How SEO and Online Reputation Management Benefit Each Other

Reading Time: 10 Minutes

Most people start their customer journeys with an online search – looking up products or companies they are interested in. That’s why, in today’s digital world, your brand reputation largely depends on how you are perceived online. 

It only takes one well-aimed viral misinformation or smear attack to reduce a thriving company to a shadow of its former self. This can become a nightmare that leaves the business struggling to make a profit. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) reputation management can help. This guide will explore how it works and how to use this strategy for your business effectively.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management (ORM) is a necessity in the digital marketing space. It requires creating and maintaining a positive brand image across all online channels. To do this, you will not only have to reply to reviews on your own site but also monitor online business mentions — conversations where people talk about your brand.

Naturally, in the course of this, you will come across positive, neutral, and negative reviews. The way you handle these will reflect your core values and further strengthen or damage your company’s credibility. What you want is a good reputation that helps attract more customers, improves customer-brand relationships and supports growth.

How Are SEO and Online Reputation Management Connected?

SEO and online reputation management are linked more than you might think. SEO is responsible for how people find your website online. More than half of all the traffic that comes to an average website comes from search engines, 53% to be exact. It’s how users learn about your services, products, company values, and what they find impacts their next action. 

Chances are that if you are getting a lot of traffic but no one is buying, something is wrong. This is where ORM comes in to complement your SEO plan. Your reputation is what shows the customer how trustworthy you are. Without it, they may not feel reassured and simply refuse to spend their money or invest their time with your company.

It takes the right SEO tactics to bring the customers through the “door” in the first place, but you need ORM to make them stay and maybe even become brand advocates. But how important is SEO for reputation management? 

A large part of working on your ORM is based on trying to produce as many reasons as possible to highlight your business in a positive light. And you’ve guessed – the other side of this is trying to minimize any negative mentions of your brand. What does SEO have to do with ORM? Basically, search engine optimization is what helps discover your content organically. That leads to what we call online visibility. 

SEO itself has many faces – it can be anything from technical optimization and competitor research to quality content and link building. All that will impact your search rankings and, therefore, your reputation. While it sounds complicated, you can always outsource your SEO tasks to a white-hat service because every tactic, PR article, and backlink should add value

This way, you will be using SEO to promote your own content rather than a third-party account of your brand. In the event there’s a negative story about you, you’ll be able to give your own narrative and create a balanced report. The more skilled you are in SEO, the easier it is to do your ORM better. Why? Simply because the higher your search rankings are, the “louder” your opinion is.

9 Tactics for Managing Your ORM With SEO

Trying to make it in the SEO – and digital marketing space, in general – can be challenging.  According to GraduateCoach, the biggest difficulty you will face is the fact that the niche keeps changing. If you want to be successful, you have to keep up with the ever-changing landscape. And using SEO for reputation management is a great way to ensure the odds are in your favor. Here are 9 tactics you can apply easily:

#1 Use Keyword Research to Understand How You Are Perceived 

SEO tactics usually start with keyword research – a process of discovering the words people are using to find things (in our case, business, products, services, etc.) online. You can also search for your target keywords to see what people are saying about your company in blogs, online forums, and on social media platforms. 

Don’t panic if you see phrases like “[your product] complain” or “expensive” etc. Take a note of these search terms or phrases and then use them strategically. For example, just recently Nestle was trending for adding too much sugar into its cereal product for 6-month-old babies and searching for the brand name brought up news reports on the scandal. 

Source: Source: Google

But as of now, searching the term Nestle news brings up the company’s own news page, and you would have to scroll longer before you find any mention of the sugar scandal. 

Source: Google

Even the top stories are now all about innovations, with no scandals involved.

Source: Google

Seems like changing a narrative is a real thing, right? This is a great example of the ORM. We see a team that is clearly working to create content that portrays other positive activities of the company and hopefully draws attention away from the negative press reports. You don’t have to take the exact approach. Alternatively, you could create content that addresses the complaints or issues raised. This clears the air, showing you care about your customers and want to improve the quality of your services or products. 

#2 Content Creation and Optimization 

It’s probably tempting to ignore any negative press. But this won’t work well in the long term. It’s better for your online reputation to address the issue head-on. How? For negative press stories, you might want to release a PR statement using the target keywords. You can also create blog posts that address the issues and highlight your stance. Some brands choose to bury it under an avalanche of new topics. 

You can create articles, film short-form videos, or make social media posts that showcase the value of your products, answer commonly asked questions, and share some helpful use cases. Make cool infographics and case studies. Basically, you can choose any topic that puts your business in front of many more people and helps them draw a positive association with your products/services. But when you do that, make sure you optimize the content with your target keywords by putting them in the title, body, headings, meta tags, alt tags, and URLs.

#3 Make Use of Guest Blogging

You know how people like to say that cats are “liquid”? Guest blogging is like that, too. It is one SEO strategy that fits into almost every marketing goal and objective. In the case of SEO reputation management, you are using it to garner third-party votes or get other sites to vouch for your authenticity. 

How do you get in on this? Find high-quality domains in your niche and pitch your ideas to them. Using your target keyword + “write for us” in your online searches will be a good place to start. 

Source: Google

Each time you publish your post on high-quantity, relevant sites, your domain authority rating goes up. As a result, you get to reach new customers and gain more credibility. If the website is especially good and worthy (think of Forbes, WSJ, NYT, etc.), you can also consider that a PR activity.

