The success of a business depends not only on the quality of products or services it offers but majorly on its brand reputation. For example, many times we end up buying things by looking at their brand names rather than considering whether we need them in the first place. However, what happens when the brand reputation of a business takes a hit? How does the business manage the situation then? Today, in the online ecosystem, one’s view about a brand is shaped by the information he or she gets on the search engine results. Google’s emphasis on allowing end-customers or random users rate or review a product/service/company/brand being the case in point. The online brand reputation matters as it gives visitors an idea about a business. No wonder the jostle for 5-star ratings and good reviews among businesses from their customers (existing or prospective) is only growing. So, what happens if the online brand reputation takes a hit?
Impact of poor or negative online brand reputation
When Google search results offer a less than flattering ratings or reviews, the first impression on the visitor is generally negative. The consequences, in such cases, can be dire. Let us discuss them in some detail:
Search traffic nosedives: Any visitor finding a negative search result corresponding to a brand or business is likely to shun the website altogether. This increases the bounce rate and drops the CTR (Click Through Rate). Thus, the combined outcome (bounce rate and CTR) can lower the ranking further. And if the search result receives negative reviews or comments, which is quite possible, the positive reviews (if any) can be overwhelmed leading to a further fall in search ranking. Further, if the business runs any paid ad campaign, the negative reviews can overshadow its impact.
Marketing strategy goes for a toss: Generally, a business uses a range of marketing channels such as social media, billboards, electronic media, newspaper ads, and the likes to popularize its brand, products, or services. The aim of running such campaigns across marketing channels is to take viewers to the website or at least allow them to Google it. However, when the target audience, after taking cues from any of the marketing channels, searches for the business website and finds negative reviews, they scoot. In other words, the entire marketing strategy to drive traffic to the website goes for a toss.
Profitability takes a dip: The negative reviews or perception about a brand will not get the business premium clients or takers for premium rates. Even getting clients by offering them products or services at normal marketing rates will become a challenge. The lack of business can, at the end of the day, put a question mark on the financial viability of the company.
Therefore, in the ultimate analysis, a negative online brand reputation can lower the goodwill a company enjoys, not only among its target audience, but among stakeholders like lenders, business partners, and prospective investors.
So, how does a business retrieve such a situation when its online brand reputation takes a hit and creates a negative impact? The answer lies in SEO’s Online Reputation Management or ORM. The process helps businesses to manage the perception of their target audience for their brands using online searches.
SEO strategies to manage online brand reputation
The aim of using ORM is to build a positive SERP on Google and other associated channels such as social media, Google My Business, and others.
#1 Improve positive search result rankings: The idea is to create enough positive results so that they outweigh the negative ones on the SERP. At the same time, the negative reviews can be mitigated by contacting the sender or creator of such content. The person(s) can be asked to remove the content or reviews by paying compensation or sending a legal notice should the content be defamatory, libelous or an outright lie.
# Work on the impacted keywords: A cursory glance on the search results will show that certain search phrases resulting in negative results are in greater numbers than say those leading to positive results. So, for starters, such search phrases should be identified and narrowed down. At the same time, identify the search phrases that have resulted in high search volume or conversion rate. For any negative search phrase, find out if the result page has a social media feed, a featured snippet, videos, or images, among others. If such special elements are there then the same should be targeted.
# Run a powerful SEO campaign: The business should make sure the website is properly audited and all loose ends are fixed. These include changing the meta tags and alt image texts, increasing the page load speed, improving navigability, enhancing the quality of content, shoring up backlinks, and fixing any broken page link, among others. These will help to boost the ranking of certain crucial business keywords thereby driving traffic.
# Get citations, testimonials, and positive reviews: Happy customers should be asked to post reviews about their experience with the brand. In fact, more number of such reviews/citations/testimonials will help outrun the negative ones. Online reviews are very important to attract the target audience as stats suggest that around 85% of people trust such reviews. So, more the merrier for any business. Also, search engines reward websites that have good reviews with higher rankings, for these reviews receive a good traffic volume.
# Optimize social media profiles: Businesses aiming to shore up positive results and tone down or eliminate negative ones should work on optimizing their social media profiles by adding fresh, relevant, and engaging content. In doing so, they can leverage the Domain Authority of such sites to garner traction from their target audience and improve visibility. So, try sites like LinkedIn (for the B2B space), Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (for the B2C space), YouTube, Quora, Pinterest, and others.
To remain competitive in the highly tough business landscape, businesses need to maintain brand reputation, gain customers’ trust, and quality of their products and services. And should there be a situation where negative search results threaten to derail the prospects of an enterprise, then SEO’s online reputation management method can be adopted and worked upon. It is by implementing a thoughtful online marketing strategy in reputation management that businesses can achieve their goals and earn the trust of customers.