Guest

Online Reputation Management: A How-to Guide

By: Guest | August 23, 2012 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Sean McGinnis.

Online reputation management (ORM) is most usually brought front and center when an executive, professional, or brand notices an unflattering item on the first page of a search result.

In reality, it should be carefully managed before you get to that point, but it’s fairly typical people don’t pay attention to it until it becomes a necessity.

ORM is a semi-specialized niche within search engine optimization; the goal of which is to gain control of the first page of search results.

As you’ll see, this discipline goes well beyond SEO to include aspects of PR and external communication, blogging, copywriting, and social media.

I’ve summarized below a list of steps to take when embarking on an online reputation management campaign.

  1. Take an inventory. Audit all the online assets available to you. Sign OUT of Google and run a search for your name. Go three to five pages deep. Grab the URL of every result listed and classify each as positive, negative, or neutral. Now do the same thing on Bing and Yahoo.
  2. Stay alert. Schedule a Google alert for your name to arrive in your email box every time Google finds new material with your name in the content. This will help you stay on top of new results whether or not they hit the first page of search results.
  3. Optimize existing positive assets.¬†Perform basic SEO¬†on pages and assets you categorized as ‚Äúpositive‚ÄĚ in step one above. Revisit the pages you can control. Make sure your name is in the title tag of each page. Ensure your name appears in the description field of social media profiles.
  4. Link to existing positive assets.¬†Create links back to ‚Äúpositive‚ÄĚ pages that are already performing but need a slight boost. For example, I‚Äôve created a page on my personal blog where I link to guest posts I have written on other blogs. I also use the ‚Äúpublications‚ÄĚ area of my LinkedIn profile to do the same thing. And my Google+ page includes the same set of links.¬†You can create personal hubs that link to your social media profiles. Google+ is excellent for this, as are the ‚Äúpersonalized home page‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúweb resume‚ÄĚ type tools. Two good examples are AboutMe and BrandYourself, but there are many others.
  5. Create new positive assets.¬†There are certain tactics you simply MUST do when it comes to ORM. If you have not yet done so, create a complete profile on each of the big four social media locations: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. I also recommend the following profiles: Flickr (Yes ‚Äď FLICKR!) Quora, Slideshare, Vimeo, and YouTube. Just creating the profiles is not enough. Use each service ‚Äď at least periodically. Make sure you loop back to step four above and add links to these profiles from your link hubs.
    • Now, create a blog and make sure your name is in the URL. Ideally, you should buy the .com of your name. If that‚Äôs not available, buy the .net, .co, .me, or .us version. The subject of the blog is irrelevant. Until a year ago, SeanMcGinnis.com was on the first page of every search I ever did. Now SeanMcGinnis.me is on page one, and I blog there VERY infrequently.
    • Don‚Äôt forget about images and video when ‚Äúcreating assets.‚ÄĚ Both major search engines offer blended search results, often including images and video in the first or second page of search results. Make sure you are creating images and video titled, tagged, and uploaded with your name.
    • Write guest posts for powerful blogs (ahem). They may not push down powerful profiles (such as Twitter and Facebook), but they may outrank some negative posts.
  6. Don’t wait until you need ORM to start a campaign. If you wait until you need it, it’s already too late. Practice with your name. Then move onto your business or product names. Devote one to two hours per week working on your program and get a head start on the Negative Nellies in the event something does happen.
  7. Check out BrandYourself. I mentioned them above as a good personal page tool. The site is MUCH more than that. Imagine a web 2.0 toolset that embodied ORM for dummies. I’ve been playing with the tool for a few months (they gave me a free paid account for three months to test it) and I was VERY impressed with the ease of use, the recommendations, and the quality of service.

Online reputation management is, in most cases, a relatively simple small-scale SEO effort. It can become complicated quickly, and in extreme cases can become an exceptionally critical business task that can alter the business landscape.

What has been your experience with Online Reputation Management? What is the most successful tactic you’ve used to own the first page of results?

