9 reasons why the “right to be forgotten” won’t work

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“What happens in Vegas stays on the internet” is a phrase that reputation managers love to use in their presentations, and it’s true. (Did anyone say Prince Harry..?) There’s always going to be someone with enough motivation to publicize information, and someone for whom the information is important enough to go out and find.

right to be forgotten

As long as three billion people around the globe are interconnected by physical infrastructure, there’s always going to be a way for one person to transfer information to another, legally or otherwise, using Google or any other tool.

A few days ago Google implemented the “right to be forgotten” EU ruling and launched a service to allow Europeans to ask for personal data to be removed from online search results.

According to Google, this first step aims to quickly implement the court’s decision, and to allow “each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know…” This is an initial form and the final service will be launched in the coming months.

In this article, I will review why I think that court’s decision does not substantially alter the balance between the privacy rights of the individual and public’s right to know.

There’s an internet outside Google

The debate over the recent ruling of the European Union Court of Justice over the ‘right to be forgotten’ law is going to accompany us for a long time. The last article discussed the right to privacy against the freedom of speech. This is obviously not the first time that the need to balance between the two rights has come up, and it hasn’t only been in the context of digital media. The issue is that when it comes to the internet, there is no one institution to force regulation on, making it a complex challenge, maybe an impossible one.

According to the ranking site Alexa, Google is the number one website in the world in terms of average daily user traffic and views. It’s not surprising, therefore, that it is one of the services most closely identified with the internet itself. I know a few people for whom Internet = Google. (It’s true that they’re not particularly young, but still.)

how popular google

Even so, it’s worth recalling an important fact: Google currently knows of less than 40% of publicly available websites, and less than 10% of the total pages that exist on the internet.

Why the “right to be forgotten” ruling won’t change a thing

  1. It applies only to the European Union.
  2. Each of the 28 regulators in the EU member countries can interpret the ruling differently, and it is probable that the law in each country will be different.
  3. The court ruling applies only to private individuals, not to companies.
  4. It’s unclear in which cases Google will need to remove its references.
  5. Only the links from search results will be deleted, not the original content itself.
  6. In many cases, people search for information and for reviews on popular sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Ripoffreport, ZocDoc and so on, rather than searching on Google.
  7. Apart from Google, there are other sites that keep ‘copies’ of the internet (such as archive.org), so that even if the original content is deleted, the information remains on the internet. Content is eternal.
  8. The ruling doesn’t mention the two biggest search engines after Google: Bing and Yahoo.
  9. Internet users will find other ways to post and find relevant information (personal details, in this case). As long as there’s a need, a solution will be found.

Conclusion

Google is a major player in the huge medium known as the internet, but any ruling that applies only to it will not solve the problem. It’s probable that the ‘right to be forgotten’ law will give Google a bit of a bureaucratic headache, but isn’t the kind of thing that will shock such a huge institution. Will it become any harder to find personal details on the internet? Probably not.
Anyone in the field of data protection or physical security knows that there are no 100% effective solutions. In the next article, I’ll propose a model for a solution that should be able to significantly reduce the amount of negative and irrelevant content out there.

You do have the right to be forgotten, it just costs a lot.

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If you were born in the eighties or nineties, you definitely know Rocky. The first movie in the series came out in 1975. It cost only a million dollars, and was filmed within 28 days. Five further films followed, with the last of them released in 2006. The entire series was written by Sylvester Stallone, who also starred in the leading role: an underdog boxer who always manages to win, against all odds (in the fine American tradition).

the right to be forgotten

Rocky doesn’t need a budget to win

In the fourth movie in the series, Rocky, played, of course, by the Italian Stallion Sylvester Stallone, is invited to a world championship match against Ivan Drago, a huge, muscular Soviet fighter. This part of the movie switches between scenes of Rocky’s training and Drago’s. While Drago trains using high-tech equipment, professional trainers and advanced monitoring systems, Rocky went for the low-budget workout.

His training consists mainly of flinging tree trunks, pulling sledges loaded with snow, running in the snow, climbing snowy mountains, and other difficult stuff that one does in the snow. Rocky wins, of course.

Cinderella stories usually stay in Hollywood

In life in general, and particularly on the internet, Cinderella stories sometimes happen, but they’re pretty rare. In order to succeed, you need to have a good product, give good service, work hard, be skilled and have money, sometimes a lot of money. People without means receive lower standards of legal representation, worse health care – and it’s the same in the field of PR and online reputation management too.

The reputation management industry is no different. Every day, private individuals and companies purchase services from expensive reputation managers in order to determine how they are going to be seen on the internet by those searching for them. The many online reputation services out there stand as proof of this. Even though the reputation management services merely push unwanted results away, and don’t actually delete them; since the vast majority of us (92%) don’t ever look beyond the first page on Google, the result is practically the same.

Online social justice

A few days ago, on the 13th of May, the European Court of Justice passed a revolutionary ruling against Google. The court ruled that Google has to remove from its search engine information concerning people requesting to be removed – or have, as the court called it, “the right to be forgotten”.

