SEO’s benefits aren’t just limited to building brand presence and driving traffic to a website. Search engine optimization also can be used to increase click-through and conversion rates of branded search traffic and act as a business retention model.
With 74 percent of consumers conducting online research before making a purchase decision, any negative sentiment around a brand can deliver a significant blow to the brand’s bottom line. In many instances of a brand’s reputation being tarnished online SEO is the only way to clean it up and present the brand in a positive light.
Social Media’s Effect on SEO
The popularity of social media and blogs, combined with the emergence of consumer complaint websites, has been detrimental to the reputation of many brands. Both allow one person’s bad experience, or even a deceitful competitor, to drag a brand’s reputation through the mud for the entire Web to see.
When a critique of a brand is posted to a popular website, search engine queries for that brand will often include that critique on the first page of organic search results. This can be very damaging to the brand. Potential customers who come across such a critique may be disinclined to engage with a brand they otherwise would have after finding such a negative organic search result.
Blog posts and social media updates that speak negatively about a brand and rank for the brand name are on third-party websites; the brand has no control over them. Since it is unlikely that the pages will be removed from the websites, the only recourse the brand has is to get them removed from the search results. This is done by leveraging SEO for online reputation management.
Managing Online Reputations through SEO
Online reputation management is accomplished through SEO by creating fresh, engaging content with a positive spin on the brand and optimized for the brand name. Marketers should then publish that content on popular sites that already have a great deal of domain authority.
Once the positive content assets are published, the next step is building page authority by pointing links and social signals at it. As the authority of each page begins to grow, they will move up in the rankings, eventually occupying the search engine real estate that once housed the negative critiques, therefore moving them off the first page of organic search engine results.
This practice not only assists with enhancing the reputation of a brand, but also with customer retention. Repeat customers are ready to re-engage with a company, they very often perform branded searches to return to their website. Once the search engine results are returned, if they notice a complaint or other negative sentiment on the results page, they will be less likely to continue business with the brand and could decide to choose a competitor instead.
Zazzle is a good example of a company that appears to be leveraging the reputation-enhancing powers of SEO. A brand search for “zazzle” in Google returns both Squidoo and Crunchbase profiles. These are two Web properties on which companies are free to publish and promote positive brand content.
Whether or not there is negative sentiment about a brand online, SEO can be leveraged to enhance the brand’s reputation. Saturating the Web with branded content will position the brand as an authority and put the right messaging in front of consumers as they navigate the web or search a brand name. The more positive content they come across, the better the reputation of a brand.