Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM), also known as Online Reputation Management (ORM), is a part of the SEO process that involves making sure your top search engine results are all positive ones. It also addresses the negative posts on external sites (this sometimes involves contacting the unhappy customer and turning them into a happy one, which is good for business anyways!)
Here are 10 steps you can follow to manage your online presence:
- Important pages on your site should be optimized with the name of the company. Instead of pronouns such as “we” or “us” on your pages, refer to yourself as your company name.
- Anchor text should be used to boost the positive content that’s written about you on other sites on the web. Search engines capture the actual link text and use that to help build their results.
- Personalization should be stripped out of search results. When doing any type of search engine work, you should try to be as anonymous as you can online: sign out of your Google account, clear cookies, and use anonymous browsing.
- Audit search results daily, as Google’s site rankings can change within hours. You may also wish to setup Google alerts for the name of your company.
- When you find something negative, contact the creator of the content. In most cases, contacting the owner of the website or message board won’t remove the comments themselves, as this is a freedom of speech issue. However, if the comment is illegal, libelous, etc., it may be necessary to do so. Contacting the creator will provide insight to your company as to what actually happened, and also give your company the chance to switch their negative review to a positive one.
- Does your company own other domains too (.info, .org, .net)? If so, use them to your advantage. If not, buy them! This will prevent others from being able to purchase them. Once you own them, redirect them to your .com with a 301 redirect. The top slots on the search engines will have more content from your own sites.
- Got subdomains? Subdomains are often treated as different entities than your domain itself. Don’t go overboard, but use them as you feel appropriate (see the blogging section below.)
- Blog! Creating a blog, preferably on your own website (blog.domain.com or domain.com/blog) is a great place to put new content, which will hopefully rank in search engines for keywords you select. If you are unable to create a blog on your own website, create one on a free service such as Blogger and link to it from your site.
- Create social media pages: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, etc. These pages have a high authority ranking in Google, and therefore will almost always rank higher than the sites that are posting negative content.
- Don’t create your own Wikipedia page, but if one exists, monitor it very regularly. Creating a page about your own company violates the Wikipedia TOS. Anyone can create or edit Wikipedia pages, so continually monitor it to see if anyone has created one and monitor the content that is written.