"The big algorithm updates have mainly gone after spammers and spam tactics," says EntirelyPets' Young. "As long as you don't purchase low-quality links, which was never a good practice, you should be fine."
That doesn't mean the changes haven't had any impact on online reputation management.
For example, Google's July 2014 Pigeon update seems to have had some effect on local businesses. Due to Pigeon, "many local businesses with reviews may have seen their traffic impacted," according to Chase Anderson, online operations director, Clicks and Clients. "If your negative reviews are hurting your local visibility, the Pigeon update may have magnified that issue."
In the past, if the first page of your brand's search results was filled with negative content you could try to create pages, websites, social media accounts and other representations of your business that you control in hopes that they'd outrank the negative references, according to Shapiro.
"Now with Panda, Penguin, and the other anti-spam algorithms that search engines like Google are using, it's more difficult to get these lower quality pages to rank," Shapiro says. "A mostly blank Blogger website might have helped you outrank a bad Yelp review in the past, but now you might need a real article from a local publication highlighting your business to outrank the Yelp review."
Exact-match ".com," ".net," and ".org" domains used to rank high on the first search results page for keywords contained within the domain, according to Todd William, founder and CEO, Reputation Rhino. For example, CIO.com is an exact-match domain for the keyword "CIO." Recent Google algorithm updates have, however, deemphasized to some degree the importance of exact-match domains, so you can't rely on that tactic as much as before, William says.
What's Next in Online Reputation Management?
Nobody (outside of Google, at least) knows what Google will change next, according to Herrault of Connective Insights. However, the basics of online reputation management rarely change. "Run a great business, treat your customers with respect, have fun and continue to build your online presence," he says. If you follow those guidelines, and continue to proactively monitor your online reputation, "no Google algorithm change will 'unfloat' your boat."
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