New Year’s Resolutions To Shake Up Your SEO

This year, instead of making that yearly resolution to eat better or go to the gym three times a week, consider resolving to update your SEO practices. Google tweaks its algorithms all the time and if you’re not already using the most up-to-date practices, it will get harder and harder to rank your site on a relevant SERP. At Reputation Defender, we help our clients build and maintain a positive online profile, whether they’re administrating a business website or trying to get ahead in a competitive field.

Updates to Shoot for in 2017

Following is a list of SEO update recommendations that will become even more important in 2017:

  • Switch to Secure Protocol – HTTPS has been a ranking factor for a while, however users viewing a page that has not moved over to HTTPS will soon see a pop-up warning that the site is insecure. Not the kind of thing that makes one want to browse further. A secure protocol also offers more protection from hackers and man-in-the-middle attacks, so everyone’s data will be safer.
  • Go Mobile – 2017 is the year to go mobile. Sites using Accelerated Mobile Pages (ACP) load just as easily and are just as readable on a mobile as a laptop. Google has been promoting this type of content with a lightning symbol as far back as 2014, but at this point it’s an absolute must. More and more people are accessing the internet via their smart phones and 85 percent of mobile search results are optimized in this way. If your site is not modified for ACP, you’ll be missing out on a large chunk of internet traffic.
  • Stop Mobile Pop-ups – Pop-ups are often considered a necessary evil; we know readers hate them, yet for many sites they provide valuable advertising revenue. Google will soon begin penalizing sites that load pop-ups in mobile format. According to Google, pop-ups or “interstitials” provide “a poorer experience for users”, especially “on mobile devices where the screen is smaller”. Pop-ups or stand-alone interstitials that cover content must be dismissed before entering a site or both will be targeted. This also includes interstitials that cover the top part of the page “above the fold”.
  • Optimize Tags and URLs – Most site administrators should already be doing this, but for anyone who’s not, it’s going to start mattering more. A URL and title tag should promote the site and target a key term, but now they also need to be easily readable on a mobile screen.
  • Compress Images – Load speed has always been a ranking factor, so if you’re not using compressed pictures, it’s probably already hurting your site’s ranking. However, with mobile devices being an increased, key platform this year, the impact is likely to become even more noticeable.
  • Focus on Content – Google’s algorithmic changes continue to fine-tune a formula that will select content that is interesting and useful for readers, so writing great content is still a number one priority. Improving the overall quality and effectiveness of your site now will effectively help in the long term, rather than having to learn how to trick each new algorithm in the future.

How Can Social Media Help Business Strategy?

Social media is one of the most important, fastest growing parts of the internet. This term loosely refers to platforms and apps that allow users to create and share content, whilst at the same time participate in social networking. At first glance, social media might seem to be geared toward private individuals, but more and more businesses are finding these platforms to be a vital marketing asset.

Professional social media pages are key in any reputation management strategy. At Reputation Defender we help company brands to boost their online profile by improving search rankings and presenting a positive cohesive brand message. Official social media profiles are a target page one result, as well as a place to promote other content.

Social Media for Business

Business focused social media is all about using social channels to connect and engage with customers and build long term relationships. Of the many social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most important for focusing an initial business strategy.

The social media audience is vast. Globally, 1.55 billion people use Facebook per month; about 72 percent of all people active on the internet. Of these, 70 percent say they interact on a daily basis. By contrast, only 38 percent of Twitter users and 22 percent of LinkedIn account holders are active daily. None the less, Twitter is one of the most popular microblogging platforms with 341 million active monthly users, whilst LinkedIn is largely seen as the most official social media business directory.

Facebook

A business Facebook profile offers a chance to interact with customers on a personal level via a trusted platform. Followers will begin to see the business in the same way they view their friends. They’ll look forward to regular posts that are genuine and thoughtful.

At the same time, Facebook offers a way for new clients to find out important details about your business such as location, history and contact info. It’s important to claim your brand name as a keyword and link back to the company website through your business profile. You can also add a “Like us on Facebook” button to the company website. Facebook will offer different templates depending on the type of business to let you target the audience you want to reach.