Personal reputation management services are fairly expensive, and the demand for them comes mainly from celebrities, doctors, businesspeople, lawyers and politicians (often designated as ‘high profile individuals’). But what about all those people whose online reputation was smeared 15 years ago by a bitter partner? Or a customer who felt cheated? Without going into questions of justice or morals, if you don’t have a couple thousand dollars to spend on a basic campaign to clean up the first page of Google results, you’ll probably stay with the problematic online profile for a long time, which comes at a price.

The Court of Justice ruling is trying to create some sort of social justice. They’re trying to balance between the right to privacy and the freedom of speech, and to force Google to freely provide an expensive service with high demand.

On the one hand, the court ruling makes a lot of sense: there are references out there that are no longer relevant. Speaking as someone working in this field, and providing online reputation management services, I think that in certain cases there really should be a simple mechanism of deleting certain results. The question is what mechanism, what kind of results, and who gets to decide. These are questions that the court left unanswered, and effectively passed the ball to the 28 regulators in the various European countries, who will each have to interpret the ruling in their own way.

On the other hand, the internet as a whole and Google in particular are two bodies perhaps most strongly identified with freedom of speech: the internet, of course, is not supervised by anyone. Anyone can post anything they want on the internet, with no limitations and no censorship. On Google, too, the leeway to assert one’s freedom of speech is huge. Google removes references from search results only if they are identified as spam, or if they are ordered to by a court in the United States. Other cases are relatively rare.

Try typing the word ‘Jew’ into Google, and you might see a paid ad come up. Click on it to read how Google interprets freedom of speech.

OffensiveSearchResults

So, what can be done?

Individual predicaments have always existed, and will probably always continue to serve as a business opportunity for others. Many of these cases are legitimate, and some are not. The internet makes it very simple to violate the privacy of others, and the harm done can be particularly quick and painful, especially since the negative result will remain online under your name for a long time, maybe even forever. That’s why I believe that certain cases call for a quick and simple solution that can respond to certain cases of reputation harm.

Online reputation management companies are overflowing with work, even without dealing with the removal of a negative reference to the financial difficulties of Mario Costeja Gonzalez from 16 years ago.

In the next few articles, I’ll outline why, in my opinion, the present ruling will not change the current situation, and I’ll also suggest a possible model to deal with the problem.

Creating a personal website

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Creating a personal website is a great way to start promoting your online reputation. Since Google likes brands, this may help your website rank quickly under your personal name, as well as present you as serious and web-savvy.

creating a personal website

So you’ve reached the obvious conclusion that you need to start building up a positive professional online presence for yourself. But where do you begin? The answer, in this case, is unequivocal. For personal reputation management, the first step to take is build a personal website bearing your name.

What is it good for?

  1. Perfect online profile. When someone googles you, the results that come up on the first page are your online profile. You want the top results on that page to be the most relevant and the most flattering to you. A personal website should feature first on the list when searching for your name (or at least in the first three).
  2. Dynamic mobility. It doesn’t matter if you use the site for presenting your resume, work portfolio, client reviews, or presenting new ventures to potential investors. A website allows you to match content to relevant audiences.
  3. Stand out. Most people still don’t have their own personal websites. When someone searches for you on Google and finds that you have your own site, it positions you as a professional, and shows innovation and a good grasp of technology.
  4. Improves your chance of standing out. Your site will come up in search engine results when your name is being searched for, but that’s not all. There’s a good chance that your site will feature in the results for other keywords that feature in the content that you’ve put up.
  5. New skills. This has less to do with online presence, but going through this process once will show you how simple and easy it is to build a website. This is an important skill to have.
  6. It’s fun to say “Google me!”, and it’s very effective too.

Setting up a personal blog – The cheap way

You can let blogger.com, wordpress.com or tumblr.com do the work for you. This kind of blog doesn’t require a domain name or a server to host your site. Signing up and starting the blog is really simple. The disadvantage is that the blog doesn’t sit on your domain, instead, it’s on the blogging platform’s domain. This kind of blog is less effective in terms of promoting your site, looks less professional, and also, if you ever decide to move over to a different platform or buy your own domain name, the blog’s address will change. This is obviously better than nothing, but it’s advisable to invest your time (and a bit of money) in building your own web domain.

Setting up a personal blog – The right way

Setting up a personal blog on your own web domain is a fairly simple and inexpensive process:

Step 1 – Buy a domain name:

To begin with, buy at least one domain name containing your full name, preferably ending in .com (.net is also OK), if the site is for the international community. If the site is meant to addressing specific country, for the Israeli market for example, you can stick with a second-level ‘.co.il’ domain. Obviously, if you’re looking to attract an international market and your name is Ben Cohen, you’re not going to find a top-level domain name available:

Setting up a personal blog – the right way

Setting up a personal blog on your own web domain is a fairly simple and inexpensive process.

