Small Business Owner’s Guide to Online Reputation Management

In today’s digital marketing landscape, it is easy to confuse online reputation management to simply social media monitoring and search engine optimization. In the greater sense, it is more than having an active customer service support to answer complaints in emails, comments, tweets and Facebook posts.

Small business owners need to understand that the moment you put your business online, people will start talking about you. For now, you may not receive any comment or distasteful posts, but it is best to prepare.

Reputation Risks Without Solid Content Marketing Plan & SEO

Risks are always there, has been from day 1. If you do not have a solid content marketing plan, chances of hateful comments and reviews to show up in search engine results is very high. A solid content marketing plan will ensure that you have relevant strong content that will be favored by search engines to rank.

Without strong content, you open a very wide window for hate comments to flood Google page 1 for keywords that relate to your business.

This is my perpetual appeal to my clients inquiring about the true essence of SEO. Search engine optimization goes above and beyond the goal of conversion.

A true SEO expert would understand that the methods applied to optimize a business website aims to ensure that the brand’s digital health is not only generating income but also secured.

Securing your digital assets is one thing, but securing your brand reputation is another.

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Bad Publicity Can Kill Your Business

The saying, “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” does not apply to all. If you are among the questionable Kardashians, then maybe.

Nonetheless, if you are a small business marketing products and services online and hoping for conversions, I guarantee that a few bad publicities will not only damage you, but can kill your business.

People who finds information online will most likely be alarmed if there are so many red flags around your business. If for example my brand name “pat bagano” is keyed in Google, I get the #1 spot but if it is followed by so many bad reviews, worse, followed by hate sites about Pat Bagano. There is a very slim chance that someone would even dare open my page even if it is #1.

They might want to read the warnings placed to smear your reputation first. Unfortunately, when they read hateful comments or published materials, the chances of them going back to your website to do business with you, is very low.

There Is a War Out There

The primary motivation of most people who are online is to make money, even the smallest blogger blogging about their daily lives might have dreams of gaining readership and monetize their blogs.

For small business owners, it is even worse. Your website is the face you present your customers and target audience. Your competitors are always on the lookout for an opportunity to smear your face to make you seem unappealing. What do you do? If there is a war to gain readership and customers, it would be best to fight. It would be easier if you can call the cops.

But they have their rights, as much as you do. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

So come to think of it, calling a lawyer may be wise. But how much will that cost you? Are you sure that the legal proceedings will go smooth and fast? I doubt that. Furthermore, you cannot guarantee you are going to be smeared only by one person, to sue every single unhappy person that tries to bash your business will cost you a fortune.

The best thing to do, is strengthen your brand’s reputation to the point that negative comments and publicity about your business does not affect your consumer base.

If your enemies send out the bombs, I mean create hate websites dedicated to only bash and smear your reputation. You better be prepared to understand the game and get your hands dirty with plenty of SEO and content marketing works.

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Time for Aggressive SEO Plan

It is time to escalate your SEO more than just simply publishing a few blog posts and ensuring on-page SEO is in place. A thorough analysis of your current website SEO structure has to be done, this needs to be compared to other charts and data from analytics and search console. The point here is, “how do people find you?” If you are found on particular keywords but also find content from your enemies, then it is time to restructure your SEO efforts.

Aggressive SEO will ensure that you dominate your Google page 1, if possible up to Google page 2. That will make sure that negative comments will no longer show up when someone tries to learn about you.

Easier said than done, I know. That is why there are online reputation experts and SEO experts. This is not the time to trust just about anybody. This is the time to consider who you hire to do the works. Otherwise, a few wrong moves are going to cost you more damage.

Prepare to Be Stressed

If the smear campaign that aims to ruin you already ranked in Google results for the primary keyword you are being found for. It will be a tough competition. But it speaks volumes about the weakness of your content marketing in the past. I am not here to blame you for ruining your business, but only to remind you that it is nobody’s fault but yours.

You will only get even more stressed if you cling to blame and hate. There is a way to revert all of this, but as everything in this planet, it might take time.

If you are good in comparing data and can analyze top keywords for your website and how to play with short tail and long tail keywords, then you might be able to revert this yourself. But the best way is to really cut through the noise and bump your competition to lower rankings. If you still own #1 spot, it is a crucial stage to ensure you remain there. A single blackhat SEO move, you lose that spot and it will be harder to rise back up.

Conclusion

Online reputation management is not as simple as what you may think. It involves a lot of measuring, reading and analyzing. Boosting your content marketing efforts might help improve your rankings or get more customers. Improving your SEO will definitely get you somewhere. There is always a chance that you can get rid of bad publicity, but it will take a little bit of time to totally get them out of your way.