Sean McGinnis is founder of 312 Digital, a digital marketing consultancy and training company that helps companies better sell and market their products and services online. Sean consults, speaks, and writes on a variety of topics related to digital marketing and sales and has led four different internet businesses and digital marketing teams since 1997, including one of the largest organic SEO teams in the U.S.

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68 Comments on "Online Reputation Management: A How-to Guide"

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KenMueller
3 years 8 months ago

I like the point about logging out of Google. Same thing with other social properties. If you don’t log out, you have an entirely different experience, and you’ll get skewed results.

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

¬†@KenMueller It’s an absolute must to be logged out. Otherwise you won’t get the view that a “dispassionate observer” might see when they Google you. Your results will be personalized and will include things you visit frequently.
 
Personalized search can be SO great, but it really clogs up the effort to replicate what “the general public” might see when they conduct searches.

barrettrossie
3 years 8 months ago

¬†@Sean McGinnis¬†¬†@KenMueller¬†If I’m not mistaken, you get the same “logged-out” benefit by using an Incognito window in the Chrome browser. But maybe I’ll have to experiment with that.¬†

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

¬†@barrettrossie¬†¬†@KenMueller I think that’s right. You could also like use some sort of a proxy server or VPN to achieve the same result, I suppose, but you’d still have to be signed out of Google with those two tactics (I believe).

barrettrossie
3 years 8 months ago
¬†@Sean McGinnis¬†¬†@KenMueller¬†fyi, from the information page on the Google Incognito page: ¬† “Browsing in incognito mode only keeps Google Chrome from storing information about the websites you’ve visited. The websites you visit may still have records of your visit. Any files saved to your computer or mobile devices will still remain. “For example, if you sign into your Google Account on http://www.google.com while in incognito mode, your subsequent web searches are recorded in your Google Web History. In this case, to prevent your searches from being stored in your Google Account, you’ll need to¬†pause your Google Web History tracking.” ¬†… Read more »
seanmcginnis
seanmcginnis
3 years 8 months ago

@AnneReuss That’s the nicest things anyones tweeted to me in the last 3 hours! ūüėČ

AnneReuss
AnneReuss
3 years 8 months ago

@seanmcginnis what is wrong with people then?! But hey if that makes me look good….:)

seanmcginnis
seanmcginnis
3 years 8 months ago

@360connext *blushing* Thank you friend! Hope to see you again soon. BTW, GREAT guess you sent over via email. Probably right.

westfallonline
3 years 8 months ago

Sean, you continue to offer great advice and guidance.  Really appreciate your perspective!

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

 @westfallonline Thanks Chris. I appreciate the kind words my friend. Still hoping to meet you in person one of these days. You in Chicago any time soon?

pshapiro
3 years 8 months ago

What about existing negative assets? Is it enough to overcome them with positive assets?

seanmcginnis
seanmcginnis
3 years 8 months ago

@lisagerber hahah! One and only. THAT’s funny. Thanks for editing it down! Appreciate that. #IGetLongWindedSometimes

lisagerber
lisagerber
3 years 8 months ago

@seanmcginnis #verylongwinded. No problem. I had great material to work with. :)

seanmcginnis
seanmcginnis
3 years 8 months ago

@tbartlett21 Thanks for sharing the ORM post Todd! Really appreciate it.

pshapiro
3 years 8 months ago

What about existing negative assets? Is it enough to overcome them with positive assets?

pshapiro
3 years 8 months ago

What about existing negative assets? Is it enough to overcome them with positive assets?

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago
¬†@pshapiro Great question. We edited out a section tat was originally devoted to that topic for brevity. Here it is in it’s entirety. ¬† ********** Minimize negative result By optimizing existing assets and building new ones, your objective is to push negative and/or neutral search results off the first page. Sometimes there‚Äôs another way. Here‚Äôs a quick list of ways you can try to make a negative post go away. ¬† Ask the publisher to remove it. Nicely. ¬† Address the underlying issue that prompted the negative content ‚Äď and be sure the original creator is fully satisfied with the… Read more »
pshapiro
3 years 8 months ago

 @Sean McGinnis Wow. Thanks for the prompt response. That completely addresses my question!