Many Facebook features are designed to make the platform accessible and useful for business purposes. Call to action buttons introduced in 2014 offer suggestions for customer activity such as “contact us”, “book now” or “sign up.” One click will take the client straight to the desired page, so this is a very effective way of driving traffic to your website. Typical business posts can share brand-based videos, images and blog articles. A Facebook page can also be used to advertise a special offer or promote client feedback. Sponsored advertising campaigns disseminate material even more efficiently and ensures that all followers see all your posts, while Facebook Analytics will help to pinpoint your current activity level and target improvement.

Twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter can be used to interact with customers, promote material and increase awareness for your product. A business profile should promote the business name, target an important keyword and link back to the official company website. A logo and other professional images can give the account a more personal touch.

Tweets can be leveraged for business purposes by promoting a specific marketing message. Tools such as TweetDeck and Periscope allow for multimedia tweets, while the hashtag system targets a specific topic zone. Like Facebook, Twitter offers paid advertising for businesses that want to maximize the marketing aspect of their account and Twitter Analytics offers tools for analyzing strategies and measuring success.

LinkedIn

As a professional networking site, LinkedIn carries more authority than Facebook or Twitter. This platform offers the opportunity to connect with colleagues and industry leaders, recruit potential employees and gain referrals. Managers will need a personal page to set up a business profile on LinkedIn, so this is the perfect opportunity to build your own career along with the company’s reputation. A Premium Account offers enhanced opportunities for profile viewing and targeted searches.

Like Facebook and Twitter, a business profile on LinkedIn should include all the company’s details and link back to the website. LinkedIn allows several different administrators, so it’s easy to delegate account management tasks to other employees. Showcase Pages on LinkedIn lets you target additional keywords and highlight specific company products and services. You can also post job applications and send targeted email marketing.

Fine-tune Your Profiles

In contrast to traditional advertising, social media is about connecting personally with customers whilst sharing the brand message. Especially on Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to strike a balance between promotion and providing genuinely interesting content that will make people want to follow your page.

  • Keep advertising in check – Out of 7 posts, only 1 should be obviously promotional.
  • Ask questions – Find out which industry related topics interest your followers the most.
  • Post fun facts – You’ll gain authority and help clients learn more about what you do.
  • Provide valuable tips – People will keep following to learn more.
  • Offer rewards – Organize a contest or offer points for virtual check-ins at your business.

A dedicated group of social media followers is a valuable reputational asset for any business. It increases customer retention and provides a long term client base which will help to counteract negative publicity in the future.

How Can I Get People To View My Website?

Getting people to view your website is a vital part of any internet marketing campaign and also an important ORM tactic. A high organic click through rate (CTR) translates into conversions that will boost the company’s client base. While CTR isn’t formally listed as one of Google’s direct algorithmic ranking factors, it does indirectly affect the SERP and helps to determine whether a website will hold its place at the top of the search page.

Reputation Defender’s online brand promotion services include a wide range of strategies that will drive up traffic to your company’s official site. There are multiple reasons why people may be directed to your site, from finding it on a search page, to hearing it mentioned on social media, or seeing your name on a conference flyer.

Here are some of the ways to create buzz around your company site:

Become a Social Media Expert

Official social media profiles are a must for any company interested in developing an online profile. Once these pages are created, use them to generate activity and direct people back to your website.

