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Turning reviews into opportunities for reputation and SEO impact

February 18, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Reviews are absolutely crucial to a business’s success and need to be acknowledged.
  • Engagement with consumers will positively benefit your business and bring in more reviews in the future.
  • Staying honest with your reviews will pay off in the long run.
  • Take most reviews as honest opinions about your business and work to build on them for a better consumer experience.

When a busy day means dinner will be takeout instead of home-cooked, chances are you don’t simply choose a restaurant at random. Most likely, you’ll use Google or Yelp to search for data on locations or types of food, and then, most importantly, you’ll look at customer reviews. With tacos on your mind, you may look for a casual Mexican restaurant or fast food. But what if it has less than four stars on Yelp? Scenarios like these have become part of daily life in the communities being served by almost any brand you market.

Reviews and web exposure

Customer reviews have played a significant role in customer choices for decades, and they aren’t specific to restaurants. In recent years their importance has increased exponentially and can even decide a business’s fate. With 93% of consumers using the internet to search for businesses — and 34% of those reading more reviews than before due to the coronavirus — it’s impossible to understate the importance of a good review.

Good reviews positively affect business exposure. The perceived quality of a company will contribute to a consumer’s eventual decision, and very rarely will a customer trust a three-star repair shop over a five-star one. Often, the three-star business will rank too poorly to be featured in Google’s sets of three local results, called “local packs”. Google’s local packs are meant to make it easy to find top results that match a customer’s query while suppressing less-recommended options. Exposure alone is helpful, but reviews impact both visibility in the packs and searchers’ ultimate decisions.

Increasing presence and reviews through engagement

Reviews generally follow the trend of highlighting a specific feature of the company that stood out to the customer — good service, speed, cleanliness, and so on. If there are multiple negative reviews, there’s a good chance there will also be specific issues reviewers are citing. There are two actions a business can take, ignore the bad comments or actively engage. Since only 48% of people would even consider using a business with less than four stars, negative customer reviews should be taken as serious critiques (at least most of the time).

A good way to immediately engage with reviewers is to simply reply via the owner response function Google provides in the Google My Business dashboard. Replies, thoughtful replies, can net forgiveness, understanding, and even a changed star rating for your business. Customers are more forgiving than you think and actively wait for owner responses. Even without incentives like coupons or gifts, they will appreciate the time and effort you took to understand their grievances. For smaller businesses, a few three-star reviews changed into four-stars can generate a meaningful boost in Google or Yelp search results. Direct communication increases trust from both current and future consumers and can lead to tangible business gains.

Staying honest and relevant

Faking positive reviews is nothing new in the business world. While review platforms like Google and Yelp have some safeguards in place for catching or filtering out fake reviews, they don’t automatically discover every review that violates their guidelines. This means that it’s often up to business owners to do their part by asking themselves whether it’s right to intentionally mislead consumers with false advertising.

The answer is, of course, no. Brands that lean on fake reviews in hopes of a quick gain in rankings or foot traffic may find themselves on the wrong end of lawsuits, legal penalties, business listing removal, and permanent reputation damage.

A far better approach for local brands that hope to enjoy many years of success in business is to commit to constantly earning and improving reputation through exceptional customer service. Rather than misleading the public with fake sentiment, embrace consumers as providers of both free quality control (in the form of negative reviews) and the best sales copy anyone could possibly publish about your company in the form of positive reviews.

When you receive an honest but negative review, consider it a mini-inspection one customer made of your business, citing elements you can often actively correct. A flood of negative reviews mentioning similar grievances may require fundamental operational changes to improve customer experience, prompting action on your part that can eventually lead to an enviable, lucrative online reputation. Your brand is so much better off when dissatisfied patrons speak up because stated problems can be solved, and when your public responses show how seriously you act on complaints, you’re offering rock-solid proof that your brand puts the customer first.

Meanwhile, when a happy customer takes the time to leave a positive review, make the respectful gesture of thanking them in return. Use the owner response space to express appreciation and, where possible, mention something exciting about your business like a new menu item or the debut of a new service that you hope they’ll stop by again to experience. Don’t be too sales-y, but do engage. Reviews, at their best, are two-way conversations.

If you’re just beginning to promote your business online and are feeling a sense of urgency about getting your first reviews, study the guidelines of the various review platforms and then create a compliant review acquisition campaign that yields results. But take it slow, too many reviews at once can result in removal, and keep in mind that you’ll be earning reviews for the life of the business you’re marketing. It’s a long hike rather than a sprint. Avoid guideline violations and center excellent customer service and you’ll be ahead of the review game from the get-go.

Miriam Ellis is a Local Subject Matter Expert at Moz.

The post Turning reviews into opportunities for reputation and SEO impact appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


The business value of SEO in 2021: From revenue generation to reputation and retention

January 28, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • SEO is without a doubt the most cost-effective channel for enterprises today.
  • SEO also adds incremental value in a number of different ways.
  • It helps maintain brand equity, helps inform product and sales.
  • SEO can also be used as a PR channel and vice-versa.
  • From consumer behavior trends to market and demand volatility, search behavior can provide the data businesses need to understand market drivers and pivot in real-time.
  • SEO adds value by providing a model for continuous digital improvement of the user (customer) online experience.

Those within the industry understand that the inclusion of SEO as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy is an absolute. But while we recognize that SEO holds the keys to digital success – from the insights and context it provides, to the optimization of content it can deliver – we sometimes overlook the additional business value of SEO.

The power of doing SEO now cannot be understated. As the most cost-effective channel for enterprises today, SEO also adds incremental value in a number of ways. In this article, we’ll consider just seven ways of them.

