Quick Wins For Organic Success
It is common for new clients to approach us at 97th Floor aspiring to make their website more relevant in search, and improve the visibility of their products and services to interested searchers. This is why SEO is synonymous with improving organic rankings for relevant search results. However, many people don’t connect SEO to ORM (Online Reputation Management), where many similar components of strategy are exercised.
In this post, I’ll scratch the surface of ORM, focusing on key opportunities that most names and brands can use to earn quick wins for improved reputation in search. Before beginning work, it is imperative to identify all negative material associated with your Name or Brand in the first thirty to fifty results.
(Many tools like SERPWoo above will populate the results for a term and let you tag negative, positive, and neutral results to monitor day-to-day)
Some negative results may be press releases in different geographical markets that have a short shelf life. Others may be longer lasting bogus review sites, or manipulated web properties geared at taking your business down. These may be misrepresentations of your brand, or attempts at defaming or soiling your name. Regardless of how negative the results, they can be overtaken by positive results. Through evaluating opportunities and movements in rankings, you can build the reputation your brand deserves to attract the people who are looking for you.
Already Owned Assets
As you first identify which results are positive, negative, or neutral you will notice that you may already own or have editing access to some search results that are already positive. Some of these results, however, may not have optimized URLs, titles, copy, or images tied to your brand. Some may provide a weak user experience with thin content, and others may be more robust pages that have minimal positive mentions. Some of your results may fall under the following categories:
- social Profiles and other Web 2.0 properties like WordPress, Blogspot or Medium
- additional hosted domains
Most likely, a few of your brand’s social profiles are scattered throughout the first 3 pages of Google for one or more given SERPs. You may identify that some of them are low in activity and could be optimized for a more positive experience. Let’s look at an example. Uber has been in the spotlight lately for tons of negative press, and while most press has a short shelf life, some can stick around and haunt a company or person for years.
Some people may see the negative press, and then want to see how a company like Uber is responding or resolving internal or external issues. Facebook, for many, is a prime platform for delivering statements and plans of action that consumers can find and follow. But what if your Facebook page isn’t even on the first page of Google? Might a seemingly betrayed or curious consumer go to a less reliable source for news and updates? When I Google “Uber” in a major market of theirs (New York), here is what I see:
In the majority of locations from which I searched, I couldn’t see their Facebook page until the second page. Uber does run their Facebook page differently than other businesses, but are they doing everything they can to optimize this very authoritative profile which should be on the first page in search? Are they updating the public on changes and combating the negative news with positive outlooks? Just a quick glance shows that they could build out their profile some more:
(Uber is definitely looking for a new COO, so this could be an opportunity to highlight that on this page)
Even companies dealing with scrutiny on a much smaller scale should look at what they can do on their major social platforms to position themselves in a more positive light. One thing to avoid is building out too many social profiles and trying to promote all of them at once. This will dilute your efforts. It is much more productive to first focus on your social profiles that fall in the top thirty positions. If you haven’t created a profile on a top tier social site like these, then definitely create them at this stage. A word of warning: don’t expect these profiles to immediately jump in ranking merely from simple bio adjustments and description additions. You will need to promote activity in the form of comments, likes, shares, or whatever interactions are tied to that profile. Remember, you are trying to create new ways to have positive interactions with your audience.
Additional Hosted Domains
Some brands have multiple businesses that promote the same brand. Let’s continue to use Uber as an example. UberFRESH was first launched in 2014, and was later renamed UberEATS. This expansion of business gave Uber the opportunity to dominate more markets, but also have more control over their reputation. They have multiple sites dedicated to educating the public about their thirty minute or less delivery service which provides more opportunities for them to bury bad results. I’m not sure if Uber built this tool, Uber Rate Estimator, but it has the potential to rank better; and if they own it, they could build it out more and promote it on their other marketing channels. Granted, Uber is still in the middle of repairing their self-crucified brand, but they have several opportunities, with websites they own, to promote positive news and fight negative results.
Companies that own multiple properties tied to their brand can create “about” pages on those individual properties that contain evergreen information about the brand, or even a dynamic feed of controlled content. UberEATS.com would benefit from having a page dedicated to Uber Technologies which could talk about why it was founded and what Uber stands for. If you see a relevant opportunity to host additional properties, then that could be an avenue for creating new and relevant content for potential users or customers.
Sitelinks are subpages that Google displays under a website in a SERP with the intent of providing easy navigation to key subpages directly from an initial search. While Google doesn’t promise to display these, we can find common trends in the sitelinks they currently display for websites. This is one of the most basic opportunities that brands should take advantage of immediately, as the opportunity-to-effort ratio is very favorable. For example, if your brand has a negative result, hovering at position nine or ten, you could ultimately knock it onto the second page by using sitelinks to control more real estate for your website on page one. As you can see below, Uber has site links that show up organically and also for paid (which doesn’t reduce organic results, but may reduce a deeper scroll for a user).
To have a better chance at nudging Google to display sitelinks for your website, follow these guidelines:
- develop a clear navigation to subpages on your site
- create unique titles for pages that include your brand name
- use internal linking to identify navigation from page to page
- update your sitemap
- increase brand exposure through:
- more social activity
- contributing to forums and other communities
As a bonus, in this post I wanted to mention some additional assets you could create right away that are hosted on very strong domains. These are simple and easy wins to start off with right away.
Nowadays, many companies are equipped to develop both simple and complex mobile apps for their brand. Uber, for example, has multiple apps that they can promote on different platforms. Their main app on the Google Play Store ranks in a top position for branded search. Their iOS app also ranks well and would be on the first page if there were ten results.
It is obvious that consumers are drawn to different mediums for media and desire to consume content in different ways simultaneously. It is very easy to start your own podcast for starters. Hosting costs are low and you could publish on iTunes to add another strong result to branded search.
Another immediate and simple approach is promoting results through ad networks, or, even more simply, promoting a YouTube video. If you have a YouTube account, you can allocate paid resources to YouTube video ads. I have seen organic YouTube videos that were ranking on the second page of Google get bumped to the first page by promoting them through Google AdWords. The increases were temporary, but replaced negative results while other positive organic results were steadily climbing. There are many other ways to optimize YouTube videos for search, but we’ll dive into those another time.
Monitor Your Success
In conclusion, ORM strategies don’t procure overnight successes. It takes time for new content to get crawled, and for other signals to get recognized by search algorithms. Because it is a steady race, it may be difficult to capture the many incremental victories. It is typically very difficult to recognize and forecast victories unless you are monitoring your efforts on a daily basis. There are several great tools out there that will do this. I personally love using SERPWoo as a Reputation Management monitoring tool. It is simple to set up a campaign and identify positive, negative, and neutral results which can easily be identified and tagged in your dashboards. Without a reliable tool for monitoring what is happening on a daily basis with all of your results (whether you’re trying to boost them or bury them), you will have a hard time pivoting strategy accordingly.
You may notice I did not discuss reviews and how to handle them properly, or the variety of ways you can promote positive content to make it more relevant. What about what appears in suggested results at the top, or related search at the bottom of the page? This post will provide some initial quick-win opportunities that you can implement within your evolving strategy which will include so much more. If you are just starting to see a need for ORM, then focus on these initial opportunities which will lay the groundwork for a more robust strategy if needed down the road.