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The Ultimate Guide to SEO Reputation Management

What happens if negative stories about your business appear in search results? Since many potential customers will find you through search, protecting your reputation online is crucial for gaining people’s trust. Read on to learn about some of the reputation management tactics I recommend to our customers.

Apr 15, 2024

11 m read

According to researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes less than two-tenths (0.2) of a second for an online visitor to form an initial impression of your brand once they’ve looked you up. And it takes just another 2.6 seconds for that viewer’s eyes to concentrate in a way that reinforces that first impression.

For many of your best customers, the first experience with your brand is through a Google search. So what happens when they enter your name into their favorite search engine and the first thing they see is something like this?

bad SEO reputation management for Equifax

For most consumers, search results like this set off warning bells that compel them to abandon their search or dive into the negative results. Both of which will harm your sales.

5 Reasons Why SEO Reputation Management Matters

Four negative search results can cost you almost 70 percent of your potential business, but that’s not the only way a poor first page of results affects your business. 

1. Loss of Organic Search Traffic

Loss of organic search traffic is possibly the most noticeable side effect of a poor reputation. If I see a negative search result (or five) immediately underneath your name, I won’t click on your site’s search result and may abandon the search entirely. On the other hand, some people may choose to read the negative results. The negative results may eventually outrank your positive search results if they get clicks, further impacting your traffic.

2. Loss of Paid Search Traffic

Those expensive ads you’ve been buying? They aren’t nearly as effective when they appear next to negative search results. While a PPC ad may help you score a top spot on search engine results pages (SERPs), it won’t hide all of the negative results, which will result in fewer clicks. Better to spend that money cleaning up your online search engine optimization (SEO) reputation. 

3. Loss of Overall Marketing Spend Effectiveness

Often, prospects have to Google you to get to your site, regardless of the marketing channels you use to reach them. The old paradigm that your prospect needs to hear your marketing message 20 times before they’ll buy? Well, all those touchpoints you invested in will go to waste when they see negative Google search results unless you manage them.

4. Loss of Profitability

It’s tough to ask for a premium price when your brand reputation has been damaged. As you deal with traffic drops and a negative perception of who you are, you lose some of the biggest selling points. Folks are no longer willing to pay a premium — or even the market price — to buy your product or service. This means it’s a race to the bottom with ever-increasing discounts as you try to maintain cash flow, growth targets, or just basic business viability.

5. Loss of Company Value

A lot of a company’s value may come from the value of its brand. It’s estimated that 25% of a company’s market value is derived from its reputation. Often this is represented by the “goodwill” line on your financial statements. Being under an extended attack online erodes that goodwill and affects how your investors, lenders, vendors, and other business partners view you.

The Practical Guide for Reputation Management SEO

Since most people start their interactions with your brand with a search query, controlling what they see with online reputation management (ORM) can help positively showcase your company as trustworthy. 

What Is ORM in Digital Marketing?

Online reputation management is the act of monitoring, addressing, or mitigating search engine result pages or mentions in online media and web content to manage customer perception based on their internet searches.

Online reputation management falls into the broader field of SEO services

3 Macro Strategies for Online Reputation Management

The basic premise of search engine reputation management is to use the following three strategies to populate the first page of SERPs for a specific term with positive results. This includes not only ranking appropriate pages from your domain but also boosting positive news stories, social media feeds, your Google Business Profile, and other pages related to your company.

Good SEO Results versus Bad SEO Results

Strategy #1: Boost Positive Organic Search Results Rankings

A well-run business will have enough positive results featured high in the SERPs to lean on. Revise your SEO strategy to focus on those positive results and boost them even higher in search results.

If you don’t have enough positive results or could benefit from there, I outline ways to create positive results quickly below — institute as many as you can as part of your reputation SEO. 

Strategy #2: Remove, De-optimize, or Change Negative Search Results 

Getting negative search results removed is rarely possible, but it’s always worth a try. Negative results may come from multiple sources, including:

  • Negative press
  • SEC and other government notices
  • ScamWatch, ComplaintsBoard, and similar sites
  • Litigation and tax or criminal records 
  • Negative reviews (text or videos)
  • Negative forum comments
  • Direct attacks through an exact match domain (EMD) and/or a dedicated site

You can mitigate some of these types of search results by working directly with the content host or creator, offering compensation, or through a legal notice if the content is defamatory, libelous, and untrue. For example, after a negative review, you can work with the poster to address the issue in exchange for an updated review.