1. Brand awareness

Some tend to think about SEO primarily in terms of rankings and traffic. While both are great ways to measure the success of your SEO strategy, limiting yourself to those metrics alone can miss the wider value provided by a first-page result – whether it converts to click through or not.

Every search returns pages of results, and each time your product, service, or brand appears on page one of those results you create an impression. Those impressions are fundamental to brand awareness, which is the extent to which consumers recognize your brand, your product, or service.

In an endless sea of options, brand awareness is the first step in the marketing and sales funnel. Whether you’re promoting a new product or focused on retention, recall and recognition are key. SEO presents an opportunity to build brand awareness with every search.

In creating your SEO strategy, you will have ensured your site is easy to navigate, simple to search, accessible, and – critically – credible. Landing your business on the first page of results not only increases visibility but also means you’re more likely perceived as a leader in your industry.

2. PR and reputation

The shift from print media to digital has exponentially expanded your company’s potential audience. Online publications often have much higher readerships than traditional media outlets, and as such digital public relations support increased visibility of your brand.

Understanding that both online and traditional print publications leverage industry experts as content contributors, as step one in your PR and reputation strategy you’ll want to ensure you’re visible to be considered an expert in your local area and/or your industry.

Once in the virtual domain as an expert, your credibility continues to grow and has an incremental impact with each piece of coverage. News publications tend to have high domain authority, as links continue to be one of the most important ranking factors for search engines, each and every media mention further optimizes your searchability with a multiplier effect that continually increases your credibility. and visibility.

3. Consumer and market insights

Throughout the ongoing global pandemic, we’ve seen incredible shifts in consumer behavior worldwide. As consumers continue to re-evaluate everything from their careers to lifestyles and demand more from the brands they choose to buy from, seeking meaning in their purchasing, the insights SEO can provide offer incredible value. From consumer behavior trends to market and demand volatility, search behavior can provide the data businesses need to understand market drivers and pivot in real-time.

Using SEO results and search patterns, combined with the right strategic thinking, can lead to continuous improvement across a number of departments.

Consider content strategy, for example. Marketers know that high-quality content is critical to sales strategies, but what makes for success depends on the needs and wants of users. Understanding user search patterns can help to inform desirable content throughout the buying stages, ultimately leading to better conversation rates.

4. Content and cross channel activation

Of course, we can’t consider content strategy without addressing cross-channel activation. Integrating and activating content across marketing channels – from video to email to verticals and beyond – allows you to reach your customers in the places they are. It acts as the starting point for the personalization we know consumers crave.

By implementing optimized content in an integrated approach that covers everything from paid search to social, an intelligent content framework supports strong organic search success while fulfilling consumer curiosity by ensuring that content is optimized not just for one channel, but for all channels.

The business value of SEO in 2021 - Research showing content cross channel activation

Source: BrightEdge SEO Platform Research

Smart content is optimized from the point of creation and ready to activate across channels. The key to successful cross channel activation is a true understanding of customer intent, targeting customers with the detail they want and need, when they need it, and optimizing to ensure visibility.

5. Customer experience and retention

The hallmarks of a good digital experience are key components in the assessment search engines perform when considering whether your site is the best result to showcase. From usability to the relevance of content and simple search functionality, Google wants to see that your site and content are the best answer.

SEO adds value by providing a model for continuous improvement of the user (customer) online experience. Add to that the personalization facilitated by SEO and you’ve got yourself the basis of a top-notch customer experience.

As customers across the globe are craving more personalized experiences, successful businesses are looking at the customer experience holistically – and SEO is a great tool to support the complete customer view. Providing a package of integrated tools and features, SEO insights are an opportunity to take digital strategy from the page to the personal by leveraging data to deliver personalized experiences to customers in real-time.

6. Offline and local

Consumers leverage online research to inform their offline activities, as we well know. Mining SEO insights informs offline and local campaigns, as well.

From a service perspective, from comments to questions online, what consumers want to know in the digital space can lead to conversation starters in the physical space. Arm your customer service representatives with these insights for more meaningful in-person engagements, ultimately deepening the customer relationship.

Informing an in-store experience with SEO insights doesn’t end with sales training. In understanding search terms that returned no results, your buyers are presented with items your customers want you to offer, providing opportunities for new product lines and/or diversification in your services.

7. Revenue and lead generation

Customer acquisition can be costly. We know that inbound strategies are the most effective, and that SEO is a key source of leads. Rather than investing countless hours in outbound marketing strategies, drawing in customers with the information they need – when they need it – as they research and review throughout their buying journey provides a cost-effective avenue of lead generation.

Whether B2B or B2C, revenue grows when the right content is delivered to the right customer, at the right time. Optimizing online content across channels can generate more traffic, more conversions, and thus provide more revenue.

In short, having the right SEO strategy can bring success well beyond the digital space. Understand that set-it-and-forget-it is a strategy doomed to fail. Committing to monitoring and activating SEO insights in as near to real-time as possible gives organizations the opportunity to meet customers and prospects where and when they’re most receptive to your messaging.

From sales to service and loyalty, when supported by the right insights there are almost endless opportunities for companies to reap the value of SEO.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.

The post The business value of SEO in 2021: From revenue generation to reputation and retention appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Post-COVID-19 strategy to restore your social media reputation

October 1, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Trends suggest that about 25% of businesses paused their marketing and advertising on social media during the first six months of 2020.
  • Facebook reports that 89% of advertisers reconsidered their budget in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • This post attempts to underline some of the strategies you can consider practicing to restore your reputation and recognition on social media.

COVID-19 has had an impact on everyone and everything – starting from our lives and lifestyle to economies and businesses across the world. Business processes were forcefully shut down as a preventive measure to stop the pandemic earlier this year and the same has reflected in paid advertising, digital marketing strategies, and brands’ social media reputation management efforts.

