Taking Control Of Your Digital Footprint

With the ever-increasing influence of social media and digital presence on consumer perception, controlling a brand’s online image is more important than ever. Search engine optimization is important for helping potential customers find your business on the web, but it’s also important to know how to take control over what shows up when they Google your company name directly.

Ideally, when a person enters your business name into a search engine, your website will appear at the top followed by other pages and profiles your firm created. If that’s the case, it means you are currently in control of your digital footprint.

However, if businesses with a similar name, bad reviews, bad press or other unwanted results show up on the first page, you have a problem that will likely confuse or even turn away potential clients.

Luckily enough, a proactive approach through public relations can be used to solve this problem by creating positive content about your company on high-ranking third-party sites to replace the unwanted or damaging results. To take control of your digital presence, you can start with five easy steps.

#1. Claim Your Business On Google Business

By claiming your business on Google Business, not only are you able to get a significant SEO bump as a featured search result, it also helps you ensure that your business information is entirely accurate and controlled by you. Additionally, it allows you to claim your location on Google Maps, helping prospective clients find you easier.

By not claiming that Google real estate, you’re leaving the door wide open for inaccuracies and confusion.

#2. Submit Your Information To Directories

Similar to Google Business, you want to be in control of what is published to online directories. In doing so, you’re able to make sure your information is consistent and accurate – your name, address and phone number is the most important component of your company’s identity and should be the same on every platform and listing.

Many online directories also double as review sites, like Yelp and YellowPages, which have a huge impact on your local SEO.

#3. Generate Reviews

Don’t be afraid to ask existing customers to leave a review of your business! According to a 2013 study, 90 percent of consumers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. In addition to influencing customer behavior, reviews play an influential role in determining your web ranking. With an update in 2014, Google’s search engine began giving greater weight to location-focused keywords and, therefore, third-party directories. By boosting the amount of the positive feedback you receive on business review platforms, you’re actively managing what makes up 8.4 percent of top search ranking factors.

#4. Build Your Social Media Presence

One of the best ways for a business to control its digital footprint is to start with a clear vision in mind as to what you want to communicate with your audience and then start developing it. Social media networks, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more, allow for you to control the messaging that is associated with your company’s reputation.

#5. Publish Original Content

Having an active blog is a great way to communicate with current and prospective clients. It allows you to demonstrate your personality and industry expertise with a variety of articles. Beyond maintaining your own blog, it’s important to take advantage of guest contributor opportunities. Set yourself apart as a thought leader by having articles published to industry media outlets. You can enhance your digital authority all while increasing your brand exposure and credibility.

While crafting and managing an online presence can seem daunting, the best thing you can do is not stay offline. The best course of action is to be proactive and take control of your digital footprint before there’s a problem, rather than trying to address it after something negative surfaces. If something negative does surface on the first page of results, it is important to hire an SEO-savvy PR expert to promptly address the situation.

For a more in-depth look at SEO, consider downloading Flackable’s e-book SEO for Financial Advisors.

Want to learn more? Download Turning Press Into Profits: A PR Guide For Professional Services Firms today!

Kelly Holcombe is an account executive at Flackable, a national financial public relations and digital marketing agency. Follow Kelly on Twitter: @kelly_holcombe.