Step 1 – Buy a domain name:

To begin with, buy at least one domain name containing your full name, preferably ending in .com (.net is also ok), if the site is for the international community. If the site is meant to be language-specific, for the Hebrew-speaking market for example, you can stick with a second-level ‘.co.il’ domain. Obviously, if you’re looking to attract an international market and your name is Ben Cohen, you’re not going to find a top-level domain name available:

BenCohen

In this case, you can purchase a domain name that begins with your name, with the addition of another word connected to your main profession. For example, if Bill Johnson is an aspiring author, billjohnsonwriting.com is a great solution.

I buy most of my domains through namecheap.com. It’s easy, fast, and they have great customer service in case you need some help.

Domain name cost: $11/year

Step 2 – Your site needs a place

A website is made up of a large number of files that need to be stored on some server connected to the internet. There are a number of different types of hosting service, but the one that suits almost all sites in the beginning is a shared hosting service. This means that your site will sit on a server that also hosts many other websites as well.

My recommended hosting service is bluehost.com.

Most of the hosting companies give more-or-less the same services, but from my experience, this company has an advantage in that they have good customer service, which is an important factor in choosing a hosting service.

Hosting cost: Starting from $4/month in the first year and rising to $12/month from the second year on.

Step 3 – Link your domain to your hosting

When users type your website address in their browser, they are meant to be redirected to the relevant server in order to upload the site they were looking for. This redirection is done using settings listed in the Name Servers (NS), in the management system of your domain. This is a simple process that takes less than a minute. You can figure out how its done fairly easily, or make use of the customer service of the domain provider.

Step 4 – Install the best content management system – for free

In the past, in order to build a static website, you had to be familiar with HTML, and in order to build a dynamic site that could be managed and regularly updated with fresh content, you would have to develop your own management system or purchase one.

These days it’s much easier. WordPress has a free content management system, and most hosting services allow you to install it for free straight from the control panel of the site. The system allows you to create pages, posts, menus, categories and much more. Everything can be edited simply and with no technical knowledge whatsoever.

Check out how to do this, or ask the hosting company’s customer service to help you out.

Step 5 – Content

It’s important to invest time and thought in the content that you want to present on your site. You shouldn’t build a website in order to have your resume up on the home page. If you’re not so good at writing, try and get help from professional content writers, or companies specializing in this.

The content on your site has to be original. Google really doesn’t like repeated content. Don’t copy text that already exists elsewhere on the internet onto your site (for example, your public Linkedin profile), and don’t copy text from your site elsewhere on the internet.

Conclusion

If you want to create an impressive online presence, a personal website is the right way to get started. If you’re not a technophobe and have some spare time, and want to learn something new, go for it. If not, for a small sum you can easily find one of thousands of companies and individual designers specializing in WordPress, who would be happy to set your site up for you.

This article doesn’t go too deep into the technical side of things. There are many sites and videos available online that delve into the details of how to do each of the stages outlined above. If you still get stuck with a question and need help with the process, we’d be happy to help you out, or to guide you to a relevant source.

Good luck!

Helpful Resources

If you are looking for help, Elance is the place to find someone who can help you:

www.elance.com

Recommended domain provider:

www.namecheap.com

Recommended hosting provider:

www.bluehost.com

How to build a wordpress website on less than 4 minutes. Great video by Pat Flynn (one of the best bloggers I know) from smartpassiveincome.com:

Rate your doctor: It will probably increase his salary.

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“At least you’ve got your health” is a cliché, and like most clichés, it’s probably true. It’s not surprising, therefore, that in searches for businesses online, doctors and reviews of doctors come second place and rising.

Rate your doctor

First have fun, then find a doctor

And what’s in first place? Searches for restaurants and restaurant reviews lead by a huge margin. Meaning, we spend more time and energy on choosing our restaurant than on choosing our doctor… strange, but that’s a good subject for a psychological study.

More and more people see the internet as their first, and often only, source of information when coming to make important decisions. There’s no doubt that choosing a doctor is an important decision, perhaps the most important of all. This fact might explain the number of searches done when checking out the reputation of a medical practitioner.

A study published in 2013 shows that of all the online searches for various businesses, 35% searched for doctors, while 32% searched for patients’ opinions of their doctors.

rate your doctor 1(brightlocal.com, 2013)

A lovely doctor

I’m a huge fan of practical applications of crowd wisdom. I scan the web and read in depth about different gadgets before buying them, compare prices, read Wikipedia, and use Waze. In my experience, this method is almost always successful – but is it the right way to go about choosing medical services?

At the time of writing their reviews, the result of the doctor’s treatment is usually still unknown. Also, the vast majority of patients don’t have sufficient knowledge or data to really evaluate the doctor’s work. Despite a famous study conducted a few years ago, which found positive correlation between doctors’ online reviews and the quality of their treatment, the correlation is admittedly very weak.

So how do patients rate their doctors? All medical review sites do is simply measure whether the clients like the practitioner treating them, whether they feel listened to, and how well he or she communicates. The bottom line is that they measure the subjective experience of the patient.

How much is half a star worth?