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

 @pshapiro  Happy to help. :)

Lisa Gerber
3 years 8 months ago

We are helping a client with this right now. We’re recommending a blog as a great long-term strategy but it will take time for it to build authority and push out negative items in the search results, so the guest blogging and by-lined articles on authoritative sites is a great way to try to get faster results.¬†
 
It’s too early to report results, but I’ll let you know!!

gayanemar
gayanemar
3 years 8 months ago

Brand yourself as you would a product RT @ginidietrich Seven tips for managing your online reputation by @seanmcginnis http://t.co/frtImIc4

airport_girl
airport_girl
3 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich @seanmcginnis fantastic post – thank you for sharing!

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

Whew! Just glad we got into the double digits on the commenting system for this post. Otherwise, I NEVER wold have lived it down… THANKS everyone! ūüėČ cc ginidietrich¬†

margieclayman
margieclayman
3 years 8 months ago

Oh Sean…you must have a heckuva time with this with all of the terrible things I post about you everywhere ūüėÄ
 
Great post. True story – I googled someone’s name once and the first Google result was “F-u name of person.” Turns out the person I knew shared a name with a rather unpopular judge. D’oh.¬†

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

¬†@margieclayman Hahaha. So true. You NEVER know what’s out there until you check it out. I have a GREAT true story that is not¬† fit for the public relative to me own name too. Remind me when we’re in the same room and I’ll tell ya all about it.

Lisa Gerber
3 years 8 months ago

 @Sean McGinnis  @margieclayman Oh! oh! Did you know Lisa Gerber was in the Wonder Years? Yep. uh huh. 

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

¬†@Lisa Gerber¬†¬†@margieclayman Hahahaha! That’s awesome. Are you sure it wasn’t you?
 
As you know I gave a seminar on this last week and one of the guys in the audience was named Jeffrey Gordon. Kind of hard to “compete” with one of the greatest race car drivers of all time….

barrettrossie
3 years 8 months ago
Sean, this is fantastic, I’ve been looking for this exact article. Two things: ¬† 1- ¬†Any specific suggestions for monitoring social media in the broadest sense — blogs, discussion forums, etc.?¬†¬† 2-¬†A not-so-quick story: There’s an evil lyin’ cheatin’ home mortgage company from California, full of lyin’ ¬†cheatin, bastards who advertise misleading information on the radio. There must be hundreds of blog posts about them. ¬†The State of Washington Department of Financial Institutions eventually found them guilty of being lyin’ cheatin’ bastards and fined them (not nearly enough, for all the pain they inflicted on people). The top search results… Read more »
barrettrossie
3 years 8 months ago
Sean, this is fantastic, I’ve been looking for this exact article. Two things: ¬† 1- ¬†Any specific suggestions for monitoring social media in the broadest sense — blogs, discussion forums, etc.?¬†¬† ¬† 2-¬†A not-so-quick story: There’s an evil lyin’ cheatin’ home mortgage company from California, full of lyin’ ¬†cheatin, bastards who advertise misleading information on the radio. There must be hundreds of blog posts about them. ¬†The State of Washington Department of Financial Institutions eventually found them guilty of being lyin’ cheatin’ bastards and fined them (not nearly enough, for all the pain they inflicted on people). The top search… Read more »
Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago
¬†@barrettrossie There are certainly other listening platforms beyond Google Alerts that can do this for you. If you already have a subscription to one of them, then by all means go ahead an use that. Vocus comes to mind as one potential for this. ¬† That said, Google Alerts does an awfully good job and is free, so I would start with that, It’s not real time and not completely comprehensive, but it is good enough for most needs that aren’t mission critical. ¬† I’ll definitely check out the searches related to the story you told. ¬† One of the… Read more »
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing
I absolutely love, love this post, Sean. And, it gives me another reason to say hi when you’ve been absent, and I mean totally absent, from the stream. You’re ignoring us all for FB and G+?¬† ¬† I’ve been on BrandYourself about a month now, and have to say it is a no brainer for anyone wanting tips on how to improve SEO…it guides ¬†you on how and what to do; easy. Great to have you recommend it here, though.¬† ¬† This counsel is so thorough; gonna bookmark and reference. So many people just do social without keen knowledge about… Read more »
Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago
¬†@Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Hi Jayme! I’ve been so crazy busy there just hasn’t been much time for the stream. I’ve been somewhat active on Twitter lately, but getting MUCH more engagement on Facebook. Hands down. And I’ve been noodling on why that is exactly, but haven’t come to any real conclusions. ¬† I’m in love with http://BrandYourself.com. The team there has absolutely NAILED it in terms of ORM for people with zero seo experience. It’d truly brilliant in every aspect. The usability. The way they walk you through the process with actionable recommendations. Even the terminology they… Read more »
seanmcginnis
seanmcginnis
3 years 8 months ago

