It’s easy to think of online reputation management (ORM) and search engine optimization (SEO) as two very different tasks. Sometimes, that separation can prompt companies to make a choice: Should they fund SEO or should they spend up on ORM? Which one delivers the best results?
Here’s the thing.
Companies that beef up their SEO techniques, particularly in our post-Penguin and post-Hummingbird Google world, will end up seeing ORM benefits. And those benefits go in reverse, too.
Don’t believe me? Here are 3 SEO steps you could take, right now, that deliver both SEO and ORM benefits.
SEO Tip #1: Create quality content that people want to read.
Google’s latest algorithm changes seem to emphasize the length of time that users spend on a page, once they’ve clicked on it (at MOZ, they’re calling that “dwell time.”). That’s a sort of quality score, and the higher that score, the more likely the page will appear high in search results. As a result, it’s a technique that’s near and dear those that do SEO work.
But if that article appears high in search results, it also has benefits for ORM. After all, reputation management is about controlling that first page of Google results. The more you control what people see when they search for your name, the more likely it is that you (or your company) will look good. When you control the results, you control the conversation.
So, having a quality post that people stick around to read could help you to control your reputation. It’s an ORM goal you’ll get through SEO.
SEO Tip #2: Make sure your business is easy for Google to find and verify.
In addition to ordering content by quality, Google also seems to prefer content that comes from a trusted source, particularly when the searcher is looking for something local.
Here’s just one example.
This business has two locations, both verified by Google. And on a search, this is a company that dominates the results page. The official page is up top, followed by two review entries, and maps show up on the right.
SEO teams love to see results like this. Companies that rule the results like this can completely control the conversation, and they’re incredibly easy to find. That’s why a local SEO company might encourage a small business owner to sign up for Google Places, as well as put the address of the company in a prominent place on the company’s website. That’s just good SEO.
But again, it’s also a smooth ORM move. When this much space is dominated by data the company owns and controls, it’s very hard to mount an attack. Angry customers probably can’t make a blog entry stick on the front page, nor can they create shell websites that steal the company name altogether. This company has done too much SEO work, and that makes ORM easier.
SEO Tip #3: Build links to trusted sites.
As the fabulous folks at Search Engine Land explain, link building is a little like canvassing for votes. By reaching out to other sites and connecting your site to theirs with a link, you’re getting a vote of confidence that the data you provide is somehow worthy and/or trustworthy. It’s a signal, to Google, that your content can be trusted.
But there are good ways and bad ways to build links. If you spam websites and put your link up all over the place, for example, you could get hit with a penalty, says Search Engine Land. So SEO work involves creating content people want to share, and then promoting that content to sites you trust.
This is another excellent reputation management step. Reaching out to other companies and sharing your business story helps you to form an online community of allies that are ready to step in and help you, should you need it. It’s a way of creating a team that might be more willing to be on your side, should you come under a reputation attack. And, those quality links help you look like a respected member of a community, which can also deliver deep ORM benefits.
Clearly, by honing your SEO prowess, you’ll get ORM mastery. But it can take some practice to get it all right. You’ll need to make sure you’re using the right techniques at the right time in order to get those results, and sometimes, you won’t see the results of all of your work for weeks or even months.
But my advice? Stick with it. The more you do with SEO, the easier ORM will be.