Six months ago, the American Economic Association published an interesting study shows how reputation affects doctors. The data was gathered from a site called ZocDoc.com.

rate your doctor 2ZocDoc.com was launched in 2007, and provides a free service for finding doctors in a variety of categories, such as medical specialization, gender, geographical location, practitioner insurance, language, etc. In addition to information on the doctors themselves, users can see a timetable of availability and book an appointment without picking up the phone. After the appointment, the user receives an email asking them to rate the service through the site.

Analysis of the data concerning reviews and appointments, gathered by ZocDoc.com, led to a number a conclusions. Here are the two most important:

 

Using 1-5 star rating, an increase of half a star in a doctor’s rating raises the number of appointments booked through the site by an average of 10%.

 

Doctors with the most reviews have the highest chance of filling their timetable.

 

These two conclusions point to the fact that, like in other fields, doctors also have to deal with the gap between their online reputation and the reputation they’ve managed to build up in the non-virtual world. Being a great doctor isn’t enough. One of the major parameters determining a doctor’s income is ultimately their online reputation.

Does your online reputation reflect who you really are?

If you liked this article, please share it with your favorite doctor :)

Why you have an Online Presence Problem

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A few weeks ago, my iPad screen was cracked (actually, smashed) by one of my kids. I’ve got to say that despite its fragile appearance, it’s a pretty tough device. I managed to ignore the first crack, but after it was sat on twice more and fell five feet to the floor, I had no choice: the device worked, but I needed a new screen.

Online presenceFirst thing I do is search on Yelp. The second thing is to Google the first three names (according to Yelp), and check out what people are saying about them in the search results.

This is what I got on Google:

  • The first result had an ancient website, a mention in Yellow Pages, with no reviews, a lifeless Facebook page, and a reference to a lawsuit, mentioning customers who sued the service.
  • The second result had a name so generic that I basically couldn’t find anything online that could give me more information about them.
  • The third brand had a new website, recently updated, a Youtube channel with videos showing how to fix common problems, and lots of references on relevant technology sites.

Now, it might be that they all give great service, still, assuming they charge similar prices, which company would you go to?

Online promotion, SEO on Google, paid advertising and Facebook statuses can help in the short term. But if you want to build up and establish a private or commercial brand, you need online presence and high visibility on search engines. It can make the difference between being a huge success, and having a sluggish company or career.

Online presence and reputation management

Some people think that online reputation management is all about promoting good results on search engines, and getting rid of bad ones. It’s true that sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed, but reputation management also includes other services, such as journalistic content writing, SEO techniques and legal services. In general, it employs different services depending on the current situation:

  • Monitoring – checking out the current situation. Monitoring is done at the beginning of the job, and repeated throughout.
  • Reactive reputation management – Negative reviews, court cases, defamation, and embarrassing photos are enough to seriously damage your reputation. Promoting positive content and creating new web domains can push these results off the first page on Google.
  • Proactive reputation management – Updating current web domains with fresh content, and increasing search engine results by adding new domains. This way, it’ll be harder to harm your reputation in the future.

All of these services are useful for both business and private clients (personal branding).

How do you know when you’re in trouble?

If any of the following is true, you’re probably not maximizing your online presence potential:

  • You don’t have enough relevant information out there. You’re lacking web domains and search engine results, and you’re probably not active enough online in your industry.
  • There’s relevant information, but most or all of it doesn’t show up on the first page of results, and is therefore basically irrelevant in terms of reputation.
  • You have negative content out there. This is probably the worst situation to be in. Google doesn’t distinguish between true and false information, or between accurate and mistaken, positive or sarcastic, etc.

When you search your name, or your company’s name, in Google, the search engine shows you the sites and pages which are meant to be the most relevant to the search terms you typed in. Why “meant”? Because the results and ranking are absolutely automatic, performed by algorithms that take hundreds of different factors into account. This is why you’ll sometimes see results that would probably be ranked much, much lower if a human was arranging the results.

For example, if you type the word ‘Jew’ into Google, you can see on the top of the search results a weird ad, put up by Google itself:

Jew

If you follow the link, you’ll get to an explanation about how Google isn’t always satisfied with their own search results, and even apologizes for them. The reason for them putting the explanation out for this particular term is that the first page of results was showing several anti-Semitic sites for the word ‘Jew’.

The power to make or break a reputation in a few minutes, for free

We live in a world where technology is hurtling forward at a rapid pace. Social networks, blogs and review sites have become an inseparable part of our life, and are reflected in almost everything we do. This technology is a powerful tool, and a way of reaching out to an audience of 2.4 billion potential internet users. Julie Anne, an elementary school teacher from Tennessee, wanted to give her pupils an important educational message by using a photo and a short text:

Julie AnneThe photo was posted about two weeks ago, and until now, has been shared 30,000 times and got millions of likes. Five minutes of preparation and zero budget got Julie Anne’s message across to the world, and built up her personal reputation.

Another example is Dave Carroll, who wrote a song about terrible customer service at a small aviation company called United Airlines, and uploaded it to Youtube. The result: United’s share price plummeted 10% and lost the shareholders 180 million dollars in just four days. Dave’s reputation actually improved, and he actually built up a career around it. Around two months ago, he gave a TED talk about his experience:

What other media platform can build or break a reputation so fast?

