93% of search engine users never check the results on the second page or anything beyond. They form their impression based on the ten search results on the first page. What if your brand search produces a negative review on the first page.
Too many brands make the mistake of ignoring the importance of online reputation at their own detriment. By the time they realize their mistake, it’s already too long.
A searcher’s first experience with your brand happens on Google’s SERPs — not your website
- Rand Fishkin
That’s’ right! Your audience’s first interaction with you happens on the search results page when they search for the products that you sell or specifically for your brand. And, if one of those search results has something negative to say about you, then you’ve likely lost your audience forever.
It’s estimated that the presence of a single negative article on the first page of search results can cost businesses up to 22% of their revenues. That number escalates quickly to a 70% drop in business when four of the first page results about you are negative.
So, when businesses start experiencing loss in website traffic, revenue, or reputation, it’s already too late. They try to muster quick-fix solutions that don’t work and ultimately lead to a crisis of reputation.
Businesses – small, medium, and large – cannot afford to underestimate the importance of online reputation. Even physical businesses that do not cater to customers online must have a strong reputation management strategy in place. After all, their customers check everything from Google Reviews to Yelp Reviews (both of which can be negative) before deciding to visit their physical store.
More Reasons Why Businesses Cannot Ignore Their Online Reputation
- 84% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations
- A single star improvement in Yelp ratings produces a 5 to 9% increase in business revenues
- An estimated 75% of the brand value is derived from its reputation
- Online reviews influence 2 in every 3 purchase decisions
And the most startling fact:
- Although an estimated 59% of businesses have previously faced a reputation crisis, only 54% have a strategy in place to handle them!
When businesses that do not have an online reputation management strategy encounter a PR crisis, they are caught off guard and find themselves unable to tackle it. Many of them approach it the traditional way by investing in ads, which does not nullify the harm they are suffering on the very first page of search engine results.
In the digital era, online reputation management and, therefore, SEO reputation management, have become critical elements of reputation management.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management is a continuous process that contributes to creating, cultivating, and curating your brand reputation in the digital world.
In terms of objectives, it’s not unlike traditional reputation management because you are trying to influence the average consumer’s perception of your brand. It involves all the steps you take to proactively protect your brand from potential (and inevitable) negative content about your brand. However, the approach often deviates from the traditional reputation management approaches.
In essence, online reputation management is the practice of influencing and managing the availability of information about your brand to internet users. Typically, businesses try to make positive information about their brands readily available to their consumers, while drowning out malicious content.
How Is SEO Reputation Management Different?
SEO reputation management is the practice of influencing the availability of information to internet users on search engines. It focuses on managing your reputation on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and others.
Think of it as a subset of the overall online reputation management activities. You try to “improve” the positions occupied by the search engine results that talk positively about your brand while pushing the negative results down to the second page of the search results or beyond.
It’s the first page of search results that plays a critical role in making the first impression on consumers. So, when the search results portray your brand in a positive light, it can drastically improve your business.
It’s Story Time ...
In 2018, the Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei, was faced with regulatory challenges in the US. The company and its stakeholders were being investigated by the US for its alleged ties to the Chinese military. The company was considered a security risk and was accused of stealing commercial secrets from US companies.
Despite the increasing tensions between the authorities and the company, the organization made no attempts to quell those suspicions, nor did they take any steps to dissuade public fears. The utter lack of transparency kept stoking the media fires, which continued for some time until their CFO was arrested in Canada. Only then did the company tried to bolster its online reputation, but by then, it was too little too late.
During this time, a simple google search by a consumer for “Huawei phones” or just “Huawei” would bring up dozens of search results directing to the CFO’s arrest, potential ban, inter-governmental tussles, and the likes, which inevitably muddied the brand reputation in the consumer’s mind.
Huawei’s slide out of the US market was protracted and painful. Several restrictions were imposed on the American companies prohibiting them from engaging with Huawei.
The fallout of the loss of trust was not limited to the US. Several countries and consumers worldwide began to view Huawei with suspicion.
The impact? Huawei, which was poised to become the largest smartphone manufacturer globally, quickly lost its dominance in the industry.
Although Huawei’s challenges included regulatory, legal, and even inter-governmental tussles, they largely failed to muster strong public opinion in their favor, often resorting to threats of lawsuits, which did not pan out as they had hoped.
With neither the public nor the government in their favor, Huawei appears to have accepted defeat for now.
