Do you know how important brand reputation is? Perhaps these statistics will get the point across:
If you have just one negative result on your search engine results page (SERP), you risk losing 22% of your business. Two negative results? That doubles to 44%. Four or more negative results? You risk losing a whopping 70% of your business. And considering that 93% of searches never get past the first page, you can see just how important your reputation management SEO is for your brand and your overall business.
So if there are negative results popping up on the front page of branded SERPs, your business is in trouble. You need to know what to do when this happens to you as well as how to avoid this happening to you in the first place. We’re going to go over 10 actionable SEO tactics that will work to keep your search results favorable towards your brand and work against any negativity affecting your business.
Let’s dive in.
Consistently Monitor Your Brand’s Online Presence and Search Engine Ranking
Ask yourself this: how can you know what your brand reputation is, if there are negative search results about you, or how people see your business on search engines if you never check it out yourself? Make sure you’re consistently monitoring your online presence. This means doing searches of your brand, checking on your online reviews (more on this later), searching for various keywords about your business, etc.
Consider setting up “Google Alerts” for your brand name and the key names of people in your business. This will alert you immediately for any mention of your business or brand. This way, you’ll know right away if your business is mentioned negatively or if some sort of reputation crisis occurs. You can take steps to mitigate the hit to your reputation with some of the tips we’re going to go over on this list. However, this type of alert and monitoring of your brand reputation on search engines can also help with positive news as well. You’ll know right away when something positive is published about you, whether that’s on a news site or a review left by a client, you’ll know right away. And you can use that to your advantage! Keep the positive momentum going. Share the good articles or reviews on your social media, reach out to the writer of the positive review to express your thanks, etc. Do whatever you can do to perpetuate that positive messaging.
Boost Number and Power of Your Links
If you know even the slightest about SEO, then you understand the importance of link building and backlinks. Backlinks are links on other websites that link back to your business’s website. For example, let’s say you’re a business that sells watches. A news website talking about the best new watches of 2019 might link back to your website in their article. Or, perhaps you create a post that links to your newest watch style and have that post published on a blog like Huffpost or Medium. In the eyes of search engines, this is a gold stamp on your business. It shows that your information and website is reliable, trustworthy, and read by a wide audience, which will boost your rankings overall.
So imagine a scenario where you’re getting a lot of negative press or negative things said about you online. If you don’t have a strong number of links to your website to boost your brand ranking, your positive and informative results are going to be easily bumped farther down your SERP only to be replaced with the powerful high-ranking negative info about you. Protect yourself before this happens by focusing on getting those links to your page. You can do this through published content linking to your site, guest posts, creating your own content with links to yourself, and having customers link to you on social media. You’ll notice that a few of these actions also appear in more detail on this list. That’s because these tactics do well to boost your SEO in multiple ways, not just with link building!
Pitch Yourself and Your Business to Content Creators
So how do you actually get the positive info about yourself out there?
Sometimes, this will happen organically. Maybe you’re a lawyer who just won a big case and it gets picked up by local media outlets. Or perhaps a popular blogger happens to like the protein supplement you sell and includes you in their latest post. But more often than not, you’re going to need to make things happen for yourself. Make connections with local, regional, and national writers. These could be journalists, bloggers, YouTube video creators, editors, photographers, etc. You should be doing this as both a defensive and an offensive reputation management strategy.
What do we mean by that?
Defensive strategies are ones to implement before you have a slew of negativity hurting your reputation. Offensive strategies are meant to help combat any negativity you’re already experiencing. Pitching yourself to content creators can help put out powerful positive content that can take back your SERP from negative publications or reviews. It can also help to set your reputation up on a SERP to be filled with positive and helpful results that won’t easily be displaced by random negative posts. Not sure what to pitch? Speak with connections about the goals of your business, new product/service launches, any philanthropy you do, new brick-and-mortar stores, recent successes you’ve had, positive client experiences, give an interview, etc. Anything that can be made into an interesting and informative piece of content will boost your positive results on your SERP, which will do wonders for your brand reputation, even during a reputation crisis.
Use Influencers to Your Advantage
Influencer marketing uses those with large followings, industry clout, and reliability to promote your business, product, or service. This could be an Instagram star with millions of followers, an industry celebrity, or simply someone who has a lot of power with their, well, influence. This tip is almost exactly the same as tip #3. You can pitch yourself and your business to these influencers to post about you and give you that powerful boost in the eyes of search engines and your audience.
Think bigger than just those with many social media followers. They are great to use, but examine the people who truly influence your business. A post from a famous fitness Instagrammer isn’t going to help your construction company, for example. Using that construction company example, maybe you want to work with a famous architect to promote your projects on their blog, or link up with a construction equipment supplier to review their business interaction with you. This type of influencer marketing will reach both a wide audience and the right targeted audience with positive info about your brand.
Create Your Own Content
While pitching to other content creators and influencers are both great tactics, you don’t have to wait for others to do the work for you. Get out there and create your own positive content to boost your reputation yourself! Article-based sites like Medium, Huffington Post, and Forbes, all accept content made by individuals just like yourself. You can also write “guest posts” for other blogs or companies that feature yourself, your name, your business’s name, and/or links to your website. This links back (pun intended) to our second tip since it can help with link building effort, but it does more than that: it allows you to directly influence your SERP and, thus, your brand reputation.
