Heath Reidy
Heath Reidy 24 October 2017

Using SEO strategies to improve your online presence and improve your reputation

Ensuring your brand has a good online reputation is crucial. With on-page and off-page online reputation management (ORM) strategies, you can manage, control and improve your online presence

What people say about your business and brand online is more important than ever before in today’s continuously evolving, interactive, digital world. More people now leave reviews and make comments online about the companies, services and products they use, such as through adviser sites, forums and social media channels. In fact, survey research showed in 2016 that seven out of ten consumers will leave a review for a business if asked to, while 84% of people now trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Making sure you have a good reputation, not just in business but on Google too, is therefore crucial to ensure the perception of your business is positive when people search for it online. This is where online reputation management (ORM) can play a significant role. We believe that by using on-page and off-page SEO strategies, you can manage, control and improve your online presence. 

Understanding ORM

Online reputation management (ORM) is a practice of SEO strategies you can use to shape or influence the public perception of your business and brand. This comes down to controlling the front page – Google’s front page – of your brand and brand terms.

These ORM strategies aim to control what appears on Google’s front page by moving problematic rankings down, so they’re less visible to people when searching for your brand online.

Nobody’s business is perfect and many companies will have encountered a disgruntled customer, or two, who has, for one reason or another, had a not-so-great experience of their brand. As a result, they might also have not been afraid to let people know about it online, creating problematic rankings around their brand and business.

Problematic rankings could include:

  • Bad reviews about experiences with a company, such as their products, services and staff
  • Damaging comments about a business from users and customers
  • Negative content written about their brand

While you can’t get rid of problematic rankings completely, good ORM is about replacing them with positive rankings to move the ones that are problematic down the front page, or off it altogether. By doing this you can control your brand presence on Google and other search engines and create more natural listings for your branded searches online. You can also block the presence of:

  • Unhappy customers
  • Unhappy staff
  • Unauthorised distributors
  • Your competitors

Auditing resources and problems

Auditing where the key problems are, concerning your online reputation, is a good first place to start with ORM. This should involve looking at your audience’s search patterns and how users search for you brand. You should also examine who ranks in the top 50 positions on Google for terms about your brand and business.

When doing this, you should classify the different types of rankings that concern your brand by putting them into groups:

  • Toxic – those that are toxic to your brand, such as damaging and detrimental comments about your business
  • Difficult – those making things difficult in promoting a positive image about your brand, such as a bad service or product review
  • Neutral – those that involve a neutral opinion, such as objective content which is neither positive nor negative towards your brand
  • Positive – those that are positive towards your brand, such as a good review
  • Controlled – those that you own and so can control, such as your own on-page and off-page content
  • Change – You should also look at what rankings could change from positive to negative. For instance, a site that has published good customer review about your brand today, could just as easily publish a bad one tomorrow 

Categorising rankings like this can help you understand the scope of issues affecting your brand. You can see where the main problematic areas are, where positive solutions might be, and where potential issues could develop. With this information you can carry out on-page and off-page ORM strategies to move those problematic first-page rankings down and the positive ones up, consequently, improving your online presence. 

On-page ORM strategies

An effective on-page SEO strategy to first try to help with ORM is to make changes to your site content pages. This includes removing blogs that are irrelevant to your business, and refining meta titles and meta descriptions to better match the key terms your users are searching for. You could also create a site page dedicated all those positive reviews you’ve sourced, with a links to each review. This can allow you to take more control of positive rankings.

Another key strategy is to make changes to your linking structure by creating links to each piece of on-page content to strengthen internal links across your site. You can also change your site’s page-level structure so that your content appears at a higher page level.

For instance, if you work for an ecommerce business, the website will probably have four page-levels – a homepage, category page, sub category page and products page. Some of your content might be buried deep in your site on level five. But by changing your site navigation and linking structure you could move this content to a higher page-level to strengthen it, helping to make it more accessible online and move it up Google rankings.

Off-page ORM strategies

A good first off-page SEO strategy to try to improve your ORM is to build links from your site to all the live positive content about you brand on third-party sites. While creating new content is a key part of effective ORM, it’s easier and quicker to first link to the content that’s already available online, which you’ve sourced during the auditing process.

When it comes to creating new content, there are different way to do this effectively. You could contact business-relevant bloggers and authoritative sites about writing blogs or features for them. These should include a link to a top page-level in your site’s structure, such as your home page or services page.

You could also put together a PR campaign or distribute some positive newsworthy press releases to the media about your brand developments, with similar links to your site. If successful, this could result in dozens of new positive pieces of content being published online about your brand, each linking to your site. Content that’s published on highly popular news sites should also rank high on Google, helping to push content that’s problematic down its first-page rankings.

Reviewing your strategies and keeping people happy

After carrying out on-page and off-page ORM strategies, it’s important to review them over time to check things are moving in the right direction. How does Google’s front page search results now look? Have the top 50 rankings changed? Are positive rankings causing those toxic and difficult rankings to be pushed down?

As positive and negative content can change from day to day, ORM should be for an ongoing process, which is regularly reviewed, to ensure your brand’s online reputation is the best it can be.

But it’s important to remember, ensuring your ORM works, and continues to work, comes down to one important factor: keeping people happy. To fully deal with the problem of a bad online reputation, you have to stop upsetting people.

It’s worth also mentioning that there are ways to legally deal with bad reviews and other content, such as responding to negative comments about a minor issue. However, if you’re unsuccessful it could lead to more problematic content being produced, which could make things even worse.

So while it’s difficult to please everybody, the best way to make your ORM work effectively is to develop your business and brand with your audience’s needs in mind. The more often you have satisfied customers, the better your online presence should be.

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