Online Reputation Management SEO

Why should I worry about Online Reputation Management (ORM)?

ORM stands for “online reputation management” and relates to the monitoring and improving of your business’s online reputation and the way it is presented to users across various digital platforms.

The chief goal is maintaining a positive sentiment around your company, be it through customer reviews on various websites, comments on social media or through a portrayal of your company culture and what it stands for.

You should worry about ORM as ensuring your brand is protected and presented well across various digital mediums has a direct tangential link to sales via how your business is viewed by the public. 

Investing time and money in ORM optimisation, whether you’re an established business or not, is a crucial consideration alongside your ongoing digital optimisation efforts. 

How could a negative ORM impact my business?

Your company may enjoy a large profile in terms of social media, SEO or via the means of digital PR, but if what users see are negative reviews or articles about your company this will greatly disparage them from buying.

When searching for your business, one of the first things users will be drawn to is user reviews that will sit under any Google My Business listing you may have. It is likely that other review platforms, such as TrustPilot or Glassdoor, will appear prominently alongside branded searches. A string of negative reviews, or particular customer complaint points, will be a massive turn off for potential new customers who may be shopping around for your service.

Outside of reviews, negative stories across social media or on publishing websites tend to trend for long periods of time and stay within the digital consciousness for a while. 

To reiterate, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve spent on SEO, PPC or social efforts to heighten your digital footprint. Consumers will be able to identify incredibly quickly the sentiments around your business from what others are saying, and this will inform their purchasing decisions. 

How does SEO impact ORM?

SEO can play a massive role in managing your ORM. A positive business reputation, be it in the form of Google reviews or on other third-party review platforms can help bolster your search rankings, particularly for consumers searching for local services.

In addition, branded mentions on big third-party websites, such as feature articles on your company, its story or a certain venture or press release, can rank very highly on search results and on news. If there’s a positive story such as PR publication around a charitable venture or conversely, a negative piece around say a toxic work culture, this may rank highly on keywords around your brand, and the impact can be huge.

When shopping for products, consumers will be searching for third-party insights rather than what your business is saying about itself. How this is represented in search results can be a quick and direct influence on this.

Can negative ORM be removed?

Every business will have experienced an irate or dissatisfied customer at one point, and this is part and parcel of running a business online. You can tackle this by having your marketing team respond to negative reviews publicly, such as on Google or on Glassdoor, offering perhaps a solution or compensation around a general apology. This can also extend to social media too where a public facing business account on Twitter (for example) has the opportunity to deal with negative sentiment constructively.   

However there are also darker forces out there who will take deliberate steps to undermine your business, going as far as leaving masses of fake negative reviews or articles online. Certain negative tactics such as creating fake personas under your business name and behaving inappropriately online under a guise do still occur. 

If this is the case, there are means to report what may be clearly fabricated reviews to Google, TrustPilot or whichever third-party platform to have the comments removed and accounts suspended. 

Going further, deliberately fabricated sting or attack pieces published by nefarious actors could also be contacted by legal teams ordering a cease and desist if the content is clearly groundless and damaging to your online reputation. 

Can SEO improve my ORM?

Aside from keeping on top of your third-party reviews and user discussion on social media or industry-relevant forums, there are plenty of ways in which your SEO team can leverage content to help with ORM. 

Dedicating time to the creation of a brand “about page”, with details on your story, employee profiles, your mission, business milestones and your company culture can also help you on branded search terms with ORM in mind. Consumers are genuinely interested in brand stories and “About” pages do tend to rank highly in search engines for brand keywords.  

Creating guides or tutorials around your product, both in article and video form, can really help here, as can the publishing of customer testimonials on your website. This can help you capture search behaviours such as “company name – reviews”.

Looking outside the website, maintaining company profile pages across third-party platforms is worth considering as these will often appear secondary underneath your company page. 

How can businesses monitor their online reputation, and what tools are available for doing so?

A simple search for your business on Google, within industry-relevant forums or on social media can help you establish a quick top level sentiment towards your brand.

Going deeper, you can also use free tools such as Google Alerts which will notify you each time your brand name, product names or any brand-related search term is mentioned in search results. This will allow you to keep relatively on top of things. 

If you’re a larger enterprise, then it may be worth investing in a more encompassing paid tool such as Buzzsumo or Reputology – often costing from $100 a month – can be more efficient and streamlined methods for your content and PR teams to maintain an all seeing eye and act accordingly.  

How can businesses proactively manage their online reputation, and what strategies are most effective?

Aside from reactive approaches such as responding to negative reviews, a lot can be said about continuously building out a positive, engaging social media presence that is responsive and a force for good in your industry.

Get your social team to actively monitor movements and conversations in your industry and have them jump into the conversation and tie it back to your brand. Work with influencers across social media who have an engaged platform of followers relevant to your niche.

Engage your content and SEO teams to mirror this in your website content too – consider investing part of your general content budget (targeting terms relating to your product) to company-centric updates and stories, as this will cultivate a transparent, authentic image which you can share across various mediums.