Don’t forget about posting content on your social media accounts as well. Social media pages often pop up on your SERP, including Instagram feeds, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, review sites, and more. Create your own content for these sites so that will show up first on your SERP as opposed to any negative social media attention you might be getting.
Think about the last time you needed a certain product or service. We’re willing to bet good money that one of the first things you did was do a Google search for business or product reviews. And you’re not alone. 90% of customers look at online reviews before deciding on a product or business, and half of those people have decided to not work with a business because of what they find. A majority of people view online reviews to be as reliable as in-person recommendations. Review sites like Yelp, Facebook Reviews, and Google Reviews are all going to impact your reputation.
Take both defensive and offensive action with this tip. Defensively ensure that you’re getting positive reviews. Keep on doing your thing by providing an excellent customer experience, service, and product. Ask customers and clients to leave you a review or a rating on Yelp. Make this worthwhile for them: offer an incentive or simply your sincere thanks for taking the time to leave a review. On the other hand, offensively tackle negative reviews. Don’t be afraid to reply to negative reviews, but don’t do it with anger or hostility. Stay professional, let them know you’re listening, that you’re sorry, and see what you can do to make their experience with you better. Replying to negative reviews with empathy, understanding, and a promise to improve on their grievances. This will help people see that you’re a business that can be trusted, even when you’ve made a mistake.
Influencing reviews defensively and offensively will work strengthen your great reviews so they won’t disappear or get bumped down during a crisis. It can also help to rebuild your reputation in the face of negativity or negative press.
Take Legal Action
Not all negative press or search results that come up on your SERP are going to be legal. Defamation, libel, trademark violations, DMCA violations, and false accusations can make a huge negative impact on your reputation.
Speak with a lawyer to find out your options. You could:
- File a trademark violation
- Email the creator or publishing site with a complaint
- Send a letter from your attorney
- Look up DMCA protocols
- Complain directly through Google and/or the publishing site
This is an important defensive strategy to remember; you don’t have to sit back and watch as slander or lies are spread about you.
Utilize Sites That Influence Your SERP
This isn’t a new tip per se, especially if you’re following all the tips we’ve gone over so far. But let’s break it down into details so you can understand how using other websites can influence your SERP and, thus, your brand reputation SEO.
Think about the main things that pop up on a SERP for your business. Probably your home page, maybe some of your social media accounts, review sites, local news sources, perhaps blogs or article sites such as Forbes of HuffPost, YouTube video results, image results, etc. Do these things sound familiar? Well, they should, considering we’ve mentioned each one of those things quite a few times so far. Think about it: pitching to journalists/content creators and writing your own content is going to influence the blogs and websites that come up on a SERP. Influencing your reviews is going to change the types of review search results that appear first on your SERP. Paying attention to and monitoring your social media and link building will affect each of those sites as well.
Reshape Suggested Searches
Similar to tip number 8, reshaping suggested searches is going to be a by-product of following the other tips on this list. Before we get into how it does that, let’s also look a bit closer at what it means to “reshape suggested searches.” Think about the last time you Googled something. “Suggested Searches” are the options that Google suggests to you before you finish typing.
During a reputation crisis, you may notice that suggested searches related to your business or brand aren’t great and are overall negative. For example, let’s say you’re a manager of a local restaurant named “Timmy’s Fine Dining.” When customers go to search for, “Timmy’s Fine Dining hours” you may notice that the suggested search prompts them to see, “Timmy’s Fine Dining bad service” or, “Timmy’s Fine Dining bad review.” Google can (and will) suggest negative search terms if those types of results are the ones with the most power, most SEO, and most presence on your SERP.
So how can you adjust those suggested searches? Follow our tips from this list: put out different content, influence reviews, build links, and everything, but slightly change your keywords and anchor text you use. It’s easy to use the same language and terms with everything we create. But in order to shift search results and suggested searches, the content you put out and work with others to put out needs to change and move away from the negative options Google is suggesting.
What NOT to Do: Negative SEO and SEO Attacks
Just like you want to follow the right things to do to protect your brand reputation, there are things you must avoid. Anything that seems unethical or shady is something you need to avoid.
- Don’t buy reviews or force customers to leave certain types of reviews.
- Don’t build links by adding to spam websites or by buying shady links on foreign websites.
- Don’t use keywords or anchor text that is irrelevant to your business/content.
- Don’t create social media profiles that are fake in order to promote your business.
Not only will this make you and your business look bad (meaning you’re hurting your reputation!), it will also hurt your SEO in the long run. Also, be on the lookout for these things being used against you. Sometimes, competitors or less-than-ethical businesses will attempt to use these spams, hacks, and tactics to directly attack your reputation. Check out this article for ways to protect yourself from negative SEO attacks.
Each of these 10 reputation management SEO tips are going to work for your defense and your offense. They’re going to boost your SEO and cement the positive pages on the top of your SERP, making it hard for negative or bad press to affect you. They’ll also help you recover after an event or wave of press damaged your reputation. If you need more guidance, take a look at this article on how to make social media work for your business (as we discussed in a few of our above tips!).