Online Reputation Repair in 6 Easy Steps – The Ultimate Guide

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So, what do you do? Where do you work? Oh, that sounds really interesting, I’ve got to get you in touch with my partner. What’s your name again? The company’s name? Do you have a card?

If you’re in the midst of a career change, go to professional conferences, are an entrepreneur or a businessperson, you probably take part in this kind of conversation at least once a month.

Online Reputation RepairOne of the first thing you learn in business is to be able to whip out your ‘elevator pitch’. This is a very short summary (between thirty seconds and two minutes, where the first eight seconds are the most crucial), in which you explain exactly what it is you do, what service you provide, what product you have and what your company does. Anyone who’s tried writing a pitch like that knows that it’s not an easy challenge. Writing for someone who doesn’t know you or your company is a process that gets you thinking, and can inspire fresh insights such as “What do I actually do?”

What’s all this got to do with online reputation management? Assuming that the potential employer / partner / investor / date you just met at the conference wasn’t just being polite when they spoke to you, the next step they’ll take before arranging a meeting or calling you is search for your name on Google. It’ll take them a few seconds to judge whether what they see in the search results really reflects what you said in your elevator speech, and if not, your chances of ever seeing them again greatly diminish. In order to build up a perfect online reputation, follow the steps in this article.

1. Analyze your situation

Type your full name or your company’s name in Google, and make an Excel spreadsheet with all the results that come up on the first three pages. Decide what changes you’d like to make. Mark all the results that you’d like to come up first in green, and the ones you’d rather remove or push down, in red. Positive results are a subjective decision, of course, and what’s good for one person isn’t necessarily good for others. Businessmen don’t want to see an old enterprise, a personal blog, or social network profiles that don’t directly relate to their business come up in the first page of search results. But anyone who’s had lawsuits filed against them, or just doesn’t have relevant content out there, would be happy to have their social profile on page one.

2. Removing harmful content

In most cases, properly building up an online reputation includes distributing relevant original content about the brand or person whose reputation is being managed, and promoting this content to the first page of search results in a way that accurately reflects their reputation and experience in the real world. In some cases, however, the first page contains negative references such as old lawsuits, negative reviews, and even content intentionally written to harm your reputation, such as defamation and libel. In such case, you should first deal with the negative references and only afterwards continue to the following steps.

Removing harmful content (1) – start from the source

Try contacting the owner of the website and ask them to take down the harmful content. On big websites, the chances of this working are slim, but in the case of smaller sites there’s a good chance of being taken seriously, especially when the content is obviously offensive and damaging your reputation. In extreme cases, if the site manager refuses to take down the content, a letter from a lawyer can solve the problem.

Removing harmful content (2) – contacting the search engines themselves

The aim is to remove unwanted results from the search engines themselves, and especially from Google. In the (probable) case that the first step didn’t work, you can turn to the search engines:

Remove content from someone else’s site

You can find three content removal options:

  • Remove content for legal reasons
  • Remove personal information
  • Remove content that’s not live

3. Creating branded online assets

Google prefers strong websites, sites that are considered authorities in their field. Google especially likes profiles on the leading social networking sites, and you can see that when you type someone’s name in Google, there’s a good chance that the first results will be their profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other well-known networks. Google indexes these sites much more frequently, and gives them an advantage in the page ranking.

The leading social networks that you should have an updated profile on are:

  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Flickr

Setting up a profile on a social network is quick and simple, but is absolutely useless if you don’t use it properly. Look what Seth Godin, a global marketing guru, has to say about it:

  • Update relevant content regularly. Don’t bother opening a YouTube channel if you have nothing to put there.
  • Gathering ‘friends’ whom you don’t know and have nothing to do with your field is a waste of time.
  • Social networks are meant for two-way communication. One-way advertising isn’t effective.

To have Google index your site under the correct brand name, you have to do some basic site optimization: use your full name and not nicknames, place the brand name in the title, and, if possible, create a short URL that contains the brand name too. There are other things you can do to make your site Google-friendly, and take control of the title and description that Google displays in its results, but we’ll cover that in a separate guide.

4. Building a personal website

Having your own website using your brand name come up first on Google’s search results looks great and presents you as serious and web-savvy. Anyone looking to seriously improve their online reputation can and should create a website or a blog containing their resume, media reports, and their own articles. Online resumes are steadily replacing traditional ones. How can you do all this? You have two choices:

  • Setting up a personal blog on a popular blogging platform (The cheapest way).
  • Setting up a personal blog on your own web domain (The recommended way).

5. Promoting positive results and demoting negative results

If you ask Siri (Apple’s virtual assistant app) where to bury a corpse, you’ll get a serious answer (try it yourself, or look it up on Youtube!) If you ask a cynical SEO guy the same question, he’ll probably tell you “on the third page of Google”…

Getting rid of negative results (or results that are simply irrelevant to your reputation) is done by ranking results that we want to emphasis, and thus pushing the negative results down the ranks.