  • Start with the basics – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and of course Google+.
  • Share articles – It’s important to share blog articles and other brand content.
  • Share pictures – Profiles on Instagram, Flickr, and Pinterest are good places to upload images that can be shared on other pages.
  • Include video content – Post videos to YouTube and share them on social media sites. Use Periscope and Facebook Live to incorporate a live feed to your page.
  • Create content that is innately shareable – Use SlideShare or design infographics that maximize the visual impact of the message.
  • Add links – Make sure there is a website link on all social media profiles.
  • Call to action – Adding these buttons on Facebook and other social platforms will let you direct traffic to a specific action page.
  • Add social sharing buttons on blog articles and website pages – This will encourage people to link to your content on their own pages.
  • Re-share articles – Don’t assume all followers have seen an article after one share. Buffer and Edgar are 2 apps that will automatically re-share content at scheduled times.
  • Do a “Share Exchange” – Reach out to a similar sized account and offer to share their content (including a website link) if they will return the favor. This can open up reach to a whole new audience.
  • Don’t forget about these sites:
  • Quora – Generate material by answering questions that relate to your industry.
  • Reddit – There are a lot of rules against spamming on Reddit but if you take the time to build a profile that’s known for posting genuine and informative content, there can be a big payoff in site traffic. Once you have a following, try showing off your expertise by hosting an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.
  • Product Hunt – Submit a physical or digital product to Product Hunt’s “list of cool new things”.
  • Lesser known social media – Tumblr, Snapchat, Buzznet, WhatsApp, About.me etc.
Target Your Email Audience

There’s a narrower exposure window but email can still be an important way of gaining regular customers who visit your site often.

  • Email outreach – Send targeted emails about new products on your site and include a link.
  • Embedded link – Put a website link in your email signature.
  • Autoresponder – Add a link and an invitation to find out more on the company website.
Get the Company in the News

If your brand is in the news regularly, people will start to recognize it as an authority.

  • Pitch an interesting new product – Blogs are always looking for good stories. They may be thrilled to learn about something that would interest their audience and you will subsequently gain exposure.
  • Google News – If the site puts out regular updates, you may be able to register it a news source with Google. There are specific content rules here, since Google is resistant to news releases that are basically marketing, but sites that comply will gain a big audience.
  • HARO (Help a Reporter Out) – Sign up to be interviewed as an expert in your industry and link to the article on your website and social profiles.
Convert Offline Contacts

In person, contacts can turn into website traffic when people go online to learn more about your business or product. Here are some ways to make this happen:

  • Business cards – Create a personal or brand business card that includes your company’s website address.
  • Posters – Display the website address prominently in all physical locations.
  • Pass out promotional gifts – Hand out pens, stickers or tote bags bearing the company logo and website.
  • Build a mailing list – Ask face-to-face customers for their email.
  • Network – Attend an industry related conference. Share information about the conference on social media pages and write an article about your experience. You could even offer to sponsor relatable events.
  • Help customers get to know you – Organize a workshop or conference where people can learn more about your product and how to use it.

Generating fresh website traffic will be an ongoing campaign. It begins with generating interest in the brand through genuine content and personal interaction. It is then important to give clear and easy directions to additional information via the company’s website. Use a variety of platforms, as suggested in the list above, to give the company the best chance of connecting with the most people. For more help with building an effective campaign, contact our online marketing experts at Reputation Defender.

UK E-mail: uksales@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

US E-mail: support@reputationdefender.com

Tel: (888) 851-9609

Google Will Pay for Questionable Privacy Practices

Google recently agreed to a $5.5 million settlement in a class action lawsuit in the US. The case dates back to 2012, when the search engine giant was discovered to be using a code to get around Apple’s privacy settings on the Safari browser. The “workaround,” as it has come to be called, allowed Google to collect data on Safari users which it then used for advertising purposes, thus substantially increasing revenues on the basis of “behaviorally targeted” ads. US Safari users who were negatively affected by the advertising accused Google of being both “unfair” and “deceptive,” as well as engaging in “unlawful business practices.”
The internet depends on paid advertising, but privacy advocates believe there should be both full disclosure about what information is being collected and an option to block tracking. Search information says a lot about a person’s habits, and can lead to serious reputation damage if it is leaked. Certain types of unwanted advertising can also be emotionally damaging. Our privacy services at Reputation Defender help to identify vulnerabilities and data collection, even when sources are not being fully transparent.