Call for help! If you need advice on online reputation management, please let me know.

What to Do If Your Brand Reputation is Destroyed

Building a brand reputation online appears to be even more challenging compared offline. In the digital age, you are not only trying to get the attention of an audience whose attention spans are less than that of a goldfish. Online, you are even trying to get the attention of people who easily believe anything published without verifying the source of information.

If building a digital brand is hard, imagine how much more it is when you need to rebuild one. Imagine all the years and investment you have placed on your brand now you are watching it crumble right before your eyes. Difficult and painful.

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Risk Management Is a Need From Day 1

All business owners who are involved in any type of digital marketing has to consider establishing a risk management team from day 1. Risk managers do not have to be an additional personnel. In fact, you might want to delegate this task to content managers, writers or social media managers.

They do not have to do anything right away. What they have to do is just to keep an eye should there be distasteful content published about you. It can be a bad comment, review or a dedicated blog just to ensure your fall.

Knowing activities online that can have negative impact on your business is the key to developing a plan. It can either be strengthening your customer service, improve customer care or if it is time to call an online reputation management expert.

Luckily, if you catch it earlier, your chances of defending your brand’s reputation is a lot higher.

What If You Are Already Under Attack?

Don’t panic, don’t react and don’t do anything stupid like publishing content to defend yourself. Defending yourself will only make other consumers think and suspect negative assumptions about you and your brand.

It is best to get an advice from an expert right away to form a strategy to counter the attacks.

If the problem can be contained and stopped by improving customer service. Get a digital marketer who is also a customer service expert who can handle the situation.

If the problem is about bad reviews, call a digital marketer or micro-influencers in your niche to aid your dilemma. This is the time to get your tribe to help defend you. Tribe marketing is among the biggest kind of marketing today that can benefit businesses online, especially online reputation.

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What If It Has Blown Out of Proportion Damaging Your Search Engine Traffic?

That’s when things get screwy. It would be easier if you have a friend in Google who can secretly penalize the site you are complaining about and take them offline. That is not how things work. Google is fair and treats every website accordingly depending on fulfilling ranking factors.

If materials that are negatively affecting you has been published and you did not take action before it grew in number, it will be hard to just make them disappear overnight, or a week’s time to even a month.

Most online reputation management firms would charge $10,000 to $15,000 just to accept your case but will not guarantee success if the brand reputation is severely damaged.

If links that randomly show up on results page next to you are getting larger. It is not totally impossible to revert the damage. However, the process will require analysis of the SEO ranking factors both yours and your peeves.

Your only defense is to weaken their content and produce stronger content of similar keywords that will hopefully bump them off to lower rankings. Proceed with caution though because there are a lot of things to be considered in terms of reviving the health of your brand. A wrong move can further fracture your SEO which will mean gain on your opponent’s pages.

If you think submitting content to bad ranking websites and article distribution will improve your content visibility, you are wrong. It might weaken your content marketing and SEO. Those pages meant to destroy you will gain advantage for higher rankings on keywords that matter to you.

Conclusion

Brand reputation is not to be taken lightly. A bad comment or an article intended to attack you might become like a parasite attached to all your listings online. Before it gets worse, address it right away or assign one of your staff to watch over your mentions and alerts.

Subscribe to google alerts if there are mentions of your name or your brand. Buzzsumo also offers brand mention alerts.

If things are already out of proportion and you start to lose traffic and sleep, let me know. I might be able to help without drying your marketing budget.

An Honest Blog Promotion Guide for New Bloggers

Are you tired of getting a lot of BS when you read tips on how to promote your blog? I do, I am no beginner in blogging. But marketing my blog is something I find as a hurdle. As a content writer I am used to working with a team.

I research and create content, pass it on to the next person and I can forget about it.

With my failed blogs in the past, I just didn’t care about promotion because, I wasn’t dead serious about them. Regrets and mistakes. But that is not why I am writing this post.

Dear new blogger, I feel you! Imagine when you google “promote your blog” in Google. I can guarantee that the top results are all web pages of people who is in the end going to try to sell you some blog promotion program.

Nothing wrong with that, that’s how to make money online. What I find weird is they try to make money out of people trying to make money. Those people, like me, probably don’t have any money to spend, so I wonder how much they really earn.

So, I decided to share how I promote my blog and the tiny little ways that proves how you can get a few dozen eyes to your content.