COVID-19 and digital marketing

The number of people using social media has skyrocketed during the epidemic. Despite that, many organizations paused their digital marketing and even social media due to the lockdown.

Social network is one of the most effective tools businesses use for marketing, branding, sales, engagement, and delivering customer care. And to make the most of it, you should not stop your brand’s social media activities. This is something that a brand should never do.

Contrarily, trends suggest that about 25% of businesses paused their marketing and advertising on social media during the first six months of 2020.

However, this can’t be said for forward-looking marketers.

Facebook reports that 89% of advertisers reconsidered their budget in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

But there is no denying that the activities of brands have reduced to a great extent and has changed a lot during the pandemic. As a result, many have lost their customers and other their online reputation.

This post attempts to underline some of the strategies you can consider practicing to restore your reputation and recognition on social media.

1. Evaluate your situation

If you too had closed off your social media at the beginning of the pandemic, the first step for you to take would be – evaluate. Peep into the insights and evaluate the condition of your social networks.

Run an audit involving all your social networks. This will give insights related to engagement and traffic your activities generated during this period. You will also learn what worked well and what didn’t work for you.

You will be able to identify and understand the mistakes you made. Doing all this will help you develop or modify your social media strategy.

2. Develop a positive and supportive brand voice

When looking to rebuild your lost empire on social networks, you might want to reconsider your brand’s voice as well.

Review the voice and tone of your updates on each social network, and ponder – does it represent your brand?

The idea is to develop a positive voice for your brand that is supportive and feels like you care for customers.

It is obvious that people do not want to be pitched directly by marketers in a difficult time like this. In that picture, it perfectly makes sense to build a brand voice that does not sound overly promotional.

So, this would be the right strategy to give your social networks a new voice – a voice and tone that is calm, positive, and always ready-to-help.

3. Do campaigns broadcasting the benefits of your brand

While direct pitches may have a negative influence on customer behavior, there are ways you can promote your brand indirectly. One such way is – telling the benefits of your products and services.

Another would be to share stories around how your product helped a customer or how your service eased an individual’s life. Posts like this are a great motivator; they help build a positive brand image among your audience.

You can also encourage your customers to share their experiences or review on your brand’s social network. Such campaigns do indirect marketing for your brand, apart from adding to your efforts to rediscover your reputation.

You might want to make some strategic adjustments in your approach to social networks. For example, you can create and share visual content backed by keyword-rich captions or descriptions on your social networks. However, the type of content you share depends largely on factors like your brand, your products, and the media preferences of your audience.

This way, not only will you generate traffic, engagement, and sales for you, but also build a name for sharing high-quality, valuable, and above-all useful content.

And just for a reminder: you don’t need a big budget to get started with a completely new style of posts.

4. Social media influencer marketing

Influencers can also help you turn up your social media reputation. Influencers are celebrities that you can partner with to promote your brand among their fans and followers. In short, they will influence their followers – who follow suggestions and advice from their idols. This is how influencer marketing works.

Since 63% of customers trust their favorite influencer more than they trust brands, you can consider hiring an industry-specific influencer for your brand to give your brand-building efforts a quick boost.

If celebrities don’t fit into your budget, you can shift your focus on onboarding micro and small influencers. When it comes to influencing, micro-influencers get you better engagement and results than celebrities do.

Micro-influencers are students and professionals with a few thousand followers looking to earn some extra cash. They have an active follower base, with which they interact on a daily basis. They can help you reach specific market segments and target audiences more effectively that too without much investment.

And to get started with that, you will need to have a well-planned social media cum influencer marketing strategy.

5. Introduce social media tools

The best part of social media is – everything you do here is measurable. Impressions, likes, dislikes, engagement, clicks, and several other user actions can be traced using the default analytics feature of all leading social networks.

You can analyze user behavior on various factors such as the time zone, the age group, the device, the location, and the gender of those who engaged on your updates. You can use these metrics to develop a new or modify your existing social media marketing strategies.

But, using the inbuilt analytics of social networks could be a time-consuming job, because as a brand you have to manage and analyze multiple social networks at a time.

So, you could consider having an all-inclusive social media management and marketing tool that gives you access to all important metrics related to the performance of all your social networks on a single dashboard. Imagine how much time your team will save with one such tool!

6. Respond to reviews

Reviews are possibly the best thing that helps brands in building social media reputation. While positive reviews make everyone happy, negative reviews on social networks can boost your sales and reputation.

Take negative reviews and criticism as a chance for improvement. Address each issue and complaint raised by customers, and try to resolve their concerns on the same thread. It has two advantages.

First, it turns an unhappy and unsatisfied customer into a happy and satisfied customer. And second, it builds a positive impression which ultimately improves your online reputation.

But, that does not mean you should respond to negative reviews only. Don’t skip positive reviews as well. Thank everyone who posts a review on your timeline.

If it is a positive review, thank them for their kind words. And if it is a negative review, thank them for bringing their concern to you and assure them that you will leave no stone unturned in resolving their issue.

Bottom line

When you restart your social network to regain your lost online reputation, try to be consistent with your activities. Respond to comments and inboxes on an everyday basis. In addition to that, never miss a chance to socialize (that’s what social media is meant for) and engage with your audience.

Encourage your followers to share their opinions on your posts. Celebrate festivities and special days and display the pictures on your brand’s social network. These small yet impactful steps and tactics help you connect with your audience in a more humane way and add to your online reputation.

Birbahadur Singh Kathayat is an Entrepreneur, internet marketer, and Co-founder of Lbswebsoft. He can be found on Twitter @bskathayat.

