If you’ve ever been put off from making a purchase after seeing poor reviews or negative search results about a business then you’ve already encountered some examples of a company that’s in need of some online reputation management support.
Essentially, SEO reputation management is when a company attempts to take control of that first page of results by promoting results that are more favourable, thus demoting less favourable content. If a business can replace those negative results with more positive ones it can help them to alter the perception of their brand. This way, a business can also increase overall levels of traffic and conversions.
Why is SEO Reputation Management so Important for a Business?
If your SEO reputation management remains poor, it can affect your company in many different ways, most notably through the following:
- Reduced search traffic: If your brand name appears alongside negative reviews, less people are likely to want to engage with your brand. In addition, existing customers may also be deterred from making repeat conversions / purchases if they feel there is a risk they’ll encounter bad service.
- Reduced profitability: It’s one thing for consumers to pay a premium price from a brand with a strong reputation and five-star reviews. It’s another thing entirely for customers to be expected to pay market price for a poorly reviewed company with no clear attributes. Negative perceptions of your business will lead to a drop in your value proposition.
- Loss of brand credibility: If a brand isn’t doing all it can to protect the reputation it has worked so hard to achieve, what’s left for a consumer to do but look elsewhere? Years of hard work, satisfied customers, and trust carefully cultivate a strong brand reputation. However, you can loose it almost in an instant. So if you aren’t fighting for your reputation, all of that work can be undone in a matter of weeks or even days, depending on what occurs.
How SEO Plays a Role in your Reputation Management
As mentioned above, neglecting branded keyword search engine results can harm your business’s reputation. However, monitoring SERPs enables you to spot issues and resolve them in a timely manner. This can prevent further damage to your reputation.
But what can businesses that are only just learning about online reputation management do to make this happen? How can companies ensure that the message they want customers to see is what appears on the first page of the search engines?
Build Brand Authority
It goes without saying that the easiest way to avoid an online reputation management issue is to build a great reputation. This can include creating high quality content, engaging on social media, publishing thought-leadership articles, running PR campaigns, and hosting events to name a few but a few. From a customer point of view you should strive for excellence at every touch point, from customer queries, sales collateral, customer service – every part of the process. If problems arise, identify how they can be resolved, and ensure as few clients, customers or even suppliers as possible feel obliged to leave a negative review. Building a long-term reputation for excellence, trustworthiness and authority means any negative feedback will be cast against a heritage and history of positivity. Thus, users will view this feedback through the prism of an established and trusted business, making it less impactful.
Dominate Your Front Page
Owning as much real-estate on the front page of search results as possible is one of the most important means of controlling the narrative surrounding your company online. A customer who researches your business should immediately find the information you want them to see, and not what other people have said about your business. Below are just some of the influential social media sites you can create a brand property for:
These sites will naturally rank well so ensuring you have an active profile on each is an absolute must.
Harness Your Google My Business Page
The more you can brand your search results, the more control you have over the information available to potential customers. A Google My Business listing may even be the first result that pops up on Google, so be sure to use all the available features to maximise visibility.
Claiming your Google My Business page also allows you to use the snippet below it to update people on any changes, offers, or new releases available to them. You can also encourage people to review your business, which can help if you were to receive a flurry of negative reviews. Below you can see a company whose GMB reviews are much lower than from other publishers. To resolve this the company could encourage more positive reviews on GMB.
Learn how to Handle Negative Feedback
Whether justified or not, your business will get some negative feedback at one time or another. Social media profiles, Google My Business pages, and other review sites are going to attract comments, and not all of them will be glowing.
Disgruntled customers and even competitors can and will talk about your business, regardless of if you agree with it or not. So for better reputation management, it’s important to focus on responding to these comments promptly and attempting to resolve them amicably. Never get into an argument online, always thank users for their valuable feedback and ask them to contact you directly. If you suspect you are the victim of spurious negative reviews, you can get in touch with the review provider and ask them to remove, although there is no guarantee.
