With so many social media websites doubling as informational hubs in today’s online environment, I thought it would be a good idea to write an in-depth article relating to the Top 10 Easiest Solutions to build your own reputation. Building your reputation online is something that requires time along with a somewhat meticulous attitude toward what content you ultimately decide to publish. Regardless of whether you hire out reputation building services to a third party, take the project on yourself or combine the two, there is no getting around the time investment that is necessary in order to get your name (or your company’s name) to rank highly when it is searched.
Before social media websites became a staple of online society and forced their way into the mainstream, the best way to control the data you published online was to build your own website and update it frequently with hand-selected content. While this is still one of the easiest ways to affect your reputation, there are a variety of other methods that are equally (if not more effective); not to mention less time consuming. While the element of time is definitely something to be considered when taking on an online rep-building project, this article outlines the easiest ways to get your corporate or personal brand in the mix.
There are two ways to get involved in the Yelp community. You can either write a review relating to a business in your area or that you’ve visited or upload information pertaining to your company and allow it to be reviewed by patrons. Either way, Yelp is a website that has picked up quite a bit of search engine momentum over the last couple of years with no signs of slowing down in the short term. The reason for this is that Yelp is a highly convenient platform for those who want to find out more about businesses in their area before patronizing them.
As with most easy to access informational hub websites, signing up for a Yelp account is painless (all you need is a valid email address) and takes very little effort to begin using. Deciding how much content to publish about yourself or about the businesses you review will be the main factor as to how popular your profile becomes and how often it is viewed. There is a short “About Me” section that is worthwhile and will give fellow members a great introduction to your likes and dislikes as well as the ability to publish your own photo (which I recommend if you are using Yelp as a way to improve your online reputation.
Due to its popularity, an individual or company who has filled out all or most of Yelp’s optional profile information will have a great chance at ranking high when a term is searched on sites such as Google. There is also the option to get your own URL (http://yourname.yelp.com) that will further enhance the probability that your personal Yelp profile page will be located on the first page of relevant entries when your name is searched.
Remember, the idea behind improving your online reputation is to push down Undesirable Search Results. Put in the time and effort to write informative reviews about other businesses and complete your own company’s profile (when applicable) to ensure your profile is ranked highly. If you are contracting a company to do this work for you, insist that they add Yelp to their to-do list along with all other popular social media websites.
There are undeniably some benefits to be gained by becoming a premium member of Yelp if you actually own your own company and have it listed there. I will get into this in another article, but for now you should know that paying customers of the Yelp website often receive preferential treatment when it comes to getting negative reviews of their businesses removed!
FourSquare is perhaps the fastest growing social media website on the Internet due to its almost exclusive focus on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. Through its real time interactive platform, members are allowed to Check In to a particular business and even view what percentage of customers Like the product or services being offered. There is an interactive map module to the right that lets potential patrons search for related businesses in a certain area, and the potential for companies who are listed at FourSquare is practically limitless. In fact, I personally predict that FourSquare will soon rank much, much higher on search engines due to its real time facet.
For example, let’s say you’re running a bar and are looking for a way to increase business while at the same time gathering relevant, precise statistical information on customers. There’s virtually no better way to do this than to offer promotions to thirsty individuals who you know are currently in the neighborhood or searching for a place to go in the near future. Due to the nature of today’s information age, you can set up your account to comply with the FourSquare software parameters and offer a 2-for-1 special on Rusty Nails, White Russians, or Domestic Beer that is unique to each customer. How’s that for bringing in new customers and rewarding return visits?
As always, you (or the online RM company that you hired) will need to take the time to completely fill out your company’s profile page on FourSquare in order to maximize the advantages of an online marketing campaign. As for Reputation Management in general, FourSquare is only useful for businesses and doesn’t focus at all on individual names.
Signing up for a FourSquare account is extremely easy and can be a one-click process if you use your current Facebook or Google+ account. From there, simply complete your profile, upload a photo and viola! You can then use your tablet or mobile phone touch screen to instantly Check In to businesses in your area and view personalized stats such as how many visits you’ve accumulated and which friends have been hanging out at the same location. Become active on FourSquare and you’ll very likely get your profile page to rank highly in the future when your name or company name is searched… and that’s what RM is all about!
Ah, the old saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. Never has that been more true than with Instagram. This one-stop online locale for publishing photos and videos has become all the rage in recent years thanks to its customizable filters and software that allows members to manipulate photos as if they were seasoned Photoshop veterans.
You can download the Instagram software directly through Apple’s App Store or get it on Google Play. Needless to say, if you’re at all concerned with your current or future online reputation, you should only upload photographic and video content that is in line with your reputation management goals. Believe me, that somewhat innocent media file of you and your buddies taking part in recreational drug use can result in a world of harmful consequences if it ever gets enough interest from those who have a negative opinion of you or your business! From my experience as a reputation management consultant, undesired photos and videos are some of the most difficult to get removed from the Internet once they have gone viral because of the immediate impact they can have on a viewer along with the amount of times they are shared. For more detail on what I’m referring to, read both parts of my Revenge Porn article here at Reputable. You might also want to take a look at Criminal Records, Privacy, And The Future Of Public Information for more insight into how obscene media can land you or your business in hot water. There are well over 100 social media websites in existence, which can be beneficial or harmful to your online reputation depending on how you manage the unique content that is pegged to your name.
Pictures and videos can be highly controversial and inflammatory. Therefore you should use utmost discretion when uploading files to sites such as Instagram; especially when you or your company is directly attached to the website’s profile page that files are being published on. G-rated content is always the best way to go when uploading media files to any social media site profile – unless you’re specifically in the business of publishing non-family oriented and/or Not Safe For Work (commonly referred to as NSFW) content. As a guide, if the content is something that might not be in line with the public image you wish to project, don’t publish the picture or video!
