Reputation Management: Own the Top 10 Results for your Brand

I recently received a call from a prospect who works in the infomercial space. They get plenty of traffic to their Web site, by virtue of the promotion on television, but they wanted to speak with me about conversion rate optimization.

While I shared some thoughts on the topic, and referred them to my friend Tim Ash who literally wrote the book on landing page optimization, these people might still want to consider SEO. However, this SEO effort would have a different focus: owning the top 10 results for mentions of their brand.

For companies like this, people will search the brand name to see if others are bashing the brand/product. Imagine how many conversions are lost because of any bad press or blog posts/reviews that exist. Web sites like Ripoff Report make it too easy for anyone (including your competition) to post something negative about your company, and these pages tend to rank well.

The time and money you put into SEO seems well spent, right? For any company in any space, just owning as much SERP real estate as possible for mentions of their brand is a basic, fundamental element of controlling the public perception.

There are several methods of owning more of the top 10 results. Let's look at a few.

Social Media Profiles

Social media profiles include things like a company Facebook profile, LinkedIn profile, Flickr, Twitter, Mixx, YouTube, bx.businessweek.com, Digg, StumbleUpon, and FriendFeed. There you go, 10 profiles that each have the opportunity to rank within the top 10 results.

You can do different things to optimize your presence for each of these. At a minimum, you should have the keywords that you're focused on (most likely the name of your company) as the profile name and the user ID. In many cases, when you set up the profile, the title tag includes the name or keyword you use, which will help the profile page "rank" for the keyword (or company name).

It's helpful to fill out the profile with as much information you can, including a unique bio or "about us" information. If you fill out several of these profiles, remember that you'll want as much unique content on them so they aren't seen as duplicates of your other profiles.

Then, it's helpful to get some links to your profiles so that they have the necessary juice to actually rank for your company's name. Some prefer to link their Web sites to their profiles, asking their Web site visitors to "follow us" or "join us" on certain social networks.

Press Releases

Writing press releases for reputation management means using the keywords that you're focused on within the title of the press release, the header, and including mentions of the company name within the body copy of the press release itself. Then, spend the money on some good distribution partners, such as MarketWire, BusinessWire, and PRNewswire. That said, there are many quality free PR distribution providers, such as PRlog, FreePressRelease, and PR.com.

Linking to Positive Mentions of Company

Find some positive news on other Web sites and develop a linking plan. This will help boost these from perhaps page two or three of the search results to the first page.

Subdomains

Your main Web site may be www.mycompanywebsite.com. And, because the search engines are primarily interested in delivering a variety of results for searches for "mycompany," they will most likely not include more than the number-one ranking for searches for your company name. However, other official "mycompany" Web sites can also rank, but they must be different Web sites.

With subdomains, the search engines will see an official relationship with "mycompany.com," but because it's a subdomain, the search engines will grant a top 10 ranking for this, because it's seen as a unique Web site. Again, include the keywords that you're targeting within the title tag, but the subdomain will piggyback off of the value already established with the root domain (the links/authority already achieved) and the subdomain will, in a short period of time, earn a top 10 ranking for searches for your company name.

Walmart.com does this with a subdomain of its Web site established for sales of mp3s (mp3.walmart.com). Only use a subdomain when you have enough content within a given topic/vertical of your business to support a Web site of its own. This section of walmart.com has more than 6,300 pages indexed in Yahoo.

Building Other Official Web Sites

Perhaps your company is involved in charity work. Why not own have a Web site designed to speak to all of the positive things that you do within your community?

Walmart again shows us how they have tackled this by setting up www.walmartstores.com. This Web site is dedicated to giving visitors a look at the corporate side of their business, speaking to their charitable work, and other news and information.

Optimizing all Official Web Sites

About a year ago, I did some reputation management work for a multi-level marketing company (you can imagine what the top 20 results looked like, as these companies tend to get bashed by all comers). They had many Web sites basically sitting on the sidelines not doing anything. They were live, but hadn't been touched in years.

With just a little effort in optimizing these to include the company's name in the title tag and content, and getting a few good links to each of them, we were able to get a couple of them to pop into the top 10 results for searches for their name. It certainly doesn't hurt if your company's name is actually contained within the root of the domain (www.mycompanywebsitenews.com or something similar).

Summary

There are many methods that you can take to gain ownership of your brand and own the top 10 results. I've only listed a few here. By following these steps, you can ensure that you're doing everything you can to protect one of your most valued assets -- your brand.

About the author

Mark Jackson, President and CEO of Vizion Interactive, a search engine optimization company. Mark joined the interactive marketing fray in early 2000. His journey began with Lycos/Wired Digital and then AOL/Time Warner. After having witnessed the bubble burst and its lingering effects on stability on the job front (learning that working for a "large company" does not guarantee you a position, no matter your job performance), Mark established an interactive marketing agency and has cultivated it into one of the most respected search engine optimization firms in the United States.

Vizion Interactive was founded on the premise that honesty, integrity, and transparency forge the pillars that strong partnerships should be based upon. Vizion Interactive is a full service interactive marketing agency, specializing in search engine optimization, search engine marketing/PPC management, SEO friendly Web design/development, social media marketing, and other leading edge interactive marketing services, including being one of the first 50 beta testers of Google TV.

Mark is a board member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM) and a member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association (DFWIMA) and is a regular speaker at the SES and Pubcon conferences.

Mark received a BA in Journalism/Advertising from The University of Texas at Arlington in 1993 and spent several years in traditional marketing (radio, television, and print) prior to venturing into all things "Web."

Read more of Mark Jackson's columns at ClickZ.