The post Post-COVID-19 strategy to restore your social media reputation appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Online reputation management: Seven steps to success

June 6, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Apparently, it’s crucial to track your reputation in order to prevent PR crises. Moreover, monitoring your reputation enables you to discover valuable customer insights.
  • Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario, Aleh Barysevich, shares a strategy to tackle the challenges of online reputation management. 
  • Right from setting up your online reputation management (ORM) protocol to becoming proactive about getting reviews, there’s more to discover. 

There’s no need to explain the importance of reputation for businesses. The good word of your customers, potential or existing, is the best promotion tool you have. Meanwhile, scandals and criticism can ruin companies. Reputation becomes even more important during the times of crisis when emotions are heightened and any mistake can lead to a full-blown scandal. 

The internet really just amplified the importance of reputation: news and rumours travel fast, but on social media, they travel even faster (and reach more people). Who among us hasn’t checked the reviews before purchasing a product or hasn’t checked out a brand after seeing a friend praising it on social media?  No matter the size of your business, people are talking about you online, sharing their opinion on social media or leaving a review on Yelp and the likes of it.  

It would be wrong to think about online reputation as something separate from your “real-world” or offline reputation: with three billion social media users and counting your online reputation is simply your reputation, it affects purchasing decisions both online and offline.  

For example, Gillette’s polarizing campaign “The Best Men Can Be” gathered a lot of negative feedback (as well as some positive). Social media users publicly denounced the company and promised to stop buying Gillette razors. That wasn’t the first time a social media scandal led to calls for a boycott of the company, Nike and Uber being other notable examples.  

Besides the obvious need to track your reputation in order to prevent PR crises, monitoring your reputation enables you to discover valuable customer insights. Once you start paying close attention to your reviews and mentions online, you’ll learn what people love about your product, what they think you could improve, and what influences their decisions the most.  

All this makes reputation management more relevant than ever. You simply can’t ignore online conversations around your brand if you want to have a successful business. Luckily, the digital world gives us a lot more tactics and tools to monitor and actively improve our reputation than the offline world ever could. This article covers online reputation management step by step, giving you specific guidelines to follow.  

How to manage your reputation online 

Most businesses already conduct some type of online reputation management (ORM), for example, answering customers’ comments and posts where they were tagged. But to make your reputation crisis-proof, you need a robust workflow, and that’s what this article is all about. You can use these steps to revise your existing ORM workflow or build a new one from scratch. 

Step one: Set up your ORM protocol

Before you even start going through your online reviews, you need to establish some guidelines. These will help you and your team to know when to respond to reviews, do it appropriately and quickly, and know the best way to act if there’s a threat of a reputation crisis. This protocol can be as thorough as you like depending on how much you are synced with your team, but here are some questions to answer to figure out the guidelines: 

  • How fast should you answer? Obviously, the quicker your response, the better, but it’s a good practice to establish the minimum response time required for your team members. 
  • How transparent are you willing to be? This will help you determine if you want to go into all the nuances when responding to a customer or simply reassure them that you’re working on the issue. The recent trends prove that transparency is very much appreciated by customers.  
  • What tone of voice should you use? This, of course, will depend on your brand. Should you be cordial or professional and straight-to-the-point? Can you make jokes? Oftentimes a funny response to a complaint can go viral. For example, Oatly is one of the brands that heavily uses negative reviews in its marketing putting an ironic spin on them. But would it fit your brand’s image? 
  • Who will be the spokesperson(s) in case of a crisis? If the need arises, who will be giving the official statements on behalf of your brand? Is it the CEO, or the PR manager? Again, you can decide on the answer based on your company’s image — if you’re trying to build authentic relationships with customers and/or have a charismatic leader, it’s only logical that your CEO will do the talking.  
  • Should you automate your responses? Automation cuts your response time to seconds and allows you to save on staff, but can you be sure it won’t anger your customers? In the example below, the customer grew frustrated after trying to solve their problem on Twitter and getting the same scripted message from Amazon. 

  • Should you always respond? Some brands take their pride in the “always respond rule”, and for smaller brands, it’s actually a must — the more engagement you get, the higher your brand awareness, especially on social media. But once you start getting a ton of mentions at once, you might need to start prioritizing. Besides, sometimes negative reviews can just become trolling — and if there’s one rule you need to learn on the Internet, it’s “Don’t feed the trolls”.  

By answering the questions, you should have a clear outline of dos and don’ts for your social media, community, and PR managers. 

Step two: Choose and set up a monitoring tool

You could try tracking your online reviews and mentions manually, but without a specialized tool, it’s practically impossible. Online reputation management tools enable you to find mentions of your company on social media, in the news, and on review aggregator websites. There is an array of monitoring tools for different needs and budgets, such as AwarioBrandwatchReputology, and others. How do you choose the right one? 

As with the previous step, there are some questions you could ask yourself and your team to decide which tool to settle on: 

  • Platforms it covers. Of course, when we are doing online reputation management, the more feedback we find, the better. But for some businesses specific websites or social media platforms are crucial: for example, TripAdvisor for tourist guide companies or Instagram for clothing brands.  
  • Sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is one of the core features in ORM. It helps you focus on dealing with negative reviews first and see the overall share of negative and positive mentions of your brand.  
  • Special features. Are there any particular requirements that your team might have? Do you need influencer analytics to quickly prioritize reviews with the biggest reach first? Or do you maybe need a tool that could easily be integrated with your CRM/task manager?  
  • Pricing. Reputation management tools vary greatly in pricing going from Enterprise-level analytical powerhouses that cost thousands of dollars, to much more affordable options for mid- and small-sized businesses. Make sure the core features you’re looking for are available in the plan you’re ready to pay for! 

Most tools offer either free trials or demos to get you acquainted with them, so you can investigate before you are ready to invest. 

