Search engine optimization is a great digital marketing practice for increasing the amount of traffic and the number of qualified leads your business gets. And since search engines are such an integral part of everyday life, SEO has a lot more uses than that.

One of the most important uses of SEO is online reputation management, which is also known as search engine reputation management (SERM). 

💡 Read Brand Reputation 101: Monitoring, Analysis, and Management Tools

31% of consumers discover new products through search engines, and that’s more than any other marketing channel. Consumers also use them to do research before making a purchase.

The most significant task of online reputation management is making sure that when potential clients google your brand, they only find positive search results.

In this article, we’ll explain what reputation management is and share six strategies for perfecting it.

What is SEO reputation management?

Search engine optimization aims at finding opportunities for organic traffic growth and acting on them by doing one of the following:

  • Optimizing pages for keywords that match them.
  • Creating new content to match a newly found keyword.
  • Getting your website’s technical side in line with Google’s guidelines.
  • Improving online authority by getting mentions from other sites.

The end goal of SEO is to rank higher on the search engine result pages for specific keywords and attract more traffic, thus increasing sales.

SERM often involves the same steps as SEO but with a different goal. While in SEO your goal is traffic and leads, online reputation management focuses on brand awareness and creating a favorable brand image on the search engines.

There are two major components to SEO reputation management: tracking your online reputation and improving it. When it comes to tracking, sentiment analysis software is the best way to know the attitudes of consumers before it can impact your sales numbers.

You can complement it with SEO techniques that track your brand reputation by monitoring search engine result pages for certain keywords like your brand name. This applies to both corporate brands and personal brand names.

Online reputation management also includes creating online assets that lead to the discovery of your brand and creating a positive and authoritative image of it by working with materials that may paint your brand in a bad light.

Best Ways to Use SEO for Reputation Management

A sure way to improve your brand’s online reputation is to have Forbes or CNN write an article about how great your company is. But that’s not feasible for the majority of businesses.

These six strategies are highly accessible and will manage your reputation perfectly.

Keyword research

Keyword research is often the first task of search engine optimization. Strictly for SEO, the goal is to find keywords that can help consumers find your business. Most often, these keywords include product names and informational queries related to your industry or product.

For SERM, you’ll mostly be interested in researching keywords related to your brand. The two most important keywords are affiliated with your brand name and your brand name reviews.

People who are interested in making a purchase will likely use these keywords to look up information about your brand and judge whether it’s a good choice. Seeing the search engine result pages for these keywords and analyzing them helps you understand what brand image a search like that can create.

Better yet, track changes in branded keywords that are important for online reputation management with rank-tracking software like SE Ranking. It allows you to get updates on keyword positions and view historical data on the SERP, which are valuable insights for analyzing brand positions and predicting the potential for those queries.

For instance, tracking the brand keyword in the example below shows that a brand review page is getting higher in the SERP. This should prompt you to take a closer look at that page and ensure it gives a positive view of your brand.

SERP tracking software shows changes in SERP
Source: SE Ranking

There may be hundreds of reviews about your brand on smaller websites or review platforms, and paying attention to all of them takes too much effort. Tracking the SERP allows you to see which review pages enter the top 10 or top 20 of the Google search results for your branded keywords and deal with them.

The worst-case scenario for any brand is googling your brand name and seeing something like this in the recommended searches.

The related searches tab suggests learning more about a scandal tied to a brand.
Source: Google

Strategies for handling negative materials

If you find that there are negative materials in one of the related brand searches, you can use several strategies to manage it.

  • Create more pages about your brand on the site (for example, with case studies and rewards)..
  • Create positive press coverage.
  • Write content for authoritative industry blogs.

The main idea here is to provide enough quality SEO-optimized content so that it takes up most of the space on the SERP and drowns out the negative search results.

Social Media Profile Optimization

Social media is an important part of reputation management as it allows you to track user sentiment towards your brand, catch negative sentiment before it develops into a crisis, and engage consumers in a conversation. A social media account can also be an SEO asset.

Work on optimizing your social media platforms for search engines, and you can get them ranking for your brand query.

