Using Search Engine Optimization to Manage Your Online Reputation

When it comes to managing your brand, previous PR efforts that previously were effective have now been replaced or transformed under the new online economy.

The internet has enabled everyone to advertise their services thanks to the ease of publishing online. While this is a great improvement for small business owners who do not possess a big marketing budget for newspapers and television or billboards; it also comes with downside that it might be lost within the plethora of online advertisements.

In order to get reasonable results from your online efforts, you can use search engine optimization (SEO) to enhance your visibility on the web and reach to your target audience more easily.

SEO is a constantly changing environment; because the algorithms employed by Google or other search engines undergo changes fairly regularly. However, there are some rules that you should know regardless of potential changes:

Keywords

The most qualified person to know about your products is you. That’s perfectly fine and it should be that way. But don’t forget that your target audience should also understand what your product is about.

Always try to put yourself in your customers’ feet and forget everything you know about your product. When you advertise your brand, you should be able to convey your product to your followers in a relatable way. Find keywords that your potential consumer will be searching for (not what you would search for), and mold your content around them. As a result, when someone in your area is searching for a designer, your advertisement or your content will rank high in search because you customized your keywords to the search query of your customer.

Work with Professionals.

There are resources on the internet where one can learn about SEO. However always think about if your time might be better spent leveraging your experience in your domain to move forward the business and let a professional deal with the SEO. There are qualified professionals on the market who focus on managing their clients’ online reputation. Managing a PR mistake or some bad feedbacks online can be easily done with SEO.

Extract Insights

There is plenty of competition in every industry and you will certainly have to battle it out, but SEO will also give you an insight how to move quicker than the competition and work on trending topics. If you see a potential trend forming for a certain area of service, you can capitalize on it with a marketing campaign targeting that specific trend. Your brand will be ahead of the curve and will ascend quicker in the search results. Utilising SEO, its metrics and analyzing the data will help your business find its place within the industry and form a strong identity and solidify its reputation as a result.

Origins and tools for online reputation management in search engines

In order to understand the origin of the concept of online reputation, it would be necessary to go back to the explosion of the internet, where it could be built at a macro-level with traditional media -such as press, radio, and television- or at a micro-level -with private conversations- with a limited-in-time impact and duration, whose access to content with a retrospective character was limited to special libraries.

Online reputation in the current environment is mainly characterized by the high volume of impact that it can reach (users) its speed, its permanence on the internet and its multiplying effect, having its origins in offline actions that can be performed by people, brands or companies, product of the existing interaction between their communication, human resources, corporate responsibility, marketing, customer service, logistics and financial departments, among others.

In the current environment, all of us can have opinions and we have platforms where these opinions can be reflected or published, which is why their reach and expansion is fast and perdurable in time. The sum of these participations makes us, as users, leave a digital footprint in the form of opinions, ratings, and experiences about a person, product or brand, and, therefore, we contribute to the generation of a distributed reputation, through which other users can be influenced.

These participations that we can make as users can be categorized as positive, negative, or neutral, as well as weigh their power of influence, and categorize these interventions thematically in any field, be it corporate, political, and so on.

It is true that the concept of online reputation is acquiring a strong evolution in the past few years. Over those past few years, especially, it started to be oriented towards what is understood as online communication and public relations in the Social Web or Web 2.0.

However, to understand the framework for action and presence of online reputation, we have to take two scopes into account: Online reputation management, whose field of action is the search and analysis of the existing reputation in online content and interaction; and search engine reputation management, whose goal is to apply tactics to protect in a proactive and reactive way people and/or brands through queries in search engines.

Both should be complementary in a strategy of Internet presence -companies, brands, politicians or opinion leaders- due to the fact that whatever is reflected within social environments has a strong impact in the results of a search engine when a user performs a query.

Image courtesy of Caio at Pexels.com
Image courtesy of Caio at Pexels.com

Reputation management in search engines and social platforms

We have to be aware of the fact that, in the digital era, professional contacts are no longer created with handshakes, they begin with search engines. Nowadays, first impressions are created with the digital footprint that you leave online, way before you even meet somebody in person. Currently, search engines are turning into online reputation managers, as they are the main channels that people use to find information. Over 80% of users access the internet through search engines, which is why the techniques to protect, manage and maximize it have never been so important.

Search engines

This forces us to understand in a basic way how is it that a search engine works, how does it index contents, how does it present results when a user performs a query and what kind of results does it return. We have to know that these are not only circumscribed to web pages, but to a great variety of document types through which companies, brands or political leaders can establish a presence.

This presence within the organic results of a search engine can be reflected mainly through images, videos, news, documents in different formats, user-generated reviews, opinions in forums, blog comments, pages or profiles in social networks or profiles in platforms of the likes of Wikipedia.

When it comes to defining and generating the digital footprint of a company, brand or political leader, we have to know that the activity within the different platforms is going to be susceptible of being indexed by search engines, however, the visibility to them should be made easier.

Social platforms

Likewise, we should be aware of the fact that the work of presence that is done in social platforms will produce a higher degree of exposition, therefore, the intervention and interaction with users should respond to a few ground rules.

It will be necessary to learn how to listen before participating, and to be in a constant process of learning, to know which tone is the ideal one and when should value be added. One of the principles when it comes to having a presence within social media goes through applying common-sense to each one of the interventions, and of course to avoid lecturing and don’t try to control the conversations or impose the contents.

Some of the technical aspects that should be considered when we want to have a presence in social environments is to have clear procedures when crises arise. The content is always going to be our currency. We should have transparency, avoid overreacting, analyze everything with logic, control the tone and the message, and above all, apply the principle of precaution.

Related content: Read ReputationDefender’s “Online Reputation Management for tobacco companies: A social crime?”