You might be a multibillion-dollar conglomerate, but when you ignore your online reputation in the digital era, your mistake can explode into a full-blown crisis that may destroy the way you do business.
Why is SEO Reputation Management Important?
Because, a search engine is where the internet begins for most consumers.
If your brand has a negative vibe on the very first page of search results, then your potential customers won’t even take the risk of considering you. They’ll form a long-lasting impression about your brand and move on to your competitor.
Here are some of the ways poor first-page results affect your business:
Loss of Organic Traffic
The organic traffic you get from search engines to your website will suffer a drastic hit if the first-page search results have negative content about you.
And, it gets worse! People love drama. More importantly, they know that brands try to polish their brand image all the time. So, they click on negative search results more and trust them more too. This improves the search engine rankings of negative results, which may eventually outrank your brand’s organic results for the keywords that matter to you.
When that happens, it can be a death knell for your business.
Loss of Footfall
If you think you are safe because you don’t have an online presence and have a physical business, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Think of it like this. What’s the first thing people do when they are trying to find a restaurant near them? They’ll google “restaurants near me”. They’ll then consider each restaurant based on proximity, customer reviews, cuisine options, and more. If the first review the customer encounters about the restaurant is negative, they’ll just move on to the next restaurant. That’s it. This is what every potential customer does.
The restaurant does not cater to customers online, but their customers look for them online. So, ignoring their online reputation can mean a massive loss of traffic to their physical outlet
Loss of Paid Traffic
Google Search Ads are the most common and popular method of generating paid traffic for your website. These ads appear alongside organic search results when your potential customers are looking for something related to your business. That’s why these ads are effective.
Consider the situation where a search engine user finds your ad alongside a negative search result. They’ll ignore you outrightly. Not only did your ad budget go down the drain, but it is a hit to your existing business as well.
Loss of Marketing Effectiveness
If your business has a good marketing budget, then you likely have a multi-channel marketing strategy in place. You leverage everything from print media to television to digital platforms to achieve your business goals. But no matter which channel you choose to promote yourself, your target audiences will likely “google you” to learn more about you.
Therefore, it’s vital that the first-page results your audiences get when they use brand keywords, are positive.
Loss of Profitability
Higher profit margins are a product of brand value. The brand value is reflected in your company’s annual statement as “goodwill”. Your brand value is built and cultivated over a long time, often spanning several decades. The amount of trust you’ve built over all this time allows you to command a premium on your products. If your brand image goes for a toss, then your potential customers will not be likely to pay a premium for what you have to offer. Consequently, you will be forced to offer your products at ever-increasing discounts.
Extended discounts will further dilute your brand value and turn your products into a commodity with meager margins. Simultaneously, as your goodwill erodes, so does your company’s market value. If you are a listed company, your stock prices take a nosedive. If you are not listed, you will find difficulty leveraging your business with banks, who will now consider you a risky brand.
Good News: SEO Reputation Management Can Shield Your Brand From Negativity
Businesses of every size, in every economy, are investing in SEO reputation management to proactively protect their brand from negativity on the internet. Every business, irrespective of how customer-focused they are, is bound to have at least some disgruntled customers. Today, platforms like review sites, social media, and blogs have empowered consumers to voice their opinions louder than ever before. Thankfully, there are several ways to prevent those negative sentiments from creating a poor impression of your brand. Here are some of the common techniques employed by businesses:
1. Create More Positive Content
Sounds obvious, right? When someone is talking badly about you, you get more people talking good about you.
Suppose your business has a string of negative reviews on Google. Every user who searches for your brand will come across those reviews and be discouraged from further engaging with you. However, if you manage to create a lot of positive reviews, they will drown out the negative reviews, or at least offer a balanced view of your business, which is good too.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that you go creating fake Google reviews for your business. All you need to do is nudge your customers to leave an honest review. It could be a simple “please don’t forget to review us on Google” message at the cashier, an app notification, an email, or just a printed message for all your visiting customers. You’ll be surprised by how many customers would happily share a positive review after a satisfying experience.
2. Pitch Content Creators
Get in touch with popular websites and blogs to publish more content about your brand on their platforms. You can reach journalists, bloggers, editors, and other content creators to create several useful and informative posts on your brand. It could be product reviews, guest posts, or even media coverage of your organization’s latest developments that could be of interest to your audiences.
The more useful content you create, the more likely it is that such content will find its way to the first page of SERPs, pushing the unwanted results farther down the pages.
