Many companies make the common mistake of relying on their search engine optimization (SEO) team to handle all of their online reputation management (ORM). While there are plenty of situations where SEO techniques can help manage your online reputation, relying on such a narrowly specialized group is a weakness in your business strategy.
Online reputation is the first impression your business will make on potential customers, so enhancing it is essential to success. With so many cutthroat competitors, professional critics, and perennial online pessimists adding negativity to online discourse, it is almost impossible not to receive some derogatory claims about your company. In an effort to combat these business crippling critiques, ORM companies have developed innovative ways to monitor and enhance online reputations.
The biggest difference between SEO and ORM is their fundamental philosophy. While SEO is primarily utilized to respond to bad publicity in the form of critical posts and articles, ORM heads off these PR crises before they materialize. Think of SEO as flu medicine that treats your symptoms, while ORM is the flu shot designed to prevent you from ever getting sick.
SEO professionals can be quite adept at raising the rankings of favorable sites and banishing unfavorable ones to unseen later pages, but they are usually ill equipped to handle all of the ramifications of a full scale PR crisis. While SEO may be proficient at technically pushing off negative websites, they are not capable of engaging online communities and addressing the root causes of the PR issue.
All ORM teams utilize some form of SEO to help contain any PR crisis, but they go further and analyze the relationships between your company and the public. Successful ORM programs are capable of turning ill will from the public into something positive, rather than trying to set up a firewall between the unhappy public and potential customers.
ORM is also a much more comprehensive type of SEO. While conventional SEO tries to shuffle the results on a SERP, ORM digs deep into the content of the top spots. This intense scrutiny of popular content is more than an analysis of the search engine’s algorithm, it is an examination of the psychological and sociological reasons that content about your company is being produced and accepted.
Effective ORM is also about finding unflattering posts about your business and deconstructing them. While controlling the top spots on Google will help, it won’t address the discontent that is lurking underneath. With the proper ORM techniques, you can monitor consumer unhappiness and help alleviate any of the building discontent before it snowballs into something ugly and unmanageable.
Online reputation management also provides tools that monitor your online reputation. Using a search engine to measure your company’s reputation does not provide a comprehensive analysis. Many ORM companies offer specialized tools that will sweep the internet for mentions of your brand and provide metrics for how positive it is. These metrics will allow you to view your online reputation in quantifiable terms and take appropriate steps.
Most importantly, successful ORM will create posts that control the top spots on a results page AND provide consumers with content that is appealing and reputationally relevant. Optimizing existing content is fine for many issues, but in order to engineer a positive reputation, your company needs ORM techniques to enhance how the public perceives it.
If your company is dependent on your SEO team to manage your online reputation, you are doing your business a great disservice. With an effective ORM program, you can not only help prevent a PR crisis, but you can start optimizing your relationships with consumers that can help drive business growth.