Search engine results pages (SERPs) are quickly becoming people’s primary source of information about the businesses and places they interact with.
Reviews, ratings, and other types of content that praise what you have to offer can lead to more conversions and customers. But information isn’t always positive. And when it isn’t, it has the potential to damage a business’s reputation, and ultimately, its bottom line. So how do you manage your online reputation in search engines like Google?
In this article, Reviewgrower will explain everything you need to know about SEO reputation management—what it is, why it’s important, and how you can start using SEO to improve or repair your online reputation.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
What Is Online Reputation Management?
In simple terms, online reputation management is the practice of managing what people say with the goal of influencing what people think.
It’s no secret that people are influenced by what they see online. In fact, a recent study found that nearly 85% of people research a company online before doing business with them. With that in mind, you need to make sure that when people are looking you up, they’re seeing the best possible version of you.
There are a number of ways to do this, including:
- prioritizing good customer service
- monitoring online reviews and feedback
- responding to negative reviews and comments
- encouraging social media engagement…
…and, of course—SEO reputation management.
SEO Reputation Management: The Basics
At its core, SEO reputation management is the process of using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve the visibility of positive content and limit the visibility of negative content in search engine results pages (SERPs).
The goal is to ensure that when people are searching for you or your business, they’re seeing the best possible version of you. In other words, you want to control the narrative.
To do this, SEO reputation management involves two main strategies (which you’re probably familiar with):
- Optimizing your website and online content for relevant keywords, topical breadth, and topical depth
- Building high-quality backlinks to your website and online content
These may sound like basic SEO practices—and that’s because they are! But when it comes to reputation management, the focus is different. Rather than trying to rank for the purpose of increasing traffic and conversions, the goal is to rank for the purpose of increasing the visibility of positive content.
In other words, with SEO reputation management, you’re using SEO to influence what people think. And while this may sound like a tall order, it is possible with the right approach.
Why Does SEO Reputation Management Matter?
Now that we’ve covered the core benefits of SEO reputation management from a more general perspective, it’s time to have a more in-depth look.
Here are a few specific benefits of SEO reputation marketing:
1. It Affects Your Organic Search Traffic.
Organic search traffic is the traffic you’ve earned rather than paid for through high-quality content, reviews, backlinks, and traffic. It takes time and effort to rank organically, and negative reviews can swiftly tarnish all your hard work.
Humans are programmed to seek out negative stories—it’s called negativity bias. So, when negative reviews about your brand pop up—or worse, a controversy arises—customers tend to click on those first.
When Google sees people clicking on negative content, it starts to rank these results higher than the positive content you’re putting out. In other words, bad publicity means people are being put off by your brand, reducing your organic search traffic.
Take a look at this SERP for “Asana” (pictured above). Monday and Asana are competitors in the project management space—and Monday is using this piece of (subtly) negative content to steal clicks away from Asana’s homepage.
Based on data from many studies, we can estimate that the portion of traffic Monday is siphoning off at least 39.1%.
2. It Reduces The Need For Paid Advertising.
The ROI of paid advertising and PPC has been steadily dropping for years now. People are overwhelmed by the number of ads they see, leading to a phenomenon known as ad blindness. Plus, ad blockers come built into pretty much every browser nowadays.
What we’re getting at here is that it can be difficult to build or repair a reputation using paid channels alone.
That’s what makes SEO reputation management such a great tool to have in your arsenal. Ad blockers don’t stop people from seeing your content. And if your content provides value, it fulfills the dual purpose of capturing attention and improving your reputation.
3. It Helps You Retain Value.
Around 60% of a brand’s value is tied to its reputation. No customer or client wants to do business with a brand with a negative online reputation.
This will lead your customers to consider other alternatives instead, something that a strong SEO reputation management strategy can help you avoid.
4. It Protects Against A Loss Of Revenue.
Having a negative reputation is bad for business. Remember when the Samsung Galaxy 7 started exploding? Well, that little (okay, massive) PR crisis led to a 15% decrease in mobile phone sales for the company.
Many businesses have had to shut down or recall their products because of bad publicity. In most cases, major corporations have a team of lawyers, marketers, and ties with the media to take swift action.
This isn’t usually the case for local businesses, but it’s still possible to recover from the bad press with targeted SEO action.
Now, let’s talk about how!
SEO Reputation Management Tactics
There are a number of ways to improve your brand’s reputation with SEO. But before we dive into the tactics, you need to understand that SEO reputation management is a long-term game.
It takes time to build up a positive reputation, and even more time to improve a negative one. So, be patient and consistent with your efforts, and you will see results.
Now, let’s get into the strategies!
Optimize And Regularly Update Your Google My Business Profile And Other Listings.
If you want to improve your brand’s reputation, you need to optimize and regularly update your Google My Business (GMB) profile along with any other online listings you have, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.
Your GMB profile is one of the first things that people will see when they search for a brand or business, so you need to make sure that all of your information is up-to-date and accurate.
Here’s a quick checklist for you to run through for a fully optimized GMB profile:
- Claim your GMB profile
- Fill in every section
- Contact info
- Categories (e.g., restaurant)
- Attributes (e.g., delivery, vegan, etc.)
- Products and services (e.g., spaghetti)
- Add FAQs (based on topics that people regularly bring up in reviews or on social media)
- Publish high-quality posts and photos weekly
- Manage and generate reviews—the most important item on your checklist!
