Reputation is the key to success in the online marketing world. With a better reputation, you’ll get more visibility online, which will drive traffic and conversions. You’ll earn more brand trust, and therefore higher conversion rates for the users who end up on your site. You’ll also gain access to higher authority publishers and more opportunities to promote your business and work with other organizations.
But under ordinary circumstances, reputations take a long time to build, and they’re not something you can force. Thankfully there are a handful of straightforward ways you can build your brand’s reputation online — and did I mention they’re free?
1. Press coverage. Your first big option is getting press coverage. Press releases are useful content marketing tools, but the conventional route to publishing and syndicating a press release is to use a tool like PRWeb to push your release to thousands of potential online news outlets. This is an effective strategy to achieve some goals, but it won’t help you with others (such as link building), and it costs a few hundred dollars to get the job done. If you’re looking for a free way to accomplish a similar effect, you can research your own news publishers and submit your story to them one by one. It’s a bit more tedious and time-consuming, but you may actually build some strong relationships with editors and journalists which could come in handy down the road when you start guest posting. Speaking of which…
2. Guest posts. Guest posts are an important part of your content marketing and SEO strategy, and are my favorite form of link building, mostly because they serve as a gateway to quickly building your reputation. The premise is straightforward; you’ll be providing guest content for external publishers based on what they need for their target audiences. You’ll have to start small, with local publishers and other niche websites, but over time, you’ll be able to climb your way up the ladder and reach higher-authority publishers that really give your brand something to brag about. With this strategy, it’s best to rely on your personal brand rather than a corporate brand for outreach to editors and journalists.
3. Social networking. This list would be incomplete if I didn’t mention the power of social media marketing. Make sure you’re distributing your content across your social channels regularly. Ideally, this alone would be enough to attract an audience, but you’ll need an extra push if you want to attract a bigger crowd; reach out to new people regularly, and engage with your audience regularly. It’s true that numbers aren’t everything, but simply having a bigger social media following can make you seem more authoritative in other consumers’, publishers’, and influencers’ eyes. Speaking of influencers…
4. Influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is the process of identifying and working with influencers to harness some of their own authoritative power to boost your reputation. For example, let’s say there’s an authoritative figure in your industry with 100,000 followers. You could reach out to this person, engaging in a simple conversation and sharing their content. In exchange, they may share a piece of your content, instantly connecting you to an audience of 100,000 potential new customers. This is a numbers game, as most of these influencers are busy people, but if you’re patient and you consistently provide value to influencers, they’ll eventually make your efforts pay off and you can build a reputation by proxy.
5. Interviews. Interviews are a powerful form of content because they require two authorities to come together. You can make yourself available for interviews to take advantage of this (such as through HARO), but it’s usually easier if you’re the one conducting the interview. Contact major influencers or prominent figures in your industry and ask them key questions your audience would like to know the answers to. Once finished, both you and that influencer will have an incentive to share the piece; you’ll cross-pollinate audiences, and your reputation will grow in response.
6. Collaborations. Similar to interviews, collaborations are pieces of content that require two or more separate parties to work together. You might provide different levels of research that are brought together for a single report, or you might contribute statistics to a bigger piece. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as the piece is cobranded. Cobranding a piece instantly doubles its potential audience, and helps put both your brands in a higher position of visibility.
7. Affiliations. Finally, you can work on building your affiliations with other businesses and organizations. There are many ways you can do this, but all of them involve associating your business with an organization that already has a high authority. For example, you could seek new trust badges from accredited organizations, or you could deliberately work with economic development organizations and nonprofits in your community to raise visibility for your brand (not to mention open the door to some valuable new connections). Reputation by proxy is a perfect way to shortcut your way to the top without spending any money.
Like I mentioned in my introduction, there’s one key to building a reputation that can’t be forced or manipulated; you have to give it time to develop. All of these strategies can push your brand in the right direction, and some of them can hasten the process, but you can’t go from being an unknown to being a rock star overnight. Pursue these strategies consistently, and with dedication, and eventually you’ll nurture a stronger, less shakable reputation for your business.