If you do One Thing, to grow your online marketing efforts, this month you should start tracking what others say about your business.
In other words, I’m suggesting you Google yourself. You should go to your favorite search engine and see who is talking about you. There are several things you can do with this information. If you read-on to the end of this post, you’ll even find some easy ways to keep track of this.
What are you looking for?
Sure, you’ll want to Google your company’s name. That’s obvious: if someone is vetting your company, before they do business with you, you need to make sure you have positive search results.
The problem: predicting all that a potential customer might search for. This is a conversation I have with all my SEO clients. They sometimes want to play the “what about this word” game and worry that they aren’t ranking for whatever word they suddenly thought of. Unfortunately, the total number of keywords a potential customer might search for is really infinite. This is true even for customers searching for your brand name.
Thankfully, in Google’s Manual Review Guidelines, they make other suggestions:
- company -site:company.com
This is a search for your company but not on your company’s site (that’s what the dash before the site: search does). In other words, of course your company’s site will speak favorably about you- but what do other sites say?
- “company.com” -site:company.com
This is a search for a site mentioning your company’s URL that’s not on your company’s site.
- “company reviews” -site:company.com
This is a search for someone giving a review of your company that’s not published on your company’s website.
- “company.com” reviews -site:company.com
I think you get the picture.
In fact, the Manual Review Guidelines say that the quality of a website is a function of what other people say about the company and the website. You don’t just need to be worrying about what your customers think. You need to worry about what Google thinks about your reputation.
Here’s some others to consider:
- Names of content creators
- Names of executives or sales people
What do you do when you see yourself?
If a website talks about you, shouldn’t they link to you, too?
What other websites say about you is an important part of Google’s algorithm. They have to do more than just mention your name, though. They need to link to your website. If a website is already talking about you, why wouldn’t they link to you, too?
The easy way to do this is to ask. Contact the website and politely ask them to change the mention to a link.
If you want to take this a step further, think a little more creatively:
- Perhaps they have a blog to which you could contribute an article. Would they like an exclusive interview with you?
- Don’t just get the link- build a relationship with this website. This might become a great offline business partner.
One caveat: don’t link back. When you “link to me and I’ll link to you” you are breaking Google’s TOS by creating a “link exchange“. That’s bad.
If someone is disappointed with you, address the problem.
Not everyone who talks about you will be happy with you. Nobody likes criticism. This leads some businesses to try and hide from criticism. Although you might be able to hide from it, your potential customers will find it. If they do, they might not become customers after reading it.
It’s better to stay ahead of your online reputation. If you find that someone is unhappy, you should address it. Contact them and see if you can make it right. You might be able to turn a bad experience into a good one.
Sometimes the internet creates trolls. The internet creates a distance between people and their own words. This might result in some people who are irrationally angry and inconsolable. If you encounter one of these trolls, don’t make it worse by being defensive or argumentative. It’s best to leave them alone.
Keep an eye on your competitors, too.
Don’t just sit around your office all day Googling yourself. Check out what people are saying about your competitors, too.
- If a website mentions them, would they also be interested in your business?
- What is your competitor’s marketing strategy? Are they advertising on other websites? Are they doing paid search? Do they have a content marketing strategy? Do they engage over social media? When you figure out their strategy, don’t just duplicate it- improve on it!
While you’re at it, keep an eye on your industry.
What does your business do? For some, it’s hard to summarize it into a simple phrase. Better yet- what do your customers say you do for them? That’s the phrase new customers will take to Google. Perhaps you should take a look at what else Google has to say about your industry.
I am not suggesting that you sit around and Google your favorite keyword all day. Wondering why your website doesn’t “rank” for that phrase will drive you crazy.
Instead, use this as an opportunity to see what other websites are saying about your industry. This can help you:
- Learn what other websites are talking about your industry. Perhaps you should be writing for them, as an expert.
- What are other people saying about your industry? Perhaps you should weigh-in by adding a new blog post to your website.
- Are there any associations within your industry you should join?
- Are there any events you should attend?
- Don’t know what to Tweet about? Follow what others are saying and you’ll learn.
How to keep an eye on yourself
Who has time to Google your business name, competitors’ names, and industry keywords every day?
There are several tools that can help
- Google Alerts will deliver an email on a weekly, daily or “as it happens” about any given phrase.
- Talkwalker Alerts is just like Google Alerts, but it allows more specific search queries.
Use one of these tools (or all) and get these notifications delivered to your inbox. Now you can just take care of it as you do with the rest of your business.
How to get the most of these alerts
First of all, before you give one of these tools a phrase, try a couple of different phrases in a search engine. Try to find the most specific search phrase that will generate the most relevant results. Think about modifying your phrase with more specific terms (your city, for instance).
The goal here is to narrow down query to only give you the most relevant results. For example, if you search for my business name you get results about something that is “reliable” and an “acorn.” If I add “marketing” to my search I only get things relevant to me. If you use a more specific query you won’t waste your time with false-positives.
Second, none of these (even Google Alerts) will send you every mention. These are edited. It might not tell you everything that’s going on- but it will tell you enough to be useful.