Basics of SEO and Reputation Management

If you own a business or company, and you're looking to get noticed and to increase traffic to your website, you're probably considering thousands of options. You could advertise on the radio, or on the TV, or you could stand on the streets handing out flyers if you really have nothing better to do with your time. More and more people, though, are realising the advantages of an alternative - search engine marketing.

Rather than spending money and time on expensive advertisements, search engine marketing will let you target the people you want to. A TV advert could be seen by thousands of people, and only ten of them could show an interest in what you're selling. Effective search engine marketing will ensure that the people who see you are the people who want to see you - they search for keywords, your result shows up, they click through to your site, and those views will convert to sales in no time.

To effectively market yourself on search engines, you'll need SEO skills. SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the art and science of using keywords, key phrases and background coding and design to create websites that rank highly in online search engines including Google. It can take years to become knowledgeable at SEO, and with the web climate constantly changing the things learned yesterday may not be relevant today. It's important to constantly stay on top of the latest developments, and to keep your own content fresh and unique. Otherwise, you could see your website dropping down in search results, or it could disappear completely. Done right, search engine optimisation can be the most powerful marketing tool imaginable. Done wrong, it could break your company in weeks.

As well as appearing in organic searches, an effective search engine marketer will want to create artificial appearances on search engine results. Google AdWords, for example, will allow you to pay for advertisements to show up when people search with relevant key words or terms. Even if your website's not showing up in the main Google search results, it can appear at the side or the top to grab attention. Paying for marketing through Google AdWords can increase your website's chance of being viewed, and can offer a fantastic return on investment when you target your campaigns effectively.

To be the best at search engine marketing, you'll also want to pay plenty of attention to the world of online reputation management. It doesn't matter how much you show off your product or your service on the internet, the web holds a power through the millions of other users spending time on it every day. For every word you use on your own website, and for every promotion you put out, there'll be someone forming an opinion of your business, your product or your service. Word-of-mouth marketing might be the most important form in the world. Impress people, and the message will carry. They'll recommend you, and you'll be receiving orders faster than you can blink. Make a mistake, and a complaint can carry far and wide to give your company a bad image. You'll want to work hard to make customers feel happy with what you offer - in the end, that'll result in positive reviews and word-of-mouth-marketing that can only serve to strengthen your company.

To keep your online reputation in top form, you'll want to regularly monitor where you appear in search engine results, and what you appear for. Also keep an eye on relevant online review sites, to see what's being said about you, and search for your business or company regularly on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus to see what people are discussing. Also search for your own name regularly in Google, in case people are discussing your brand on forums or blogs. It's important to keep a strong online presence in situations such as these. Signing up to social networking sites will offer a unique chance to address consumers and potential consumers, worldwide, as has never been possible before. Now, when people comment or make a statement about your company, you can respond to address their issues. Always take the time to tell someone you're glad they liked your service, and that you'd be happy to see them again, if they post a positive review. Likewise, do your best to help someone and address any concerns they might have if you want to keep them on your good side. The more publicly you can do this, without revealing their personal details, the more people are likely to see what great customer service you can offer.

Online reputation management works in the opposite way to search engine optimisation. In SEO, you want to make sure you rank highly and positively. When you manage your online reputation, you want to push negative comments down so they don't appear when people search. It's as much of a skill as SEO is, and it requires you to keep on top of what people are saying at all times. Promote any positive reviews and testimonials as much as possible, and address any issues with speed to avoid a negative image.

It's important to make sure that you're appearing in all the right places on the internet, with a message that's positive to gain the maximum number of customers. Whilst some websites will allow you to formally request for any negative reviews to be removed, other sites will keep their content up to give a well-rounded view of your company. Ultimately, the best way to ensure that you've got the right online reputation is to serve your customers and consumers well, and to promote yourself positively on search engines. It takes time and effort, but SEO and ORM are the two most vital skills in the running and promotion of a modern-day business.
Helmut Lotti



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