SEO is a popular way to drive organic traffic for businesses by changing keyword rankings. In fact, according to a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Terakeet, 81 percent of executives moderately-to-strongly agree that SEO will become an increasingly more important priority over the next 12 months. The SEO method is used to get multiple pages of a website ranked for different keywords. Online reputation management ranks many websites using a limited set of brand keywords. Another way of looking at it is:
It is the goal of SEO to have a website rank number one in as many searches as possible. ORM’s goal is to have brand-focused keywords dominate the first Google page. Imagine that reputation management takes up an inch and a mile, while SEO covers a dandy lab mile and merely one inch.
It is important to note that the difference between public relations and online reputation management can be subtle. ORM may appear to be just public relations with online personas, because their goals are similar, such as brand management. These two disciplines employ different strategies to reach different outcomes.
In general, public relations firms create buzzworthy and trending news cycles in order to shift the focus of conversation away from negative issues. It is aimed at changing public opinion by flooding news and social media with new, viral stories. Online reputation management is aimed at telling a truer and more holistic story of a company or person by placing controllable assets in the top Google results.
You may already know how damaging a bad news article about your company can be. Google doesn’t have a vendetta against any one person or company. Google’s search algorithm was designed to give users the most relevant search results. If a company or executive manages a crisis, the content will be relevant.
If you Google Elon Musk, for example, you will find information about SpaceX or Tesla. Elon Musk didn’t create those companies because he wrote about them in his biography. There’s a lot of content on the internet that links him with SpaceX and Tesla.
Topic density can negatively impact a brand’s reputation. Google, for example, will give priority to articles that mention a recent toxic chemical spill by a company when searching its name. Google will also prioritize articles about the event if the company’s CEO was responsible for the spill.
For better or worse, backlinks have become the new form of word-of mouth. Google will take note if reputable websites link to an article that is negative about your company. This sends the message that this story is relevant. It may then appear on the front page of search results, where it will be seen by more people. It will also earn more clicks, as people are more likely to click on headlines that have negative content. Google interprets these signals of clicks as popularity and relevancy, which could push the results even higher.
Online reputation management is a subject that has many myths. Negative SEO is not the same as magically deleting negative results. This would be considered hacking and is highly illegal. ORM is about creating an accurate and balanced search environment. You can control more content on Google’s first page to tell your story. We’ll dispel a couple more myths surrounding digital reputation management.