“The best place to bury a body is on the second page of Google.”
It’s advice that might likewise be useful to companies that manage online reputations for businesses. They need to ensure their customers have a presence on the first page of Google in order to get views and clicks. By not being found on the first search page of Google, a business is effectively buried alive in cyberspace.
A Google search is typically among the first things done by an online searcher to see what others say about a business. Links and information that appear on Google can make or break that consumer’s buying decision. Even if great reviews and endorsements about a business exist online, poor or nonexistent search-engine optimization or SEO practices can render that valuable content invisible. Positive information, especially coming from sources outside of a business, promotes high ranking on Google search. This is the magic behind SEO in online reputation management.
With the right SEO tactics, you can accentuate the positive about a business and stifle the negative. Keep reading to learn three SEO strategies to improve the online reputation for your clients.
What is the role of SEO in online reputation management?
SEO is the effort to bring customers and traffic to a website through the use of keywords and other search-optimization tactics to improve organic search results. It can be a highly technical process, involving optimizing website structure to allow for Google to crawl and index the site. Here’s more information about how Google search indexing works.
ORM is the act of managing online reviews and mentions of the business. Effective ORM ensures potential customers find the most complete information about a business online, through review generation tactics and review monitoring and responding strategies.
Search Engine Optimization and online reputation management are two different marketing tactics, though SEO is in fact a component of reputation management. SEO and reputation management share the same goal: to strengthen a business’s brand authority and credibility online.
3 SEO strategies for improved online reputation
1. Claim social profiles, especially Google My Business
Google describes Google My Business as, “a free tool that allows you to promote your Business Profile and business website on Google Search and Maps. With your Google My Business account, you can see and connect with your customers, post updates to your Business Profile and see how customers are interacting with your business on Google.”
When someone searches on Google for your client’s business, the top-ranking results ideally should be controlled by the brand. This could be their website which has been optimized for SEO, online review sites as well as social media profiles.
Make sure that your client is using all the social media sites available and relevant to the business, including: Google My Business, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Essentially, any property outside of the client’s direct ownership (i.e. their website) where they can still maintain and own their presence, should be claimed. Because they rank well, it’s important that businesses “own” this online real estate, to connect with customers and ultimately help with marketing the business.
It is recommended that all of the social profiles are active and contain a wealth of useful information for customers such as contact information and hours of operations. These profiles should also offer unique content in areas such as company descriptions to help these profiles rank better.
Google My Business Posts
Again, to quote Google, a Google My Business profile, “helps your business show up when it matters most: the moment customers search for your business or products or services like yours on Google Search and Maps. By logging into your Google My Business account, you can update your address, phone number, website, open hours, and more to help customers find and connect with your business. Keep your profile updated with fresh photos, special offers, and promotions to make it easy for customers to choose you." Make sure your client claims their profile and keeps it updated with correct hours, payment information, photos, and more. It goes a long way to creating a great first impression with customers.
Then take advantage of Google My Business Posts. Google My Business Posts are similar to other social media posts but appear when customers find the business on Google Search or Maps. These posts have an added benefit to regular social media posts in that they allow your client to inject timely offers, events, or news right into Google search results, without waiting for indexing. These tips from Google can help your clients create engaging posts to help disseminate information about the business quickly to their customers.
Since 91 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, monitoring what people say about a business is crucial. This is especially true with Google reviews, which are highly visible to anyone searching for the business. Reviews on Google appear next to the Business Profile in Maps and Search, and help the business stand out on Google. While negative reviews can seldom be removed, good reputation management is just as much about handling the negative as it is positive. Take the time to respond to negative reviews to offer a good customer experience, and hopefully turn something negative into a positive for the customer.
Google Q&A is a simple tool that allows Google users to ask and answer questions about a business online. It is yet another way to provide customers with useful information, right in the knowledge panel of a Google My Business listing. Potential customers are able to ask any question they want, and Google users have the opportunity to provide meaningful, or completely bogus, answers. The information that potential customers find can have a strong impact on their decision to call or visit a business. Check out this blog for more information about Google Q&A.
Google Q&A should be monitored in the same way as online reviews. Questions and answers can be submitted by anyone, and content can be just as persuasive. It’s crucial to stay on top of Google Q&A as it’s highly visible to searchers looking for information.
Recommended reading: Google Q&A: What is it and why should you care
2. Establish a presence on review sites
Monitoring online reviews is a good practice for online reputation management and likewise effective for SEO. Getting frequent Google Reviews and responding to them, specifically, can help improve search rankings and optimize SEO efforts.
Plus, reviews that include keywords such as menu items, products, or services are likely to show up in search results as items that potential customers may be looking for. Look at this image, below, as an example using the search term, “pad thai.”
Even if your client doesn’t have a profile claimed on Glassdoor, Urbanspoon, or other review sites, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t talking about a business. Monitoring all sites relevant to your client’s business ensures that if and when reviews are posted, you can be alerted, respond to it, and keep a pulse on customer sentiment.
3. Build a content marketing strategy around keywords
Do your research
SEO and other online tactics can shine a light on the best things about a business. When creating new content for social media, such as a blog or text on a company’s website, do keyword research to determine the words and phrases used by people who search for similar businesses, products, or services.
A simple Google search can be very insightful. Google the business or the main product and see what kind of content shows up in the ‘People also ask’ section. Building content around these phrases and questions can help the business appear as featured content.
Map the competitive search landscape
Once your client knows the keywords they should be seeking to rank for, it’s then time to do competitive research on “share of voice,” which measures how often a business is mentioned in web content and turning up in local searches, compared to competitors. Keeping track of the conversation, and the attention of consumers, they can gauge brand awareness, brand equity, and target audience engagement. Use this as a metric to guide your client’s content marketing strategy and measure its effectiveness over time.
Monitor brand mentions
It’s difficult to catch every instance when someone mentions a business online so alerts for mentions is an important and effective solution. It makes it possible for a business to share or promote positive mentions, like blogs or news articles, or squash a negative mention before it festers. Monitoring mentions keep the pulse on what people say about the business and may inspire possible topics for content creation.
Doing it all with Vendasta
As evidenced above, managing a business’s online reputation can be a complex matter. Local businesses often look to an expert for help in getting a handle on their online reputation. Reputation management software brings all the components that contribute to a business’s online reputation into one actionable dashboard. With one login, your clients get access to Reputation Management Pro, where they can manage their online reputation, including review monitoring, mentions monitoring, competitive intelligence, and Google Q&A monitoring.
Not a partner yet? Sign up to Vendasta for free and start selling reputation management software to your clients.