@jocmbarnett Thanks for sharing my @SpinSucks post John. Nice to meet you. #Followed

jocmbarnett
jocmbarnett
3 years 8 months ago

@seanmcginnis The pleasure is all mine Sean. Enjoyed the post!

cksyme
cksyme
3 years 8 months ago

Great stuff here–I get asked this all the time and it’s good to be able to recommend a resource with some solid step-by-step advice that isn’t written in nerd lingo or is so vague it offers no help. Thanks.

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

 @cksyme Glad you found it useful. Happy to help. :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
3 years 8 months ago

@Soulati I miss you

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong
3 years 8 months ago

@oms3biz Thanks for the RT on the Google pitch story.

RepAdvice
RepAdvice
3 years 8 months ago

Fantastic breakdown on the basic of ORM. Another little tip that can really help some situations is to see if the person/business in question qualifies for a Wikipedia page. If so, this listing is almost a guaranteed page one web property.

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

 @RepAdvice  ABSOLUTELY! Great point. A sure win if you have a brand or name that would qualify for Wikipedia.

seanmcginnis
seanmcginnis
3 years 8 months ago

@DobiesGroup thank you very much!

JimmyLalani
JimmyLalani
3 years 8 months ago

Great Posting, was very informative to me.

Sean McGinnis
3 years 8 months ago

 @JimmyLalani Thank you Jimmy.

2morrowknight
2morrowknight
3 years 8 months ago

Online Reputation Management: A How-to Guide http://t.co/8c2mLYwd RT @SpinSucks @brasonja @sheconsulting

seanmcginnis
seanmcginnis
3 years 8 months ago

@Croaghie Thank you so much for sharing my guest post on Reputation Management!

Fernandonve5jj
Fernandonve5jj
3 years 8 months ago

@seanmcginnis http://t.co/Q1RESKvK

Croaghie
Croaghie
3 years 8 months ago

@seanmcginnis my pleasure Sean it was a good article. Hope yr w/e is going well!

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stanleymathis98
stanleymathis98
3 years 7 months ago

Hello i am new to this term and i must say you have explained it in a very simplest way . Liked you style of writing . Thanks !
 
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[…] McGinnis, S. (2012). Online reputation management: A how-to guide. Retrieved from: http://spinsucks.com/communication/online-reputation-management-a-how-to-guide/ […]

wallestate
wallestate
3 years 6 months ago
Reputation management does work. Although negative comments are pushed off the first page and still may be found on the second or third page. When I have a new client, before I charge them anything I will review the situation. I once had someone inquire about my services and the negative link they wanted to remove was from a major newspapers website. I told them it was most likely not going to be realistic to remove it from the first page and would not take the clients money.¬† A lot of times the negative reviews come from sites that allow… Read more »
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abdulrahmanazalomran
abdulrahmanazalomran
3 years 4 months ago

I am planning to start my own business in ORM how I can go about doing that

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[…] branding; however, I don‚Äôt feel the same hesitance toward it as I do toward personal branding. Reputation management is a necessary thing, particularly for people who are business owners or who are charged with monitoring the public‚Äôs […]

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ronzwiki
ronzwiki
1 year 8 months ago

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Services provided:
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