Here are the results of a study, which show why it’s so important for your reputation that you appear on the first page of Google (Chitika 2013):

Chitika 2013You can easily see that, on average, 92% of web traffic comes from sites listed on the first page of Google. 32.5% comes from the first result on the page, 17.6% from the second, and 11.4% from the third. Only 8% of web traffic ever gets to sites not listed on the first page of search results on Google.

Google’s search algorithm takes hundreds of factors into consideration when calculating the position for each search term. The two most important are:

  • Internally optimized sites and pages. Just by optimizing the page in the right way, we can help Google understand what the main keyword that describes the page. In most cases, it’s enough to have the brand name (your name or your company’s) in the title tag and in the Meta description.
  • The number and strength of the links leading to the page you’re trying to promote. For a start, make sure that all your online assets link to each other, and that your blog links to your social networks and vice versa.

If you have a way of getting links from other websites to your site, that’s great, as long as they’re relevant sites and not full of spam. If you want to promote your site using competitive keywords, which are not necessarily your brand name, it’s best to turn to a professional SEO company.

6. Privacy settings on social networks

Anything private should stay private. Make sure that only the information that you wouldn’t mind seeing online is visible to others. Having an embarrassing photo online is no longer only a celebrity’s problem. Everyone can be harmed by incorrect privacy settings. Deleting unflattering photos and taking control of the privacy settings on Facebook and LinkedIn is absolutely necessary. Read the guides on this site for how to do that best.

Conclusion

The whole issue of reputation management by pushing negative results away is legitimate and legal, even according to Google. This is what they write about it:

“If you can’t get the content removed from the original site, you probably won’t be able to completely remove it from Google’s search results, either. Instead, you can try to reduce its visibility in the search results by proactively publishing useful, positive information about yourself or your business.” (Google Support).

Building and maintaining social network profiles on relevant platforms, setting up your own website and promoting existing content, all this will cause unwanted negative content to be buried deep down the results list, and will let you have the first page of Google filled with content you can be proud of, to the point where you can finish your elevator pitch with a confident “Google me!”

Reviews Booster

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Encourage your satisfied customers to post positive reviews on leading review sites!

 Reviews Booster

How do customer reviews affect your business?

Studies show that:

  • 70% of consumers consult reviews or ratings before purchasing.
  • 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 80% of consumers have changed their minds about a purchase based only on negative information they found online.

A positive ranking on one of the leading sites can significantly boost your company’s activity. The problem is that the percentage of customers posting positive reviews is much smaller than that of those posting negative reviews, so a warped image is often created: even though the number of satisfied consumers is much higher, your company’s online reputation doesn’t reflect their average satisfaction level.
This reality can considerably affect the number of customers coming your company’s way. Just one negative review featuring in search engine results, or on one of the ranking websites such as Yelp, is enough to send a potential client running to a different company.

How the system solves the problem

Reviews Booster is a system that allows a company to have their customers write reviews on a tablet computer, right at the point of sale. The system classifies and directs reviews as follows:

  • Customers who give positive reviews automatically receive an email requesting them to review the service or product on a number of review sites relevant to their location and market. Leading international sites are Yelp, Amazon, epinions.com, shopping.com, consumerreports.org, Cnet Reviews in the technology sector, TripAdvisor in tourism, Zap specifically for Israeli products, and many more.
  • Details of customers giving negative reviews are forwarded to the company’s customer relations department, to be dealt there and thus avoiding negative publicity and harm to the company’s image.

Who can benefit from the system?

The Reviews Booster system supports multiple branches and outlets, multilingual input, automatic emailing, producing management reports and consumer satisfaction tracking.
As such, the system is suited to large enterprises, retailers and mobile service providers.

How to get to First Page of Google (and stay there…)

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Paid advertising on Google and Facebook doesn’t return the original investment, SEO isn’t stable enough, and ‘likes’ won’t pay the rent. So how can you get consistent consumer traffic over to your site?

How to get on first page of googleYour site, blog or Facebook profile are nothing more than a virtual business card. In order to generate leads and bring in customers, you have to have to build up firm infrastructure. Many attempts at online marketing fail because they don’t manage to generate long-term, positive ROI (return on investment) campaigns. Marketers and advertisers zigzag between search-engine optimization (SEO), paid advertisements (such as PPC), and attempts at social media marketing, but just don’t manage to return their investment.

What are the disadvantages of today’s SEO?

Most campaigns do exactly the same things: keyword research, internal optimization, and link building. These techniques are becoming increasingly irrelevant, and aren’t successful in the long run. The main problems with today’s SEO are:

  • Over-aggressive promotion, most of which is based on large-scale link building, can bring in traffic in the short term. However, since Google is actively trying to punish sites which it thinks aren’t being “naturally” promoted, this kind of campaign puts your site in danger of being hit by Google’s next update.
  • Over-passive promotion is also ineffective when trying to promote a site in a highly competitive niche market, on a reasonable budget and timeframe. In some niches, it’s difficult to acquire “natural” links, even over a long time, and the campaign won’t yield any significant results. The most effective criterion in Google’s page ranking is still the number and the strength of incoming links.
  • Single keyword promotion is unstable. Even if your SEO is done in a highly professional manner, and your site is highly ranked for an important keyword, nothing is permanent. When your site drops from first place to second for that keyword, organic traffic drops 85%, on average. Moving down from second to third place causes a 54% drop in traffic, and so on.
  • A fixed monthly fee that has nothing to do with the stage your campaign is in doesn’t make sense. Once your site is highly ranked in the search engines results pages, traffic will keep coming in even when you stop actively promoting the site (by building strong incoming links), and make do with content updates.

