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Who's Looking out for Your Online Reputation?

Jul 24, 2008
Recently, one of my clients came to me with a question. He had been approached by someone that offered to get his company onto the first page of Google for their keywords within a month. My client wouldn't have to pay unless they succeeded.

My clients question, which was a valid one, was "Why shouldn't I give it a try?"

After all, can't hurt to try, right?

Unfortunately, if they don't get paid until they perform, they will do anything, and I really do mean anything, to succeed.

My client is already coming up on the first page for many of his keywords on Google and other search engines, from the work we've done for him. We have just started our marketing plan for the site, and have a plan in place to continue to improve his rankings so he will get, and keep, more page 1 search engine listings.

Remember, you can't just hit Page 1 in the search engines, you have to stay there if you want to be successful.

There are a few different methods to use if you want to get to the first page, but that is another discussion. Just know that the basics involve keyword focused content, and building high-quality, relevant in-bound links. These two often go hand in hand.

One effective strategy is publishing articles to article directories and Web 2.0 sites. There are three reasons this is effective. First, you receive direct traffic from these sites as members read the articles they are interested in, and follow the link. Second, you're using keyword-rich content in your articles, so you give the search engines more ways to find your content, and you end up with more listings on the first page. Third, over time, you will begin to see the quality, keyword relevant incoming links coming in from the hundreds of sites that syndicate these articles.

The problem is, though, you can't build these links too fast. If you do, you give Google and the other search engines a flag that you're not building your links naturally. And when the search engines flag your site, their response is to "Sandbox" or de-index your site (which means they remove it from their search results, and don't add it back in for a ceratain period of time or until you can show you're on the up-and-up. Good luck with that!)

This is a good method for improving your listings in the search engine rankings. Google knows it, and they're okay with it. They won't penalize you for using tools such as article directories, or other Web 2.0 sites. But if they think you're using these tools to "spam" the sites, and your only intent is to get incoming links, well, they don't like that. They will penalize you, quick, when they realize what you're doing, and then it's into the Sandbox with you!

This is why I feel business owners need to be very cautious of anyone that says "I can get you first page listings in Google in a month or it's free." He probably can, but what will it cost in terms of your online reputation, longevity, and your bottom line?

And, traffic is only one piece of the puzzle. You also have to have conversion. If you have lots of traffic, but aren't generating leads, customers and die-hard fans, that traffic doesn't mean much. Will he stick around to make sure your traffic is converting? Will he help you analyze your traffic, and suggest improvements?

Once he gets paid for landing your site on the first page of Google, he's gone. And unfortunately, you usually don't have any long-term customers, or lots of sales, to show for it.

If you value your internet reputation, think long and hard before you put your online reputation in the hands of someone without a long term plan for your business. Or go with the better option - a company that really does watch out for your online reputation, and has a long-term strategy that will keep you at the top.
About the Author
Barry Wayne is an online business consultant and project manager with 13 years experience in web development and Internet marketing.
Please visit his blog, 1Cat.biz, for more tips on how to build a successful online busness.
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