As a local business, an online presence and a good reputation mean everything. A good reputation encourages consumers to trust your business, builds brand value, and drives sales. Potential customers who don’t know anything about you take just a few seconds to judge your company when they review search results. That’s why it’s important to spend time and energy managing your online reputation.

In a world of viral videos and 24-hour news cycles, it takes just one bad review or negative journalism piece about your business to tank your reputation. So what happens when your business experiences a negative hit to its reputation? That depends on your response. Negative feedback doesn’t signal the death knell for your company if you can manage the effects on your company’s reputation.

In this guide, we’ll go over what SEO reputation management is and why it matters for your business. Plus, we’ll give you strategies to help boost positive search results regarding your business and show you what to do about negative reviews.

What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management (ORM) is a digital marketing strategy in which business owners manage the perception of their company on search engine results pages (SERPs). The online reputation management process involves monitoring online mentions of the company and requires businesses to address negative feedback. The goal is to protect your brand’s reputation. 

The main tool you can use to monitor your business’s online reputation is called SEO, which is short for search engine optimization. SEO is the process of optimizing your content—from blog posts and social media videos to press releases and landing pages—so it appears among the first results on search engines including Google Search. SEO tactics include using target keywords, backlink building, and technical optimizations to improve the visibility of your business.

Why online and SEO reputation management matters

With so much hinging on the success of your online reputation, it’s no surprise that, according to Forbes, 97% of business owners say ORM is vital to their marketing strategy. A bad online reputation can lead to a loss of brand value and search traffic, all of which directly impact profitability. Here’s a deeper dive into how a negative online reputation can affect your business:

Organic search traffic

Negative reviews and results when it comes to your business or products can lead to a loss of search traffic. That typically also means a loss of sales. Organic search traffic is traffic that naturally finds its way to your site. This type of traffic takes time and effort to build. If negative search results about your business start to show up, consumers might think your company is a scam or offers poor quality products. They may then choose to take their business elsewhere. 

When gossip about your site goes viral and people click on those links instead of your company’s site, Google prioritizes negative reviews. That means the positive feedback on Google Reviews gets pushed down the search results page where consumers won’t see it. It’s a vicious cycle that can consume your online reputation if it gets out of hand.

Paid search traffic

Having negative reviews or articles written about your brand can also make your paid ads less effective. You could spend double or triple what you paid before to try and buy your way out of the negative results, but your paid ads will often just appear right above the negative information. The result is a mixed bag that can confuse consumers and make them wary of your business.

Brand value

Negative reviews can directly impact your brand value and equity, making it more difficult to draw in customers and work with other businesses. Your brand value and equity is a combination of trust, loyalty, and monetary merit. When your brand value takes a hit, your rivals gain a competitive advantage. That’s because consumers will look elsewhere for similar products from other companies without negative reputations.

Profitability

All of this leads to a loss in one of the most important business metrics: profitability. Losing search traffic and consumers means you’ll lose money. If the loss of profitability is too significant, large corporations may lose stockholders and small businesses may need to cut employees. A negative reputation can also mean you have to spend big bucks on a reputation management service or SEO experts to turn things around.

Want to learn more about SEO reputation management and how you can use SEO and other tools to manage your brand reputation? Here, we’ll show you strategies and tactics you can use to protect your online reputation.

3 strategies for online reputation management

Crafting an effective reputation management strategy can help you turn things around or simply protect your brand name from being dragged through the mud. The main goal of SEO reputation management is to keep the first page of search engine results full of positive information about your site and brand. That includes everything from Google My Business results and news stories to online reviews and social media content. Here are a few strategies to help you manage your online reputation.

1. Boost prominence of positive search rankings

You want consumers to focus on the good things, not the bad. While you can’t just call Google and ask them to get rid of negative information about your site, you can boost positive results to make those negative results less visible. You can use SEO techniques—more on how in a minute—to ensure positive content about your site drowns out any negative reviews.

You can also ask satisfied customers to leave reviews so there is always a steady stream of positive insight into your products and services. Not only do these reviews show up in search results, but they also give potential customers the confidence to buy and trust your products and services. Podium’s automated tools help you gather feedback so you can see what’s working and make changes to things that aren’t.

2. Address negative search results

Google’s search page lists the top 10 results for any search term. If you want to remove negative results from the first page, you’ll need to rank nine other pieces of content ahead of it. This can take time and a lot of energy, but the payoff is worth it. 