At the beginning of your blogging, it is best you stick with SEO for in time Google will reward you with traffic. Nonetheless, don’t forget that is going to happen “in time”. Google ranking is not achieved immediately.

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So while you wait for Search Engine Optimization to take effect, best you focus on the following to promote your blog:

1.    Social Media Promotion

Create a Facebook Page

You need to draw the line from the very beginning. Your blog is not you. When you begin to build readership, it will be difficult for them to process when you suddenly post your meal for the day when you are talking about something else in your blog.

It is as simple as, your Facebook page is the channel to distribute your blog content, not your life.

Twitter

Twitter is a powerful tool to promote your content. It is probably the easiest way to get a few dozen eyes towards your blog.

Grow your twitter following and start sharing your content in Twitter. This is one of my articles that is a good read about twitter and growing followers, Bloggers Growing Twitter Followers the Right Way.

LinkedIn or beBee

These two are more business-y and serious. If you want to really get people to notice you on either of these two websites, share only posts that are strong and also relevant. Otherwise you will be criticized and put yourself to embarrassment.

There are other social media channels that you may use. The three mentioned above are just among the top that will definitely give you a little attention. Depending on the niche of your blog, make sure you join social networks that are relevant.

2.    Don’t be afraid to repost

You may want to consider forgetting about your fear of Google penalty for duplicate content. Besides, it is really counterproductive to fear a punishment from someone who hasn’t yet granted you any traffic right?

Go ahead, repost your blog after a week’s window of publishing in your blog. Reposting will allow you to cast a wider net among audience that seeks for your content. If you don’t because of your fears of Duplicate Content Penalties, you might miss out on the whole purpose of blogging – to get readers.

Although, you still need to be careful, best you follow things I mention on “Ways Around Duplicate Content.”

I strongly recommend reposting on Medium. For some reason I really find that platform helpful.

3.    Be in Quora.com

Not only is it a great Question and Answer website, Quora is great to link back to content from your website. Not only do you gain backlinks every time you provide citations on your answer that links back to your blog posts, you also get dozens of people following your link. This is one investment that can truly drive traffic towards your website long term.

4.    Secure your brand names in all free blogging platforms

WordPress.com, Tumblr.com and Blogger.com to name a few. Securing your name is not only just in case you make it big. It is also a good way to deliver your content in those networks.

You see, at the beginning of blogging it is like shooting in the dark. You might as well shoot in all directions possible.

What you can post in those blogging platforms are introductions, snippets or short content that will make people want to click a link that will eventually take them to your actual blog. This is a neat way not only build links around the web towards your main site but to really reach out to corners of the web where your target audience might be.

5.    Build your email list

Let us be honest if you just started a few months ago, it would be unlikely that you can build high volume email list right away. I am not a ridiculous marketer with unrealistic goals.

But it is still best you already have the “subscribe to email” boxes ready in your site. This will help your promotion even if you only have a few dozen readers for now.

Conclusion

These are among the 5 things that keeps me busy in promoting my blog for now. I cannot say they work so good that I am about to become the next millionaire blogger. Let’s get real. They are working bit by bit but I know they are safe.

Instead of buying into marketing gimmicks by marketers this is a free way to get my name out there.

As I always say, my blog already served its purpose if I was able to assist just a few people. It doesn’t have to get huge, it will if it is my fate.

If you think have a great tactic on how to promote a new blog, the comments section is open. Otherwise, you can email me if you need further assistance.

Bloggers Growing Twitter Followers the Right Way

Why do you need to grow your twitter followers?

Twitter is more than just a social media platform for bloggers. In fact, it is a great channel to distribute your content to people who truly cares about what you have to share.

A short story:

Before I started sharing tweets about content marketing, blogging, SEO and social media, my twitter account was based on my previous business, tea shop. When that failed back in 2015, I have not really opened twitter at all. I have no interest in using it ever again. I took my fall badly because of the unpolished stories that surrounds it.

It took me half a year before I decided to really establish another startup, www.patbagano.com, which until now is in its infancy. People were so confused about what I do in front of my computer daily and doing a lot of research.

In the lay sense I am just blogging, but anyone who has been blogging for a while will tell you that there is so much marketing and technical knowledge involved if you really want to make it to the top. And I do want to be successful.

Besides, blogging and writing is something I have been doing since 2008. Sometimes I think it is pretty stupid to have stopped writing and tried offline businesses to begin with. I am on and off as a blogger, in fact I failed so many blogs in the past and wasted so many domain names that are niche specific.