What are some best practices for responding to negative reviews or comments online, and how can businesses address negative feedback in a constructive way?

Negative reviews will form part of every business’s life cycle, even if you’ve got the most engaged customer service team backed up by a stellar product: there is simply no pleasing everyone.

The key thing to keep in mind is that many reviews, be it on Google or on third-party business review sites, and indeed on social media, will be public. You will have no control over what is said but you will have control over how you respond and this tool will be publicly visible. 

Take Glassdoor for example. Social media teams should be trained to answer each negative review with a personalised, thoughtful message that isn’t defensive in tone nor is it boilerplate in structure. Even the most unreasonable review will need this approach, and your business may have the opportunity to emerge as the more credible party if you are responding to certain angry reviews with grace and decorum. 

If you have the chance to, take the users behind the negative comments into a private space where you can speak to them in a closed forum, either via your company email or helpline. 

How can businesses use ORM to improve customer engagement and loyalty, and what metrics should they track?

Responding to customer feedback is a great way to drive engagement as it shows that as a business, you care about their opinions and are committed to improving your service. A dissatisfied customer can potentially be converted into a happy one if a response to a review or a problem they’ve had with your business is handled well.

On a more macro level, getting your PR and content teams to undertake research in your user base demographic, that being the type of people they are and the issues they care about, can help inform a strong brand content strategy that hits the right touchpoints. 

Launching a digital PR campaign that addresses your target demographic concerns over issues such as climate change or a good work-life balance that is tangible to your brand offering can be a great way to drive engagement to customers old and new. 

Metrics to consider around ORM include social media engagement signals, web traffic and conversion rates, customer review ratings, customer retention rate around your ORM efforts and how this impacts your customer lifetime value. 

Ultimately, all ORM efforts should in some way be tied back to improving your customer interactions with your brand as well as core end of funnel retention rates and average value of your customers. ORM is a crucial lever in ensuring your customer base results in them being more profitable. 

What are some common mistakes to avoid when managing online reputation, and how can they impact a business’s online presence?

We’ve touched on avoiding being defensive when tackling customer reviews, though ignoring feedback altogether is an even bigger mistake. A company with a string of left–alone reviews (negative or positive) gives the impression that it simply doesn’t care about its user base online, even if in truth it does.

If you’re looking to recover from a negative standing or indeed improve your existing standing, then avoid the temptation of generating fake reviews using your employees as a means or worse still, buying fake reviews or followers to inflate this. 

Not only will consumers be able to spot fake reviews with ease, they may eventually land you in hot water with the likes of Google if your ORM efforts in this department are faked.    

Businesses should be proactive in managing their online reputation. Engage with customers, address feedback professionally, taking steps to improve customer satisfaction continually. Consistent monitoring and strategic responses, will help maintain a positive online presence and foster trust and loyalty among your audience.

How does ORM fit into a broader marketing strategy, and how can I as a business owner improve my brand voice?

There are plenty of crossovers with regards to how ORM blends into your ongoing efforts in SEO and social. 

Arguably, ORM augments almost every aspect of a broader marketing strategy as every social media post, content publication or company owner interview will need to be undertaken with ORM in mind. A thought leadership post written by your CMO on the future of AI in marketing (for example) needs to include an angle that is in line with your company voice and adheres to your standing in the market. An SEO content piece with a view to capturing search demand around “how to build a house from scratch” needs to consider your brand’s angle on this topic in terms of tone of voice.  

Guidelines should be set out in order to maintain a consistent brand voice that cultivates your ORM practices and this needs to bleed into almost all marketing activity.

If you’re not sure what your brand voice is, then consider hiring an external branding consultant or sitting down with your team to pull together on what they deem important to your company in terms of its core voice and messaging and how it stands apart from other companies.

How can businesses protect themselves from online reputation threats, such as fake reviews or negative social media campaigns?

Alert systems such as Google Alerts as well as paid social monitoring tools such as Hootsuite can give your social and PR teams a heads up whenever there’s any negative press or comments about your brand online.

In a broader sense, having a crisis management plan in place for negative publicity is also a good idea. If for example a negative social media campaign against your brand (real or fake) is whipping up a storm on social media, then, depending on the extent of the virality, you may have contingency plans in place to own the narrative by responding to the campaign in the the form of a video, article or lengthened social media post after an appropriate amount of time.

While online reputation threats do vary, you, as the owner of the brand, do have some degree of power to own the narrative in various digital real estates. For example, if a user is searching for information around an online scandal around Brewdog (in the case of recent news) then they may be met with an official response by Brewdog on their website or social channels first. 

Online Reputation Management SEO Case study

Digital retailer makes use of various SEO and digital PR tactics to overcome negative online reputation. 

Problem: A large digital retailer was suffering with a string of negative search results around its brand name owing to a number of negative reviews, which was damaging their reputation and revenue potential. 

Solution: As well as responding to the negative reviews and thus increasing customer engagement, the retailer was able to secure a number of digital PR placements in key industry media publications which outranked a lot of the negative reviews that were dominating the search results.

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