In this latest edition of "Ask the Reputation Management Expert", we get to talk with Mike Salvaggio who has a decade of experience in the world of SEO and helping individuals and brands of all sizes rank higher in the search results to better control their online reputation.
Owning the whole first page of the search results isn't an easy accomplishment for anyone, but once accomplished, it's simply one of the best ways to protect your name and what other people see when they search for you on Google.
Mike Salvaggio Shares His Best Advice on How to Protect Your Online Reputation
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the reputation management space.
A: Mike Salvaggio, I've been in the SEO Space now for over 10 years building the agency SeoBrand.com and RankMediaAgency.com.
Q: What is an online reputation specialist and why are they now so valuable to businesses and brands?
A: An online reputation specialist is someone who works to make sure a business or an individual is properly represented on the front pages of the internet. In the age of the internet, it’s much quicker to make an impression on others-often without even meeting them. In relation to the “search experience”, many businesses are finding themselves being misrepresented by the information on the first page of their name. In some cases, the real story can be buried deep within the 4th and 5th pages of a Google Search.
Q: As an individual or brand, what is the best way to find out what people are saying about a specific name/brand online?
A: Thanks to the expansion of social media, businesses, brands, and individuals now have more access than ever. Having a social media presence on multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) as well as taking ownership of listings on review sites like Yelp is a great tool for measuring and accessing your overall brand perception. It also gives businesses the opportunity to reach out and show new and existing customers all the things they can do.
Many businesses that are expanding are doing so because they show their customers, “We’re listening.” For a business to grow, bridging the communication gap is vital and is creating a major impact in brand perception. Social Media has empowered word-of-mouth business to a whole new level.
Q: When negative content, complaints or reviews are found, what is the best action to take in regards to resolving the issue and possibly getting it removed?
A: The best, and most effective, action is authority. You just have to make sure that on every issue, your side of the story is heard. If it’s a Yelp review, write a response with an explanation as well as a potential resolution to the matter. If it’s a complaint on the BBB website, explain your side of the story. Other than that, the best way to build up your positive content is through quality. Actions such as publishing a press release, guest posting on a website that gets much traffic and influence in social circles, creating subject-specific websites such as microsites, and appearing in high-profile media outlets such as the Huffington Post will always win out on SEO. The worst thing you can do is let the negative press sit untouched and hope for the best. If it goes unaddressed, the more it will tend to stand out and engage other users on search, cementing their place in the search rankings.
Q: Of all the review sites online, which are most harmful to a brands reputation and how should they be approached?
A: Sites like Ripoff Reports and Better Business Bureau complaints tend to rank very highly on Google. Other problematic sites include message board threads as they have a tendency to add negative words such as “fraud” or “scam” at the end of your name within the Google Autosuggest. There are also a number of businesses having positive reviews on Yelp being hidden under the guise of “not recommended” reviews. We know of a few businesses that have a 3 or 4 star rating with a stack of mixed reviews on the profile and about 10 “not recommended” scores not factoring into the ranking. In such case, the best plan of action when receiving a negative score on a review site is to respond. You have to let your visitors know that there is another side of the story.
Q: How is social media changing the way brands need to monitor what is being said about them outside of the search engines?
A: Over the last few years we’ve seen social media become the make-or-break element of a business’ survival. A business that operates in poor practice or gives a customer a negative experience can be publicly called out for their actions. On the flipside, businesses have taken the initiative to go the extra mile to respond and resolve the matter. Not to mention the word of mouth element, such as when someone on social media instagrams a positive experience, can prove itself more effective than advertising. Long story short, if you’re out of touch with your customers, you’re going to be missing out on major opportunities to bring your business to a new light.
Q: What are some of the best ways to build a protective wall around your brand to prevent future attacks and negative content?
A: The more authority sites you have ranking for your name, the more uphill it’s going to be for negative press. The first step is making sure you have the essentials, a LinkedIn page, multiple business directories such as a Manta profile, a YouTube and Google Page, among having other profiles set up, will solidify 1st page rankings for your name. From there, you want to make sure you have a consistent stream of press, everything from images optimized for your name to a consistent stream of press releases and guest posts. When it comes to posting for your name, make sure you beat everyone to the punch.
Q: Outside of businesses and brands, how are everyday people being affected by negative attacks and what can they do to protect themselves?
A: The best way for users to protect themselves is to make sure their side of the story is shared. Build followers and turn it into an audience. Connect with users on as many social platforms as you can. Make a website that is well-designed, optimized for search, and accessible to your audience. It’s easier than ever to build yourself up on these mediums. Many of those on the receiving end of negative attacks online either do nothing or act in a reactionary and emotional manner that only serves to make matters worse. The best thing to do is to maintain the high road and focus on your customers, fans and supporters. The more you make an issue out of something, whether by running away from it or returning the vitriol, the bigger the issue is going to get.
Q: For an individual or brand that wants to take action right now, what is your best advice on how to research, analyze and improve one's online reputation?
A: Get on social media. Connect your website to all social media platforms. Follow up with your customers, especially your favorite ones, and show them that you truly value and appreciate your audience. Optimize everything in your name, for your name, by Googling yourself and filling out the blanks. Make an effort to routinely publish new content, whether it’s a press release, a YouTube video, or even a photo album. Finally, you want to keep an eye on what Google is doing with social media. The more you put on Google, the better it’s going to represent you. If you have a physical location for instance, it should be on a Google Map.
When looking for what websites to publish content on, it’s important to look at the Domain Authority and Page Rank of each website. These factors are scores that Google uses to measure a website’s credibility. For instance a post on a local news outlet will achieve a Page Rank of 4 or 5, whereas something on the Huffington Post or Yahoo Finance will get you a Page Rank of 8. There are several browser extensions and apps that can provide these statistics for you.
Special thanks to Mike Salvaggio for taking the time to share his expertise with our audience. Be sure to continue to read OnlineReputation.com for the latest news and actionable tips to improve your online reputation, while also seeing who our latest featured ORM expert is each week!