Online reputation management was always important for brands. Getting lots of negative reviews can have a major impact on your sales while also preventing you from appearing in Google Three Pack. In fact, just one negative article can completely hinder your ability to compete in the open market.
Of course, online reputation affects much more than your ability to convert potential clients. It’s also something that other companies analyze when considering partnerships. Reputation affects anything you do online, and getting too much bad feedback might put you in a hole that is hard to climb from.
In this article, we’ll talk about reputation management from the perspective of search engine optimization and brand building. In the end, we’ll also share a few tips that will help you handle negative online reviews.
What is search engine reputation management?
Search engine reputation management, or SERM, is a process of monitoring what people say about your brand online. The process specifically focuses on getting more positive reviews while minimizing negative feedback.
The process includes all types of feedback, including article mentions, forums, social media, and Google reviews. Besides managing negative sentiment, a SERM company’s task is to get as many positive reviews on popular review platforms as possible.
Why is SERM so important?
Ideally, you should try to implement the best SERM practices from day one. That way, you’ll get as much as possible from potential clients and search engines. Among others, boosting your reputation on social media and search engine results can help you generate faster sales and put your business on the right path.
Search engine reputation management affects brands in so many ways:
- Improves brand’s reputation
- Increases your ability to generate sales
- Improves placement within search engine results pages
- Gives you a chance to score more positive content
- Generates more partnership opportunities
- Improves and simplifies other marketing efforts
Most importantly, your reputation management team can help you get rid of negative search results. These are web posts made by online journalists, sites, and other users that smear your good name. You should especially focus on online resources where your current and future clients spend most of their time.
Still, the hardest thing about negative content is that it often takes time to spot these attacks. This is especially true for medium and large brands that attract a lot of online chatter every day. So, if you need someone to track what people are saying about you, make sure to contact MiroMind!
SERM and local SEO
People too often focus on the negative sides of reputation management. However, getting lots of positive mentions can be every bit as critical as negative reviews. Among others, a good online reputation makes it easier to reach the top of search engine result pages for local search queries.
According to Google, your best bet of appearing in their Three Pack local results is by getting a steady stream of positive feedback. To get the most out of this, many companies stimulate their customers to share their sentiments online.
Of course, it’s really hard to change the mind of people who had a negative experience with your brand. Still, you should always do your best to minimize the impact of such reviews. Ultimately, having a positive reputation can go a long way in making your business a successful one.
6 Best SERM practices
While you can’t eliminate every negative review posted online, there are still numerous ways to improve your reputation. Here are the 6 best strategies that will help improve the brand’s online reputation and, thus, your placement in Google search results:
1. Create a comprehensive strategy
If you wish to perform reputation management the right way, you should first establish your core objective and methods of execution. According to SEMRush, you should use the Impact Matrix to set your priorities straight:
- Quick Wins represent the easiest yet most impactful tasks to perform
- Fill-Ins are every bit as straightforward as Quick Wins but with a smaller impact on your bottom line
- Big Bets have a major effect on your reputation, but take time to execute
- Thankless Tasks is the hardest category of tasks with low impact on your brand
For the most part, focusing on Quick Wins is the way to go. These are straightforward tasks, such as removing a negative comment or posting a positive review on one of the major platforms. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t ignore other types of tasks.
Running a successful reputation management campaign is also predicated on your ability to categorize urgent and non-urgent tasks. Sometimes, you’ll have to address a potentially damaging Thankless Task even if you have several Quick Wins on your hands.
Lastly, like with any other marketing campaign, you need to establish responsibilities and determine other elements:
- Make sure that you have a person for every task. Stick with that individual in just about every situation.
- Create response templates that you would use for certain types of feedback. They’re especially important for customer support activities and, in particular, FAQs.
- Establish other players within the field and mark people who often post reviews about your brand. Being able to tell your competitors from regular users can help you a lot.
Given the impact of reputation management on other tasks, you’ll probably have to coordinate your strategy with SEO efforts.
2. Get a reputation management tool
Let’s be honest. There are simply too many review sites and online forums out there. If we also consider social media posts and user-generated content, it becomes obvious you can’t track all that online chatter without help. This is where AI-powered tools come into play.
These platforms help automate various daily tasks while simultaneously eliminating human errors. This kind of software is especially vital for reputation management as it can track all online mentions of your brand.
Besides online reputation, some of these platforms can also track offline mentions. They generate an aggregate score, making them invaluable for assessing the work of your reputation team. The best thing yet, you can access all online chatter from a single dashboard without having to visit websites one by one.
3. Ask for removal
In most cases, people leave a negative review because they get annoyed by a small yet solvable thing. They react in the heat of the moment, but they might not be as angry as you initially thought so. Because of that, we suggest that you always ask for feedback removal.
Always be polite and patient throughout the process and try to understand why they were so angry. Sometimes, the review might not tell the whole story, and you’d be left pondering as to what truly has happened. Among others, you might consider giving them some sort of compensation so they remove the web post.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t get a 5-star score, you might still slightly improve their feedback. If you get just one star more in Google or some other aggregate, it would be worth the hassle. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll at least know what you did wrong so you can correct the issue with future clients.
4. Ask for reviews
The opposite thing of asking for removals is asking for reviews. This one is much easier to pull off, so you should do it on a constant basis. Getting favorable feedback is especially vital for young brands that are just trying to establish themselves on the market and have a limited online presence.
Nevertheless, there are still a few things you should pay attention to when using this tactic. Specifically, you should only ask for reviews from people who really enjoyed your service. Otherwise, there’s a chance that a user will leave negative feedback out of spite.
Take note of clients’ behavior during interaction with your on-ground team and how they reacted to product/service features. If you’re certain they were satisfied, ask them to post feedback online just as they are getting ready to leave your place.
5. Increase online visibility
Reputation management goes way beyond eliminating a few negative reviews. It’s a process of establishing your presence on the web on numerous websites, directories, and aggregates. Keep in mind that everything you post online stays there forever, so creating brand-related content can significantly increase your exposure.
Specifically, here are a few things you can do to appear in online searches and, thus, increase your long-term reputation:
- Add your company to all major directories
- Boost social media presence and chatter
- Get media coverage from news sites
- Do interviews, round-ups, and share expert opinion
- Post guest posts on other sites
- Partner up with other brands and host events
Most of this content will be neutral. For example, doing an interview with a news site doesn’t necessarily have an impact on your reputation. However, these are vital steps in building your visibility and authority. Step by step, this can help mold the users’ opinions, and without even realizing it, they will have a positive disposition toward your brand.
6. Use social media
Having a strong social media presence is every bit as important as ranking on top of a popular search engine results page. The biggest advantage of social platforms is that they allow direct communication with the users, something that’s hard to do through your website. Furthermore, you can utilize these platforms to increase brand loyalty and show personality.
Among others, when you build a platform, you create a space where the biggest fans can gather and share their impression about the brand. This also allows potential customers to assess your brand before making a purchase. As you can presume, this can go a long way in increasing conversions.