Why Branding MattersI’m excited about my guest today and what he has to share because he’s associated with the very popular site, Brand.com.  I have a feeling that as soon as you read this you’ll be just as excited as me.

So let me introduce to you, James Halloran.

I’d like to thank Adrienne for providing a wonderful opportunity to be a guest today. I hope that wherever you are Mother Nature is treating you better than she’s treating Philly right now.

Despite what the TV show may have you thinking, it’s NOT always sunny in Philadelphia. In fact, I’m writing this from home as I watch the snow fall outside my bedroom window.

But enough talk about the weather.

I want to talk about building a brand and how to maintain it. Especially if you’re a blogger, you must be aware that you are still a brand and proper steps must be taken to reinforce your brand’s image. (Adrienne will even tell you so!)

Last week, Adrienne mentioned that trust and likeability were two of the best ways to stand out in the blogosphere. I full-heartedly agree with her, but how do you stand out in the search engines?

Trust and likeability alone won’t help you rank, so that’s what I want to discuss with you first.

Search Results Matter (Even If You Don’t Rank)

The first thing you should keep in mind is that what people find in the search results still matters. Even if they don’t find anything about you or your blog, this can still be a problem.

No search result presence = lack of trust and authority. That’s why it’s important. (And that’s counter-intuitive to what Adrienne already taught you.)

Even if you do show up in the search engines, you need to know what your audience is finding. So, here are some tips:

1. Search for yourself in Google, Bing and Yahoo

Each engine will deliver different results based on their algorithms. My suggestion would be to do this in an incognito window with no other tabs open.

The reason for that is because in incognito mode there are no cookies, cache history, etc., for the search engines to pick up. To search for your name in an ordinary window may actually give you a false impression about what other people are finding for your name.

Once you do this, you now know what needs to be done. If your results are positive, congrats to you! If you’re not showing up at all or have negative results, I still have more tips for you.

Read on.

2. Create a Completed.com Account

One little known tactic we use at Brand.com is Completed.com. Unlike sites like About.me, this one actually ranks very well in the search engines. It’s similar to LinkedIn, but instead of a first-person resume, it’s a third-person narrative about you and your business.

Here’s Brand.com’s Completed profile for reference.

Keep in mind there are ten results that appear on the first page of search results, and this site ranks up there as one of them. So, why not give it a shot, right?

3. Link All of Your Social Accounts to Your Blog

If you’re having trouble ranking, link all of your social accounts to your blog. If you’re not creating a clear connection from all of these accounts, the search engines may not be seeing the connection.

So, how do you do that? Google+ Authorship, of course!

Despite what you may read about Google+ not being a significant factor in search rankings, we’re noticing that one thing is true – if your social accounts (or the right ones) aren’t appearing in the results for your name, you’re either not linking them correctly or you’re confusing the search engines.

Establishing authority should definitely help with that.

Negative SEO and Yelp

Now, let’s talk about defending your brand.

Did you know that blogging is the #1 defense for negative SEO? (It’s true!)

Since search engines love fresh content, every time you create a new post, you’re only pushing anything negative about your brand further down the search results. That’s how reverse SEO works!

So, the more you produce the better for your brand. But what about high-ranking review sites like Yelp?

As bloggers, you may not have to worry too much about it. But if you run a business of any sort, I would strongly urge you and your friends to avoid sending your clientele to Yelp to rate your business.

Here’s why:

1. About 25 Percent of Yelp Reviews are False

2. Yelp holds good reviews hostage in its “spam filter” until you advertise with them.

3. Negative reviews are more likely to appear than the positive, creating an unfair image for your brand.

You can learn more about Yelp’s shady tactics on our blog. But here’s what we suggest you do: create your own reviews.

Many blogs like WordPress allow you to set up review pages for a product you sell, whether it’s a book, an online class or some other product/ service. Controlling where those reviews go is important to reinforcing your brand image.

Another neat little platform I discovered recently is OwnerListens. Consider it a nice alternative to Yelp and other review sites.

Instead of sending your customers to review your products and services on Yelp, send them to a platform where you can actually respond to your customers. The problem with responding to customers on complaint forms is that it helps those negative reviews rank in the search results, so you’re only punishing yourself by replying.

In the end, it’s all about being able to communicate with your audience fairly without such sites purposely trashing your brand.

Anyway, thanks for reading! I wanted to provide you with more than enough info to feel satisfied. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below!

I’ll be more than happy to answer.

Thank You James

Okay, was that information awesome or what!  See, I’m learning new things every single day and I SO appreciate what James just shared with us.

If you have any questions about any of this then take him up on it and ask away.  Zac Johnson might be stopping by as well since he’s a contributor of Brand.com now and they are eager to help us learn and grow.

Now, be sure to share this post with your friends.  They might be interested in learning about this as well and we all know how appreciative they can be when you point them in the right direction. They’ll love you forever.

James R. Halloran

James R. Halloran is the Blogging Editorial Assistant at Brand.com. He is responsible finding and researching new topics to write about for the Brand.com blog. He also enjoys anything relating to literature, fitness, hockey and modeling.

James Twitter | James LinkedIn | James Google+ | James Blog