What’s the winning strategy?

Successful, long-term promotion has to be thorough, content-based, and use a combination of methods and techniques:

  • Generate visibility on search engines and strengthen the domain and the brand. Create a reputation management campaign to increase your online presence, and use your brand name to appear on search engine results. This kind of campaign strengthens the value that Google gives your site, and builds up an excellent infrastructure for SEO.
  • Content marketing. Simply write high-quality content and post it on authority sites, either independently or through a PR service.
  • Building and buying web domains. The best way of generating online visibility is by ensuring that all the content that you publish is on sites that you fully own and control.
  • Setting up a successful link network between all your web domains, in order to promote your main site.

It’s only once you’ve managed to create an established authority site that you can and should start directing traffic with competitive keywords, and not just the name of the brand. This is done mainly by internal and external optimization.

The advantages

  • The incoming traffic is made up of potential customers, who are exposed to relevant content from a number of different sources.
  • You can perform ‘segmentation’ of your online audience. This means writing and publishing different types of content aimed precisely at each target audience. For example, if the target audience of the reputation management industry is made up mainly of doctors, lawyers, celebrities and politicians, different articles should be published each time, aimed at each specific audience in turn.
  • Page-one results on a search engine containing numerous citations linked to your brand form a sort of ‘shield’, protecting you from possible damage of your reputation from negative reviews and unflattering content.
  • Organic traffic keeps flowing in once your campaign is over with no further effort, apart from updating content on your site.

Why your Traditional Resume is Irrelevant

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Already sent out hundreds of resumes with no response? If you’re convinced that you’ve done everything you can, and there’s nothing more to do but wait for the next interview, you’d better read this article, because you’re missing something important.

Traditional resumeFinding a senior-level job is frustrating

A fifteen-year high-tech career, ten to twelve hours a day, sometimes more. You built your career up from scratch, quickly being promoted to a management job, and then another, and then one more. A few years later you were given an offer you couldn’t refuse – vice-president of a promising new start-up, maybe, or another management position in a large company with incredible job perks. And you’ve even had a few articles written about you on the right websites, and you’ve been interviewed here and there. Everyone knows you have something to offer, it’s just that right now you don’t really have anyone to offer it to

Start-ups open up and shut down, large companies fire senior workers and replace them with new ones every time they sniff a recession. Even though you survived several rounds of cuts, the time came and you’ve found yourself out of work too. You’ve got plenty of skills and experience, fifteen years is enough to be a professional – so how is it that you’ve been sending hundreds of resumes out for the past six months, and nothing’s happened yet?

The other version of your resume

It might be that you haven’t taken into consideration your other resume, the one written by the virtual community and edited by Google: a collection of online fingerprints that show up on search engines under your name. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a job, business connections, new acquaintances or potential investors, anyone who ever wants to know anything about you will type your name into Google (just like you’ve done a few times yourself too). This phenomenon is known as ‘online reputation research’, and an increasing number of organizations make use of it. According to a Microsoft survey from 2010, your online reputation plays an important role in your personal and professional life, and is a significant factor in recruitment decisions. In fact, good internet presence is more likely to get you a job than a good economic climate.

In the last few years, recruitment and HR managers have been looking at your online background as part of the recruitment process. This is becoming more and more commonplace, and in some companies is even written in their standard operating procedures. You might think that what you do online on social networks in your own spare time is nobody else’s business, but that’s not exactly true. Studies have shown that a manager’s personal reputation is connected and affects the reputation of the whole company.

Some facts

Even without the company’s reputation being connected to yours, many employers would reject you after they search online and find some pictures from last year’s New Year’s Eve party, the kind you wouldn’t proudly show your boss anywhere. So why does a potential employer have access to them? It’s also just as bad to be a senior-level executive manager, who’s done a thing or two in his life, and not have anything online to show for it. His global resume is lacking any kind of professional content.

Here are the top four reasons that recruiters turn away candidates for, based on their online reputation (Microsoft, 2010):

 

Information TypeU.S.U.K.GermanyFrance
Concerns about the candidate’s lifestyle58%45%42%32%
Inappropriate comments and text written by the candidate56%57%78%58%
Unsuitable photos , videos, and information55%51%44%42%
Inappropriate comments or text written by friends and relatives43%35%14%11%

It’s interesting to see that apart from the second reason, all the other types of online reputation (especially the  fourth) don’t directly depend on the candidate, and aren’t always in their control.

