Using SEO as a tool for online reputation management

It’s been proven that search is one of the most influential channels at the beginning of path to conversion. It means that more often than not the very first impression potential customers or employees have of your organisation is what they see in search engine results. This is why it’s absolutely vital to ensure they can find you and what they see encouraging them to get in touch or convert.

These days the search engine result pages are full of various listings and snippets. There are traditional blue link listings, embedded maps, Wikipedia snippets, live Twitter feeds, links to social media profiles as well as news, image and video snippets. Every one of these elements is an opportunity and threat at the same time.

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Starting with the traditional blue link listings, make sure you implement all best practice onsite and offsite SEO techniques to ensure you actually rank at No. 1 for your own brand name. In case of multinational brands make sure there is a geo-targeting strategy in place so you direct people to the right website.

Even if you’re ranking at No. 1 you still want to consider what your search listing actually says. Try optimising it but without ‘stuffing’ it with keywords which will reduce the ‘click-through rate’ and does not look very professional. Another point to consider is where are the listing actually takeg users to? Although in most cases brand name searches will send people to the homepage, it’s also possible that some will click on ‘organic sitelinks’ (smaller listings under the main search result). These can be changed (to a degree) so you want to make sure they point to key landing pages like services, products, case studies, contact pages, definitely not to terms and conditions or FAQ pages.

When someone searches for a brand the chances are that the results from other sites and further down the page are not optimal. Just think of some attention grabbing piece of bad PR coverage or some negative reviews from previous employees on Glassdoor. The key here is to monitor what the other listings on the first search results page in Google say and where they go. You can use some clever tools like Searchmetrics to do that or you can do it manually every now and again. Just make sure you search in ‘private’ or ‘incognito’ mode so the results are not personalised based on your previous search history.

Next, if you spot that some of the results are not relevant you can always create and optimise company/individual profiles on highly visible websites like LinkedIn, other social media platforms, business directory listings. Any high profile award, conference, expo pages might also help with taking its place in search results. A good PR coverage will also help with achieving the same goal.

There are many reputation management elements to consider beyond the traditional blue links. Starting with Google Maps snippets in search results, ensure your Google My Business details are accurate. There are is nothing more frustrating than being sent to the wrong business address by Google Maps. Make sure you claim your business, verify it, then optimise it with relevant keywords and finally customise it with images, videos etc.
Think only big brands can have a Wikipedia page? Every brand, organisation and individual can create a Wikipedia page. Providing you adhere to very strict copywriting guidelines you can also get a nice Wiki info box in the top right hand corner of Google search results. That will instantly help with brand trust and will maximise owned search real estate.

With live tweets returning to Google search results it’s become vital to ensure your business Twitter account is tweeting appropriately as it very likely that people searching for the organisation name will see the most crescent tweets in Google search results.
Then there are the review sites. From TrustPilot and Reevoo to Glassdoor and LinkedIn your overall score can have a big influence on that all so important first impression. Make sure you engage and respond to reasonable negativity on these sites as people will click on the fifth or sixth Google result if they’re drawn to it with one star rating.

What about individuals? Many tips mentioned above apply to individuals as well. What’s different is bigger prominence of individual social media profiles, music sites, comments left on various websites and forums, publically available YouTube video playlist etc. The majority of these sites allow you to block search engines from indexing and showing it.

Artur Jach Written by:

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