The internet can be a scary place. Yes, your business would probably wither away without it but that may happen anyway if Google decides to remove you from their index. Or perhaps you’ll get lucky and just end up with a shudder-worthy online reputation that you just can’t seem to shake off. These two scenarios are some of the worst possible things that can happen to your business but the good news is they are not likely to take place without reason. Now why would these things happen to a happy-go-lucky business owner like you? Read on to find out what these pitfalls are and how to avoid them.
You are NOT Innocent
Google can be a vengeful mistress if you don’t follow the rules of your relationship and Google makes ALL the rules. You are a measly minion that must follow all the outlined 200 plus ranking factors in order to please Google. This may sound unfair but they are the biggest player on the search engine playground and if you fail to abide by their system then you run the risk of being hidden from the search results and losing out on tons of valuable traffic.
As of March 2014, the average number of Google searches is roughly 6 billion per day so if you want your business to be found you will do as Google says and you will like it. If you find yourself on Google’s bad side then it is best to assume that you are at fault in some way and take the time to evaluate your website for possible infractions.
Why you are at Fault
Whether you intentionally or inadvertently broke certain Google rules they reserve the right to blacklist your website. This means that even if someone searches for your website they will not find it in the search results. Unless your business thrives on invisibility this is clearly a problem and should be resolved as soon as humanly possible.
Getting blacklisted isn’t easy but it is possible to experience a sharp drop in rankings even if Google has not removed you from their index. If you are intentionally pushing your luck with rule-breaking schemes or are just an unsuspecting website owner who has taken some bad advice, at some point you will have to clean up the mess in order to salvage your online presence. There are several important things you should avoid if you want to stay on Google’s good side. Some examples include:
Paying for Links
While buying links from websites and social accounts may seem like an easy way to build your online presence, it is also one of the easiest ways to end up on Google’s chopping block. This spammy tactic can often give you false hope with a temporary increase in rankings but then one day you will face the wrath of Google as your website plummets into oblivion.
This can include several things such as articles that are unnaturally stuffed with keywords or plagiarized content. Using this type of content to improve your rankings no longer works and will actually work against your attempts to rank higher.
Spammy Online Associations
If your website if frequently mentioned and linked to from questionable directories and other junky sites then this will reflect badly on your authority and trustworthiness. At some point Google will pick up on this and let’s just say it will not end well for you.
Avoiding the hazards above as well as the other infractions on Google’s list will not only help keep you off the blacklist but can also positively affect your rankings. However, even if you are on Google’s good side it is still important to preserve the reputation of your business. The best way to do this is through a proactive approach to offset or prevent certain people from harming your online business image.
Most of the harm to your online reputation is a result of either angry people or stupid people. These two categories of individuals can have a large impact on your website and associated business so let’s learn a little more about them.
This group of people can consist of both people that you know and people that you have never met. They may have heard negative things about you or your business from a third source or they may just be the malicious sort that likes to feel powerful behind the safety of their computer screen.
This group can also include competitors who stand to gain business by trashing your reputation. It is important to monitor what is being said about you online to counter any negativity and if what is being said is untrue then you may need to take legal action to resolve it.
This category usually has good intentions or simply does not think things through before they take action. The most common culprits are your employees, your friends and you.
Yes, you read that correctly the first time.
Employees that lack training or make an accidental blunder online can cause harm to your business. Friends that jokingly comment on your website or place unflattering images or content related to you or your business can tarnish your reputation. Lastly, what you say and do online when dealing with customers or on your social media profiles can have the biggest impact on the way you are viewed. The good thing about this category is that it can be much easier to deal with than enemies or other people you don’t know. Being aware of what is going on and asking these people to remove the offensive items is usually all it takes to begin to resolve any issues.
When it comes down to it Google is only a search engine that wants to give its users the best results possible. So if you choose to work with Google and engage in effective reputation management strategies you will be headed toward a bright online future.