RHO: You’ve Got a Reputation

RHO Quick List

RHO stands for Real Human Optimization; a different way of looking at the best practices for building a strong online customer base.

  • Create content that viewers want to see
  • Get relevant and reputable sites to talk about you (with links to your site)
  • Repeat (keep the content fresh and up-to-date).


In the last post (“Content is the Key“), I talked about writing for customers, not computers.  Search Engines (SEs) will judge you on the actual content of what you write–but that’s secondary to getting actual people interested in what you have to say.  This is important, because SEs give higher rankings to posts that are popular–but “validly” popular.  A million bots saying “you’re interesting” won’t help you; A hundred people very well may.


Courtesy: Alexas_Fotos @ pixabay.comWhat we’re talking about is “reputation”.   I”m sure every SE has their own fancy, and technical-sounding, term for it, but they’re all talking about the same thing:  Reputation. They listen to what people say about you–and they care about the reputation of who’s saying it.

In the “old days”, dumping enough keywords into the metadata (stuff that computers see but you don’t) was enough to get search engines to believe you.  I’m sure you realize just how fast that was taken advantage of.  The use of “meta keywords” long ago stopped being something that search engines look at–except as a “negative proof”.  If your “keywords” don’t match what’s actually in the content, you’re busted and your reputation is killed before it even had a chance to grow1I don’t even bother with meta keywords on this site; the benefit-to-risk ratio just isn’t high enough..

Then SEs moved to “backlinks” as a strong metric (they still are, but with better controls).  A “backlink” is when another website has a link on their page that people can click to get to your page.   This, of course, led to the creation of “link farms”.  People would create hundreds of websites that contained nothing more than links to websites that had paid them.  A lot of people got rich–pretty much all of them the scammers.

Google got smart to this, and started looking at what I’ll call “reference reputation”.  If a site was full of out-going links, but had no links coming in, it was a link farm and got dropped from search listings (as did anyone who’d bought links on them).  If a site had a lot of people linking to it, it was probably worth looking at.

Later, AI2Artificial Intelligence; i.e., “smart computers”. advanced far enough that Google’s computers could actually read–and understand–the content of websites.  This was the game-changer.

An Honest Website

Fair Use: CommentaryAll of these advances (pioneered mostly by Google, but adopted in various forms by most major Search Engines3Except Baidu–which, despite several scandals over the past few years, still allows for degrees of “gaming the system”, and out-right “buying top spots”..  Google, et. al. are now smart enough to know when you’re lying to them–and they take it very seriously.

So how do you build a reputation?

There are two basic paths to building a reputation:

  1. Create quality content and get people to talk about you
  2. Create quality content and get websites with good reputations to talk about you.

It all comes back to “word of mouth”.  Advertising does not build your reputation (but it does gain you exposure, so it’s still good).  You need to write quality content that people & websites link to.  You can’t “buy” a good reputation.  You can’t cheat your way to a good reputation.  You can’t “trick” Google into thinking you have a good reputation.  To (almost) quote an old TV commercial:  “We get our reputation the old-fashioned way–we earn it.”


The four cornerstones of good content, good marketing, and a good reputation are all the same:

  1. Identify
  2. Inform
  3. Educate
  4. Engage.

I’ll be repeating those a lot. And I’ll be writing about them a lot.   Starting next week.

Blaze is the founder of Redleaf Consulting. He started as a dishwasher at the age of 15, and worked his way up to Director of Marketing for a Sino-German joint venture in Jiangsu, China. He has over 25 years of experience in education, communication, and marketing.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.I don’t even bother with meta keywords on this site; the benefit-to-risk ratio just isn’t high enough.
2.Artificial Intelligence; i.e., “smart computers”.
3.Except Baidu–which, despite several scandals over the past few years, still allows for degrees of “gaming the system”, and out-right “buying top spots”.

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