There are many different ways of successfully completing online reputation management (ORM) campaigns. I have used, tried and tested hundreds of methods, theories and strategies. While I won't divulge everything as I have clients that need unsaturated methods that work, there are a lot of great techniques that do work and will continue to work. There is also a lot of innuendo, if you can read between the lines you'll be able to gather more than the average reader. 1. Mass Blasting or Quality Content? I do both. Here are examples of each. Mass Blasting - This client wanted to see results before paying anything. Since he wasn't willing to pay until we saw results I wasn't willing to spend much money in a quick effort to get results. We're now 3 months into the campaign and I've been paid twice (performance based results). Quality Content - This is a long term client. All of these results are on domains that I bought new and set up. When we set up domains, we try to make them look as real as possible. ALL content is handwritten, nothing spun or low quality. We try to make sure they will pass any type of manual review. We aren't afraid to link to other real sites, have short posts, long posts, pictures or videos only, etc. I always instruct my employees to think like a real person, don't worry about Google, just think like a real person. We supplement that "real person" thinking with good articles based around keywords, but the bulk of the content is about the person, business, topic, industry, etc. 2. Mass Blasting Problems? In the last few months I've been noticing that after blasting a keyword or group of related keywords Google will "lock down" the results. It's very difficult to get movement on anything after the results have been locked down. Because of this I have been reluctant to blast any keywords. I have a few ongoing tests that show certain types of blasting still works well. You can reference the first screenshot above as well as these below. This is a long term test that I started about 6 months ago. 3. Mass Blasting Results (6 month test) This is a randomly selected name. I started typing names into Google until I found something that looked like a typical client. There weren't any negatives to track, but I selected only positive results to push up that I thought might have potential to move. Interestingly, YouTube and Twitter have been reluctant to move onto page 1. Overall results: Homes.com Chart: Amazon Chart: USNews Chart: As you can see by those charts, there has been pretty good movement over the course of the campaign. I haven't created any good content, just the same spun articles for the last 6 months. Of note, I didn't pick any specific types of links or restrict any specific types of links. Basically anything that I could do quickly and easily. Here are some SER results. I duplicate the campaign every few weeks whenever I think about it. 4. Real Results Lead to Discoveries This is more theory than practical, but if you spend time looking for patterns, you'll certainly find some. There are certain places that ORM pros publish content. Most of the sites are the same, but you can often find a gold nugget if you dig deep enough. Often when I'm digging around I'll find an email address and reach out with a cold email. Most of the time this is ineffective so I follow up with a Twitter message (50% response) and maybe Facebook if it's really good. Here are two recent examples. 4a. New contact, white label work I sent an email, no response. I followed up on LinkedIn and he owned an SEO company. I asked him about publishing on his site and/or partnering for him to publish on my sites. He wasn't interested but had an ORM client that had been working on. He didn't know much about ORM and we struck a deal for me to handle all of the work and he maintained the relationship with the client and gets to take credit for the work. 4b. New location to publish I was researching people with prior negatives (negatives from 1-3 years old) and looking for a clean first page. When I found a clean first page (and negatives on page 2 or 3) I would dig deeper to see if they had any ORM work done. This has lead to multiple discoveries of great sources to place content. Most of them are set up as a service and for free or a small fee they'll publish content. 4c. Network owner Similar situation, I found I immediately identified as a PBN (private blog network). I found a couple other sites. They looked great and to the casual observer there were no indications that this wasn't a real site. I emailed through the contact form, the private whois email, no reply. I looked through the site and found a few clients. I searched these clients' names together in different ways until I found other sites and started emailing again. Eventually I found a site without private registration. I didn't email, but found him on Twitter and sent a message that was somewhat coded like, "I found a couple of your client sites, can we talk about partnership? I have 150 similar domains." That was enough to get a response and we're trading content. 5. Think Like a PR Firm What does a real public relations firm do for their clients? That question leads to many answers. They focus on the person/business. What can they do to promote them? Have you developed a pitch for your client? Do you know if your client is doing anything interesting? For example, I was digging and found a very spammy site ranking well. I looked at the IBL's (in-bound links) and found about 50 .edu's! I was shocked to see 50 different educational institutions linking to this incredibly spammy site. Turns out all of those links were due to a scholarship the spammy site set up. That made me keep digging and I discovered other sites that were creating scholarships in order to gain .edu links. I have tested this with two clients (there are services that will handle all of the leg work from setup to link acquisition) and the results are mixed. Both clients' domains were ranking well and we were looking for additional exposure. We didn't get any real media mentions or press coverage, but they both got great .edu links for the cost of an annual scholarship ($500-5000 per year) plus link building expenses ($1000-4000 one time fee). 6. Connections for Link Building One of the best ways to get links is through connections. Since I've been involved in SEO since 2004 I have made a lot of connections. These connections have given me opportunities to gain links for myself and sometimes for my clients. 