3. Create More Branded Content
Well, it’s not just your customers who have more avenues than before to voice their opinions. Businesses, entrepreneurs, and business leaders have several options before them to share their thoughts. Platforms like Medium.com, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, Forbes, and several others accept guest publications from them.
Indeed, there are hundreds of digital platforms that give businesses varying degrees of exposure. Businesses can pick platforms that provide them with niche exposure in their respective industries or go for the mainstream outlets that give them broader exposure. Guest publications on these platforms can be free or paid.
4. Take the Legal Route
Let’s be clear about one thing – if someone has used your products or services and has a genuinely negative opinion about your products, you cannot make them shut up. They are protected under “freedom of speech”.
However, in several instances, competitors post negative reviews about a company only to sabotage their business. It’s often possible to identify and purge such reviews from review sites through the legal route, although it can be a bit tedious.
Another instance where the law can help you is with online marketplaces. Many people check marketplaces like Amazon to discover honest product reviews, even when they plan to buy the products elsewhere. If you do not allow reselling of your products on such marketplaces, then you can use trademark infringement laws to force such marketplaces to take down such products from their listings. You can also have any reviews they had accumulated removed.
5. Take Advantage of All Content Forms in SERPs
In recent years, Google’s search engine results page has grown increasingly sophisticated and informative.
It offers a quick overview of the people, businesses, and institutions that interest search engine users. Business profiles, social media profiles, location, key facts, FAQs, and several other pieces of information are covered. Creating targeted content that leverages all these content forms gives you near-total control of your first-page search results.
Take a look at the screenshot below. Microsoft has so efficiently used the Google content forms to dominate the first page results without leaving much room for anything potentially harmful for their brand.
All of these methods require significant resources, time, and sustained efforts to deliver results. However, when faced with a PR crisis, businesses and people cannot always afford to wait for such measures to work. They need more definitive results, and they need them quickly.
This is where SerpClix comes in.
Improve Your SEO Reputation Faster With SerpClix
SerpClix follows a simple but powerful technique to boost positive SEO reputation about your brand, while suppressing negative sentiments. The best part about SerpClix is that you can witness the results in a matter of days without spending an inordinate amount of money on efforts that are slow to act.
To understand how SerpClix manages to improve your SEO reputation faster and cost-effectively, you must understand a few things about search engine rankings.
How Search Engines Rank Pages
Search engines like Google rank different websites and webpages based on a dizzying variety of factors like the quantity of content, amount of content, uniqueness of content, the bounce rate of pages, CTRs, user engagement, domain age, quality of backlinks, and so on. Google supposedly takes into account over 200 factors to determine the page rankings.
The factors of interest for us are Click-Through-Rates (CTRs) and User Engagement.
Through these factors, Google squarely relies on the search engine users themselves to tell them what they like to see in search results. CTR indicates the ratio of clicks registered by a search result in relation to the number of times it appeared in search results. So, if this ratio is high, it means that more people are interested in what this search result has to offer.
Likewise, user engagement offers insight into how relevant the users found a search result once they visited the page. This can be measured with metrics like Average Time on Page and Average Session Duration. If the pages do not engage visitors for long, then it means that it has poor content. Naturally, Google doesn’t want to show low-engagement search results prominently and eventually pushes them further back into the search results.
SerpClix Tells Google What It Should Rank Higher
SerpClix has perfected a system of organically promoting useful, informative, and enriching content about your brand while drowning out the negative noise surrounding your brand from the top SERPs. And, we do it in a simple 2-step process that delivers predictable results in a short time. Here’s how we do it:
Step 1: We Promote Positive Pages
SerpClix’s real human clickers perform a series of searches using your brand name or the keywords of your choice to fetch the SERPs. With each search, they click on search results with positive sentiments about your brand, while ignoring the search results with negative information.
Step 2: We Suppress Negative Pages
The most effective way to suppress negative pages is to promote positive pages just below them. Every time our clickers encounter a negative page about your brand, they click on the positive results below it. You can even let us know which negative pages to suppress.
SerpClix’s approach to SEO reputation management produces lasting impact quickly for several reasons. Our clickers not only click on positive pages but also spend some time on those pages to indicate to search engines that the content on those pages is valuable to the search users. The resulting high CTRs and user engagement, on pages that have positive content about your brand, improve your SEO reputation substantially.
SerpClix is extremely easy to use, and allows you to create multiple orders, each of which can be for a different keyword phrase, a different URL, or both. And, that’s it. We’ll take care of the rest.
Enjoy your return from near-certain digital oblivion. It’s time to shine now.