Once you settle on a tool, you need to set it up to start monitoring. You can monitor your brand name, the name of your products, the names of key public figures in your company. Don’t forget to include common misspellings of these words and phrases – it’s a common mistake that brands make when monitoring their reputation which results in missing a lot of feedback. 

setting online reputation management tool

Most tools allow you to choose some filters for your monitoring efforts: to find reviews only in a certain language, from certain countries or platforms.  

If there’s a topic that causes particular concern for your reputation (for example, Shell and oil spillage), you can create a separate monitoring alert for it using a Boolean search mode.  

Most reputation management tools have a notification settings tab where you can choose when and how you want to receive notifications. 

Now that you’re finished with your setup, it’s time to check your online reputation! 

Step three: Check sentiment analytics and mention spikes

The first thing to do every time you go to your online reputation management tool is to look at the dashboard. This is typically where all your analytics are visualized so you can notice if something is out of the ordinary right away.  

sentiment graph - online reputation management (ORM) tool

First, look at your overall sentiment and see the shares of positive and negative mentions. This will give you an understanding of your overall reputation. You can select different time frames to get a closer look at a certain moment in your company’s history, or vice versa choose as big of a time frame as you want to get a historical perspective.  

mentions graph

Other important graphs here are the number and reach of mentions, specifically, sudden spikes in it. A sudden spike in the number of mentions means that a lot of people are talking about you (hopefully, for a good reason) and a sudden spike in reach can also indicate that some influential account or website mentioned your brand. A lot of stories nowadays emerge on social media and paying attention to spikes allows you to get on top of the story right away.  

Step four: Deal with the social media mentions

Now that you’re sure that there are no reputation crises unfurling at the moment, it’s time to deal with individual mentions. I suggest focusing on social media first since it’s the media with the biggest “sense of urgency”, that is, the medium where people expect you to answer the quickest. According to the study by The Social Habit, 42% of social media users expect a brand to respond in 60 minutes or less.  

Most tools have some kind of a feed that gives you access to individual mentions. For now, filter out everything but the mentions from social media platforms: we will deal with the rest a bit later.  

Usually, social media mentions are sorted by date with the newest mentions displayed first. You can filter them to see negative mentions only to make sure you respond to the unhappy customers first, and then take a look at the neutral and positive mentions, thanking users and sharing favorable posts. Testimonials are an extremely powerful way to promote your brand, so don’t neglect the positive reviews you get, use them. 

The mentions, both positive and negative, can be a great source of customer insights as well. Pay attention to constructive feedback, you can even tag them to come back to them later or share them with your colleagues. 

Step five: Check review sites

Now that social media are dealt with, let’s move on to other types of review platforms: Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and any industry-specific platforms you might come across.  

To find these reviews, do the opposite of what we did in the previous step: filter out all the social media mentions as well as the news. Some tools like Awario even offer a whitelist feature which is used to prioritize certain domains — this could come in handy if you want to make sure you’re getting mentions from specific websites popular in your industry. 

Most websites allow you to respond to reviews once you verify your brand’s account — as with social media, start with the negative ones. You can also share the positive reviews on your website and social media through plugins or screenshots. 

If you allow reviews on your own website (if you’re running an eCommerce business, for example), now is a good time to go through them as well. 

Step six: Check mentions from the media 

Granted you haven’t noticed a sudden change in the sentiment or number of mentions at the third step, media outlets and blogs can wait until you’ve dealt with social reviews. Of course, if you’re in the midst of a PR scandal, the news becomes a much more important source. Also, these steps could be tackled by different teams – social and reviews sites can be taken care of by community managers and news and blogs can be handled by the PR professionals. Nevertheless, they will still be using the same online reputation management tool. 

Filter out everything but mentions from news and blogs. Then the workflow is pretty much the same: check the negative articles first, then the rest. You can reach out to bloggers and journalists to try to swing their opinion in case of negative coverage or thank them and possibly build lasting relationships.  

Step seven: Become proactive about getting reviews

Some communication specialists may treat reviews as a headache: the truth is people are much more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones. This discrepancy can create a feeling of despair when it comes to online reputation management, but this only means that you need to become more proactive about getting reviews from your customers. 

The secret to getting more reviews is asking for them! You need to set up a consistent system of encouraging your customers to leave reviews on social media and review platforms. You can do it manually or use automation tools (Buffer, Mailchimp, Delighted) to schedule social media posts and emails encouraging users to leave reviews and add review-requests plugins to your website. Resharing positive reviews on social may also encourage other users to post praises to your business. You can even run a social media contest focusing on positive reviews as the main challenge for your followers. Get creative! 

To sum up

With proper preparations, online reputation management becomes a piece of cake. Once you have clear guidelines in place (which can be perfected over time) and set up a reputation management tool, there should be no trouble for you to make your reputation crisis-proof. 

Aleh Barysevich is Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario.

The post Online reputation management: Seven steps to success appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Case Study: How BDCenter transformed a reputation from 48% negative on Google to neutral

February 13, 2020 No Comments

One can easily translate sign reputation management to income management. Your public image directly affects sales, career and financial well-being in any field – whether searching for an investor, overcoming the negativity spread by your rivals, a change of field, or creation of a new public persona.

But what should you do if there are already lots of negative things written about you on the Internet? In this post, we’ll use one of our actual cases as an example to show how we changed a client’s reputation from 48% negative to neutral.

Disclaimer

This article has been created by BDCenter Digital. We sign an NDA with all our customers. Therefore, all the data that could infringe on the client’s confidentiality have been changed. This doesn’t affect the mechanism of reputation management in any way.

The objective

Our assignment was to make sure that searching for our client’s name on Google in the US would yield zero negative content on the first two search engine results pages (SERPs).

