Reputation management is an essential part of one’s marketing strategy. Unfortunately with the technology taking leap after leap and the Internet becoming our second nature, managing a given company’s online reputation has become a huge challenge, to put it mildly.
Online reputation management is a complicated endeavor that requires great interpersonal skills and strategic planning. It often focuses on monitoring company’s mentions in online publications, in random conversations on the social networks or in review sites. However, detecting a company mention is only the beginning of the reputation management process. You are then to assess the sentiment of the particular mention and decide whether you prefer to encourage this opinion and popularize it among your peers or if you would rather exercise some damage control and silence (try to alleviate and compensate) the enraged customer.
But don’t get me wrong, online reputation management is not only about insightfully maneuvering with public feedback. It is about molding your audience as to eventually receive the desired feedback. Preplanning should be your key concern thus crisis management will rarely be on your agenda.
Let’s see how that works in real life! In order to 1. attract potential customers; and 2. impress them right from the start, you should demonstrate flawless reputation in the SERPs. Imagine that someone has heard of your company either on the radio, from a friend or from a TV commercial and he decides to look you up in Google. He’s typing: “Filip’s Ice-Cream Factory”, pressing Enter and … are you confident enough to bet that your online reputation plan will allure him to your site? You should be and here is the easiest way to achieve that…
Dominate Your 7 Result SERP
As you are well-aware Google search results are arranged into consecutive pages, each consisting of 10 organic results. Sometimes the result # jumps significantly if the search query triggers the local pack of 1, 3, 5 or 7 G+ local listings, but in the end the organic results remain 10 in total.
However, there is a small deviation to that ten-results rule and this is the 7 result page SERPs. It was first observed in August 2012 and it’s closely examined in the following Dr. Pete’s post. Today this more compact 1st page SERP architecture could be seen frequently for branded searches. An interesting feature of this “shorter version” of Google’s first page results is that the 1st organic result is awarded with up to 9 sitelinks.
Basically there are two main things that you should strive to achieve in order to dominate Google search results for your brand name.
- Ensure that your site shows sitelinks
- Control the remaining 6 results on page 1 of Google SERPs
(For the purpose of this article we assume that your company site is ranking in position one in Google SERPs for its brand name. If that is not the case, your online presence is in really bad shape and you need to take some on-site maintenance measures. You’d better check if your site is not facing a penalty that devalues its authority before you start focusing on more fine-tuning matters like reputation management.)
Ensure That Your Site Shows SiteLInks
This one can be a bit tricky, because in the end it is up to Google whether it will show an arsenal of sitelinks to support your site in the SERPs or not. Nevertheless, there are certain best practices that could influence Google’s automated sitelinks awarding algo, so make sure you cover the following things:
- Have a clear and well-organized site structure (e.g. use breadcrumb navigation)
- Assess your internal linking practices
- Diversify and improve the relevance of the anchor text of your internal links
- Submit your updated xml sitemap to Google
Keep in mind that website popularity is a strong eligibility factor as it comes to sitelinks. On the same note the most popular (and yet relevant to the search query) pages of your company website will be listed as your sitelinks, so be careful. You do not wish to have negative a blog post shaping up your character in SERPs, right? And even if you have the chance to demote a sitelink (an option in your Google WMT account), you’d better plan ahead and try not to get to that one in first place.
Control the Remaining 6 Results On Page 1 of Google SERPs
Now that you have populated a big part of the “above-the fold” space in the SERPs with your company site and its sitelinks, it is time to pay close attention to the remaining 6 results on page one of the SERPs. Note that it is much easier to control 6 result pages than 9 (remember that branded search lists 7 results and standard search queries trigger 10 result pages). With branded search you have a greater chance for success, so be wise, don’t miss on such a great opportunity!
How can you achieve page one SERPs domination? Just read on:
- Work on your Social Presence – branded search will trigger results that are related to the given brand, ranking them by site authority. So after your company site, the next eligible site that best describes your business and has a huge ranking potential is your company profile on the respected social networks. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit – those are all examples of high ranking social sites that could contribute significantly to your online presence for branded search.
If you spend enough time to actually keep those accounts live and keep your fans/followers engaged, your social media account will gain the credibility and will rank well in Google SERPs. Imagine you cover all six social networks mentioned above – you will have it all covered and it will be a rather easy win too!
- Save from your social network profiles you should pay close attention to the leading review sites for your industry. Your company account on Yelp or Tripadvisor for instance (if you manage a sushi restaurant or a winter resort hotel) have a huge chance to appear in the 7 result page SERPs. The key tactic here is to encourage your satisfied customers to leave a review of your business on the review site with the highest authority in your niche.
- If you weren’t able to populate all of the 7 result pages of your branded search SERPs with your company profiles on social and review sites you have yet another alternative to consider. You should try to appear in high authority media: either well-established news sites or respected industry blogs with a huge readership. Host or organize an event, introduce a campaign, sponsor a club, invest in a noteworthy cause and contribute to your community. Your efforts won’t go unnoticed, the more passionate you are about this project – the more media coverage it will get. As long as a high authority industry site features your company in a post (includes your company name in the H1 heading of the article and the title tag of the page) you have a huge chance to add this page result to your 7 result page for you brand search.
The above-mentioned 3 strategic tips could be applied to practically any business site and this is what makes them so valuable. They are arranged in ascending order in terms of difficulty: the easiest strategy of them being the social profile optimization, then we move to company image boosting on relevant review sites and finally we proceed to the hardest hit – achieving high media coverage.
The best way to approach your 7 result page reputation management action plan is to start from the easiest, less frustrating and time consuming task (managing your social profiles) and build it up from there.
And remember that as much as you try to manipulate your company online reputation, if your product/service or your customer service sucks, in the long run your efforts are doomed to failure:
“If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”
― D.L. Moody