Use Social Network & Media Sites To Build a Strong Presence for Your Business

Like it or not, customers, suppliers, partners and even friends are going to Google the name of your business just to check up on who you are. If they see something reasonably solid they will feel reassured, but if they find nothing, very little or just irrelevant links they are going to be suspicious. Luckily most people are content to look at the first page of search results. Very few people look at page two and even fewer click on a link to read more, unless they see something that looks bad.  This means that to impress people all you need to do is make sure that the search results on the first page look good – the first ten links in the list.

You can’t actually control what appears in search results directly, but you can create pages that will appear on this page. Search engines like Google use secret algorithms to rank results, but basically they put the most important sites on top. If you could get an article on the front page of the New York Times, Le Monde, Il Corriere della Sera, The Guardian or The Australian that would be ranked very highly, but you are not likely to get that kind of coverage unless you have seriously bad news. Luckily there are many sites that allow you to create content on your own pages but at the same time the site itself is highly ranked: these are mostly social networking and social media sites.

You don’t need to much content to do this; it’s enough to open an account with the right name and to place a minimum viable profile there. There are hundreds of sites that you could use for this purpose, but here are ten solutions I recommend to build a strong search presence and what you should be doing with each of them.  You don’t need to do all ten -- if you do just half of them you will have a strong presence within days -- but if you try all ten you could even fill the first page results with relevant links, which looks very impressive to everyone who googles you.

1.       YOUR OWN WEB SITE.  Traditional websites are maybe old fashioned but I still recommend you have one because it looks more solid and respectable than a landing page on a social site. More importantly, it usually bears the Internet domain of your company. Make sure you register a domain for your company – it is very cheap – because this is always ranked highly by search engines and often comes at the top of searches. So if your company is named Qwertyuiop then by owning the domain qwetyuiop.com you will be on top for anyone searching for “Qwertyuiop”. Anyone can make a good looking, simple website using online tools like Wix.

2.       YOUR OWN BLOG.  Blogging is also slightly retro but having a blog for your company gives you another high-ranking space on the web. Search engines often give priority to sites that change regularly so a blog will be highly ranked if it is hosted on a popular blogging platform. You don’t need to spend a lot of time on the blog – that’s for pro bloggers – and it is a useful channel for your news, view and other comments. If you have no idea how to create content for your blog try paying a freelance writer.

3.       FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE.  Facebook is so big you really can’t afford not to be there. A company page is free and simple enough to set up but will both appear in external searches and also internal Facebook searches. When you are just using it to build a search engine presence you don’t need much content, just to be there.

4.       LINKEDIN COMPANY PAGE:  Everyone should have a personal profile on LinkedIn but to get more visibility for your company you need to set up a company page, too. This is very easy and does not require much work for maintenance.

5.       GOOGLE+ BUSINESS PAGE:  While Google+ isn’t yet as popular as Facebook it certainly ranks highly in searches. Creating a simple page for your company doesn’t take long and you can cut and paste the same content you used for your Facebook page.

6.       PINTEREST BOARD.  If you don’t have an account on Pinterest now is the time to open one. This image-oriented online pinboard site is a major driver of traffic for retailers and is definitely a place to be if you have some product that is visually appealing – clothes, food, jewelry, garden designs, furnishings and so on. You can create a Pinterest account and boards for your company so that it shows up in searches for company names.

7.       TWITTER ACCOUNT. Everyone should have a Twitter account. Even if you don’t tweet very much it is still useful for search visibility, but you can also use it effectively to promote new posts on your blog, your Pinterest boards an other things.

8.       YOUTUBE ACCOUNT. YouTube is one of the most popular sites in the world so having a channel for your company guarantees a highly ranked entry in Google. You don’t need to have many videos on your page and to start with a single short clip is sufficient. This channel can be useful for promotional videos about your products and is also ideal for things like assembly instructions.

9.       QUORA BOARD. Quora is a social question and answer site that is still remarkably free of spam and popular enough to rank highly in searches. Companies are allowed to create Boards on Quora (see Can a Quora Board represent a company?) where they can post articles and links about a topic, encouraging engagement with other users.

10.   SOUNDCLOUD PAGE.  Soundcloud is a useful site for storing any kind of audio clip -- music, poetry, stories, sounds of nature or anything you want. How you use this space depends on the kind of business you have, but if you don’t have a product or service that makes an interesting noise you can consider just uploading a podcast or a short audio clip where you introduce yourself.

These are the ten sites I use the most for boosting visibility on search engines. You don’t need to use them all and you can pick the five or six you like the most to start with, You can easily find more sites that are specific to your business by searching for other companies in the same space and making a note of all the sites that appeared on the first page results and where you are allowed to create a space. Remember: if a site doesn't show in search results for other companies it probably won't help you, either.

When you are using these spaces primarily for search visibility you don’t need to worry about creating and maintaining much content, though you need to be careful to set privacy settings to allow search engines to see your pages. Later you will probably want to use some of these sites more actively, so you will also need to master the use of tools that allow you to manage multiple sites through a single interface, plus some tools that automate routine operations. That’s a topic I am going to address in a follow-up article one day. Meantime start by setting up some of the accounts in the list, add basic company information and wait for your search results to get visibly better.



Related posts on Reputation Management and Branding:

Online Reputation: How to Deal With Five Difficult Cases
Why You Need an Online Presence Even if You Think You Don't
Choosing Pronounceable Brand Names: Lessons from the Cuil Saga 
Five Simple Steps to Improve Your Online Reputation 
Branding in the Age of Search Engines 
Why Having Accounts on Photo Sharing Sites Is Good for Your Image
Sign Up Now: Joining New Networking Sites Boosts Brand, Reputation 

Lectures, Workshops & Coaching

For one-to-one coaching, lectures and workshops on this topic -- especially if you have a tricky reputation problem that the basic guidelines don't solve -- visit andrewhennigan.com or contact me directly at conseil@andrewhennigan.com or by phone on 0033 6 79 61 42 81. 

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