Today we are well passed the discussion – whether online reputation management (ORM) is necessary or not. Simplest logic behind reputation management is – if you won’t handle your brand’s online reputation, others will. And once the damage is done, whether through negative comments or reviews, recovery is slow – painstakingly slow – especially for startups and small businesses.
Hiring online reputation management companies has become a common practice among all businesses owing to challenges that search engines have put forth lately. But the solution is still beyond the horizon. Many ORM firms have developed a habit of going a bit overboard in managing negative links, which surrounds threat of getting penalized by Google. Websites that do not follow the precise ways of ORM are likely to get removed from the Google result pages altogether.
A negative link hurts, but Google penalty could be the death of a brand. Here are a few tips on what practices should and shouldn’t be followed to make an ORM campaign successful:
1. Content Creation
Regular Panda updates by Google have changed the way how content had been used in recent years. In short, content again became the king.
- Post informative content as promotional one will never clean up your spoilt reputation nor engage the target audience. Research based posts, on the contrary can contribute value to search engine results too.
- Choose relevant blogging and article sites. Plan your content in accordance with the interests of target users and offer useful posts to create the impression of an expert of your industry.
- Write content that is original, high quality, primarily informative, and easy to understand. Follow the same approach whether it is the web content, blog, articles or press releases.
- Don’t indulge in promotional content.
- Avoid stuffing the content with keywords to get higher rankings on search engines, whether it is SEO or ORM. Sooner or later such practices get detected by search engines and can lead to the ultimatum – penalty.
- Don’t use copied content as plagiarism is severely punished under Google’s Panda algorithm.
2. Dealing with Negative Reviews
Negative reviews are bound to happen, despite a business’s best intentions. But how a negative feedback is handled by a business eventually decides what impact it will have on brand’s reputation.
- Respond tactfully to negative feedbacks. Remember time is of essence here, therefore, respond quickly & try to resolve the issue right away. In case you cannot address the issue instantly, apologize and ask for inputs and thank clients/customers for that.
- Don’t get defensive, respond in haste or adopt the tone of reviewers and get into argument with them.
- Don’t ignore them. Whether it is a spammy negative feedback or from a real customers. It can tarnish your brand image badly in the long.
3. Handling Positive Reviews
Positive reviews act as deterrent to push down negative results in SERPs. Negative links can never be deleted from search engine but if you have enough positive results to combat, they get displaced to positions that are least accessible to users.
- Share positive feedbacks on your social media profiles so that they get viewed more. Social media networks have high authority and if you update a profile regularly, that makes it rank on top positions of SERPs.
- Don’t share positive feedbacks without checking whether they are from spammers or real users. For instance, if a reviewer writes, “nice post”, “I like it”, etc. and nothing else, then it should be checked. Additionally, reviews from anonymous users should also be verified before using. If you use such reviews for promotion, Google might penalize you.
4. Building Backlinks
Knowing what to share and where to share is crucial for quality backlinks. When it comes to ORM links should be your prime concern as most of the websites that get penalized by Google are those which forget to follow its guidelines.
- Check web directories before adding backlinks to websites. Approach websites that promote services similar to yours, have high domain authority and are reputed among internet users.
- Don’t add backlinks to spammy or poorly ranked websites that are known to take users to irrelevant pages. Also, beware of spammy websites in disguise. A misstep here can drop your search engine ranking drastically.
5. Recognizing Optimization Scope
Same SEO/Google norms must be followed while doing ORM. In ORM, approach is different and somewhat more selective than SEO, which often creates room for crossing the line.
- Target sites & communities which can be controlled. The sites giving you the freedom to edit and unapproved comments should be used more for reputation repair.
- Focus on sites that give you the authority to control content by allowing comment editing and account deletion.
- Invest in social media platforms to create positive links as they have high domain authority and are ranked high by search engines.
- Don’t create profiles on too many review sites, as it increases chances of getting new negative comments.
- If the negative review comes from a user then avoid participating in leading review sites as it will add to the damage. Such sites have high domain authority and their links can be difficult to push down. Users don’t bother about scams but take another user’s review quite seriously, so be cautious while participating on a site that offers user-generated content.
- Avoid Anchor Text Over Optimization. While targeting a negative anchor text, use variations. For instance, for ‘ABC reviews’, use ‘ABC reviews in New York’, or ‘ABC Facebook reviews’, etc. Repetitive exact match anchors signify link building, look unnatural and for that matter can lead to Google penalty.
It is important to understand that ORM is more about decreasing the prominence of negative links by creating more positive links of high domain authority. It eventually helps in pushing negative links down.
ORM is an ongoing and tedious process, and various factors decide how much time it will take. So, if an ORM firm says that it can bring results immediately, or remove negative links from the SERPs altogether, you need to know their clearly.
ORM expert FATbit Technologies recommends businesses not to buy offers that promise instant results as it can cost you heavily whenever Google Panda or Penguin get updated. Some ORM firms do it intentionally, others due to lack of expertise, but unethical practices get punished eventually.
Lesson to Learn: Create a clear road map of dos and don’ts before repairing online reputation or hire ORM firm that has the knowhow to recognize the fine line between optimization and over optimization.