A sneak attack

At the center of the problem is Google’s lack of disclosure. Apple is known for stricter privacy settings on the iOS platform of which Safari is a part of. Most iPhones and iPads use Safari, making it one of the most common browsers, especially on mobile devices. Apple users of 2012 had come to rely on the privacy and security built into Apple’s products; that is until a Stanford researcher discovered Google was subverting the anti-tracking feature and the study was widely publicized in the Wall Street Journal.
At the time, Google defended its actions, saying it “used known Safari functionality” that was in fact “enabled” by Google account holders on Safari. Some security experts agreed, seeing the issue as primarily a war between the two companies. However, as the case outcome suggests, there is good reason to believe Google wasn’t being entirely honest. Shortly after the WSJ report surfaced, important instructions about how to avoid tracking on Safari were deleted from Google’s site and the company also discontinued data collection on Safari. Google’s information gathering took place over a nine-month period, from 2011-12.

Some people still don’t trust Google

Google is still the go-to search engine, however people are now aware that their connection whilst searching is far from private. Google has tried to address this issue with a recent privacy overhaul. Google still collects tracking cookies on Chrome and most other non-Safari browsers, but it has added an “opt-out” choice that users can enable if they are concerned about privacy. Choosing this option on “Ads Settings” means Google won’t track or collect information on searches or websites.
But the fallout from the 2012 misstep may not be over. A UK group has been attempting to launch a similar British lawsuit. Some UK Safari users have come forward, including a couple who continued to face insensitive ads for baby products after a miscarriage, but as of yet there is not enough information to make a full class action suit.
The award in the US case will not go into the plaintiffs’ pockets, but rather toward further privacy and technology research. Six groups will receive donations, including Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, and the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford. These groups will work to develop better safeguards for user privacy and security on the internet.

Victims of Revenge Porn Need More Privacy

Revenge porn, publicly posting explicit photos after a break-up, is a troubling online phenomenon that appeared about five years ago. Worryingly it is becoming increasingly prevalent and affecting growing numbers of men and women. A recent UK law took steps to address the issue, clearly making it a crime to post images or video without the subject’s consent; however the bill lacks important protections for victims’ privacy and identity. This is a concern for us at ReputationDefender since anyone coming forward to report a violation can find their online reputation damaged even further with articles and posts related to the trial.

Defining the offense

Calling revenge porn a sexual offense would give victims anonymity for life; however the Home Office recently rejected this definition, saying that even though “victims can in some circumstances feel violated,” lack of actual “contact” or “gratification” makes the offense “malicious” rather than “sexual”.

Dr. Clare McGlynn, a professor of law at Durham University, disagrees with this assessment. She believes that even though the crime is “image-based” it is still a form of “sexual exploitation” and therefore warrants the same level of victim protection as other forms of “sexual abuse.” According to McGlynn, the law’s focus on perpetrator intent rather than the consequences for victims detracts from its purpose. Many subjects of revenge pornography face real psychological damage not to mention the harm done to their career and future relationships.

Revenge porn prosecution rates are low

Unfortunately, lack of automatic anonymity for victims has had a significant effect on the number of cases that are prosecuted under the new law. Revenge pornography became a specific crime in the UK as of April 2015 and by December of that year, 1,160 cases had been reported to the police, including three cases where victims were children of eleven years old. However 61 percent of the accusations resulted in no action being taken, either because of insufficient evidence or because the subject of the photos chose not to pursue prosecution. Only 11 percent resulted in an actual conviction.

Maria Miller, one of the MP’s who pushed for a law dealing with revenge porn, says this is directly related to anonymity. “Too often victims say they can’t face the prospect of their case coming to court,” she says.

The majority of people believe victims deserve anonymity

There is a lot of public support McGlynn and Miller’s position on this issue according to a new poll from ICM. Of the 2,048 people questioned, 75 percent believed that victims of revenge porn should be given the same protections as victims of other sexually related crimes. Among women, the numbers were slightly higher at 77 percent while only 72 percent of men were in agreement. Unfortunately, as long as the Home Office’s decision stands, public opinion won’t help victims of revenge porn who feel they may face more harassment for coming forward. If you are facing this situation and are concerned about the risks of disclosure, contact our privacy experts at ReputationDefender.