Pinterest has been around a while, and employs a broad-stroke approach to social media. Through its 25 billion+ unique Pins, this website has become a behemoth of a social media platform although its lack of specific functionality has rendered it second-tier when it comes to converting members into paying customers or patrons via advertising. Other sites such as Facebook and FourSquare have a leg up on Pinterest because of this.
Regardless, Pinterest is a great method for getting yet another high ranking search result to show up under your name or your company’s brand. For this reason alone, it is worth your time (or your Reputation Management service provider’s) to become a member and begin posting unique info.
By customizing your very own Bulletin Board, spending time on your Pinterest account can organize various hobbies while making it possible to browse only the content that you’re interested in. Still, this can be quite a chore for someone who’s sincerely motivated to wipe out all the proverbial background noise and it’s not nearly as popular as Twitter or Facebook. Therefore, if there’s one website on this list that I would particularly recommend hiring a third party to perform RM tasks for (aside from running your own website), Pinterest would be it. With that said, you can take a Do It Yourself Approach to managing content on Pinterest with relative ease – provided you have the time to do so.
# 6 Run Your Own Website
Quite honestly, I could probably write an entire article on this topic (and very well may in the future). I’m old enough to not only remember how difficult it once was to run your own website, but to also possess extensive experience creating workable clones of popular 1980s video games in the Basic programming language. Wow, how times have changed! Not only is it possible to get immediate hosting for your own website, you can pick up pre-designed premium WordPress themes for well under $100 and have a very professional looking website up and running in well under 24 hours.
It wasn’t that long ago when owning your own website (and getting a decent amount of traffic for it) entailed weeks if not months of expensive programming work that would often run into the tens of thousands of dollars. That’s not the case today. YourName.com or YourCompanyName.com should probably run about $100 US Dollars total per year to program as long as your using the WordPress platform. Seriously, the only thing you or your website administrator will likely need to worry about is the expense of creating and uploading unique content on your website.
As for the Reputation Management end of this, running your own website can be one of the most effective ways to get your personal or corporate brand on the map; plus you can control what ultimately gets published just as you would for a social media website such as Twitter or Facebook.
It may take a few hours to become familiar with the WordPress back-end system, but it’s nothing that someone who is proficient in software such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft Office won’t be able to pick up very quickly. There are tabbed content areas and you can create unique webpages instantly with software that is specifically designed to work without any extra coding effort on the owner’s behalf.
Take the Avada WordPress Theme for example (screenshot shown above). This is an inexpensive piece of software that comes with its very own flexible design, built in Search Engine Optimization, as well as a responsive layout. What this means is that your website will automatically adjust to the screen size of each individual member and adjust the format of your content to fit everything from large desktop monitors to tablet computers and cellular phones (just like major social media sites do).
It may take a few months for your website to begin registering highly for the keywords you wish to emphasize, but as long as the name your website is under isn’t something that is extremely common (such as Michael Jordan or Coca Cola), having YourName.com rank on the first page should be a virtual lock provided you’re consistently uploading new content focusing on that keyword. What’s more, Google tends to place more importance on domain names that include key terms.
Publishing multimedia content such as videos and photographs is pretty much a cinch with WordPress themes because of how easy they are to work with from an administrative standpoint. There are also preset pages for portfolios, contact information, sliders, and much more already built in.
It may seem a bit intimidating to run your own website, but believe me it’s not that difficult if your only initial goal is to control the articles that go up on it. However, this is definitely something that can be outsourced to an RM enterprise if you don’t feel like you have the time to put in to such a project. Regardless, don’t overlook the power that running your own website can have when it comes to getting a very effective search engine result registered under the keyword(s) you’re looking to market. Keep in mind that an entire website, even if it doesn’t enjoy a large amount of traffic, will likely come with a corresponding maintenance fee if you’re outsourcing the work.
Steps To Setting Up Your Own Website
There are a few things you need to do before getting your own website up and running. First of all, you should decide on a domain name. If you’re using the site for Reputation Management purposes, hopefully your name or company’s name will be available immediately. If not, try to choose something that resembles the term you’re looking for as much as possible and see if that is available. Hosting companies such as BlueHost.com and WPEngine.com are the best places to go for this service, and you can check in real time whether or not the domain name is available. Hosting generally costs between $10-$20 per year although you can get it for a cheaper price that that if you’re locking in a long-term deal.
From there, you’ll need to install the WordPress platform onto your website. Although this may incur some cost, there are many hosting companies that will install this for you free of charge if you send them a nice email requesting them to do so. The only thing left to do after that is to decide whether to use the default WordPress theme or download a premium software package from a company such as ElegantThemes.com or ThemeForest.com. This entire process should take somewhere around 24 hours to complete.
There are tons of resources available free online that refer to how best to work with the WordPress platform, so an hour or so of research could be highly beneficial if you’re planning on taking on the project yourself. If not, an RM company will probably charge a monthly fee of over $100 US Dollars to manage the website for you, with extra expenses depending on what designing and content uploading responsibilities you place on the third party.
End Of Part 1
Hopefully this article has given you quite a few ideas about how you can build your online reputation easily and inexpensively; using the allotted time to rank highly on popular search engines while pushing down negative results in the process. In Part 2 of this article, we’ll look at the most popular solutions for building your reputation online as well as how to manage your profile pages on those websites.
As always, feel free to leave any feedback in the form of a comment below, or you can contact me via email at your convenience if you’re in need of personalized assistance.
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