At the time when the client asked us to help improve their reputation, 48% of the top 20 results were negative:

Reputation management for clients name

The team

A total of seven BDCenter Digital team members worked on this reputation improving project, including:

Two SEO specialists + an assistant: Their job was to monitor and analyze search results, work out a strategy to eliminate negativity, and publish content on appropriate resources.

PR specialist: Who identified news-worthy content, contacted the media, as well as prepared and published articles.

SMM specialist: Who created social media accounts for the client and filled them with info.

Project Manager: Who allocated tasks, tracked progress, kept in touch with the client and the team, and evaluated the results.

Designer: Who prepared templates for social media and news resources.

Results

Four months and 560 hours of work later, there was NO negativity left in the top two result pages on Google. Reputation improved!

Read on to find out how we did it.

SEO

Igor Erenkov Artem Shcherbakov Olga Vodchyts
Igor Erenkov Artem Shcherbakov Olga Vodchyts

 1. Identifying resources containing negative content and monitoring changes 

Our first step was to study the SERPs (with our client’s name as the search query) and find the sites that published negative content about him. This helped us understand the scope of the job and see which sites we would have to work with to push all negativity out of the top 20 results.

Every week, we would fine-tune our strategy – since Google often changes its ranking algorithm, we would get slightly differing results every day. For instance, a resource that was ranked as no.1 yesterday might not even be on the first page tomorrow.

For this reason, we checked on the situation once a week and recorded the results in a spreadsheet:

Reputation management spreadsheet identifying resources containing negative content

The color indicates the tonality of each resource relative to the individual in question. The names of sites were removed for the purposes of confidentiality.

Insights

One of the factors impacting how results are placed on a SERP is the age of the content. A new relevant piece of content can easily get a resource in the top 10, but just a week or two later, it can lose around 30 to 50 positions.

2. Posting mentions of the person on various websites

Undesirable information about the client was posted on large resources, one of them with 20 million monthly visitors. One of the obvious solutions was to overcome this negativity by posting positive content on even larger websites.

However, we couldn’t rely on this tool alone for two reasons:

A. High costs: The client would have to pay $ 4000 to $ 5000 per publication, and the actual budget was much lower.

B. Risk of repetitiveness: Google tries to vary its results, filling its SERPs with sites in different formats. Therefore, we decided to post content about our client on the following types of sites:

  1. News websites
  2. Blogging platforms
  3. Profiling sites
  4. Listings
  5. Video hostings
  6. Podcast sites
  7. Social networks
  8. Polls
  9. Interview-centered sites
  10. Client’s corporate pages
  11. Dropped domains
  12. Presentation hostings

3. Optimizing the client’s corporate site

Google prioritizes those sites that are most relevant to the search query. What do you see at the top of the list when googling the name of someone? Depending on the popularity, it can be a Wikipedia article, a corporate website, or a social media account.

Example of optimizing client's corporate website

In our case, the client’s corporate website was among the top results already, but we wanted to strengthen its position. To do this, we optimized the Team page and created an additional page with the client’s bio.

As a result, these two pages ended up in Google’s top three in the US, pushing all the negativity down the list.

4. Using dropped domains

When time is limited and you need a quick result, you can benefit from dropped domains.

A drop is a domain that its owner decided not to pay for any longer and is now for sale. Some of these dropped domains are still indexed by Google, and you can get good results by publishing backlinks there.

After confirming this step with the client, we created a site based on a good dropped domain and published new content on that site. In just a month, the site was ranked among the top five on Google.

5. Pushing negativity out of Google Image Search

The image search also yielded some negative results, so we had to work not only on pushing individual websites out of the top 20 but specific images, too.

Since Google likes unique content, we made sure to use only unique images of the client in our publications and his social media accounts.

Advice

If you don’t have any fresh pictures available, you can edit some of the old ones, changing the background, size, or color profile. This will make Google see them as unique, showing them first.

By the way, changing just the size doesn’t work. Google views such pictures as identical, showing only the one with the best resolution.

Julia Herman
Julia Herman

PR and content

1. Identifying newsworthy materials

The client didn’t have any important news to share, so we had to create it ourselves. In particular, we watched the industry news closely – and as soon as we found something valuable, we confronted the event with our client’s expertise. Thanks to his status and extensive experience, he could provide commentary on the latest research and news for the media.

2. Publishing content

The technique described above provided us with publications on news websites – however, they would allow free coverage only for really important events. Working with niche websites was much easier: we used them to publish expert articles and interviews.

We only chose sites that fit the following three criteria:

  1. Relevance to the subject – wealth management, finance, and investment.
  2. The site had to contain a negative article about our client. Publishing fresh content on the same site would get the old article to rank lower.
  3. Importance – the site’s «weight», or authority, had to be higher or equal to that of the sites that contained negativity, helping to overcome it.

By weight we mean the level of Google’s trust in the resource. This trust is based on the number of visitors, the site’s age and level of optimization.

Advice

If you need quick results, you can get a lot of coverage fast by publishing your content on PR Newswire. Read our recent post on how to do this.

Insights

Our client’s name had to be mentioned in the title: -this helped articles rank much better for our search query.

However, our title headline didn’t always fit the editing guidelines of individual resources: some preferred to list the author at the very bottom of the piece. Such articles weren’t useful to us since they didn’t rank the way we would’ve liked.

We tested this headline theory many times. Even a publication on the gigantic Yahoo! Finance with one mention in the body of the text works worse than an article on a small website, but with the client’s name mentioned in the title, lead-in, and text body.

Svetlana Kopach
Svetlana Kopach

SMM

1. Creating and filling social media accounts

We created accounts for the client on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and other platforms. We didn’t use those social networks that weren’t relevant to the client’s business — such as Pinterest, for example.

