A 3-phase technique to proactive on line recognition control


During my career in digital marketing, I have helped several brands with their online reputation management (ORM).

Unfortunately, most of this work involved helping brands recover from the crisis.

Even sadder was that the damage to their reputation could have been greatly mitigated with some proactive effort.

The following is a basic, three-part approach to a proactive ORM strategy.

1. Have your own name

Often what looks like a reputation issue is more of an SEO issue related to entity optimization. Because search engines strive understand brands as entitiesit’s important to reinforce the signals that help them know who you are and what you do.

For most businesses use Organizational chart is an important first step in letting search engines know who you are.

This simple markup system hides in the source code of the pages on your website and acts as a data source to display information about your brand or company.

At least the following information must be marked:

  • Name.
  • Address.
  • Link to your logo.
  • Links to official active social media pages (and to Wikipedia if you already have a page).

Another aspect is to claim your business name on major social media sites. Even if you don’t use a channel, it’s a good idea to grab your brand to prevent someone else from copying you.

If your brand is big enough, it’s a good idea to make sure your Wikipedia page is correct and up-to-date, or create one if it doesn’t already exist.

Direct creation and editing of pages by brand representatives is rejected and problematic, so it would be best to hire an agency specialized in this type of work.

If you are part of a brand with well-known leaders, it is also worth considering claiming domain names and social media sites under their names.

Politicians in particular seem to forget this step and often have to contend with parody pages and copycat websites set up by their opponents.

Finally, owning the .com, .net, and .org versions of your main website is a great idea.

Global brands may wish to extend this to ccTLDs where the company operates or may operate in the future.

For even more insurance, it is useful to buy domains with negative messages, such as:

  • ihatebrand.com or i-hate-brand.com
  • boycottbrand.com or boycott-brand.com

You might think these last examples are a bit extreme, but I’ve seen brand opponents go to great lengths and spend a lot of their own money to set up hostile sites on domains like this one.

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2. Have your own story

In SEO we say, “content is king.” This concept also applies to ORMs.

Owning your story often means creating content on your website that will potentially trump any negative content others may post online.

You can rank more content branded searches on channels you own and control, such as your website or social media accounts, you can push negative content more off page 1 of search results and out of the view of most searchers.

As the old joke goes, the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google search results because no one will find it there.

In extreme cases, it may be necessary to create content that addresses a specific topic around which the defamer has created a lot of content.

When this happens, it would be helpful to bring in an ORM and SEO expert if you don’t have that expertise in-house.

What looks completely harmless to the casual website visitor is a targeted attack on negative content. For example, don’t reply directly if a hater who created content about alleged food poisoning is targeting your restaurant.

Create content on your website that highlights the brand’s commitment to food safety and the number of inspections completed by health officials.

3. Own your grades

Some companies revolve around evaluations. For them, it could be life or death.

I’ve worked with a number of brands that were struggling to recruit. Reason? Too many negative reviews on Indeed and Glassdoor.

If you think your business doesn’t live and die by reviews, I recommend you consider it anyway.

One of the main keys to reviews is to respond to each one. Respond to positive reviews with a quick “thank you” and move on. Negative reviews require a little more work.

Many negative reviews are the result of failed expectations. You can often dispel the negativity of a review by how you respond. A simple apology, an offer to make things right, and an invitation to give you another chance can soften the blow of a negative review.

It is important not to get too defensive or shift the blame for the problem back onto the complainant. This almost always backfires.

Tip: Don’t answer when you’re angry!

Some companies, especially those in regulated industries, need to be careful how they respond.

That’s why a response guide is critical to helping everyone stay on track while responding effectively to reviews. An invitation to contact a customer support representative by phone or secure message would be appropriate.

Prepare for a crisis

Another important process in proactive ORM work is preparing for a crisis before it starts.

Establish documented procedures to manage the entire company when the situation arises. The plan must include at least:

  • Who will monitor potential crises?
  • Who should be notified when it occurs?
  • Who will do what in times of crisis?
    • Monitoring
    • Reporting
    • Response

If you can also include potential scenarios that may arise, so much the better.

The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to walk through a challenging time.

Already in crisis? Please don’t panic

An important part of any ORM strategy should include reviews of all content written about the brand. This information can be an invaluable part of a business.

Your customers are the best target audience you can get. They don’t have to pay you to tell you about your business.

You can do this effectively by setting up Google Alerts to notify you whenever your brand or key people are mentioned by name.

By taking criticism and incorporating it back into product and service improvements, you can ensure that your reputation remains positive.

According to speaker and author Jay Baer, ​​some brands even reward their opponents because of the valuable information they provide.

A great resource to help you get started with a proactive ORM program is Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation by Andy Beal. Considered by many to be the “godfather” of online reputation management, Beal’s book is full of great information and helpful tips to get your business moving in the right direction.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of Search Engine Land. Staff authors are cited here.

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About the author

Elmer Boutin is vice president of operations at WrightIMC, a Dallas-based digital marketing agency. After a career in the US Army as a translator and intelligence analyst, he worked in digital marketing for over 25 years, working on everything from coding and optimizing websites to managing online reputation management efforts as a freelancer, corporate webmaster and in agency settings. He has extensive experience and expertise working for companies of all sizes, from small and medium-sized businesses to large Fortune 5 corporations, including Wilsonart, Banfield Pet Hospital, Corner Bakery Cafe, Ford Motor Company, Kroger, Mars Corporation and Valvoline; website optimization focusing on local, e-commerce, informational, educational and international.


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