It’s no longer enough to be first on the SERP—you also need to make a good first impression.
Consumers value brand reputation more than ever before. That means a winning SEO strategy isn’t simply about being found—you also need to make sure your company is putting its best foot forward. With quality content that speaks to your brand’s story and values, you can take a proactive approach to online reputation management and ensure your brand projects a positive image.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management is the practice of ensuring your company maintains an internet presence that is aligned with its brand values and goals. It can involve anything from creating high-quality content that establishes your brand as a trustworthy source of useful information, to engaging directly with customers on social media to solve problems or address complaints.
What is a positive online reputation?
Reputation management used to be reactive—it was usually about repairing damage to a brand’s public image, or generating positive attention in the wake of bad PR. But brands looking to stand out from the competition are taking a more proactive approach, working to project a positive brand image, regardless of their PR situation. What that means depends on the brand. Some choose to highlight their customer reviews, while others might tout their charitable projects, share their origin stories, or cultivate an open, transparent relationship with their consumers. Customers want to feel good about the brands they engage with, and a company’s reputation can make the difference between gaining a customer or losing out to the competition.
What is an example of online reputation management using SEO?
The same principles you use to rank higher on the SERP can be used to foreground your brand’s positive attributes and help manage your online reputation. These include:
- Publishing high-quality content that’s created with searchers in mind. Keyword research can reveal searchers’ most pressing questions, so you can be there with answers. Focus on creating informative content that’s relevant to the needs of your customers and prospects, rather than content that gives them the hard sell. Remember, Google prioritizes content that adheres to its E-A-T guidelines—content that demonstrates expertise, authority, and trustworthiness—because that’s the content that most searchers are looking for. Consumers prefer to do business with companies that project an image of openness and transparency, and actively share information about their brand’s values and mission. They’re less interested in companies that are relatively quiet, have an aura of secrecy, or have a dearth of fresh content.
- Optimize existing content that supports your brand goals. Reputation management isn’t just about generating new material, though new content is important. You can also use SEO techniques to make sure the right content gets seen.
- Create content for other outlets. Guest blogging, speaking at conferences, and contributing quotes to articles can all help build awareness, while associating your brand with other reputable or like-minded companies. Links from an author bio, article, or conference website can pass domain authority on to your website, and they’re great opportunities to direct people to the reputation-bolstering pages you’d like to highlight. When possible, look for opportunities to optimize these external pages by using targeted keywords or including your brand’s name in a title tag.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews. Be mindful of where and when a customer might use your product, and start a targeted campaign to encourage reviews. The more reviews you receive, the better. Search engines look favorably on fresh content, and customers like to see recent reviews. Don’t worry too much about a few negative reviews—it can arouse suspicion if every review is perfect, and attempts to silence unfavorable reviews can do far more damage to your brand’s reputation than the reviews themselves. Use negative reviews as an opportunity to engage with consumers, solve problems, and address complaints. You’ll learn about your customers’ needs, and may even receive valuable feedback that can help you improve your product or service.
- Use schema markup. Schema can help highlight certain aspects of your website, making it easier to stand out in search results. Markup can be used to show off your stars, and highlight your hard-won customer reviews in an eye-catching way. You can also use it to generate information for the knowledge graph, including your company’s phone number and social accounts. Rich results will attract attention on an otherwise-crowded SERP, and can help your company project a more authoritative presence.
How do you manage your reputation?
SEO techniques are a great addition to traditional PR efforts—press outreach, public appearances, and goodwill-building events—and direct customer engagement. The right strategy for online reputation management will depend in part on your brand’s goals and values, but it will always be built on sharing information.
Whatever you do, avoid any attempts to silence negative reviews or falsify information. Trust is hard to come by, and customers will steer clear of companies that delete unfavorable reviews or engage in similarly manipulative tactics. It’s more effective to publicly address criticism and demonstrate a desire to learn from your mistakes. Be proactive about the image you want your brand to project, and generate and optimize content that supports that goal.