All About Content

Managing Your Online Image

Posted by Melanie Phung on Wednesday, March 22, 2006 at 12:32 am

On the Web, it’s easy for your image to spin out of your control. Just ask the talentless hack or our favorite miserable failure. My recent post about using bloggers to your PR advantage touches on this subject as well (although I actually started this particular post months ago).

Even assuming a large group of people aren’t colluding to Googlebomb (or “link bomb,” if you prefer) your site, and you aren’t in crisis control mode for some reason, there are still things you can and should do to optimize for your company or product brand name; you want to make sure that people who do a keyword search on your brand name see what you want them to see.

The Basics
First order of business when managing your image online is to have your corporate homepage rank #1 for searches on your company name. If you don’t, then at best you’re missing an easy way to reach visitors who are already looking for you; at worst, you give your competitors and detractors an opportunity to blemish the first impression many of your customers are going to have.

No-brainer steps would be including your company name in the site’s title tags, making sure you have an About Us page, and getting listed in relevant Internet directories. That’s low-hanging fruit. Depending on your name and industry that might be enough to snag you the top two spots.

Press Releases
Write well-optimized press releases and get them widely distributed on the web-based PR wires. Don’t forget to link your company’s name to your website – the lede and the boilerplate are two obvious places where you can and should mention your website’s URL.

Adding these press release to your own website will increase the amount of relevant high-quality content you have. Submitting them for web distribution gets them distributed to Google, Yahoo and Topix. Good, newsworthy releases can get picked up by both bloggers and traditional journalists, with even more opportunities to get links to your site. Think of well-optimized press releases as the gift that keeps on giving.

Now you’re cooking
For the hardcore SEO campaigns, when the top 2 spots aren’t enough, you need to get pages on other websites optimized for your name. Leverage what relationships your company already has. If you have distributors, partners, or affiliates, see if they’ll create a page about you on their site. Get some of your best customers to write testimonials on the popular reviews sites like Epinions or Amazon.com — these pages will already start off fairly well optimized since your name will be in the title tags, your name and logo will appear on the page, and it’ll probably include at least one link to your site. Being on a popular domain gives the page an advantage as well. These types of pages can easily rank for your name once you get some good customer-generated content on them.

These are just some ideas for dominating the whole first page of results when people search on your brand. I’m sure there are many more unique opportunities in your vertical if you spend some time looking for them. Get creative. (However — and this should go without saying — don’t go on any indiscriminate comment spamming sprees. It’s not effective either in terms of SEO results or considering conversion… and the resulting mess will be hard to clean up, as I know from experience.)

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