6a. Guest Posting I have done a lot of guest posting for myself and for my clients. Most of my client guest posting is outsourced or at least written by my writer, I still do very specific clients, but that's rare. I always attribute my early success to being diligent about guest posting and trying to build myself into a brand. When someone thinks about ORM, I want him or her to think of me. Running a business has really cut into the amount of time I spend on guest posting, but I'll be doing more this year. Guest posting (for me) is VERY different than the spam emails you get on a daily basis. I never send a generic email. I spend time researching the site owner, content on their site, social media accounts and make a very targeted campaign to get them to allow me to guest post on their site. Spam email gets deleted. A comment that is complimentary doesn't get deleted, neither does a question, neither does a twitter message, nor a LinkedIn connection. See what I mean? Guest posting isn't about the post, it's about the connection. When I write a guest post, I write about a topic that I consider myself an expert. I find a way to work my expertise into an article that the blogger is happy to publish. My guest posts are literally the best content I can write (like this post) and I give it away for free. I don't publish the best content on my sites, I give it away so more people can consume it without thinking I'm selling them something (I'm not selling you anything! I don't sell anything on BHW or have a plan to). My goal is personal branding and since I don't care about selling, I can focus on the content. That's how guest posting should be approached and if you do, you'll have more success. 6b. Blogger Outreach We do a LOT of blogger outreach. One thing about bloggers is that they know they have value and expect to be compensated as a result. We've come up with a lot of creative ideas in an effort to get bloggers to link to client websites. When you understand this is a marketplace that isn't 100% dependent on cash payments, you've begun thinking outside of the box. Once you're outside the box, you're ready to be able to get results. I don't know of many ORM companies or people who truly and consistently think outside the box. Don't be held back by what other people are doing. I don't shop much from the BST section because I don't want to play on a level field, I want to be playing a different game. I've worked with about 400 different bloggers over the last 6 months. For ORM you can get both links and great name drops once you've learned how to ask the right questions. 6c. Asking nicely A few months ago I was approached by a guy named "Kurt". I Googled him and found a lot of profiles. His LinkedIn profile looked fake to me so I kept digging. He had a fake LinkedIn profile, a fake EMD and even a fake Facebook, and Twitter. If you've been around the internet for any amount of time, you would be able to recognize it as a fake person as well. Normally this indicates someone from a foreign country (no offense!) looking for something, but I could tell this one was different. This fake person had perfect English and gave me a phone number with a New York area code. Of course the area code could be faked, but this person was under a deep cover and I was curious. I called the phone number and he answered! He was asking if I would do guest posting for him as a service, he knew the lingo and had obviously done this before. His industry is very difficult to get guest posts in and I knew that so I quoted him a price that I expected to scare him off. He wanted to get started with a couple of guest posts and we ironed out the details. After the first 3 guest posts were finished I called him again, I had to get answers. "I don't mean to offend you, but what's your real name?" I asked. "Kurt," he replied. I laughed, and he laughed. He asked what gave it away and I told him a few things I noticed. The first was that I reverse image searched his picture and found it on Instagram. He did well to crop it and make it look professional, but it didn't match. His experience and education seemed contrived, as did his experience. His connections were a few other fake accounts as well and they looked like bought connections. He told me his real name and you wouldn't believe it if I told you, and I told him I wouldn't. This person is one of the biggest names in SEO. He stopped setting up companies and websites is his own name because Google tracked his online work (his words, not mine). Every time he set up a new site, he would get a call within months from friends that worked inside Google saying they know about his new website and it would get deindexed within the next few weeks. That process repeated itself a few times and he eventually created this alter ego. If you think this is extreme, he had a PayPal account in the name of this alter ego as well! He related that he spends over $100k per month on SEO services for a variety of companies and can't afford to have them get penalized every couple of months. As soon as he tells people his name, they would start bragging about working with him and he would lose the site. My final question was how he found me and he said we have a very distant mutual colleague. Someone ordered a single guest post 6 months prior to our conversation and that was his initial test. He had a friend order that post for a website that neither of them were connected with. He wanted to wait and see if anything ever came of it. Since nothing happened, he figured I was safe. To this day I have no idea how he found me, or who our "mutual" colleague is. 7. Effective Results, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow I constantly am telling my clients that what worked yesterday might not work today and certainly won't work tomorrow. As a case in point, when was the last time you stuffed a page with 40% keyword density? When I started in 2004 I got my start by ranking for a very profitable keyword. I stuffed the page with keywords, wrote some horribly copy and started ranking. My domain was keyword rich and so was my HTML page. My title was stuffed, ALT text was ridiculous. Basically I put a keyword anywhere possible, even in my copyright text! Copyright (KEYWORD) 2004. KEYWORD - All Rights Reserved by DOMAIN and KEYWORD. But things change and that site is no longer ranking above the company's product I was selling. Interestingly though, I ranked above them for about 6 months. I was #1 and they were #2 and they never shut me down or complained. That site probably earned about $10,000 from 2004-2006 and hasn't made a penny since. I still own the site and it's part of my PBN. My point with the story is that yesterday's tactics are not going to work tomorrow. You need to be fluid and flexible. Don't invest too heavily in one strategy. A year ago I had 13 servers building millions of links per day. Today I have 4. What I did yesterday isn't what I'll be doing tomorrow! One thing I believe won't go out of style are real sites with great content. I wrote about how "content is king" way back in 2007 and that still holds true today. However, one thing I wish I did back then was to really spend time building out more sites. Rather than expanding, I should have been spending a few more hours and dollars on a site. Today I'm making sure that my sites look good before moving on. I didn't expect to write 2500 words on this today, but there you go! I'm happy to answer just about any question relevant to this discussion.