SEO tools are key when you want to push negative results farther down the queue. Start by identifying which keywords are affected by using a tool like Ahrefs or similar. Once you know which search terms are producing negative results, you can target your SEO efforts on those terms. 

Investing in link building can help boost the trust factor of your site, which is a key factor Google uses when ranking content. For some business owners, SEO may require more time or effort than they can give. If that’s your case, think about hiring an SEO agency to help out.

3. Fine-tune content on all platforms

To move the focus from negative results to positive reviews, you’ll need to address content on all platforms. That includes everything from social media sites like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to online review sites including Google, and Amazon. In some cases, you may need to look at news sites and address any litigation that may be in the press regarding your business.

You can’t fix your brand reputation if you only address content on one medium. Plan a comprehensive approach to root out negative information about your brand. Here are a few ways you can move the focus to positive brand information.

Use social media 

Social media is one of the easiest places to start. Having a social media profile enables you to engage directly with consumers and leverage the power of influencers. Posting regularly on social media can help move positive content to the top of the search results page. Social media sites enjoy a strong domain rating and large search traffic—two key metrics Google uses to rank content in their search engine.

A LinkedIn account makes your business or brand seem more professional. Try posting long-form content on LinkedIn, which can help add positive news and developments about your company. It’s a good way to reach new audiences and slowly move negative results down in the search results page.

If your company has been having issues with too many negative reviews, posting on social media can help change the conversation. Try to regularly post informative content about your products and services. Interact with people who love your brand, and try to address any negative feedback in a constructive way. Consumers will see you care about your customers and are willing to make things right if issues arise.

Oftentimes, Google will feature a snippets section featuring the top tweets from celebrities and influencers about products and services. You can work out a partnership with industry influencers to help promote your products and add more positive feedback to your social profiles.

Use effective SEO techniques

As mentioned, SEO is key to managing your online reputation, and several SEO tactics can shine a light on the best side of your brand. Use good SEO techniques like adding alt text to images so these show up in search rankings. When creating new content, do keyword research to see what people are searching for. As this new content gains traction, it can bump negative results off the first page of search results. 

Build dofollow backlinks to your page using white hat techniques. That means avoiding shady tactics where you spam sites begging for backlinks. Instead, take the time to identify sites where your content would be useful to consumers. Reach out to the site owner and pitch content—such as a guide, manual, or resource—that would work great in one of their blog posts. 

You can also optimize web pages so you have even more content on the first page of Google. Most businesses should optimize the home page for their main search terms. But if you struggle to remove negative press, you can also optimize another landing page for similar search terms. This can be an “about us” page where you can show consumers what your brand is all about.

Make a Google My Business Listing

If you don’t have a Google My Business listing, you should make one. Google My Business is a free tool that helps you manage the basic information about your business on Google Search and Google Maps. It takes just a few minutes to set up your account, and the tool features vital information including the company name, business address, phone number, and physical location. Best of all, these search results often take up a large portion of Google’s search engine, so negative reviews and news stories get pushed farther down.

Employ video content

Recently, Google has been placing a higher focus on video content. Videos that have high viewer numbers tend to rank higher within the search engine. You can post video content to your company’s YouTube channel and then embed those videos into key pieces of content. This will help both your video channel and the article rank higher in the search results.

To make great videos that also do well in Google rankings, keep them around 10 minutes or less. Make them informative, and keep the topic focused on a specific keyword or search term. Optimize the title of the video to reflect the search term you’re targeting, and write a description which will help search engines rank the video better.

Wield the power of public relations

Along with reputation management SEO tools, PR is one of the handiest tools to turn your online reputation around. If your business has been impacted by negative content or bad reviews, a public relations campaign can get things on the right track. 

You can hire a dedicated PR specialist to reframe negative press or increase positive information about changes in the company. You can also use tools like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to get good press about your company. HARO connects businesses with reporters and blogging experts who can act as subject matter experts or sources on industry developments. This way, you can build brand name recognition and trust by offering insider tips or product information for news reports and investigative journalism.

Manage your reputation with Podium’s tools

Managing and crafting your brand’s reputation is an important part of any SEO strategy. It can help you build an online presence and create trust with consumers. 

Whether you’re a small real estate company or a large software firm, your online reputation can make a great first impression or be the victim of bad press. Take care of your brand image with these strategies and tactics for SEO reputation management.

If you’re looking for more guidance on how to earn repeat customers and gain more business, we’re here to help. Find out more about why Google Reviews matter and get access to review management software that can help you control your online reputation.

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