Linkedin yielded the best result: Our client’s profile on this platform still ranks as no. 1 in the search results, pushing out the old negative content. Xing, Tumblr, and Instagram didn’t produce any result at all: none of them got into the top 20.

We made sure to fill new social media pages with expert content – mostly pieces for the articles we wrote for the media. Naturally, we always adapted the text for social media. The posts were accompanied by photos of the client: we arranged special photoshoots for that purpose.

2. Posting podcasts and videos

Google prefers content to be varied. So it prioritizes not only fresh articles but also video and podcasts.

We started accounts on YouTube and Vimeo for our client and added several videos: some we created specifically to fit recent news, others were chosen among existing content.

We posted those videos not only on the client’s own accounts but also in other users’ profiles. By the way, it was a video posted on the page of another user that ended up in the top 10 of Google.

As for podcasts, they can work well, too – as long as you post them on popular platforms, such as iTunes or audioboom.com, which has over two million monthly users.

Daria Vechorko
Daria Vechorko

Project Manager’s comments

SERM, or search engine reputation management, combines such tools as SEO, PR, and SMM. In order to leverage this combination with maximum benefit, we utilize the following principles:

  1. Regular strategy updates – since both SERPs and relevant content change all the time, we have to monitor all changes and reassess our action plans when required.
  2. Analysis of the results – we constantly check what works and what doesn’t. This helps us work faster, better, and without wasting our resources.
  3. Daily contact with the client – this way we can quickly make strategic decisions and create fresh content.
  4. Generating relevant content – even though SERM is more about pushing negativity as far down as possible in the SERPs, we are also very serious about what we post – and so are our clients, of course. Content should also be relevant to the objective. In the case, we’ve described that meant niche articles, podcasts, and videos that accentuated the client’s expertise.

Bottomline

Positive reputation achieved for client

By using all these tools, we managed to radically transform the first two Google result pages.  90% of the top 20 were now positive, with the remaining 10% neutral.

Based on our experience with reputation management – and we’ve already worked with a Nobel laureate, several politicians, and CEO’s of financial institutions – your public image can have a tremendous impact on your business and career. By maintaining a good public image on a constant basis is much easier and cheaper than launching major reputation rehaul campaigns once every few years.

To maintain your reputation, make sure to monitor the search results for your name or brand. Select your key search queries and set up alerts: this way you’ll know what Google users see when they look for information about you and will be ready to react to any negativity.

The post Case Study: How BDCenter transformed a reputation from 48% negative on Google to neutral appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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The role of SEO in online reputation management (ORM)

January 10, 2020 No Comments

Before anybody does business with you, they’d have Googled your name. The links and information that appear on the first few pages of Google when your name is searched for are what potential partners perceive you are. That’s why online reputation management is key.

According to Eric Schmidt, “Identity will be the most valuable commodity for citizens of the future and it will exist primarily online.”

Curating a positive online reputation is no longer optional. Successful online reputation management (ORM) and search engine optimization (SEO) companies help their clients achieve results through proactively coordinating content, websites, and search engine results pages (SERPs).

In this article, I will share how the right SEO-driven content strategy will boost your digital reputation.

Why online reputation is important to your business’ existence

1. Consumers trust user-generated content more

Research by TurnTo revealed that 99% of consumers would consider user-generated content before making a purchase decision. At Blue Ocean Global Tech, we consistently receive emails from executives, entrepreneurs, and lawyers who have realized too late how one comment or negative link adversely impacts their revenue and bottom line.

2. Your online reputation affects your business offline too

Yes, this is important. Prospective patrons research a restaurant before walking into the physical venue to experience the real thing. According to BrightLocal consumer survey research, 82% of consumers read online reviews for a local business before booking an appointment.

3. Talents will only work with a business that has a great reputation

Businesses may view their online reputation from a customer-acquisition standpoint. However, digital presence affects almost everything, including the perception of potential employees.

How to augment your online reputation by building on SEO efforts

1. Optimize content for a successful ORM campaign

People are influenced by what they read about you. This is where it is necessary to ensure positive content ranks higher for your names or brand keywords.

What is the difference between SEO and ORM, then? Since highlighting your positive content alone does not guarantee that your potential customers or partners will see the most representative information, you need effective SEO to rank and feature the strengths of your brand. Consistently publishing content without implementing effective SEO tactics is a common practice, which we refer to as “spray and pray”.

Keep in mind that the most successful reputation management campaigns rank specific articles, videos, blogs, and websites that highlight your expertise.

An effective SEO strategy will accomplish the following areas:

  1. Optimize pages of your website to appear atop of SERPs and rank for target keyword phrases.
  2. Feature your genuine social profiles representing your company or brand name.
  3. Optimize company-hosted and third-party review website pages to populate when an interested person Googles “your brand name + reviews.”
  4. Influence search engines to highlight positive content and simultaneously push negative or irrelevant content down beyond the third or fourth page.

2. How to optimize content for better discovery on the internet

2a. Types of content to optimize for optimal results

What type of content is best optimized for optimal results? Authentic and concise writing attracts back-links from credible websites. Naturally, optimizing these digital assets insulates you from defamatory content and suppresses negative or erroneous links. Below are several examples of concentrated SEO content.

