If you have worked to build any brand equity at all, then chances are you have a way that you want your company to look and feel to prospects and customers. According to a recent poll released by Compete.com, a whopping 94% of purchases made are researched online first. The $64,000 question for businesses who have a web presence is: “Is the experience people have when researching my company in line with the way I want my company perceived?”
Here is a quick way to find out. Google your company and look at the top 10 results. Do they include you at all? Are they positive or negative? Do they line up with your brand? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then you have some work to do. Luckily there are some pretty easy ways to stack the deck in your favor. Here are 6 quick tips that will get you started building your digital empire.
- Take some time to create a company profile for social networks. This should be consumer benefit oriented and clearly spell out what your company stands for as well as some high-level features, advantages and benefits of working with your company. Don’t get too “salesy” with your profile, think of it as your “elevator speech” which gives those researching you an introduction of what you stand for and why they should trust you and your product or service.
- Grab your brand name in as many social networks as you can. Securing your company’s brand across major social networks is a huge digital asset–one that you probably don’t fully realize yet. Since having these profiles is akin to leasing space in a prime location, you need to make sure that you are leveraging the power of these social networks over time to build a presence as far across the web as you can. A great tool to use is Know’em which allows you to secure your brand in up to 350 social networks across the web.
- Own your .com and .net along with hypenated versions of your brand. Search engines give a lot of weight to URLs that have an exact match to the search query. If someone is googling your company, then the surest way to end up at the top of the results is to grab your brand as a domain. Use .com and .net and skip the .info, .mobi, .biz etc. We have found that these don’t have nearly the “oomph” that comes from a good ol’ dot com or dot net.
- Link to and bookmark results that you want to rise to the top. Since links are the currency of the internet, the more links that a particular result has pointed to it, the higher the results will rise (in general). If you have favorable results below the top 10, then take some time to create links to this content to help it rise to the top. Social bookmarking can be a great tool to use as long as it is not abused (don’t be spammy). If you have a bunch of social bookmarking sites you want to submit to, there is a great tool called OnlyWire that allows you to submit to multiple bookmarking sites at once–saving you a ton of time.
- Use Google liberally. Because of universal search, maps results, videos and images all show up in search queries now. Things like Google profiles, and Google business local are great places to start.
- Do not respond to negative results on opinion sites. Sites like epinions and ripoff report are places to allow anyone to post a review of your company and/or make claims of impropriety. True or not, these sites have a lot of weight and can really throw a monkey wrench into an otherwise sterling reputation. The best thing to do is to refrain from posting a retort to an old negative review. This can actually have the effect of reindexing a negative review and pushing it to the top. Instead, focus your efforts on getting postive reviews and raising the positive information about your company above these results to push them down.