SEO Tip of the Week: Offsite Trust Optimisation: How to audit your online reputation

TAGs: 90 Digital, Google, nick garner, SEO Tip of the Week, Tip of the Week, trust optimization, Video

90 Digital CEO Nick Garner speaks about on how to audit your  reputation online on this episode of’s SEO Tip of the Week.

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Short intro to Trust Optimization.

Along with on site optimization and link acquisition, there seems to be a third element to ranking well on Google, it’s called Trust Optimization. Trust Optimization is based on the information we have got from anecdotal evidence on click through rates and rankings along with explicit guidelines from Google stating what they are looking for in a trusted website.  On with the post…

Where are you referenced? Is it positive or negative?

“2.7.4 How to Search for Reputation Information

Using as an example, try one or more of the following searches on Google:

• [ibm –]: A search for IBM which excludes pages on

• [“” –]: A search for “” which excludes pages on

• [ibm reviews –] A search for reviews of IBM which excludes pages on

• [“” reviews –]: A search for reviews of “ibm.”


How to audit your online reputation

Google make a big thing in their rater guidelines around trust and reputation. They even give you some useful guidelines on how to do reputation research.

Some background

You may remember the case of the online glasses seller who was so abusive to his clients that he built up a substantial inbound link footprint online, which in turn meant he ranked really well for a number of competitive phrases. CITE THE NAME OF THIS ECOMMERCE STORE.

This was a bad day for Google because the algorithm helped to promote ‘the bad guys’. If Google ranks the site and your have a terrible consumer experience with that site, somewhere along the line it’s Google who made the introduction and by implication they are the bad guys here.

This is why Google really cares about making sure sites which rank are trustworthy.


Reputation is a big deal, such a big issue the European parliament began to enforce something called ‘right to be forgotten’. This means you should have the right to have your past forgotten about if you choose.

A good example is someone going bankrupt 10 years ago and who is back in business, but when you search their name, the 10 year old article damming them for not paying their bills ranks No2 behind their LinkedIn profile. This is a reputation killer for this person.

Because Google is the most popular search engine in Europe, they got the most press on being forced to clean up search results which individuals thought put them in a bad light. In fact Bing has also been caught in the net.

The result; when you search around, you will often see:

It looks great for the person who wants to hide their past. Unfortunately for them, all you have to do is change your search over to where the search is done as a United States user and you will pick up the hidden search listing.

It’s all a bit of a nonsense, but it does highlight how important reputation really is.


Then there is ZMOT. What’s that? It’s a ‘mental framework’ Google put together to help us understand how users search for information on line. It turns out when we decide to buy a new ‘thing’ or service, ABOUT 50% of the time we look at average 10.4 sources of information online before making a decision to buy something.

The upshot? People dig around far more than you might think. One plausible negative comments in a forum or on a review site could be enough for you lose that customer.

Auditing your reputation

It’s fairly easy. Google have given us some simple tricks that will help you check yourself out.

My only problem with this, is the amount of time it takes to manually dig around for search listings. It’s why my agency (90 Digital) built an Excel based tool with something called ‘share of search’. You can directly query up to 60 phrases 20 or more search results deep and see in one go who and what is ranking for whatever phrase in whichever country.  It’s a massive timesaver and means you can audit who keyword landscapes really efficiently. You can get it here :

Other sources of reputation insight

If you’re in online marketing, you will have heard all about social media monitoring. There are some great tools like, CHECK THIS OUT TO BE SURE) Where you can see the latest ‘chatter’ on you or your brand.

It’s useful insight, but typically social media is like a river of content and once it’s passed you by, its hard accidently ‘bump’ into that content again. Search is different because you can do a query for something and easily ‘bump’ into negative content which totally changes your perception of that brand or person.


Occasionally do a sweep of your reputation. If it’s problematic, don’t just forget about it. Fix it.

I always say to clients:

1. Do what you do well,

2. Check out well,

3. Promote.

So see how you check out!
Nick Garner


Nick Garner is  founder of 90 Digital, the well-known and respected iGaming search marketing agency.  

Nick is obsessed with SEO and whatever it takes to rank sustainably on Google.


views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of