Find out how online reputation management and SEO can be used to change the way that businesses, brands and individuals are perceived online.
First impressions are everything. As consumers, it takes less than two tenths of a second to form an initial impression of a brand. It then takes another 2.6 seconds for our eyes to adjust, consider the brand, and reinforce that initial impression.
In under three seconds users develop their first opinion about a person or a brand based on what they see online – but how does that happen?
A searcher’s first impression will occur on search engine results, not on your website. If your company or brand is receiving a bad rap, people searching your company will come across articles and contents written about you first.
Maintaining a powerful perception of your company in the digital world is essential in order to thrive online. Having the ability to influence the organic first online impression of your company will go a long way in terms of improving perception.
Poor Online Reputation – What it Means for Individuals & Businesses
For many customers, the first experience they have with a brand is through a Google search. While your website may paint a positive light on your business, customers won’t be able to experience this until they click through from the search engine results pages. This means before they make their way to your website, they will have already seen search engine results related to your website.
So then, what do the rest of those results say about you, your brand, or your business?
When searching your company or brand, that first page results on Google will determine a number of effects on your business. If the search results contain negative brand mentions, not only will searchers experience a bad first impression, but your poor reputation will slowly creep into every marketing and online campaign efforts for your business.
Over time, a poor online reputation can lead to a myriad of different things, including, but not limited to:
1. Loss of Organic Search Traffic
A decrease in organic search traffic will be the most obvious side effect to negative brand mentions. Building and maintaining customer trust is very important in today’s market where there is a high prevalence of online scams, spammy websites and phishing.
As soon as searchers come across negative mentions of a brand, they will lose any trust with a brand or website. Loss of trust will result in searchers abandoning the search journey, leading to an overall loss of organic search traffic.
As long as these negative brand mentions are visible, they will continue to decrease incoming organic traffic to the website. Rather than clicking through to your website, searchers will spend more time reading the negative reviews that show up in search results. Increased CTR (click through rate) on other results and decreased CTR on your website can potentially result in the negative press eventually outranking your website.
2. Decline in Paid Search Traffic
High visibility for negative brand mentions will also lead to a loss of paid search traffic. There’s no point in spending a great deal of money to advertise your website if the ad is going to be placed next to a negative search result of your business.
The money being spent on paid advertising will amount to very little paid search traffic as searchers will not want to click on a website that is being painted as unfavourable. If your website is experiencing negative press, the money spent on advertising would be better spent cleaning up online reputation.
3. Significant decrease in overall marketing effectiveness
All marketing campaigns and efforts will be impacted by negative press. Whether you’re advertising your business online, with old school marketing tactics, through email, billboards, or Facebook, these efforts will be for very little or nothing if your company is receiving a bad reputation online.
What’s more, most marketing efforts will result in prospects end up having to “Google you” to get to your website. Once they come across the negative reviews on search results, they are very likely to be dissuaded and abandon the search. All of this money, time and effort being poured into reaching out to potential customers will be wasted until the negative brand mentions and reviews are addressed.
4. Company Value decrease
Depending on the nature of the business, a lot of company value may come from online brand perception and performance. Not only will poor online reputation impact the way potential customers view your company, but it will also change the perception of existing customers, investors, business partners and lenders.
5. Profitability drop
Once your company reputation becomes damaged, it can be tough asking for premium prices for your services. People are no longer willing to pay premium prices for a business with a tarnished reputation. And while this can be managed with increasing discounts, maintaining cash flow and growth targets for a business will not be viable until the negative press is managed. Poor online management can indefinitely lead to a large drop in business profitability.
Online Reputation Management with SEO
Managing Online Reputation is the process of influencing online perception about a particular brand, website, or person. The management will include building a positive image using multiple channels such as social media, press releases and most importantly, search engine optimisation.
As we mentioned earlier, most people will begin their interaction with your brand’s online presence with a simple search query. In terms of online reputation management, SEO can be used to control and manipulate what people will see when they search for your company.
