Reputation management is usually something that is left until it is too late – when there is a crisis to divert or bad publicity to drown out. However, a good SEO agency will be able to slot some form of reputation management into a search engine marketing campaign on day one, making it a lot easier to withstand bad press a little further down the line. Depending on the kind of search engine optimization strategy your site has favored, you may already have begun the process without even realizing it.
One of the worst situations to find your website in is as the subject of negative comments and bad reviews with no structure in place to repair the damage. One of the drawbacks of the web is bad press can appear out of nowhere and very often, will rank highly on the SERPs, sometimes even directly above or below the home page of the site in question. With a battle between good and bad fought in such close quarters, it can be difficult to convince web browsers to take the time to visit the site and form their own opinion. So, how do you incorporate reputation management into an existing search engine optimization (SEO) strategy?
1. Online PR
Online press releases are the workhorses of SEO. In addition to providing optimized content for on-page purposes, they aid with authoritative link building for off-page optimization. They can also help with reputation management and will already have laid the foundations of your reputation management strategy if online PR has played any kind of role in your search engine marketing.
Most negative publicity comes from news channels. Many internet users check online news providers such as Google News regularly in order to keep up to date with local and national events. News outlets are therefore an important part of handling your online reputation – but if you’ve released any form of online PR recently, chances are you’ll already have a positive presence to counteract any bad press. Regular PR distribution online also means you’ll have a working relationship with industry journalists, ezines, and online publications – this makes them much more likely allies when bad news breaks.
2. Review Sites
There are hundreds of review sites springing up every week, some more successful than others. Sites such as Rated People and TripAdvisor provide a forum for consumers to comment on and review their experiences with businesses of all shapes and sizes. The problem with this free rein is that sometimes, your website may get a negative review which then appears high up in the search results. A bad review can be very damaging to your online reputation and can stymie your search engine optimization efforts.
Being proactive about review sites can easily be integrated into your SEO strategy. Monitoring sites with a review facility about your industry should be a priority, enabling you to react quickly when disgruntled customers air their opinions online. Being pro-active about your reputation management can mean encouraging happy customers to use the sites as well – ask them to leave you feedback as a means of increasing your positive press. Online review sites function just as well as word-of-mouth for recommendations and reputation building, so if there is a negative review, tackle it head on. Can the problem or complaint be corrected? Can the client be contacted to see if there is anything extra you can do to improve their opinion?
3. Social Media
Much like review sites and forums, social media is a very powerful reputation management tool as it harnesses the power of word of mouth but multiplies the dissemination and reach of comments both good and bad. Most search engine optimization campaigns include some form of social media activity for link building purposes, so the chances are you’ll already have done some preemptive reputation management.
There are specialist tools to monitor sentiment on social media sites, but nothing replaces the insight gained from having a dedicated social media or SEO specialist keeping an eye on the most relevant social media channels for your business.
Reputation management should definitely be a part of your SEO strategy, and keeping these three areas (online PR, review sites, and social media) in mind when tackling the problem will help guide you down the right path.