Michael Martinez at SEO Theory has a great post on reputation management.
He brings out some really good points and I’d like to address a few of them:
- Counting backlinks is meaningless – Yes, it is, IF all you do is look at quantity of inbound links. As he mentions on his blog, there are numerous factors that a mere quantity count can’t tell you, such as anchor text used, reputation of the sites linking to you, link age, etc. And to top it off, Bing doesn’t report links and Google doesn’t report all of your links. There is no way to tell just how many links Google is counting for you and what the quality of those links are. So counting backlinks is pretty meaningless.
- Spheres and sub-spheres – I’ve never heard it expressed in quite this fashion before, but Michael Martinez breaks the Web up into categories and each category has its own rules for measuring what is important for success. Success in SEO does not necessarily equate to success in social media, and vice-versa. You can be very successful in one without being successful in the other. And social reputation score is becoming evey bit as important as search reputation. Measuring both is more important than measuring either by itself, but you don’t measure both in the same way. It’s definitely not about how many links you have.
- Social reputation is not about how many people are talking about you – It doesn’t really matter how many pages you have ranked or how many top 10 results cast you in a positive light. It does matter what people are saying about you, who’s saying it, how they are saying it, and where they are saying it. Some unknown Joe Blow who posts a short message in a private forum with 100 members isn’t nearly going to be as effective as an A-list blogger writing a blog post and promoting it through Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, and Facebook. Furthermore, is it just a rant or is the message a well-thought and crafted blog post that is balanced and fair? Those things matter.
- Reputation shield is not management – I love that phrase: Reputation shield. Many SEOs teach, and we’ve done this on this blog, that signing up for as many social media sites as you can in order to people from stealing your identity and wreaking havoc with it is a necessary strategy to manage your reputation. It’s really not. Such a strategy can be a shield against negative activity related to your identity, but management goes much further. It’s virtually impossible to manage 100 social media profiles and if you tried you’d find that you’d be spending all of your time managing social media profiles and getting nowhere. It’s a better strategy to focus on a few well-targeted social media sites – where your target market hangs out – and engage with your audience in a meaningful way. Build solid relationships with people who matter and that will do better for your reputation than all the SEO in the world. But I still wouldn’t discount SEO, building backlinks, or establishing a presence at social media sites where you are not altogether active.
When it comes to online reputation management, you’ve got to think beyond search results and social media profiles. You have to think about building relationships and managing your business. If you are doing something just to check a box it will likely not have as much value as doing something that will increase your visibility and the perception of your business that you want your target audience to have of you. True reputation management is about the management more than the reputation.