By the time your site is up and running, you’ve already done a ton of research. You’ve become intimately familiar with your niche and your competitors. You’ve worked hard to develop a product and a site that your audience will love. You’ve spent hours on your SEO, making sure that you rank well for your chosen keywords both locally and web-wide. You’ve spent so much time working toward what you want…but what about what you don’t want?
Just like there are ideas, words, products with which you want to be associated, there are ideas, words, products and people with whom you really shouldn’t ever be associated. So many entrepreneurs and new site runners focus all of their energy on that first part–how they want to be seen, and they ignore completely that they should be working just as hard against how they do not want to be seen.
Making sure that you are seen one way and not another is called Reputation Management and it should be just as much a part of your SEO and social media platform as anything else.
Here’s an example: let’s say you have a pet grooming business. ABC Grooming. You’ve worked hard to rank well for “great pet grooming” and “YourCity’s best pet groomer.” A competitor has worked just as hard to make sure that you rank just as well for “terrible pet groomer” and “YourCity’s worst pet groomer.” It’s a rudimentary example, but the question remains, how do you make sure that your competitor doesn’t manage to completely trash your reputation?
Check Your Links
You know as well as we do that a huge part of your ranking algorithm is dependent on backlinks to your company’s page or blog. You’ve used our content explorer and site explorer to make sure that your keywords and links are functioning properly and that you’re doing well for the keywords for which you want to rank. You should also be using those tools to check for negative backlinks.
When you find a negative backlink, explore it. Is this link from someone who has a legitimate beef with you? Or is it someone who is planting negative SEO around the web? If you discover toxic links, you need to report them. Check out our case study on manual penalty removal for tips on how to do this.
Check Your Security
There are two types of security with which you need to concern yourself: your own and your server’s. Make sure that your site is hosted on a secure server. The last thing you need is someone exploiting a server vulnerability and installing black hat code on your site! If you discover that something on your site looks hinky or you start getting complaints from site users about problems, contact your server admin immediately to check for and remove malware from your site’s code and server.
How do these hackers find their way into a seemingly secure server in the first place? They exploit information they gain via malware installed on personal machines. Keystroke loggers and other viruses can be used to gain access to private spaces and identities. And, the more popular your site and business become, the more of this threat you will have to fight. It is important to have top notch Internet security protocols in place from the very beginning.
Go to the Source
Part of staying on top of your reputation management is keeping your ear to the ground. The faster you can jump on anything even remotely negative the easier it will be to turn that negative item into a positive one. For example, because Ahref’s tools are built onto a backlink index that updates every fifteen minutes, you should be notified whenever something new pops up about you. This gives you the chance to check out anything remotely negative within a day of it’s appearance online.
It’s also good to use tools like Google Alerts to monitor for mentions of you or your company that may not necessarily be linked. You can set these alerts to notify you however often you like if your name pops up somewhere.
Being able to go directly to the source of the mention or the link allows you to determine its legitimacy and the course of action you need to take against it. If the mention/link is legitimate and someone has a good reason to post that negativity online, do what you can to make it right with that person. If the link is toxic or fake, file a takedown notice.
Don’t wait for people to tell you about dings to your reputation. Go out there and find them so that you can fix them!