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Online Reputation Management

by Kim Greuel Buffer

Remember the days of writing bibliographies for research papers on 5×7 index cards in the middle school library?  The teachers insisted that references come from credible sources; preferably published.  As a youngster, it seemed that MLA or Chicago style of citation was meant to torture me.

In the adult world; however, it is the exercise of citation that laid the foundation for good business practice and successful analytics.  I’ve learned to love research and analytics because they are quests for truths.  In every faction of life, especially business, it is essential to consider the source prior to taking any action.   And, today’s real-time-results orientation can complicate the process of generating a “trustworthy” reference.

There are some occupational fields that change so rapidly, it is nearly impossible to publish a relevant source of information about them before it’s out of date.  For these things, the Internet can be a credible source—if you know how and where to look.

There is a swarm of information out there.  In fact, recently, Google claimed to have cataloged almost one zeta byte of information.  With all of that information to process, there tend to be false claims and misinformation mixed heavily with truths.  Deciphering these truths requires a significant time investment.  In my experience, the average business owner/manager doesn’t always have that time to stay atop their industry as well as email marketing, social media managing, web design, and SEO.  In this case, it’s wise to outsource or bring someone in-house to stay competitive in all of these industries and their relevant trends.

As marketing is a race to stay ahead of competition, its very nature is that of persistent evolution.  This movement with the incessant generation of information can cause the waters to get a little murky even for the most researched of persons.

Take “May Day” for example.  In the SEO world, May Day is a nick name given to one of the hundreds of algorithm changes that Google implements annually.  May Day seems to be a change that has affected in some way more people than usual. Thusly, it has generated a lot of commotion.

Unfortunately, it becomes hard to wade through claims when you can’t possibly look at everyone’s metrics yourself.  For some, May Day has become a kind of scapegoat.  If something happened in the window of time that May Day began to make changes, a lot of people are pointing fingers without considering the source.  Because it’s a big buzzworthy trend right now, people seeking to research SEO get blasted with the claims of what this algorithm change has done to either them or their clients.

What we can do is tweak our good practices according to the things we know certainly.  Matt Cutts, Webmaster of Spam at Google, does note that the algorithm change is a quality change that was implemented April 28-May 3, 2010 and will adjust some long tail traffic permanently.  Cutts suggests to check a few areas that may improve rankings; making sure your site is of highest quality, checking for optimization of relevant searches, and making sure that your content is as relevant as possible.

So how do you pick your source of relevant marketing information?  I think it’s really simple:  the bottom line of successful marketing is to surround your business with trustworthy people consistent in their efforts to seek out substantiated truths.  Make sure that the company(ies) who are managing your online reputation are…well, reputable.  Check their references, and other sources behind their work.  That should be telling of their ability to bolster your business.

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