I just finished the second version of my search reputation management tool for managing, monitor, benchmark and report on Search Reputation. I am very exited, to say the least! This tool makes my work on search reputation projects so much better and easier to manage.
Search Reputation management is not a new trade. It has been around for years. I started out before the term was even coined. Over the past years I have perfected my strategies and methods and the way I work with clients and projects.
One of the first important steps in most search reputation project is to get a proper assessment of the situation. I have used various tools and services to collect data, evaluate search results and the top ranking websites. Most often I have put it all into a spread sheet for further calculations and reporting to clients. It is usually a very time consuming job.
A spread sheet is a great tool. It is probably the tool I use the most in my daily work. It is very flexible and easy to deal with. However, there is a whole lot of calculations and reporting that is not very easy to do – if possible at all, in a spread sheet. Also, it can often get a very messy in a spread sheet if you play around with too much data. And that’s exactly what I usually do in a search reputation project.
This is why I finally decided to make a new tool to manage all the data I collect and include calculations and better reporting of the data in a consistent format. The system is build around a large database with a cool web interface. I got the BETA-version ready a few weeks ago and it just works great!
With this new tool I can not only work better and faster – I can also provide much better reporting for my clients. Not just on the initial assessment – but also as benchmarking reports to document the progress as we go. Clients love it!
Making a proper assessment of your search reputation is still a very time consuming job – even with my new search reputation tool. However, it is much faster now as I have better input forms; I can reuse much more data; make faster look-ups and the calculations and reporting are now all automated.
This is what you get with a search reputation assessment – the way I usually do it for clients?
1. Keyword selection
First you need to decide on the exact keywords you want to analyze. This is a different task than normal keyword analysis for SEO and paid search. For search reputation projects you want to focus on the few most searched keywords that have the biggest impact on how your target group(s) perceive you, your key employees, you company and brand names.
This will typically be the root version of your names – your full name, your company name and brand names.
You can off course include more keywords, variations, keyword phrases and generic terms for your trade. The problem however is that it takes quite a bit of time to research each keyword so you probably want to limit yourself – unless you have unlimited resources. Also, a lot of the additional keywords you may want to add will probably not be qualifying enough – too many of the results will be totally irrelevant.
2. Markets and engines selection
Selecting the engines you want to base the analysis on is usually quite easy. Most often we pick “the three majors” – Google, Bing and Yahoo. Only if the selected market is somewhere with a strong local player we will include that. For most markets Google, Bing and Yahoo is plenty. Now that Bing begins to feed Yahoo you may want to skip one of them.
Selecting the markets – and finding a way to mimic what the average user will get is not always that easy. What if you typical prospect is a global English speaking person – which is the case for many online business? How do you mimic that? What if you serve 20 markets with local language versions?
There is no simple answer to how you do this. Most often, on the search reputation projects I work on, we end up with a relatively simple solution. The problem is that each complexity layer you at this stage will be multiplied by the number of keywords and the number of search results to check. So even small increase in complexity will dramatically increase the resources it takes to collect and analyze all the data.
3. Collecting search result data
For each keyword and each search engine you have selected we will do a search and collect a number of top results. This becomes a lot of searches and results! With just 10 keywords to check in 3 search engines and top 20 results you will have to do 30 searches and collect 600 URL’s.
The 600 URLs will of course not all be unique. Many of the same URLs will be found across search engines and keywords. Depending on the keyword selection we will typically see from 50-75% unique URLs. Diversity can vary a lot
You can off course easily make tools to do this automatically – I have such tools, but for search reputation management work I like to do this by hand. I want to see the actual search results – the way your prospects will too. I want to feel it. I think I get a better result by doing this by hand. I collect and store title, description and URL for each link.
4. Rating and evaluation of found URL’s
A few years ago I introduced a new system for rating all the URLs I find. I use a simple 5 step evaluation scale. 1 is very negative, 2 is negative, 3 is neutral, 4 is positive and 5 is very positive. Simple and easy to use.
With my new system I only have to deal with each unique URL once. The rating and evaluation is stored across listings with the same unique URL. That saves a lot of time and makes the rating far more consistent.
The ratings are then converted to a more useful scale – from minus 100 to plus 100 and used in the calculations and reporting.
On top of the rating I add initial evaluation notes for each URL – or at least or the ones we may have to deal with (negative and neutral URLs – 1 to 3).
This is often the most time consuming part of the whole process but it is important that it is done with great care. If the ratings and evaluations are not accurate then the rest of the report will have very little value.
5. Calculation of reputation scores
Based on the rating of each URL a weighted value is assigned based on the ranking. A high ranking, off course, have a greater impact than a low ranking.
The system then creates a number of reputation scores, charts and reports – globally and by keywords. The reputation score is the sum of weighted values normalized on a minus 100 to plus 100 scale.
The reputation scores make it easy to compare results across keywords and engines and over time.
6. Analysis of each keyword
This part of the work is a manual process. Based on the reporting of scores and individual notes I will describe the overall impression and what to do about it.
I have “invented” a few completely new types of charts to make it much easier to evaluate the total results.
For each negative or neutral URL we need to deal with I will describe one or more strategies that I believe will work.
This is the most creative part of the process. There are so many things you can do about negative or neutral results – paid solutions, organic solutions and legal solutions. It is of outmost importance that you chose the right strategy for each type of problem. If you pick the wrong one not only will it probably not work – it may actually get worse!
7. Suggestion for final action plan
The final part of the report is the action plan. Here I list and prioritize all the actions you should take to improve your search reputation.
After the client have received the report I usually spend a couple of hours going through the action plan and each individual action I recommend. Often this is done over Skype. It is important that you fully understand the impact of each problem; what it realistically takes to deal with it and the different options for solutions.
Next steps …
Based on all this you can make a very education choice on what problems you want to move forward with in phase 2 – implementation.
My team and I can off course help you with implementation too. However, this is totally up to you. Buying the search reputation assessment from me comes with no obligations.
I usually recommend that the search reputation assessment is repeated again after you implemented the plan. If you have me make it using the same methods and the search reputation tool you will have a perfect report for benchmarking progress.
The repeated assessments will usually be a bit faster to do that the first one because I can usually reuse most of the URL ratings and evaluations so I only have to do that again on new found URLs. The new reports will also include comparison charts over time so you can easily follow the results of what you did.
To celebrate my new search reputation tool – and to get a few more projects through the early stages of the new system, I will give 50% discount on my normal fee for search reputation assessments! But only on the first 5 projects that I sign a deal on! So you have to be fast – I rarely give out discounts like this and when I do they usually go very fast!
The price depends on the number of keywords; how many keywords you want to check; in how many search engines and markets and how many results you want to include (I usually recommend top 20-30).
If you would like a quote please drop me an email on: firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on (+45) 22 27 07 10