Forbes estimates that 97% of business owners believe in the importance of reputation management. Further research shows that companies could lose as much as 22% of revenue or sales if customers see a negative article about the company on the first page of the search results. This climbs to 59.2% if customers see three negative articles on the first page. Search engine optimization affects what falls on the first landing page about a company. Therefore, you can already see how SEO reputation management is important.
Note, however, that using SEO for reputation management has its limitations. It is much easier to rank for specific keywords than to clear your company’s name. Remember that SEO involves the work you put into your own website. It doesn’t, however, control how other articles on all other websites may rank. Even so, you can rely on partner marketing to encourage other sources to create positive content.
What Is Reputation Management?
As the name implies, this refers to the strategy of controlling how consumers perceive a particular brand. In fact, one could argue that public relations activities focus entirely on this one goal by using multiple methods. Through this work, reputation management can help a company to overcome false accusations or bury a scandal. However, business owners should not think of this as a purely reactive tool.
You should actively engage in reputation management on a regular basis to ensure that you put your best foot forward. Reputation protection makes it harder for negative news to outrank the constant stream of positive content that websites publish about your brand. Marketers and PR specialists use various tools to do this:
- Social media
- Customer service
- Logo and brand colors
- Overall crisis management strategies
- Architectural design and layout of the company’s physical locations
The Importance of Reputation Management
Forbes jokes that the best way a company can hide a dirty secret is to make sure it falls on the second or third page of search results. Humor aside, there is some truth to this. The first page of Google’s search results accounts for up to 92% of website clicks. Move to the second page and that drops to 6%. This is the top reason SEO reputation management is so important.
However, managing your brand image is more than just where you rank in Google search results. Online reviews also decide how people view your company. If you have only a handful of reviews or they are mostly negative, people may think twice about doing business with your company. Even the most positive product or service reviews on trusted sites may not fix this damage. Modern customers trust the opinions of each other more than the experts.
The reason for this is obvious. There is a greater likelihood that reviews from other buyers are authentic. Meanwhile, companies often pay for the glowing remarks made about their brand on Forbes, CNN and other well-known websites.
There is also the offline component of reputation management that business owners should not ignore. This involves word of mouth and the general perception people have of a business in a local community. Remember that not all businesses enjoy a strong online presence. In fact, not all businesses are in locations where nearby patrons can easily access the web.
How To Use SEO Reputation Management
Search engine optimization involves analyzing Google’s algorithms and making calculated estimates of how the platform ranks content in search results. Marketers then design websites and match page content to meet these standards.
Note that the criteria are always changing and Google does not release its algorithms. Google is also not the only search engine around, but it dominates the market. As well, optimizing for Google meets similar standards used by other engines.
Review Your SEO
Before you adjust your SEO campaign to manage your reputation, it’s important to do a proper review. This helps you to identify what keywords you rank for most naturally or easily. These are the keywords where customers are most likely to come across your brand when doing an online search. A review also helps you to identify where you may have fallen short. You can then make improvements so that your own website ranks highest as the top authority on your own product or service.
You need to regularly publish new content on multiple platforms to make a steady stream of positive news. These include articles on your own website, press releases through well-known distributors, reviews from influencers, features on larger websites and strings of social media posts. The more positive content you get out there, the greater your likelihood of beating the negative ones that may show up.
Look Into Partner Marketing
As mentioned, you can include other websites in your marketing mix to boost SEO. Good partner websites may include blogs run by fans or customers. You should also look into swapping article reviews and features with companies that complement your line of business. For example, a company that manufactures spaghetti sauce could partner with a local supermarket, pot brand or farmer. This kind of exchange puts out more positive content about your brand, while also helping with link-building.
Plan for Mobile
Is your website mobile friendly? Many business owners say yes without knowing that it’s not true. To check, try to open your website on your phone. It should display a simplified version. Note if the images are small or the text is unreadable. You should also only need to scroll up and down to see everything, not left or right. Signing up for Google Analytics can further assist you with noting any issues users may have with getting to the mobile website. Note that Google has a preference for mobile-friendly websites, especially when people conduct searches on smartphones and tablets.
Avoid Black Hat Practices
While focusing on how to improve the SEO ranking of positive information, it is also important to note the activities you should stay away from. Any action that could get you banned by Google or removed from its index is not worth the risk. These include buying fake reviews, purchasing links from disreputable websites, keyword stuffing and hiding content. All of these falls under what marketers call black hat SEO practices.
Sometimes someone else does black hat SEO and marketing on your behalf without you knowing. This may happen due to hiring what you thought was a reputable SEO company that promised results. Sometimes these companies use bots to simulate results before contacting you to show you what they are capable of. These activities may result in fake reviews on Google My Business, Yelp and other review sites. Remove them as quickly as possible before Google and the other platforms get a whiff of it, as it may affect your credibility.
Benefits of Reputation Management
The two main parts of SEO reputation management feed off each other. Better SEO helps a company to maintain a more positive online image. Meanwhile, a strong and positive online image typically signals to Google that the company is an good source to share with users doing a search for specific keywords. This creates a two-birds-one-stone scenario.
Maintaining or Losing Trust
The main goal of any reputation management campaign is to build and preserve trust. Negative reviews or commentary from the media can completely shake or break the public’s faith in a brand. This in turn may lead to lost revenue for the company. Customers are not short of options and may choose to take their business elsewhere. They may also discourage family, friends and even the general public from doing further business with your company.
Of the many different approaches that companies can take to manage public perception of their brand, SEO is one of the most long-lasting. People gather a lot of the information forming the basis of what they believe online, so managing permanent online information is key. Articles tend to remain online for the life of a website, so old content will continue to bring in good publicity for your company over time.
An often-overlooked aspect of online reputation management is that it aids with resolving outstanding issues. It is important for businesses to take the time to respond to negative reviews and commentary. You should also try to reach an amicable agreement with customers. Resolving issues that led to poor reviews may cause that low rating to climb in a short space of time. Even when customers do not change their minds, good responses to bad reviews show that the company listens and has a commitment to customer satisfaction.
SEO reputation management is just one aspect of branding and preserving a positive image. This is especially important in the wake of a terrible review or a company scandal. It is perhaps unwise to use SEO to hide or deny that issues leading to negative commentary exists. However, SEO can help you to control how the public sees that issue and your proposed solutions.
At Boostability, we provide multiple SEO services related to managing your company’s image. These include affordable SEO, link-building, local search marketing and website content. For more information, contact us at (800) 261-1537.