If you have control over the content itself, then you can try to de-optimize it so it no longer appears in search results.

Strategy #3: Outrank Negative Search Results

Here’s a simple truth about search engine reputation management:

Assuming your site holds the number one position for an affected search term, you’ll have to optimize up to nine other results to outrank negative results on page one.

Want to push them down to page three? That’s potentially up to twenty results you have to optimize to outrank the negative results.

Getting to the first page of SERPs is no easy task, even for one result. Now multiply that complex process by 20. It’s not a walk in the park, but it’s doable with help from a qualified SEO agency.

11 Ways To Jumpstart Your SEO for Reputation Management

Now that you know the three strategies you can use for ORM, it’s time to take action. Use a combination of these tactics to manage negative results and restore your reputation. 

1. Identify Affected Keywords 

Certain search phrases are more likely to bring up negative results than others, so you’ll want to identify which ones have been impacted.

To master reputation management SEO, think beyond branded keywords and figure out how people are looking for your company online. You can use Google Search Console to see which terms people use to find you. A paid tool like Ahrefs can help you identify keyword volume and position. You can also use it to identify additional affected keywords.

For example, let’s say you have a negative search result like the one below.

SERP Result

Paste the URL into Ahrefs Site Explorer and click on ‘organic keywords’ to see what terms a page ranks for. This will help you decide whether you also need to clean up those searches as well.

Keyword Rankings Reputation Management

Any keywords in positions one through ten will show up on the first page of SERPs. Google those keywords and make a note of what the result page looks like. Does it include a Local Map Pack, social media feed, product feed, videos, images, featured snippet, or any other special result element? If so, you can create a strategy to target those special features.

2. Start an SEO Reputation Campaign for Your Site

The worst thing that can happen is for the negative press to outrank your site. SEO reputation management lets you take control of your company’s reputation within search engine result pages by monitoring and reacting to all negative mentions. 

First, you’ll want to shore up your rankings for branded queries by cleaning up your site’s technical SEO issues with a full SEO audit, adding more quality content to your site, and building authoritative backlinks to key pages.

Not only will this serve to better your reputation, but it can help you rank better for other crucial keywords and drive traffic to your site at a time when it’s most needed. 

3. Optimize a Second Page for Your Brand Name or a Specific Keyword

Google has tightened up its SERPs to increase the unique content they display (no more having ten results from Yelp show up when you’re looking for dinner). While most searches will only show one result from any given domain, I’ve found branded search can often allow for two results from a branded site.

That means both your home page (which is hopefully ranking in the #1 spot for the given term) and a second page should be completely optimized for your brand with long-form content. They should also have a healthy amount of authoritative white-hat backlinks pointing back to them.

Your site is your first line of defense and your greatest ally! Make sure you understand how to maximize its footprint.  If you aren’t sure how to optimize a page or which keywords you should be using, schedule a free SEO consultation to identify the best prospects.

4. Optimize Your Google Business Profile

If the SERPs include a Local Map Stack and/or a Google My Business result, you’ll want to update and optimize your Google Business Profile so it shows up.

Remember, the goal with reputation management is to rank your good results over the negative ones, and your business profile takes up positive real estate on Google’s first page. 

Your GBP allows you to create a business description, add photos, and create posts. You should make use of all of its features to entice searchers to click through to your website or give you a call. 

5. Focus on Positive Reviews

Encourage your happy customers to leave reviews that could help balance out any negative ones. You can try to have fake reviews removed, but this process can be time-consuming.

85% of customers trust online reviews just as much as they’d trust a friend’s recommendation.

More importantly, real client reviews have been proven to affect site rankings. The more users see good reviews, the more likely they are to click through to your site. Search engines see this and reward your great customer service with higher rankings. On the other hand, bad reviews or lack of reviews will harm your rankings and SEO reputation.

6. Claim Social Media Accounts

Your social media profiles allow you to use the domain authority of that social media giant to jumpstart your profiles’ rankings. You should claim accounts on the largest social media sites and optimize your profile around your branded keywords. Once your profiles are live, you can build links to them featuring optimized anchor text.

Because there are multiple social media platforms you can create accounts on, claiming and optimizing profiles on as many as are appropriate will help you further push down negative results in SERPs.

