Online Reputation Management: Top 10 Tips for Small Business - Page 2

By James A. Martin | Posted September 01, 2011

6. Put your other domains to use.

When you bought your company's .com domain name, did you also buy its .info, .net, and .org domain names? If so, consider creating new sites to use those domains (rather than just redirecting them to your .com landing page). This will help you populate the top search results with more content you control, because search engines place a lot of weight on words in URLs.

For instance, if your business does charitable work, build a small site (a page or two or maybe a blog) highlighting that work, Beal advises. Use your .org domain for this site. You should also consider buying additional URLs with your company name in them, such as yourcompanynamecareers.com, for a page that's all about working for your company.

7. Don't forget subdomains.

"Subdomains rock," says Beal. "The search engines treat them as separate entities that share the authority of your top-level domain." So if you have a page about a particular product, you might use a URL that follows this formula: productname.yourcompanyname.com.

But don't overdo it. If you have more than three subdomains, Google may not consider them when ranking for your company name, Beal adds. Excessive subdomains might also be reported to the search engine as spam, triggering a manual review that can result in getting penalized in the rankings. The rule of thumb: Make sure all content on your subdomains serves a purpose, can legitimately stand alone, and are not duplicates of content you've published elsewhere.

8. Blogging platforms are useful, too.

If you need to create new content in a hurry to potentially push down negative content, set up a blog on WordPress.com, Blogger.com, or other easy-to-use blog platforms. Make sure to put your company name in the URL, so that it reads yourcompanyname.wordpress.com or yourcompanyname.blogspot.com, for WordPress.com and Blogger, respectively.

Blogger.com, which Google owns, may give you a slight edge in the search results, Beal says. "I've created a Blogger.com blog for a CEO who wanted to test blogging, and within 20 minutes, the blog ranked in the top results for the CEO's name," he adds.

9. Optimize your social media channels.

Your Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube profiles as well as your Facebook Page should be optimized with your company name. If your Facebook Page has at least 25 fans, you can change its URL to a custom URL that contains your company name, Beal says.

You can also create a customized LinkedIn URL. And, as mentioned earlier, make sure to talk about yourself or your company name in the third person on LinkedIn; it can help push your LinkedIn profile up in Google search results for your name.

10. Pay attention to the Wikipedia page about your company.

Wikipedia entries about companies almost always rank highly. To see how it works in action, just Google the names of a few well-known companies. In most cases, you won't have to look further than the first five search results to find its Wikipedia entry.

Wikipedia entries are tricky because anyone can edit them; that's the whole concept behind Wikipedia. So if your company doesn't have a Wikipedia page, you shouldn't automatically create one.

For starters, creating your own page violates the "neutral point of view" spirit of Wikipedia. Worse, someone could come along later and post unflattering information about your company on its Wikipedia page. As long as that information is backed by a credible online source, such as a newspaper article, there's nothing you can do about it. (Sure, you could edit it out, but now you're really playing with fire; Wikipedians don't take kindly to such tactics.)

If you decide to create a Wikipedia entry about your company, do so carefully. Ask a neutral, established Wikipedia editor to write it. Make sure it's written in a neutral point of view. Pay attention to Wikipedia's notability requirement: Clearly explain why your company is noteworthy and back it up with credible online sources.

Online Reputation Wrap Up

There are plenty of other things you can do to protect your online reputation management: set up a Flickr account optimized with your company name, ask your business partners to post an optimized profile about your company on their site, and so on.

The important point to remember is that the top 10 Google results can change from day to day, if not hour to hour. Take the necessary measures now to make sure you own or influence as much of those top 10 results as you can while keeping an eye out on the second and third page results.

James A. Martin is an SEO and social media consultant and blogger. You can follow him on Twitter.

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