#1: Get Busy Creating Relevant and Valuable Content

Everywhere—on your website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Every piece of content including photos (and even videos now) is crawled by search engines.

When you create educational or inspiring content (and mention your name or your company’s name somewhere within), you’re essentially controlling your own destiny when people search for you.

Here’s the secret (come a little closer). The content can’t be ABOUT you. Helpful content wins. Think about the interests/passions/needs of your target community as opposed to your own.

Who does this extremely well? HubSpot. To put it nicely, HubSpot isn’t in the sexiest of industries. They create lead generation software, but they’re a content machine. Their Internet marketing blog is extremely popular with millions of page views per month. They even have their own online web show where they go over marketing news and opinions each week.

Go ahead and search for HubSpot. Not only will you find a link to their website, but you’ll find delicious content, links to social media sites, upcoming webinars, YouTube videos and more.

#2: Alert Yourself and Then Join the Conversation

Set up a Google Alert for your business, your name, other key people’s names, your competitors and any key phrases. I add my Google Alerts to Google Reader so I can check them out at my leisure as opposed to getting an email anytime my Alerts are mentioned.

Setting up an alert is one thing; RESPONDING is the key. If you see something, good or bad, jump in and comment on the blog or source. Become a part of the conversation.

Responding to good comments doesn’t have to be rocket science. At the very least, a simple thank you goes a long way if someone mentions you on their blog or website. Negative comments of course can be a little trickier and emotional, but don’t shy away from them. Participate. Take the higher road.

Plus, every little comment you leave is a chance to do good and build your brand. It is also a chance to be a jerk and hurt your reputation.

#3: Watch and Listen From Every Angle

That’s another way of saying that Google isn’t the only answer when it comes to managing your online presence. In fact, there are many other places worth checking out, including:

Google Blogsearch: Blogs move quicker than Google (Google is trying to catch up with Real-Time Search), but to check what is going on with you, your business, competitors, etc., check out Google Blogsearch.

Search.Twitter.com: The hub of the real-time web. Nothing gets closer than up-to-the-literal-second updates. You can also take an RSS feed for keywords, your business, your name, people you want to stalk, etc., and put them into Google Reader (similar to the Google Alerts example), making even more info available to you on ONE screen.

Advanced Twitter Search: That little button on Search.Twitter.com. Allows for better geotargeting and a host of options you’d expect with the word “advanced.”

Ice Rocket: Well-designed search site to help track blogs, the web in general, Twitter, news, etc.

Backtype: Lets you track comments left on blogs and forums as well as on social sites. This is often overlooked, yet extremely important.

Video search: Videos are important and YouTube is the second-largest search engine to Google. Search there for videos about you and the competition. Other video search engines include Google’s Video Search, Yahoo’s Video Search, Blinkx and my new favorite: Truveo (very slick).

#4: Be nice: Taking the High Road vs. Negabots

I know this seems a little ridiculous, but it is so true. Negative people online are annoying—I get it. And most negative people fall into two categories:

  • People with legitimate concerns/opposing views (we can all respect that, right?)
  • Negabots. You know the type of person. It is 85° and sunny out and he’s complaining it isn’t 86°. Give him $100 and he’ll complain it isn’t $101.

Kill with kindness. Confrontational and overly sensitive are two qualities that often lose online. If you’re nice to people, people will be nice to you. Sure, it’s common, and yet it can be difficult to do.

The master of this is Gary Vaynerchuk, the outspoken creator of Wine Library TV and author of Crush It! Gary has lots of fans and friends, but of course some of those people wake up and drink a cold glass of hatred. Does Gary ignore them? Nope. On any given day, you can find him responding kindly to negative criticism on his blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts and even his Amazon book page where the occasional negative review pops up. Gary responds once nicely and then it’s done. He told me an in interview, “taking the high road is undefeated.” Very true.
gary vaynerchuk

#5: Build Relationships With the Likeable Lauras of the World

We become like the company we keep, right? Are there other people in your niche who:

  • Have influential blogs (or up-and-coming blogs) that allow for guest posting?
  • Have an interview series you can be a guest on?

Remember these delicious pieces of content will do all kinds of good for you, including:

  • More traffic to your site (and really… who wants less traffic?). Even if it is just a few people, it’s a win.
  • More content created that search engines can index with your name (especially if it’s an interview).
  • Association/relationship with other trusted people online.
  • A great marketing/promotional opportunity to share this content with your networks.

But here’s an interesting challenge: What can you do to offer them value? This isn’t just about taking. This is about giving value first. This is about building LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS.

Start digging around. Search Alltop.com, Google Blogsearch and Twitter. Ask around and start identifying media sources in your niche. Start small with perhaps a few passionate up-and-comers who are more easily accessible than the really big guys and gals.

Start helping them by tweeting about them and sharing their content on Facebook. Leave thoughtful non-promotional comments on their posts that resonate with them. Be helpful as opposed to pushy.

A perfect example is Elena Verlee, a PR specialist, entrepreneur and creator of PR In Your Pajamas. I met Elena because she relentlessly helped me without asking for anything. She offered me an interview on her blog. She consistently tweets my shows and content. She has personally introduced me to lots of great people who were guests on my show.

And guess what happened? I invited her to be a guest and we had a great interview that was seen by thousands of people. She got on my radar screen by being helpful.