  1. A guide or tutorial article: Guides are content that takes the reader through the process of understanding a subject. Guides may be harder to create but will rank higher for keyphrases over time. They earn backlinks easily.
  2. Video review of your product/company/industry: According to a study by Forrester Research, video is 50 times more likely to achieve organic page rank in Google than plain text. With video content, you can easily rank positive content for targeted phrases. Additionally, the best offense is a strong defense. Authentic video digital assets inoculate your brand against future malicious or defamatory posts, whether anonymous or not.
    Using client testimonial videos for SEO and online reputation management
  3. Whitepapers: Releasing an original-content white paper is a widely accepted strategy for positively impacting search results. Similar to an actionable guide, the white paper can offer in-depth forecasts and developed arguments, which will further establish you as a reputable authority.
  4. Website bearing your name with a press page: If you do not already have a website bearing your name, now is the time you should create one. Nourish this cornerstone digital asset with SEO-rich content about yourself and your brand. Begin with the end in mind so that you eventually rank on multiple keywords organically. Even if someone wants to do business with Blue Ocean Global Technology, whether through a referral, email outreach, or direct phone call from me, they often Google “Sameer Somal” because I am the CEO. Investing the time to create SameerSomal.com pays ongoing dividends in credibility and trust. Prospects and new friends often thank me for that website because they were able to read so much about me in one place.
  5. An author page or brand page on an authority publication: Publications and sites such as Wikipedia, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc.com often rank on page one for your name in search results. Individuals can have author bylines in Inc.com while companies can be listed on the Inc. 5000 list. Since these high-domain-authority websites allow you to have a biography of yourself on your author page, they are compelling options for concentrated SEO content.

SEO benefit of having an author bio page on authoritative sites for online reputation management

2b. Scores to target for achieving higher content discovery

Connect your goals with the creation of authoritative SEO content to best support your online reputation management campaign. While originating SEO-rich content will rank favorably with Google, consider these benchmarks to drive measurable results:

  1. Aim for depth: You want your content to be as in-depth as possible, giving your readers all the necessary summary information they would want on a single page. Supplement the main points with detailed content that includes technical details and action steps for implementation. Google’s algorithm will understand the depth and subsequently rank the comprehensive material higher for target keywords.
  2. Link to credible sources: With in-depth content, you will notice that you’re making claims that would need to be backed by sources. More so, when you’re attempting to win readers over to your side, ensure your facts and data are referenced from credible sources.
  3. Break your content into digestible formats: You do not want your content to be skimmed over and abandoned because it is difficult to read. Aside from the fact that in-depth SEO content would help you dominate search results, it’s an opportunity to have all of your positive sides ingrained in the minds of your readers, helping you to earn their trust once more.

3. Where brands should focus on when optimizing content for reputation enhancement

To ensure your content performs well, make sure you’re publishing them on high-authority websites. This goes for both visual and text-based content.

For the content hosted on your personal or company website, ensure that all of your website properties are optimized and maintained and update plug-ins monthly. SEO and reputation campaigns will yield relatively marginal results if users are driven back to a website that is not functional or responsive. Furthermore, foundational opportunities to rank on Google and reach people who want your help are missed when you don’t perform regular technical maintenance on your website.

After optimizing your website to perform highly in search results, you should also level up your reputation campaign and promote best-performing content. The next step is to identify positive pillar content sources.

3a. Identifying positive content – Best practices

You want to make sure you’re not only creating rich SEO-driven content but are actually putting your optimal effort into promoting the type of content that highlights your strengths. To identify positive content that may benefit your brand image, consider these milestones you may overlook:

  1. Received congratulatory wishes when they were released – Such as completing a successful acquisition, receiving an award, reaching a new industry milestone, getting featured in an important publication, and so on.
  2. Celebrated the fulfillment of a personal goal – Such as hitting a weight-loss goal, completing a book you’ve been working on, hiring that star employee you’ve always dreamed of working with, and others.
  3. Documented a partnership goal – Has your brand always dreamed of working with another brand, and have you always talked openly about this? Such content could augment your brand’s reputational image by investing SEO efforts into it.
  4. Documented the process it took to achieve a huge goal – Completing your major office headquarters or complex would fall into this category, as would the content that documents the process it took to develop your flagship product from scratch to finish.

4. How to use image search ranking to augment online reputation efforts

Images are often ignored in ORM efforts by marketers because it’s assumed that it is difficult to rank images. Images still provide many opportunities to claim your branded keywords, create authentic back-links, and build a strong reputation within search engines.

Consider this: Why is it that most of the time, when you run a query of a famous person’s name in Google, images of them usually rank at the top of the results? And images often dominate the Knowledge Graph area for popular names such as celebrities, brands, or popular destinations.

Below are some techniques for using images to dominate search results for your online reputation repair campaign.

 4a. Optimize alt tags and keywords

Alt tags in images are strings of connected texts that help search engine crawlers to understand what an image is about. When adding images to your content, always include your branded keywords in the alt text area of the images. For the most effective results, keep the texts connected to each other by adding the underscore sign “_” after every string of text. So, say I was to add an image of myself in content, I’d add the following text to the alt text area: “Sameer_Somal_CEO_of_Blue_Ocean_Global_Tech”, instead of just including random text or just barely adding my name to it.

4b. Name the image after the branded keywords

If you’re uploading an image to your website as a part of your SEO content, you’ll be missing out on keyword ranking opportunity if you’re saving such images with random texts, or, in some scenarios, with numbers. Instead, use the branded keywords you want to rank for as the name of the images. This means you’d have to locate the image file destination on your local storage—that is, your computer or hard drive – and change the name of the image to the branded keyword you want it to rank for. Again, you can use the alt tags approach to optimize it by linking the texts together.

Naming images after branded keywords to use SEO for online reputation management

Conclusion

The ORM process helps aligns your sales, marketing, and technology efforts. SEO content is a key pillar for achieving the results you seek on the internet. By learning the top-performing SEO strategies to rank atop search results for your branded keywords, you’ll be able to maintain a clean image on the internet and create opportunities.

Sameer Somal is the Co-Founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Technology, a global leader in online reputation management. He is a recognized international keynote speaker and an internet defamation subject matter expert witness. Sameer can be reached on LinkedIn.

The post The role of SEO in online reputation management (ORM) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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