Search engines notice all of these backlinks (more on this in the next point) you get and reward your site with higher rankings in search results. So when people look for you online, they see your own content first before other people’s interpretations — which is exactly what you want for ORM. 

#4 Link Building With a Focus on Online Reputation 

So, as you’ve seen, guest posting isn’t only a way to get a mention in a credible resource and associate with their trustworthiness; it is also about getting backlinks. Link building is one of the most powerful online reputation management SEO tools. There is nothing like a couple of links from quality websites that can help you boost your brand image and give you a competitive edge. 

Imagine getting a link from Forbes Business. And just as you are celebrating this win, another comes from the Wall Street Journal. That’s the kind of thing that boosts your reputation and gets more people to sit up and take notice. So, how do you manage to get quality links for your ORM strategy?

  • Create data-focused and visual-heavy content like industry stats, infographics, case studies, research topics, etc. This type of content tends to have a higher shareability. As people quote or reference your piece, they will have to credit you, which means getting more backlinks. 
  • Partner with niche-relevant influencers to promote your business and create a buzz about your business.
  • Fund or sponsor local charity causes and groups to make it to local news. 
  • Collaborate with white-hat link-building agencies if you wish to outsource. 
  • Share your content and relevant updates on social media using hashtags and keywords to increase visibility and attract interest.
  • Remember, link building is more about networking to build relationships for long-term growth, so focus on providing value to get links. Keep in touch and form friendships. This will pay off in the long run.

#5 Online Review Management 

You have to be proactive and stay ahead of the competition. How? You can do this by being responsive. So use a social listening and brand mention monitoring tool to keep an eye on your mentions in the web space. 

Source: @HubSpot on X

When people make a post or complain about a company online, they expect a quick response. In fact, some choose to use social media for this reason rather than go through the hassle of trying to reach customer support. Show empathy and tailor your replies – there is nothing worse than a generic response from a business when you just want to troubleshoot an issue.

Your speedy response and engaging attitude to your clients’ concerns help them feel like you care. This means they see you in a positive light and are likely to recommend your service/product to their friends, colleagues, and loved ones. 

#6 Find Online Communities and Collaborate With Them

What do you think happens when Apple or any other big name engages with a product fan page on Reddit or Facebook? Right. Communicating with online communities can make their day. Beyond that, you want to contribute to relevant discussions, do a Q&A, offer exclusive discounts, feature user-generated content, and share testimonials or feedback. 

Here is an example from the founder of Backlinko, an oldie but still a good example. Notice the relevance of the online community, and how it aligns with his specialty as an SEO expert.

Source: Reddit

Not only did he get to put his website link here, but more importantly, he is sharing his expert knowledge, which will boost his personal brand as an SEO authority. Even simply having employees answer questions and share workplace experiences can do a lot for your company’s image. Doing this brings you closer to your goal of fostering a better relationship with your customers. 

#7 Optimize Your Website for Better User Experience

First impressions last the longest, and your website will be the first touchpoint with your business for way too many customers. When was the last time you ordered something on a website that took ages to load, had more pop-ups than content, and was riddled with typos everywhere? Exactly. A website like this screams spammy and shady. Even if they had any products you loved, it would still look too much like a scam. 

Chances are that not every site like the one described will be bad, but very few people want to take the risk. So, to avoid users landing on your page and running off, you have to ensure that your site looks professional and inviting. Use quality images that bring your story to life. A few videos can also do wonders for SEO. Besides, optimize your page to load quickly, as pages that load in less than 3 seconds always rank higher in search engines. 

Sometimes, you can do everything right, but you still have issues with your web page load time. What can be an issue, then? The most common scenarios are bad hosting providers, lack of mobile optimization, and unclean codes. Plus, if you’re using a CMS like WordPress or Joomla, make sure that you’re choosing a lightweight theme. Lots of blogs have thrown light on what to look out for when making a decision like that, so check it out for yourself. 

#8 Claim and Optimize Relevant Brand Names 

It is probably a great idea to buy or claim any domain names, Google business listings, social media profiles, and other relevant assets that have your brand name. It isn’t just about your ORM strategy; it is about preserving your identity. You don’t want to let someone else get your name, whether accidentally or intentionally. Yet, of course, owning these assets is just one side of the equation. 

You also have to optimize them for users and search engines. This is where quality content and all the other optimization tips mentioned earlier come in. The more engaging and personable you make your profiles and websites, the higher the odds of attracting more customers. It can all get too much, especially when there’s a serious hit to your reputation. So, always have a plan for such moments (even if they never come) and consider if you should delegate it to someone. 

#9 Keep Monitoring and Improving Your Strategy

As previously mentioned, the digital marketing scene hardly stays the same for long. Guess what? That’s another thing SEO has in common with ORM. So, it’s best to keep monitoring your reputation to know what is working and what’s not. Besides, you should always improve the tactics that are already working well. But it doesn’t end there.

It’s important to try and keep up with trends and changes. Google policies update all the time and what is considered good SEO practice today can quickly become outdated and ineffective. In some cases, it might even be considered manipulative and attract a Google penalty. An example is keyword stuffing which used to be a valid search engine optimization practice back in the days, but is now considered a “no-no”.

Conclusion 

There are many ways to improve your SEO and online reputation management strategy. Focusing on engaging content, guest blogging, getting quality links, and encouraging positive reviews will help establish your business as an expert source of knowledge in your niche. As long as you center your tactics around providing the best value to your customers and improving your relationship, you are already on the right side.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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