ABC’s of SEO: R is for Reputation Management
It doesn’t matter about the age, size, or type of company/individual that you are, Online reputation management or ORM is becoming more and more important for everyone. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, the internet never forgets – it is like a big old wardrobe that stores any number of skeletons inside from personal skeletons, to negative skeletons.
Secondly, more and more people are spending a longer amount of time researching products and reading reviews online, particularly with Ecommerce sites. For an interesting read on this take a look at Jim Lecinski’s ebook, the Zero Moment of Truth (Zmot), an excellent resource for marketers.
Online shoppers will go to a number of review sites and competitor sites before they make their decision to buy. Therefore, if the customer is on the brink of decision, or at the Zero Moment of Truth, and they stumble across a negative post about a product or brand, that may be the one thing that sways their decision away from it.
As a result of these 2 major factors, many high profile individuals and companies are turning to Online Reputation Management.
Negative online mentions can pop up anywhere on the web. They can occur in both search engine results and social spaces, and so a good ORM strategy will combine social media and SEO to neutralise or suppress negative mentions.
When considering ORM, be proactive:
There are 2 types of ORM; proactive and reactive. Proactive ORM will involve close monitoring of your brand and your top keywords before anything drastically negative has appeared online. This includes both social and SERP monitoring.
Monitoring allows you pick up negative mentions quickly so that you can react quickly to neutralise the situation. In social media, this will involve a response to a comment which appeases the unhappy customer. Having a response map prepared that covers a range of situations is the best approach to this, so that whoever picks up on the mention can respond quickly with a comment which has been approved, offering consistency in your approach to boot.
SERP monitoring on the other hand will need a longer term strategy. Owning the first page of Google with websites that are owned and controlled by your brand is ideal as you will then control all the content. Be proactive and make sure you own branded URLs as well as claiming vanity URLs on all your social channels, before someone else does.
A long term strategy such as this will include a number of things that are largely rely on content creation. Branded blogs and websites, press releases, as well as content on third party sites. This content should be pushed out to try and rank for the key terms it is optimised for and can dominate the web with positive content created by you. Search and social overlap in this respect, as good social engagement combined with vanity URLs will help your social platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, rank well for branded terms. So far, we have also seen Google+ business pages ranking well for branded terms and so it is a must to set this up.
Businesses must have a social presence in order to protect their brand. Otherwise, if people are saying negative things about a brand, they have no right of reply or opportunity to neutralise the comment. Furthermore, being present on these platforms gives the customer a place to make a complaint that is controlled by the company in question. If a company had no platform for customers to engage on, whether it is complaining or not, they have to go somewhere else. This could be a review site which they have zero control over and no right of reply.
Many companies find themselves in the situation of being forced to take a more reactive approach to ORM. This will occur when negative mentions are ranking highly for a brand name or top keywords, meaning potential customers are very likely to discover these mentions whilst searching for the brands, products or services. If this is not acted upon quickly then this could have a continual detrimental effect on a business.
Companies should take the necessary measures to make sure that they do not get themselves into this situation. No matter the size or the budget the company has, there are a range of free and paid-for tools available to monitor mentions, so there is little excuse not to begin some form of monitoring.