Here are the profiles you should claim and optimize:

  • LinkedIn: A LinkedIn page is critical for businesses, especially those in the B2B space. Post long-form articles and reach an influential community that can spread positive news. Post as much original content here as you can, and make sure your name and brand are mentioned often.
  • Twitter: A Twitter account is a great way to quickly reach your customers and receive feedback. Make sure your profile is fleshed out, post often with great content, and add appropriate keywords to your tweets. Tweets show up in the social media feed in SERPS, which can remove negative tweets you don’t want showing up.
  • Facebook: Set up a business page and claim your custom Facebook URL. Post often and do your best to attract followers to legitimize your presence there.
  • Instagram: Instagram is great for individuals and B2C organizations. The key is posting often and using the appropriate keywords in the hashtags. Contests and giveaways are a great way to gain a following quickly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • YouTube: If there are negative videos associated with your branded keywords showing up in SERPs, you should create a YouTube channel and publish your own videos. This will help you push the negative videos further down the SERPs. 
  • Medium: While I don’t usually recommend outsourcing your blog to a third party, extreme times call for extreme measures. Starting a second blog with a few fresh pieces of content about your brand is a great way to leverage Medium’s domain authority.
  • Other: You may need to create additional profiles if your brand is international (VK or Baidu). Pinterest, Quora, YellowPages, and SlideShare are all great options as well for certain businesses.

7. Conduct SEO Campaigns for Other Properties You Control

Think hard about what other properties you may be able to affect. Do you have a Zendesk account? A profile with a local or trade association? A separate investor relations site or a portfolio page hosted with a third party?

Google your business name and explore the first three pages of results to see what web properties come up that you can optimize directly by editing the content or indirectly (because you’re able to influence the content host).

Make sure your name is featured prominently in the page title, h1 tags, and meta description. Add quality content to the page if allowed, and naturally reference your name throughout several times. Include your address if you’re a local business.

8. Score Links to Positive Results You Don’t Control

Are links to Wikipedia, Owler, Bloomberg, Crunchbase or other database profiles about your brand showing up in SERPs? While you can’t control what’s on these profiles, you can boost their rankings via link-building to push down negative search results.

Seek out links via guest posting opportunities, partner mentions on various blogs and news sites, as well as articles in more prominent publications. Make sure you use every opportunity possible to get a quality backlink – for instance, if your CEO is speaking at a conference, try to get a backlink in the press release for the speech.

One thing that’s important to mention is that you should avoid the temptation of using shady, “black hat” techniques that promise quicker results. While some of them may work in the short term, Google will inevitably catch on. And when that happens, you’ll not only lose the rankings that you obtained using black hat techniques, but your site could be penalized, too. That’s why I always recommend using reputable link-building services.

9. Post Images Representing Your Brand & Target Keywords

Posting images to your site or social media may help them appear in the image results and push down negative results. The rule here is to:

  1. Make sure images are titled with the target keyword or your brand name.
  2. Mention your keywords around where you post the image, like in a description or caption.
  3. Include your target keyword in the image’s alt text.

Build links to these pages to help the images rank higher.

10. Create Videos 

Take time to create a video that is thoughtful, informative, and not too long (under 10 minutes). A video that speaks to the topic at hand (i.e., the one generating negative press) has a great chance of ranking. Also, include a full transcript in the description and optimize the title to help search engines understand what the video is about. Place your videos on Youtube (the world’s second-largest search engine), Vimeo, or other video hosting sites, and build links to them. 

Google loves well-crafted videos that have a high view count, so this is particularly effective for Google reputation management. Video results can appear in a feed or in SERPs. 

11. Publish New Long-Form PR Content

A PR campaign can be a good short-term way of addressing your brand’s SEO reputation. Not only does this coverage build brand awareness, but it also provides your site with backlinks (though they will rarely be do-follow links). If released by a reputable site, your press releases may rank well on their own, or you can engage a link-building service to boost their visibility.

When creating a press release, optimize it for SEO before syndication to increase its chances of ranking.

Protect Your Brand With Online Reputation Management

Protecting your reputation online is an integral part of gaining your customer’s trust and maintaining an edge over the competition. However, maintaining a positive public reputation on Google is a complicated process that requires in-depth knowledge about SEO, as well as online user habits.

Whether you need to boost your SEO campaign to blow past negative search results, optimize your Google Business Profile, or build links to positive search results, Victorious can help. Schedule a free SEO consultation, and let’s talk about repairing your brand image.

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