It’s becoming more and more important for small business owners to “own” their Google results. In a world where you are what Google says you are, when someone searches for your name they need to be able to find you. The real you. Not a lookalike, another company with the same name or that social profile you thought you had taken care of it. Business owners must protect their brand, and sometimes that means doing just a touch of proactive online reputation management to secure your Google 10.
Your Google 10 is the top ten results that appear when someone does a Google search for your name. How do you go about ensuring you own all ten spots? Surprisingly, it’s not that hard. Here are some of the sites and profiles you’ll want to grab and pay attention to.
Grab your .com: Chances are you already have this one and it’s naturally ranking very well for your brand. Congrats. That’s one listing. Time to go after the other nine. 😉
Join Professional Directories: Whatever your industry, there are guaranteed to be at least a handful of directory or resource sites you can join to help customers find you, while also helping you to take advantage of the company profile pages they offer. Often these directories will require a small application fee for your profile to be reviewed, but if you’re able to choose targeted sites, you’ll get both customers and a major search ranking benefit from them. To find these directories, try doing a search for [your industry] + directory].
Get Social: Besides just being a great way to reach out to customers, social profiles are known for how well they rank in Google due to their authority and all the links being pointed at them. If you’re looking to claim some space, try creating a Facebook Fan page, Twitter account and corporate accounts on sites like LinkedIn, Crunchbase, Naymz, etc. Don’t just register the accounts, though. Actually build out the profiles and make them useful. There’s no sense ranking a profile if the information on it isn’t up to par.
Target Industry-Specific Social Sites: Thanks to the social media boom, there are social sites now geared toward virtually every industry on the planet, whether it’s finance, sports, art and design, programming, SEO, etc. Find your niche and get involved. Create accounts on these sites and engage in the community when it makes sense. Many of the smaller social sites will also allow you to link to your “mainstream” social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Take advantage of this feature. The more links you get to each account, the stronger it will become and the better it will rank. If there are any forums in your area of specialty, consider creating usernames on those as well.
Make Media: The search engines like media. In fact, they like it so much that they’re starting to replace “regular” search results with images, videos and news clippings. Because so few companies are being proactive about media content, you can often overtake competitor listings simply by creating media content and optimizing it – including the name of your company in the title, file name, description and within the tags, etc. As mentioned before, video and small businesses go really well together. Obviously, Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo are great sites to focus on for these purposes. [If you’re really adventurous, perhaps even create your own podcast!]
Guest Blog: Guest blogging is a great way to increase visibility and bring visitors to your site, but it can also be an effective way of grabbing more search real estate. Offer to provide a blogger with unique content in your site. In return you’ll often be given a brief bio box which will allow you to link out to your Web site and maybe even some other prominent profiles or content pieces. If the site owner is agreeable, you should also put your name and company name in the Title tag of that entry.
Speak At Local Events: Look for opportunities to speak or get involved with local events in your niche. These spots usually come with speaker bios that you can build out to rank very well (and very easily) for your name and company. They’re also exactly what you want to be ranking for when a potential partner or prospect goes searching for your brand. It shows that you know what you’re talking about AND that you care about your community.
If the list above looks a bit overwhelming, fear not. Chances are you won’t have to create each and every account mentioned in order to secure and protect your Google 10. However, variety is the spice of lifeand Google rankings.
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Additionally you can create “feeder” sites that take your company name and add reviews to the URL. Put up some good content on CompanyNameReviews.com, do some simple SEO and voila, you own another spot on the 1st page of search results.
Lisa, thank you for your insight and suggestions. I have several follow-up questions that I would be most interested in hearing your response.
1)How does a small business determine cost/benefit to your suggestions? Namely, is there a way we can measure your advice?
2)From a”duration” point-of-view; is there “a best” time to retire investment in the strategy you outline and just “coast”given a going concern business game-plan?
3)How do you “bottle” the Google 10 strategy and hang it on your balance sheet packaged as “Goodwill” equity? – Or is this simply expensed as a period operating cost?
Excellent advice/direction. I look forward to read your response.
I had my .com name, but it got lost… I wrote a post on the experience. Instead I have bought Martin.Lindeskog.name
Great tips on how to “own Google #10”.
In addition to the “professional” directories mentioned in item 2, businesses should also add/review their “local search” profiles like local.yahoo.com, yelp.com, yellowpages.com and the google local business center for accuracy.
Speaking of professional directories…
If you are a computer or tech services business looking for more visibility, “TechShortcut.com” is a new professional directory that provides free business profiles for tech consultants, web designers/ developers and other tech service providers that assist local small businesses.
You have to be measuring social media. The way you measure it will depend on what you’re looking to accomplish. My advice would be to figure out why you’re there:
* Building buzz and conversation around a particular product?
* Better overall brand awareness?
* More traffic?
* Blog subscribers? Increased leads?
* New knowledge about your customers and how they view your brand?
And then look at the metrics that help you quantify that – links, page views, increased time spent on site, traffic stats, subscriber numbers, etc. Get a baseline before you do anything and then really watch it. And you do have to watch, otherwise social media becomes a time suck.
Econsultancy actually has a really great post on how to measure:
As for when you can “retire”. I think if you use really good metrics to monitor what’s going on you’ll be able to find the point where you plateau and where your objective goes less from “building” to more “maintaining” what you already have.
Not totally sure what you mean by the third. Can you rephrase?
Buying my name.com is something I have not done yet. I should probably consider doing that. I wanted to do it before but it slipped my mind. Thanks for the reminder!
Splendid! I didn’t even know Google had 10 different ranking placements until I read this article. I will definitely keep this in mind on my next SEO approach on the daily quest for maximum exposure.
wow.. what a huge audience on twitter!
This has been a very helpful article for me as I am starting my own website.
this article was great. I built a yelp.com page that seemed to get picked up by google.
One word: subdomains
Subdomains are the way to dominate your brand real estate in the “Google 10.”
Here are examples:
This is one of my sharpest tools in my brand protection/reputation management tool box.
All great points Lisa.
One thing that I have noticed with Google is that if you have a very high ranking business site, it will appear before some of the listings for your name.
If you want to have a look, type Andee Sellman into Google and you’ll find that the One Sherpa site ranks above my facebook and linkedin accounts.
This wasn’t the case until we started putting lots of rich content in the One Sherpa site. It seems that Google is more interested in my business than in me these days!!
Excellent article, and some good comments bas well. Too bad the comments got polluted with innumerable tweets that simply contain a link to this article.
What a great article. I loved the great insight of the offline footwork and online work too to get going on popularity!
Mark Brundage UOBIM