As I am sure you are aware, SEO and online reputation management go hand and hand. The more that SEO evolves, the harder it becomes harder to manipulate. Likewise, as SEO becomes harder to manipulate, the harder it is to clean up a negative reputation — or proactively build a more positive reputation for that matter.
However, “harder” does not necessarily mean “impossible,” as many of the old tools still work to a certain degree. As a matter of fact, there are two of them – blog commenting and forum posts, that are often overlooked. The reason is that a reputation manager may feel a little uneasy posting comments on your behalf.
There is a big difference, in the eyes of the reputation manager, between setting up your website or online profiles and actually “speaking” for you. While they may know the “participation” can marginally help, it is not something they are willing to do.
All this means is that you have easy ways that you can impact your online reputation that does not involve paying someone. You may even find some joy in posting comments to your customers or on pages that you find interesting.
While you may think that going anywhere and posting anything can make a difference, you would be wrong. When you post on a website or social media page that is not directly in connection to your brand or business, you might not be helping as much as you think. I am not saying it won’t help, because every little bit does, it just may take more of that to make an impact.
Instead, try choosing blogs that both interest you and are in your market. Not only will you find there is a large community out there waiting to be discovered, but you may also find potential customers you never knew you had. Start by looking for blogs and forms that:
- Keep their readers up to date on the latest developments in their career or field.
- Talk about specific interests and hobbies that you can speak intelligently about for long periods.
- You don’t mind people knowing that you are a part of it.
- Have been around a long time and therefore have a lot of presence on Google.
You don’t have to be in work mode every time you are online. Meaning, you don’t have to only go to blogs and forums that are directly attached to your business. The internet should be a fun place for you as well. Some great places to hang out and enjoy the articles are websites dedicated to productivity, general business practices, personal development, and small business success stories.
Keep It Clean
This means so many things to different people. In short, you don’t want to post or comment on anything that you are afraid might have to be addressed in the future. This includes but is not limited to:
- Checking your post for spelling or grammar mistakes as well as clarity.
- Treating everyone with respect. There are people from all walks of life on the internet, and they all deserve the same respect you require them to show you.
- Avoid politics and religion at all costs. These are two things that should never be discussed from a business standpoint. Yes, some businesses do, and we have seen the results, and they are generally not pretty.
- Make sure you are adding something to the conversation. It should never be one or two words. On the other hand, you don’t want to write a novel either.
I always say that if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read the post, then you are better off not even hitting the send or post button.
How to Contribute
Blog and forums do well when it comes to ranking on Google. Especially those blogs and forums that have been around for a decade or more. This means that a few comments left on these sites will have a much better chance of ranking that any other way.
Forum posts have always ranked well. The reason is that Google loves new content. On forums and blogs, the content is ever-changing. When people leave comments, it adds to the change. That is why one week, you will see that the post has 50 comments, and the next week the same post will be ranking with 100 comments. Even though the topic has remained the same, the change in comments is enough to keep the blog or forum ranking high in a Google search.
However, this works both ways. Meaning, if you have a negative article written about you, the comments will help keep that post at the top. The more people that see it, the more will comment on the post. This makes overcoming these posts very hard when you are trying to alter your reputation.
There are people that believe the answer to all this is to post anonymously when you are not in business mode. Trust me when I tell you, there are very few people that can pull this off. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of little clues that you can leave that will tell someone it is you. Besides, when you leave a comment on a website, it does capture your IP. How else do you think you get emails about that new car when you never did anything on the site other than look around. So, if push came to shove, people could find out who was posting anonymously on a website.
Online reputation is something that needs to be taken very seriously. When you are deciding on how to boost your online reputation, think about the implications that may be involved. Take a few minutes to review what I have written and see how you can make it work for your brand. Just remember when you are posting on the internet, it can and will last forever. Just because you delete the post does not mean that someone has not already taken a screenshot and can repost your comment indefinitely.