Social media accounts being shown for a brand keyword.
Source: Google

Ideally, you want those platforms as high as possible, but not above your website. Having social media pages appear on the SERP lets you dominate the search results and provide users with more options to interact with your brand instead of reading a third-party review.

Listing Management

SEO doesn’t just involve website optimization to dominate branded search result pages, it also includes off-page link building techniques. Link building is important for SEO to increase the authority of your website and have it rank for all keywords you target, but one of the most prominent tactics can also help with online reputation management.

Look for lists that feature the best products or services in your niche and reach out to website owners to get your brand featured as well. This does three crucial things:

  • Gets you a backlink to improve SEO.
  • Results in referral traffic and sales.
  • Boosts reputation because the brand appears alongside its prominent competitors.

Focus on getting your company into lists that rank high on the SERP to maximize exposure.

Online Reviews Management

Even if you put a lot of content about your brand out there on the web, consumers will still trust third-party reviews more. Not only that, 95% of consumers will actively seek out reviews before making a purchase, and 58% are willing to pay more for a product with good reviews.

That’s why, depending on the type of business you run, you should encourage users to leave reviews on Google Business Profile and on various third-party review sites, from G2 to Foursquare. You could also encourage employees to leave reviews on sites like Glassdoor.

While you can’t make negative reviews disappear, you can still manage them. Reply politely and make sure that any situations that cause bad reviews are taken care of.

A restaurant owner manages negative reviews on GBP.
Source: Google

Even if a review is negative, the fact that you answer it and make an effort to amend it signals you’re a trustworthy company.

If you encounter a negative long-form review on a website that ranks in SERP, you could try to reach out to the author and help them understand the product better and form another opinion. If the review is objective, reach out to them once you’ve fixed the problem they encountered.

Images & Videos Usage

You can’t force Google to display videos or images in SERP like this.

A video appears in SERP for an informational search.
Source: Google

If they do appear, you can consider creating videos and imagery and optimizing them to be there. You can also consider creating videos on YouTube to improve brand awareness in general.

Image SEO isn’t as useful for online reputation management, but it’s a great choice if the image search result page for your brand has negative search results. In that case, it’s useful to dominate image search to move the negative result down.

Brand Mentions Monitoring

Finally, you should monitor your brand mentions online and act accordingly when you see something that’s not right.

You can use social media to see when your brand account gets tagged in conversations and respond where it’s appropriate to improve engagement and build a solid online reputation. You can also track new backlinks with SEO software and disavow links that seem to come from an untrustworthy source.

However, not all people who talk about your brand online tag you or leave a link that’s possible to find with SEO software. You can use a social listening tool to find those unlinked mentions and either ask for a backlink if it’s from a website or engage in a conversation if it’s on social media.

Benefits of SEO as a Part of Reputation Management

Reputation management is a complex business strategy, and SEO isn’t the only part of it. Here are the benefits of including SEO in online reputation management efforts.

Building Trust & Credibility

Trust is crucial in any type of business relationship. According to Edelman research, 67% of customers won’t buy from a brand unless they trust it, and a breach of trust will likely result in them no longer using its services.

SEO can help build trust by creating expert content that shows your brand’s authority. This can include guides, thought leadership content, case studies, or original research.

SEO can also improve brand trust through off-page SEO efforts as they result in your brand being mentioned on multiple platforms and presenting itself as an expert in the field that’s being talked about.

Gaining New Customers and Increasing Traffic

One of the biggest benefits of SEO is attracting organic search traffic and gaining new leads. Apart from this being the favorite goal of any business, it also benefits your brand’s reputation.

Having more happy customers means more positive reviews, more mentions of your brand in conversations online, and, as a result, more impact on your brand’s reputation.

Protecting Businesses Brand Image

SEO can be beneficial for creating a positive brand image. It is also important for protecting the brand image and managing negative publicity.

This includes trying to drown out the negative search engine results and manage negative reviews that appear high on the SERP or in your GBP.


Search engine optimization is a marketing strategy that can be used in multiple key business areas.

Track branded keywords, manage online reviews, and build links from lists of best products. All of this will improve your chances of getting more traffic, more leads, and also improving your brand’s reputation.

If you’re looking for a place to start, start with SERP tracking. This will give you an understanding of how users see your brand when they google it and allow you to react to negative materials early on.

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