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3 Ways to Kill Your Online Credibility, and 3 Ways to Keep It

credibility_cartoon_seomovesIt’s easy to publish a blog post, a tweet or a status update. Sometimes too easy. As a business owner (and bloggers are business owners, too) you have a responsibility to publish facts. Readers don’t come for fiction, or to be taken on a breezy diversion of gossip and rumors. They come to your blog and follow your social media profiles to learn something from you.

You can seriously damage your brand by doling out misinformation as if it’s accurate, so take your time to get it right. Be certain you’re publishing facts.

To Kill Your Credibility Fast:

1. Jump on a Non-Scoop Scoop

Ever heard of a Twitter death hoax? This all-too-common viral “scoop” works for a number of social psychological reasons, none of them useful in getting to the truth. A quick Google search reveals insight about them from highly reputable sources, including the TheNewYorkTimes.

Facebook scams work the same way. I spent no time at all cross-referencing independent sources about apps that claim to let you see who viewed your profile. I debunked them in no time here, here, and thisone even references Facebook’s own Terms of Use.

Did you hear about the false CNN and Fox News reports that the Supreme Court struck down the individual health insurance mandate? It was such bad reporting about such a big event that the mistake got almost as much attention as the real news! However, you aren’t a news organization. No one will talk about you for making a mistake. They just won’t pay attention to you anymore.

2. Reiterate Common “Knowledge” that isn’t True

Whatever your area of expertise, you probably hear about all sorts of myths that masquerade as facts. Living in the world of internet marketing, I witness countless assumptions about the Google algorithm being spun into “knowledge” all the time. This spring, as the Penguin update rolled out, SEO bloggers made up stories about what the Over Optimization Penalty means.

I don’t think they were trying to deliver false information, but they did. All they needed to do was read Googlesownblogpost on the subject. Often, the actual truth is less interesting than the general consensus about what’s true.

3. Push Ideas that Just Don’t Work

Most disturbing about rumors and myths, is not that the writer looks silly, unreliable or careless for publishing them, but rather that they breed superstitious behavior. In other words, service providers (and scammers) use false beliefs to deliver bad advice, and even develop marketing campaigns and questionable services that don’t work.

The credibility of SEO as an entire industry has been hurt by such things. For example, you can still buy thousands of low authority links to help boost your site’s visibility in Google. More likely, those lousy links willdragyoursitedown. If you’re convinced that any and all links can help your site (myth), you’ll keep buying links (superstitious behavior) even though that repeated choice is actually hurting your site!

You better know if your ideas are legitimate before you encourage anyone to spend time and money betting that your advice will work. You don’t need to sell products around a bad idea to harm your brand – a blog post or two will do it.


To Keep Your Credibility Alive:


1. Don’t Jump to Publish Breaking “News”

You simply don’t have to publish the latest developments, or go with the flow in order to be useful. The opposite is often the case; a blog that provides counterintuitive insights that actually enlighten readers is going to build a loyal following better than one that’s always publishing “me too” blogcontent about trending topics. Don’t be tempted to tweet, post, or like inaccurate stories, either. Slow it down. Get it right.

2. Always Verify with Independent Sources

We all read things that aren’t accurate without even realizing. The web is full of it, and it’s a pain. Be the safe haven for good information in your niche and prove it with links to a variety of sources. Readers can’t trust you unless you give them good reasons, like I did in making some of my points above. If you’re convinced that someone’s new idea is right on, cross check it, or go right to the source (like I did below).

Doing a bit of research doesn’t just verify facts, it give you perspective, something readers long for and appreciate.

3. Stick to Giving the Best Advice You Have

All publishing media operate faster than they ever have. That’s why punditry rules cable news, not substantive reporting. The same is often true of blogs. Feeling like your online presence is slow and even obsolete can tempt you to jump in and deliver “insights” that are nothing more than unsupported opinion. Political pundits have been proven wrong more than 50% of the time, and actualresearch proves it. Don’t be a pundit. Be an expert. Experts are careful with their opinions and advice.

If there’s one take away to learn from this post, it’s that speed kills. Just because you can publish fast and loose, doesn’t mean you should. You aren’t building a business for sound bites or page views, after all, you’re building it for long term profitability.

A successful business owner and internet marketer, Mike Sobol has been growing businesses since 1999. Mike is also co-founder of Content BLVD, a curated and edited source of quality guest posts that helps site owners and bloggers source freeblogcontent with less effort.