How do you get what you want on page one for your brand phrases? When facing negative content at the top of the SERPs, it’s a challenge many companies want to conquer very quickly. The good news is that it is doable; it’s just that not many people talk about how to do it.
If you have unfavorable content ranking for your brand, the best approach is to just get the favorable sites on the Internet to outrank the unfavorable site, pushing the unfavorable down to page two.
How do you do this? You merely need to give the favorable sites a nudge, by increasing their link popularity.
The prep work
Your first step is to identify the favorable web pages that you would like to be on page one. In our last Brand-Aid article, What are Search Engines Saying About Your Brand?, I wrote about how to evaluate the SERPs for brand protection and identify potential sites to boost for your brand phrases. I recommend you select about 20 pages to help boost in the SERPs.
The second step is to review each potential web page for all of the factors you would consider for determining the likelihood of your own site to rank—page copy, page title, links, etc. Create your short list by weeding out those that have little potential for reaching the top 10 positions. Remember, you cannot optimize the page copy, so evaluate the page copy during this assessment.
The third step is to take your short list of favorable web pages to the public relations department for review. Public relations departments are somewhat picky in selecting what to highlight. I once found an article where a company was runner up for a very prestigious award; since the company was a runner-up, not the winner, the article was removed from the short-list. While it may seem cumbersome and add to the timeline, my recommendation is to incorporate PR from the beginning, because having them on your side will be an asset later.
Time for action: 13 tips for boosting favorable web pages to page one
Once you have the PR department’s blessing, you’re ready to proceed with building links. Here 13 ways for boosting favorable content to page one:
- Review the “About” section of your website for opportunities to incorporate links within your existing content.
- Look at your site’s customer service pages for linking opportunities. By using the right copy and design treatments you can highlight customer service accomplishments and awards, while helping to boost rankings of favorable sites—making it a win-win solution.
- If your company has won several awards, create an awards page and link to favorable articles highlighting the awards you have won.
- Be proactive with upcoming news articles by teaming up with your PR department to see if they have the chance to influence keyword phrasing in quotes and/or links in write-ups about your company. If possible, incorporate keywords and/or get links to the favorable pages that you are trying to boost. Be forewarned, while opportunities to influence the media exist, they are quite limited, so don’t put a lot of eggs in this basket.
- If you have a recent article released about your company, or know of an upcoming favorable article, arrange to get home page real estate and a clean link to the article, even if it’s at the bottom of the homepage, below the fold. This is a highly powerful link and will have a nice impact for boosting the article’s rankings.
- Look for industry wikis that have followable links. Incorporate useful contributions, and include a link to pages that you are trying to boost. Wikis with followable links are getting rare, but they are out there, so dig around and see what you find.
- Find blogs with followable links that talk about topics related to the pages you are trying to push to page one. Offer a strong contribution about how your company has an interesting approach, include a brief explanation and a link to the page you want to boost.
- If it’s an interesting article, submit it to Digg, StumbleUpon, Netscape, Reddit and Delicious.
- Seek out bloggers in your industry and ask them to write about your company and link to the article. You may need to offer some form of compensation for this one, so keep that in mind as you pursue.
- Find websites that talk about your company and request articles about your company to be added as additional resources.
- Many companies issue press releases for featured articles and awards, often these press releases contain links to the correlating web page. Work with your PR department to strategically write the links to contain keywords and get the press releases submitted to news search engines via wires such as PRWeb.
- Leverage your partnership network. Many companies have partners who offer a page highlighting their partnerships. Look for those that offer individual pages that talk about each company, and inquire about opportunities to expand your description and link to third party articles or web pages that talk more about your products or services. Expect that most of the partners will decline, but even one or two links would make a nice addition to your efforts.
- Leverage your closest affiliate relationships. Each company reacts to this one differently, but it’s worth a shot if you’re facing negative content that you want to make disappear quickly. If you have great relationships with affiliates, consider partnering with them to get links to the favorable web pages from a page on the affiliate’s website. Bear in mind that the affiliate wants to rank for your brand so it could be a challenge to get them to link your targeted pages, which means you may need to pay for this content to be added. While it may sound odd to pay your affiliate for these links, it could be worth the price to boost favorable sites to page one.
As you build links to favorable sites, be sure to log everything. You see, your biggest challenge is that you have no control over the site you are trying to boost, putting you at their mercy. Speaking from experience, keep great notes. For one client we finally got a great article to page one, and a month later the publication changed the URL structure and the old URL took users to a 404 error page, leaving us back at square one. The lesson learned was to keep very good notes so that you can go back and contact the sites that were kind enough to add links to sites with favorable content.
With this information you can form a strong plan of action to start to influence what the SERPs are saying about your brand.
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Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.