SEO is all about finding ways to manipulate Google’s search algorithm, under their guidelines. SEO for online reputation management will work to dispute poor search results by building and creating positive search results with higher visibility.
Taking control of what people will view in Google will go a long way to painting your company in a positive and trustworthy light. While search engine results cannot be physically removed, we can attempt to move them down the rankings. Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the act of monitoring, addressing and manipulating search engine result pages in order to manage customer perception based on their internet searches.
SEO Strategies for Online Reputation Management
The main goal of ORM is to use the following SEO strategies to create a completely positive first page of search engine results for terms relevant to a specific website. Users very rarely make it past the first page when making searches. While these strategies cannot always physically remove negative brand mentions, they will work to push them to the second page of results and make them less visible.
In terms of negative brand mentions and search engine results, this includes news stories, social media feeds, negative reviews and other search features that may negatively affect a brand’s online reputation. Implementing these SEO strategies will help to decrease the visibility of negative results and get your businesses reputation back on track.
There are also a number of other strategies for ORM that include creating social media platforms and releasing relevant press releases. However, for the purpose of this article, today we will purely be focusing on the SEO strategies that can be used to manage online reputation.
2. Where possible, remove, de-optimise and change negative results
In some cases, removing negative search results can be done by approaching the content host or creator. Negative results can be mitigated by working directly with the owner of the content by offering compensation or through legalities if the content is honestly defamatory, malicious and untrue.
More often than not, this will not be possible. Negative results come from a multitude of sources and can be very difficult to work with. If you do have any control or access to any of this content, start by doing what you can to remove, de-optimise or change the negative brand mentions.
De-optimising is essentially the opposite of what you would normally do for a successful SEO strategy. This is not something that should be approached without the appropriate SEO knowledge and experience as it may end up backfiring if executed incorrectly. If you have control of any negative content related to your website, it’s best to seek the aid of a marketing specialist to assist in de-optimising this content.
2. Push down negative search results
If there is no way of having any say over the negative brand mention content, work to create content that will eventually out rank and diminish it. Finding ways to push down negative search results is really the crux of search engine reputation management.
In order to push down a single result to page two, you will need to pull up nine other results to outrank it in search engine results. This is no easy feat, as often just getting to the first page of results can be difficult for specific search terms.
Creating positive and sustainable content to outrank negative search results will be the largest factor in ORM with SEO. It will involve a fairly long-term search engine optimisation campaign with content creation, link building and clever on-site and off-site optimisation.
3. Boost Positive search results
The third and final strategy is to focus on boosting the rankings of any existing search results that paint a positive picture of the business. This falls in line with good business practices of allowing your good side to outshine the negative. A well-run and competent business will already have positive and healthy search engine results to help them push down the negative results.
If you’re struggling to come up with existing positive search results, there are a number of things you can do to build your business profile back up. Ask your clients to leave positive reviews on Google My Business, create positive business profiles on third party websites, and work with an SEO team to engage a local SEO campaign.
The first step to online reputation management is to analyse the current situation of the said website. If your business is receiving a bad rap or negative brand mentions, work to find ways that can outshine these negative search results.
Protecting a positive imagine online is an integral part of earning your customer’s trust and maintaining a powerful business perception. Sustaining this public reputation on Google is crucial to the success of your website and business.
Here at Safari Digital, we understand how difficult it can be to move past negative brand mentions and tarnished reputations. Working with and manipulating search engine results can be a complicated process that requires insider knowledge of search engine optimisation.
We believe creating a powerful and positive perception online is essential in order to thrive online. That’s why our team offer comprehensive search engine reputation management services that can assist in creating a fool-proof strategy to getting a brand’s image back on track. We’ll examine your current position and reputation and show you exactly how we can get you to where you want to be with a customised SEO reputation management campaign.
If you’d like to learn more, reach out to one of our SEO specialists today to conduct a free no-obligation consultation.