Highlight the Positive Elements of your Business
Shining some light on the positive aspects of what goes in your business can not only help reduce online negativity but also potentially help your overall rankings. You can achieve this through 3 main channels of content and reputation management:
1. PR and latest news posts
From being an integral part of your local community to getting your brand mentioned on a high-authority website, there’s always a way of adding the human touch to your business.
Are your staff all taking part in a charitable event? Have you recently achieved an eco-friendly initiative goal? Or perhaps you just want to show your support to a local sports team.
Either way, these announcements can sit nicely alongside your offers and latest products, helping your website become more PR-friendly and pushing those poor reviews down a few places on the SERP. Moreover, being featured in top tier media with recent coverage will help you rank better for your brand and help to demote any, older, less favourable results.
2. Thought-leadership content
One of the best parts of SEO is having a blueprint at hand that tells you what people are actively searching for. Combining insightful content related to commonly-searched topics and queries within your industry can establish your brand as trustworthy and insightful.
If Google sees that your content is serving a purpose and helping readers who are searching for those keywords, you’ll gain further credibility and potentially rise in the rankings.
3. Social media interactions
With plans now in place to fill the front page of Google with positive news, PAA insights, social media feeds within your control and content that’s useful to readers, it’s time to become more social online and connect with potential customers.
This can range from a simple tweet expressing support for local happenings, or writing out polite and helpful replies to negative comments. What matters is that you begin to develop those relationships and are more visible online.
Don’t be afraid to find general negative posts about your industry and comment on those as well. For example, if late shipping is a common problem people mention online, and your shipping takes just a few days, you’ve instantly got a USP to offer that disgruntled person.
Keep an Eye on Forum Posts
Forum posts can be one of the most difficult results to try and budge dowards. Google loves UGC (user generated content) as they know the content has been genuinely submitted rather than written up by a journalist or the brand itself. One thing you’ll want to avoid is making a negative forum thread any longer than necessary. Again the trick is to respond saying you’d like to speak to whoever has posted privately to resolve the issue (s). Feel free to point out that you have X many happy customers and X many positive reviews so that those reading the thread can see the other side of the argument.
Don’t Overlook the Importance of Positive Feedback
It’s easy to become too focused on how many negative reviews you’re getting online. But be sure to pay attention to those positive reviews too. You can thank them directly and even ask them to leave a review on your sites.
Most satisfied customers are more than happy to do it, which will help to reduce the number of negative ones that appear on the SERP.
Create Video Content
Many companies assume that video content is not suitable for their specific industry, which is a common mistake. But a quick Google search of your competitors should soon put that theory to bed.
Creating informative videos about a topic that is under 10 minutes long and straightforward have a strong potential to rank highly on the SERP. Optimizing the title and adding a brief description with popular keywords can boost video search rankings.
Create a Brand Alert for your Business
Being able to react to brand mentions quickly is half the battle online. And if you can take advantage of innovative monitoring tools via Google Alerts or Determ, you’ll be able to respond faster to inaccuracies, complaints, and damaging misinformation.
Determ even lets you choose between two types of alerts, depending on the type of notifications you’d like to receive. Smart alerts are notifications for every mention that match a specific filter and Spike alerts are sent when there’s an increase in the amount of mentions for a certain Topic.
There’s also an option of setting up a Spike alert email. It not only notifies you of trending topics but also highlights posts that may have triggered the increase in mentions. This feature provides immediate context, empowering you to take action or refine your strategies. In addition, the Spike Alert dashboard comprises a range of informative graphs and a concise Synthia summary for an in-depth analysis of the situation.
Think of this as the final piece of your reputation management plan, offering you the chance to resolve issues and prevent them from undoing the hard work you’ve put in to improve your brand’s reputation.
Earning the trust of your customers isn’t easy, and protecting the reputation of your business is an important part of maintaining that trust. If you can continue to use these insights and maintain a consistent tone of voice in your content, you can defend your brand’s credibility.
In time, that credibility will begin to speak for itself, significantly reducing the number of negative comments on Google, and elevating your company in the process.