By Michael Gray
Search engine reputation management (SERM) is a growing discipline under the larger umbrella of search engine optimization (SEO). If you deal with client services, and you don’t already have at least one reputation management client, chances are you will in the very near future. The more tools or options you have at your disposal for this type of project, the easier the task will be. In this article I’m going to look at one of those tools; directories.
Let’s take a high-level look at the concept, so we have a better idea of what we’re trying to accomplish. Getting a negative search engine listing taken down, removed, or changed, is a tricky process–with the potential to blow up in your face if you aren’t careful–so we’re going to assume it’s not a possibility. Your main goal then shifts to identifying positive SERP listings, and looking for ways to boost them above and displace the negative results to page two or beyond. This is where directory listings can come into play. Many companies or websites have listings in directories like Yahoo or Business.com, the problem is your listing is mixed-in on a page with other websites. Secondly the title of that page, which is one of your strongest on page SEO elements, is usually the category or sub-category name, making it practically useless. What you really need is your own page on that directory, with a title that you have some influence on.
Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, unless the name of your company actually is “Buy Cheap Blue Widgets Online” chances are pretty slim that you’ll be able to get a page/listing with that type of title. Most directory owners are concerned about the overall quality of their website, and aren’t going to sacrifice themselves over the long-term to help you meet your short-term goals. In most cases you’ll be able to get your company name or your DBA name.
This is where knowing your space and looking for niche vertical directories can be very helpful, as they have a greater likelihood of having the type of setups you are looking for. Sometimes however that option don’t exist. If you are dealing with a client who has a physical presence, another option is a local directory like Local.Botw.org. When you sign up for a local directory listing you are placed in the local region for your business just like a normal directory. However, you also get an individual page like this one for Bridge Self Storage: http://local.botw.org/California/Richmond/Bridge_Self_Storage/1000013665.html.
With an optimal title, on an optimized page, on a quality domain, it’s a piece of cake. Point a link from their company website, with their company name as anchor text. Point a few links from a few other websites and give it a little bit of time. You should be able to displace a less than favorable listing with one you control fairly quickly.
What if you are working on a reputation management project for a person not a company? The principle is still the same, but this time you are looking for a “business professional” directory. Two examples of this would be LinkedIn and VisualCV. To see this in action look at the SERP for Guy Kawasaki–you’ll see his LinkedIn page sitting at #9 and his VisualCV sitting at #11. The process of getting these pages to rank is the same, just link to them using a personal blog or company website with the person’s name as the anchor text, allow the links to age. Keep pointing link juice at them until they displace the negative listings.
About the Michael Gray
Michael Gray helps companies and individuals with internet marketing and reputation management projects. His 10 years of experience in the industry allows him to work with companies on business or ecommerce website needs. He also speaks at numerous industry events and conferences throughout the year. You can read his controversial blog at www.wolf-howl.com. You can also use his website ViralConversations.com to help your company gain exposure for it’s new product.