Keeping your GMB active is particularly important for local businesses that rely on the platform to reach customers. For instance, a geo-localized query such as “best restaurants in New York” shows places with the highest ratings. Here, having a positive SEO reputation has a direct, positive impact on the restaurant’s bottom line.
You can use ReviewGrower to generate positive reviews by automatically sending happy customers review request messages like the one below:
Our platform also allows you to set up alerts for 80+ review sites including Yelp, Google Reviews, and TripAdvisor—so you can easily respond to reviews.
Rank Through A Variety Of Sources.
Another strategy that you can use to improve your online reputation is to rank in SERPs through multiple sources.
Why is this so important? Well, Google only allows a single domain to hold two organic positions in a SERP. So, if your SEO reputation management strategy is entirely focused on that single domain, you’re leaving eight organic positions uncontested. These might be filled with positive content or negative content—it’ll be outside your control.
The way to get around this is by using a multipronged approach that utilizes multiple sources, including:
- Local Packs
- Featured Snippets
- Knowledge Panels
- Secondary Domains (e.g., example.com and example.co.uk)
- Social Media Profiles (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
- Forum Posts (e.g., Quora, Reddit, etc.)
Take the search “Starbucks”, for example:
The chain has near total control over the content in the first SERP because they’ve taken advantage of multiple different sources. The SERP positions include:
- Starbucks Local Pack
- Starbucks Domain
- Starbucks Knowledge Panel
- Top Stories (N/A)
- Starbucks Instagram
- Starbucks Facebook
- People Also Ask (N/A)
- Starbucks Twitter
- Starbucks Tweet Box
The two positions that aren’t controlled by Starbucks directly (“Top Stories” and “People Also Ask”) are almost impossible to rank for—we’ll give them a pass there! They’re able to use the rest to promote content that puts their best foot forward.
Tip: When seeking out domains to rank for, choose ones with high Domain Authority (DA)—Quora and Twitter, for example. Google prioritizes these sites when generating SERPs. Here’s a free tool you can use to quickly lookup a domain’s DA.
Drown out negative content.
One of the best ways to improve your brand’s reputation is to drown out negative content proactively. The simplest way to do this is by creating enough high-ranking, positive content that any negative results get pushed down in the SERPs. That said, this method can take a long time to work.
If you want to speed up the process, a more nuanced method is to actively reclaim negative keywords. This might sound counterintuitive, so let’s look at an example.
Let’s say you’re managing the online reputation of a local plumbing business—Smith Plumbing. When you search “Smith Plumbing” the first page has positive results, but when you search “Smith Plumbing” + “prices” the top result is a one-star Yelp review written by a customer who felt they were overcharged.
Your best bet in this situation is to start including the keyword “Smith Plumbing prices” in your keyword strategy—perhaps through a pricing page or series of blog posts. You could also devise a review generation campaign to encourage happy clients to write reviews about your pricing.
That way, you can control the conversation around this keyword and ensure that potential customers see the content you want them to see.
Maintain a strong social media presence.
Social media is one of the best ways to improve your brand’s reputation. It allows you to quickly and easily connect with customers, answer their questions, and address their concerns—all in real-time. Plus, social media sites usually have high DAs, making them great for taking up real estate in SERPs.
But, social media is also a double-edged sword. If you’re not careful, social media can quickly become a breeding ground for negative sentiment.
Here are a few tips for maintaining a strong social media presence:
- Be responsive. Try to answer every question and address every concern that you can.
- Be proactive. If you know that there’s a problem, take the initiative to address it—don’t wait for someone to bring it up.
- Post regularly.Keep your social media channels active and engaging by posting high-quality content on a regular basis.
- Highlight social proof. When someone says something positive about your brand on social media, share it!
Sticking to these best practices will help you build a strong social media presence—one that can quickly drown out any negative sentiment.
Reviewgrower can help you build a strong social media presence by automatically posting your best reviews to social media—or by embedding them on websites or landing pages. Just choose a review site, a destination, and a frequency!
Rank Through A Variety Of Content Types.
In addition to ranking through multiple sources, you should also focus on ranking for a variety of content types. That means diversifying your content strategy beyond website copy, articles, and blog posts by mixing in:
- press releases
- product listings
For a great example, make a quick Google search for “Ikea”:
Regardless of which tab you click on (“videos”, “images”, “shopping”, “news”, etc.) Ikea’s content dominates the top results. This content stranglehold (to phrase it rather aggressively) is a huge factor in Ikea’s strong brand reputation—the second highest of any major company.
By ranking for all content types, you’re increasing the chances that people will see positive content about your brand when they search for you. And as more people see positive content, your reputation will slowly improve.
Monitor Your Online Presence.
Finally, it’s crucially important to monitor your online reputation. This means setting up Google Alerts for your brand name and key phrases that relate to your reputation.
It also means regularly searching for reviews and feedback to understand what kinds of reputational issues are frequently coming up. With Reviewgrower, it’s easy to keep tabs on what people are saying online through a suite of tools that includes:
- Review monitoring
- Reporting and analytics
By monitoring your online presence, you can quickly identify negative content and take steps to remove it or drown it out. You can also identify common themes to start tackling reputational issues at their sources (e.g., customer service response times, slow shipping, etc.).
Solidify Your Clients’ Reputations with Reviewgrower
Running a successful business means maintaining a strong bond with your customers. One of the best ways to do that is through strong reputation management strategies and reviewing management practices.