There is no online merchant, blogger or website administrator who doesn’t have an inkling of what effective SEO is. All these people recognize its importance and its role in online marketing and demand generation.
What Is Reputation Management?
Another popular strategy among online entrepreneurs, celebrities, companies, and corporate individuals is reputation management. This is a strategy that aims to preserve the good reputation of a company, product brand or individual.
Reputation management is even more important if negative reviews and criticisms have appeared regarding an individual, an organization, a company, its service and its products. Basically it keeps a name remain smelling sweet in spite of all the negativity cropping up around it.
The truth is that the Internet has transformed into a giant social network. Everyone has a voice, and unfortunately, not all of them are very nice or know what they’re talking about.
This is the reason why companies offering SEO services need to ramp up their game and offer reputation management to their customers as well. Those who are good at SEO strategies are also at the best position to employ strategies that will build up a good reputation for a brand and do damage control when its integrity is compromised.
Analyzing Reputation Management
There are two sides of reputation management: one is reputation building and the other is reputation repair.
Managing a reputation is all about creating an image that you want the public to remember your brand name by. This is done at the beginning when a business is still starting to make a name for itself. It is also done in the aftermath of a crisis, such as when a brand name has been bombarded with negative reviews or an internal administrative shake-up has rocked its operations.
The adage that one cannot please everybody is never truer than in the online business world. Everybody has easy access to everything, no matter where they are around the world. Thus, if a reviewer or even a mere commenter finds something wanting about a particular service, company or individual, his thoughts and words can easily circulate around the Web; and it has been a custom that when one dam of complaints has broken, the rest will follow suit.
Naturally, something has to be done to repair and regulate the amount of negativity surrounding a brand name.
Entrepreneurs who are confident about the quality of their merchandise and/or services will have nothing to worry about. A negative review will easily come across as an isolated case or an example of incompatibility between seller and buyer.
However, when the entity at the receiving end of a stream of negative criticism is not a merchant but, say, an employee or a non-profit organization, the approach changes a little. It is more difficult to improve the reputation of an individual or an entire organization because the factors for criticisms (ex: work ethic, attitude, organizational structure) cannot be easily altered or improved.
This is where expert reputation managers should step in with a plan of action to repair a destroyed image and stop negativity from spreading further.
SEO’s Involvement in Reputation Management
Now we come to the “swift and effective” execution of reputation management. A couple of years back, there was an article on SEOmoz about Reputation Management Theory. It spoke of SERM or Search Engine Reputation Management and defined it as the process of improving “the reputation of someone or something in search results,” and that this process involves the creation of multiple domains that will eventually “push down the negative results” in SERPs.
This is just an example of how SEO and reputation management are closely intertwined. In order to build a reputation for an entity, online entities are advised to do the following:
- Create multiple profiles in social networks: The catch here is that the profiles should look natural, complete with pictures, regular posts, etc. If you are doing your social media management in-house, you could get your trusted employees to create and manage these profiles. Alternately, a reputed SEO agency can take care of managing multiple profiles for you.
- Create and distribute high quality blogs: In the new SEO landscape dominated by Penguins and Pandas, creating top quality content has become the most important aspect of SEO. If you want greater organic search visibility, you have to create content that’s interesting, relevant, and sharable.
For example, let’ say you run an IT staffing agency and you need to counter certain negative stories spread against your company by the competition. Let’s assume, when someone enters, ‘Hire IT techs’, one of the top stories is a malicious post by someone talking about how your company doesn’t deliver as per its promises.
Now, one of the ways to manage your reputation would be to create high-quality informative blogs optimized for different variations of the keyword ‘Hire IT techs’.
You could focus on different aspects of IT staffing and give relevant advice that your target audience would find useful. You can of course insert a subtle positive plug about your company in these posts.
The next step would be to post these blogs on your own site, reach out to other bloggers associated with your niche and pitch your top quality blogs to them. Once the blogs get published you would need to market them by sharing the URLs through social sharing sites, as well as your profiles on different social sharing networks.
The result? If your content is great, optimally optimized and if you have marketed it well, there’s a good chance that it will start feature in the SERPs along with or maybe even above the malicious negative story about you.
- Build Relationships with influential bloggers: This is a time consuming process, but can yield great results if you find yourself in a crisis situation. You could use tools like G+ and Linkedin to connect and network with influential bloggers associated with your niche.
A great way to go about it would to focus only on making interesting or insightful comments on their posts for a month or two, participating in any discussions initiated by them and offering them a different perspective on their posts.
The relationships you build with the top bloggers in your niche will eventually help you pitch your content to them and build your credibility and authority among the loyal fans of these bloggers.
You would of course have to market these blogs and that’s where SEO would come in again.
Everything basically boils down to this: reputation management needs SEO in order to be effective. If the profiles, blogs, and article submissions are too many and not properly optimized, the effectiveness of this strategy will only be diluted. SEOs need to be on board to make sure that the reputation management efforts produce concrete results.
About the Author: Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver company that provides SEO services to businesses across North America. To read more posts written by Emma, please visit Pitstop Media’s Blog.