Where do recruiters and HR professionals go to look for information on their candidates? Most people think that social networks are the main source of information, but actually search engines are the preferred tool for online reputation research (Microsoft, 2010):

 

Percent of recruiters and HR professionals who use these types of sites when researching applicants
Search engines78%
Social networking sites63%
Photo and video sharing sites59%
Professional and business networking sites57%
Personal Web sites48%
Blogs46%
News sharing sites (e.g. Twitter)41%

Several researchers have studied how online reputation affects careers and personal lives, especially regarding job recruitment and employment. Here are some interesting facts that came up in the Microsoft study, among others:

  • 87% of consumers connect a CEO’s reputation to that of his or her company (Hill & Knowlton).
  • 86% of recruiters and HR professionals say that good online reputation increases the candidate’s chance of being employed
  • 50% of them say that it considerably raises their chances.
  • 75% of US companies have implemented procedures requiring online research as part of the recruitment process.
  • 70% of recruiters and HR professionals have rejected a candidate because of information found online.
  • 7% of job applicants in the US think that online content can harm their chances of being employed.

How can I help Google show my resume the way I want?

Type your name into Google and look at the results that come up on the first page. Are there any negative results there, such as bad coverage or lawsuits from the past? Are the results actually about you, and are they updated and relevant? What about your profile picture on social networking sites? Is that the way you want to be seen by potential employers, colleagues, or investors? Probably not.

The process of creating an online reputation that will accurately reflect your true resume, and focus on what you want to do, is highly dependent on your current online presence:

  • The number of positive and negative references to you that appear in search engine results, their position on the results page, and the sites that they are hosted on.
  • Your profile on the various social networks. Is it updated? Is it relevant to what you’re looking for?

Depending on the current situation, you should set up an action plan consisting of the following steps:

  • Update your social network profiles.
  • Update your privacy settings on social networks.
  • Add new and relevant content (articles, new profiles, personal website).
  • Promote wanted results to the top of the search page.
  • As a result of the above steps, unwanted content will be pushed down and away.

Read the entire guide for creating a perfect reputation to learn more on how to apply the whole plan, step by step. It’s not inconceivable that in the near future our online resume will replace the traditional one. Good online reputation can improve your professional and personal situation: job hunts, collaborations, investor relations, and even in social interactions and dating. It’s important to understand that this process takes time, and it’s worth starting right away, so that next time you meet someone at a conference, you can simply give them a business card with just your name and profession, and casually say “Google me!”

What is Online Reputation Management?

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“Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.” (Victor Hugo)

What is online reputation managementYou get to a professional conference, sign up at the entrance and clip on your nametag, peek at your phone and see that you’ve arrived a bit early. Good time to grab a coffee and croissant before the refreshments stall gets too crowded. As you sip, you take a look around, trying to find colleagues for small-talk to fill up the time until the lectures start. They always start late.

After a brief introduction – “Hey! How are you? How you doing? What’s going on?” –  conversation gets a bit stilted, and every now and then you look to the side, until you notice something really weird: on the wall behind you there’s a big poster with your name and a stupid lawsuit that some angry customer took out on you a couple years back. On the other wall, there are a few family photos you’d rather not share with the people at the conference, and just below, an unflattering review of an unsuccessful product your company put out back in 2009.

Does this sound unrealistic? At a conference, maybe, but on the internet this how you appear, and this is how you look to anyone who’s ever taken a business card from you, who would like to get to know you, and who’d like hire you, try out your products or widen their circle of acquaintances. Many research papers show the huge effect that your online reputation has on people’s decision making once they search for you or your company.

It takes three seconds to type your name into Google, and another few seconds to scan the results. Search results on Google’s first page with your updated profile, your certification, awesome reviews from the last few years mentioning your name – all of these can determine your future, and the success of your business.

So what is online reputation management?

Online reputation management is basically a service that allows you to control the way search engines display results involving your brand, whether it’s your personal name or your company’s. This way, the most relevant results, which you’d like to be made visible, are shown to those searching for information. Reputation management comes to bridge the gap between the way your brand really looks (or the way you want it to be seen), and the way it’s portrayed on the internet.

 

“80% of reputation damage is a result of incompatibility between buzz and reality.” (Digimind)

 

Online reputation is a combination of two fields: online public relations, and search engine optimization (SEO). Many SEO companies now offer reputation management services as well. While SEO certainly plays an important part in reputation management campaigns, it’s important to realize that high-quality reputation campaigns need a lot more than just SEO.

How are you affected by your online reputation?

Much, much more than you think. It’s enough just to take a look at the statistics to see how relevant your online reputation is:

  • 92% of consumers trust information found over the internet more than any other source.
  • 70% of consumers check out online ratings and reviews before they buy a product.
  • 87% of consumers connect the personal reputation of the CEO to the reputation of his or her company.
  • 70% of recruitment managers in the USA have rejected candidates for a job, just because of information they found about them on the internet.

Today, consumers are smarter, and before buying any kind of service or product, they look it up on search engines, social networks, and specific websites whose core function is to organize and rank relevant products and services. Customers, business associates, employers, investors, and potential dates – they’re all searching for you online, and the first impression they have of you will be based on what they find when they scan through the search results. The question is: will they like what they see?