Gab Goldenberg of SEO ROI was kind enough to write a guest post that I’m confident will help Brandcurve readers learn a bit about search engine optimization. Gab really knows his stuff when it comes to SEO, so I’m thrilled he was able to take the time to write a post for Brandcurve. Building an online presence is a critical part of a personal or business branding strategy, so without further ado, here is what Gab has to say:
Search Engine Reputation Management, or SERM, is the practice of dominating the SERPs for your brand name and products. That is, rather than just having the first place in the search results, you also have spots 2 through 10, ideally. In essence, it’s the intersection of branding and search marketing. You get greater control over your message and brand positioning, besides being able to offer prospects more targeted pages from your site(s) that will likely convert better. At the same time, you’re pulling in more of the highly qualified traffic that is searching for your company. What follows are some ideas that I most humbly suggest as a best practice primer to search engine reputation management.
To begin with, identify as many specialized areas of content relating to your company that would make sense for you to have pages on. For example, a full-service internet marketing firm could write about affiliates, email, search marketing, banner campaigns, rss feed advertising, online public relations, etc. Then, set up subdomains on each of those topics which you intend to create content about. As you publish more content on these subdomains and get inbound links to these pages from other sites (what’s often referred to as deeplinking), the engines will index these areas of your site and include these subdomains in search results.
Second, evaluate whether any country and/or languages deserve their own specific websites. If you have a distribution network in another country, particular policies, products or other information specifically relevant for one particular country, then you should consider buying a country-code (cctld) domain and setting up a website with that information. This means controlling another spot (or spots) in the SERPs, plus free inbound links for your original site.
Third, be sure to create search marketing ads around your company name, products and services in each of the three major engines. Additionally, contact their ad-sales support departments to list these key names as trademarks and ask them to ban competitors from bidding on these phrases. Not only will this attract extra traffic from the ads, it will also increase clickthroughs on your organic listings. If you do have country or language specific sites set up, then look at running geographically targeted campaigns as well as using the second site to gain another spot in the AdWords/YSM/AdCenter sponsored listings.
Fourth, be proactive about your search reputation. While some bloggers will always look to publish dirt and be sensationalist, most will be happy to get a relevant (to them and their audience) press release. Thinking of new content ideas is not always easy, and the pressure on bloggers to put out regular, fresh and original content is intense. Contacting them individually with stories of interest (and showing that you gave thought to why it would be interesting to them) is helping them out as much as it helps you. Besides, you’ll get a few links and perhaps even some free traffic and sales. At the end of the day, you’ve got an additional positive spot in the SERPs, and a credible external (to the company) source at that.
Fifth, closely monitor the SERPs for your brand and trademarks. Set up rss feeds with blogsearch for these phrases, as well as news alerts and the like. That way, when someone does write a critical or negative piece on your company, you can respond quickly in the comments or by email and do damage control. Consider, for example, how Facebook handled reputation management when its Polls service was rolled out and TechCrunch suggested they were censoring users. They left a comment stating some old code had caused a bug, apologized, fixed it and instantly took the wind out of the sails of a potential PR disaster.
About the author: Gabriel Goldenberg founded SEO ROI in May 2006 to offer search engine optimization services. He has been published on Sitepoint.com, cited by Marketing Sherpa and invited to blog for b5Media. He writes at MontrealSEO.ca.