To make the story short, I reopened my twitter and was not surprised with the decline of my followers. Well I didn’t have much to begin with when I was tweeting about tea. I have roughly 700 or less.

I know that would even decline because I will be using the same account @complexiteapat and my tea friends will not really find my marketing, SEO and blogging posts appealing.

I was right, yet growing followers wasn’t that hard. In fact, just in a month after launching www.patbagano.com I grew about 581 new followers. The numbers are not impressive unlike other marketers out there. I will tell you later why.

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Twitter is a tool, this is not a popularity contest

Twitter is a tool to get people interested in what you have to say. It will be impressive to have 10,000 people retweeting me or 100,000 people liking my posts and following my account. But I guess it is only impressive if I truly mean something to them.

In fact, I really feel great when 1 or even just 5 people mentioning me on a daily basis and found the content I shared beneficial. It feels better than having over a dozen retweets from bots.

The most counterproductive idea of social media is automation. This is just my personal opinion. Buying followers and subscribing to full automation of twitter loses the whole sense of “social”.

Sometimes it feels like if I automate my twitter it will be my bot against your bot and they both interact. I guess I am among the naïve few who still takes twitter very personal and don’t want to lose the personal touch on every tweet I send out.

It is in a way for me gauge my success in reaching my audience. It can be slow, but I like it that way. I am really proud of having 1800 followers today, I have followers who really engage with me and related to my industry and not random eggheads in my list.

I tried automating and it doesn’t work for me

I tried automating but felt bad after a week or two. The platform started thanking people randomly for following me more than twice in a day and sometimes even thank those who have recently unfollowed me. Another instance is thanking a mention that I would otherwise ignore because it is a quite a slanted comment. It is just terrible.

If you are a new blogger, I hope you don’t get intimidated with six figures or 7 figures of other bloggers. It is not how success is truly measured. Actually it is a measure of success if you truly owned and built it and guarantee that those hundreds of thousands are people within your industry or interested in further engagement. But if those followers are among the follow train you subscribed or you bought them. That is really counterproductive.

As I said at the beginning of this post, “Twitter is more than just a social media platform for bloggers. In fact, it is a great channel to distribute your content to people who truly cares about what you have to share.” Now imagine tweeting knowing no one will hear you because you purchased your followers. Who is fooling who?

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Ways Around Duplicate Content

Reposting your content on your other blogs like in Medium or Quora is an appealing move for anyone who wish to grow loyal readers. Nonetheless, like every other blogger out there, we fear that Google will punish our blogs and never again be seen in search results.

Google punishment is considered the death of a website. But does it really still matter that much today? What about guest posting is it okay to post them as well on your website?

These are among the thoughts clouding my head for the past few days.

Traffic diverted by search engines are great. But as we all know it takes a while and the competition is steep.

Does Google’s algorithm have threshold on identifying duplicate content?

Matt Cutts of Google says duplicate content would most likely be ignored if it is not spammy. Spammy meaning keyword stuffing is obvious. That is quite a relief, because I really do not like keyword stuffing myself. See this post by Search Engine Land.

That solves it, but why are we still concerned? Because there is a lot of rubbish out there floating about duplicate content. Those are probably marketers who does not want you to take a lead or improve your traffic, so relax.

Wait, before you repost on other websites, you should:

 

1.    Make sure that you first post on your website

Posting directly on other websites might affect ranking though. Allow your content to sit in your blog for at least a week or two before reposting. Google appears to warrant higher page ranking where the content was first posted. So if you wish your website to rank higher than those you contributed the content to, follow this best practice.

2.    Rel=canonical tag

Use rel=canonical tag if possible at the head of the page if posting for other websites. This tag will simply inform the crawlers that post was originally posted from the URL that you specify. There has been a debate about how useful it is or whether it really works. But it would never hurt to use it if possible.

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3.    Alter the title if you can

If possible and you have time it is better to at least make minor changes to the title. This will help in your SEO but not totally save you from the duplicate content dilemma. If you have more time, a few alterations on the body might also help.

4.    Don’t forget links to your site

I am assuming you are not going to repost your blog without links going back to your website. Of course you need the traffic coming from the third party website. But it is best if you can drive them back at your blog where you can either offer them a newsletter or any of your products. Don’t forget to link back.

Okay, so I can rest my thoughts now about duplicate content, for now. Since it will not really hurt my currently invisible Google rankings, why should I bother. You shouldn’t too! Big names in blogging has been doing it over time to get more traffic, relying on guest posting alone will get you nowhere besides piled up emails informing you of rejection.