Even more so, your SEO efforts need to be maintained. Once you’re in a crisis, it’s simply too late to start thinking about SEO. This doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do, but you will come out much stronger if you were prepared in advance with a solid SEO strategy. The main advantage here is that, by being prepared, you’re not only able to have peace of mind, but you’re also able to position yourself to better overtake negative search engine results with your own responses, allowing your brand to be heard.

Q: How do you know if a company’s corporate website is “ready for online reputation management” or not? What are the tell-tale signs that you look for, and how do you inform the company?

The first step is in determining where your Search Engine Optimization currently stands – how and where you’re currently positioned. In order to determine this, I perform a full analysis. Some of the things I look at first are: on-page SEO elements such as page titles, H1 headers, URLs, content, ALT tags, meta tags, etc. Not only do I need to make sure that these elements exist on your website but, more importantly, that they’re properly optimized. My initial reports usually consist of five sections, including current search engine rankings, on-page SEO, social media accounts, directory listings and backlinks, as well as a technical section.

Q: What are three essential tips for helping companies prepare their online presence in terms of SEO for crisis management?

1. You need to know which keywords to target. Your targeted keywords play a major role when it comes to optimizing your website for desired search engine rankings. Your keywords aren’t just ‘your brand name’, but also industry keywords relative to your niche – basically the keywords and phrases that your market may google, that you want to come up for in the search engines.

2. If you want to be able to publish your own content and overtake negative search engine results, having a blog strategy in place will be very beneficial for your brand. Make sure your posts are properly optimized and contain sharing capabilities.

3. To have even better visibility and a greater reach, I suggest combining your blogging efforts with Social Media. Having a Facebook account and/or a Twitter account in order to give your brand a much wider audience – not to mention that shares and tweets are highly regarded by search engines.

Q: What additional tips, advice or insight can you share with my audience?

You’ve said it many times, Melissa, but I’d like to stress it again: preparation is so important! Being prepared before a crisis hits not only reduces the amount of headaches you have to deal with but it also has a positive impact on your bottom line. If you were to be hit with a crisis and you weren’t prepared, you’d be left vulnerable and defenceless, unable to get your voice, side or opinions heard. Being properly optimized gives you the capability to take on and overcome any negativity surrounding your brand. With that said, my advice is to prepare for the worst in order to be ready for anything.

Q: What do you do to help brands strengthen their SEO for crisis management and online reputation management?

As stated in my earlier answer, the first thing that needs to be done is a full analysis of your website. As an example, I analyze all of your page titles (if present) and if they aren’t optimized, I determine what would be an optimal page title for each unique page. These unique page titles are determined largely by your targeted keywords. The same procedure is taken for the other on-page SEO elements that I analyze. After the initial analysis is done, my recommendations need to be implemented and a maintenance strategy needs to be determined in order to ensure that all future updates, blog post, etc. follow suit.

Q: In DeLon’s situation, as we’ve seen these past couple of days on my blog, what advice or praise would you give to him for managing the unfortunate situation he’s been faced with?

After reading about DeLon’s story, it really is an unfortunate situation and many things should have been done 4 years ago. But the fact that DeLon has decided to do something about it now is a move in the right direction and he’s been implementing the proper steps to hopefully clear his reputation. After reading DeLon’s answers to Melissa’s questions in yesterday’s post, it’s clear that he’s learnt his lesson and now understands the importance of being prepared. This example reiterates the fact that you simply can’t expect something to just go away, it just doesn’t happen that way. You need to take action and be prepared.

So there you have it! Even more tips and insight from one of the leading professionals in search engine optimization for crisis management and online reputation management!

Now, don’t just read this interview and this week’s collection of articles on the subject – actually make a goal of protecting and preparing your brand for such a situation NOW, before you find yourself faced with one later (or who knows when). As usual, if you need any help or guidance on the subject, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

A big Thank You to Colton Day for taking the time to provide us with such great tips and advice!