Social media mentions, blog posts, forum conversations, blog comments, product reviews – consumers now have the power to say what they want about your company and products to a worldwide audience. If you want to protect your brand image, refute erroneous information or neutralise negative comments about your brand, online reputation management (ORM) is the way to go about it.

Search Domination: Strategies to Protect Your Brand

When we discuss search, we are often talking about SEO. However, when it comes to ORM, SEO is only one part of the equation.

The first thing that most people will do when they want to find out about a product or company is to perform a search online. Most search engines provide about 10 results, and these results will have a huge impact upon the searcher’s first impressions of your brand.

So how can you use preventative measures to protect your brand image in the search engines?

#1. Social Media and The Search Engines

There is a good chance that only one or two links on the SERPs will be given to your website or blog. However, that does not mean that you cannot control the other links.

By creating social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and the rest, you can improve the chances that properties that you control will rank on the first page. This means that:

  • there is less room for other, potentially negative, pages to gain visibility.
  • if a negative news story emerges, you can react to it quickly and get your point of view across so that those people searching for the story will see your side before things get out of control.

You can use the same idea for other web properties by creating accounts on YouTube, HubPages, Blogger, WordPress, Squidoo and other sites. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, but the more of these that you can comfortably handle, the more opportunities you will have to increase your visibility.

#2. SEO Reputation Management

You will typically need to utilise SEO tactics to get these pages, as well as your own website, to rank. You can do this by building links to your social media profiles and using a range of other proven SEO techniques.

However, SEO tactics can also be used to rank other pages. For example, if you have written an informative guest post on a well-respected industry blog, getting this to rank can be even more effective than getting your own social media profiles to rank.

You could take this even further by using SEO to rank any positive press that you have received. If one of your products has received a glowing review in the national press, for example, use SEO to help this page to rank as this can present a very positive image of your brand that looks more natural than populating the first page of the SERPs with your own sites.

#3. PPC – Pay To Rank

PPC is another technique that you can use to help dominate the first page. Even if you are not trying to get people to click through to your website, by getting a PPC ad ranking for your own brand name or product names, you are giving yourself more search engine real estate.

If you get your ad to the top of the page, it will usually be the first thing that people see when they make a search – especially if they are using a smartphone.

Suddenly, using the above tactics, you can have your own web properties, your own adverts and positive press all taking up the first page for relevant searches.

#4. Monitoring Your Brand

Dominating the first page of the SERPs is just one form of ORM, and is a tactic that requires time and dedication. It should be seen as a preventative measure more than anything else. However, there are other active ways to engage in ORM.

One of these is monitoring mentions of your brand online. It is only through careful monitoring, carried out on a regular basis, that you can find out what people are saying and react to it.

Fortunately, this is easy to do. There are numerous tools, both free and commercial, that enable you to track your brand mentions, including:

  • Google Alerts
  • BrandsEye
  • SocialMention
  • Naymz
  • BuzzBundle

This is just a start, and there are many more, so the tool that you use will depend upon your own requirements.

#5. Active Engagement

Once you start monitoring your brand mentions online, you will need to have a plan in place for how to react to any comments that arise – especially negative comments. Reacting inappropriately and rashly can have a harmful effect on your brand image, so careful planning is essential.

It is usually best to have one person, or a small group of people, take charge of reacting to negative mentions.

When you find a negative blog post, comment or review, try to act quickly, but make sure that you are professional and courteous at all times. Even if you don’t change the mind of the original commenter, other people will see that you are trying to resolve the situation professionally, and this can go in your favour.

It is also a good idea to react to positive mentions. When you find a positive review or simply someone announcing how much they love what you do, a quick ‘thank you’ can go a long way. It shows that you care about your customers and listen to what they are saying, and it can be a great way to improve brand loyalty.

Start Thinking Seriously About ORM

If you have yet to engage in any ORM, it is something that you should really start to think seriously about. The above is just an introduction, and you will almost certainly find that when you engage in ORM you will find other techniques that can help you to better manage your brand image online.

Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your brand online and making their views known to a global audience. You want to ensure that you are part of that conversation, which is why having an ORM strategy in place is so important.