Introduction to Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM)

Reputation management refers to influencing and controlling a business’s or a brand’s reputation. Originally a PR term, the growth of the Internet and social media have made search results an essential part of any business’s reputation.

“25% company’s market value is directly related to its reputation” — The World Economic Forum

Search Engine Reputation Management is a part of Online Management Reputation.

What is Online Reputation Management?

First of all, online reputation is what your customers and employees see when they google your company’s name. What do they get? What are their impressions? Are they willing to cooperate with your company after that?

Official social media accounts, online forums, review platforms — online reputation goes further than search engine results. All these resources influence your online reputation. That’s why it’s important that they are monitored and improved.

“88–92% of employers and clients will conduct an online search of your business before engaging with you” — Digital Squad

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is building and/or enhancing a web identity to maintain a positive appearance on the Internet. In other words, you need to maximize positive and neutral content and minimize the negative one.

PR vs ORM

Public Relations (PR) and ORM have much in common but are not the same. Most of the PR activities are intended to build a person’s or a company’s reputation so that the results of the PR activities are visible to others. These include ads, media, networking and more. ORM activities most often happen behind the scenes and are not obvious to others. They often include PR and SERM activities, but their objective is much broader. During ORM activities you build blogs, social media channels, positive reviews, guest blogging, and so on.

Blogging and content creation which are parts of the ORM, often bring businesses the benefits of both PR and SERM.

What is Search Engine Reputation Management?

Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) refers to constant monitoring and influencing the overall public impression that a company has online. The core objective of the SERM is to deal with negative search results and feedback on the Net.

“88% of adult users believe that it would be very difficult to remove inaccurate online information” — Digital Squad

SERM includes Search Engine Optimization, Paid Search Marketing, Press Optimization, Blogging and Social Media.

Online Reputation Management Strategies

Proactive Monitoring

To protect and improve your reputation on the Web you first need to monitor it. Use search engines, check out blogs, review platforms, and so on.

“92% consumers regularly read online reviews to learn about a business” — Entrepreneur.com

In the long run, your company should be present on online resources where your customers are interacting. This way you’ll handle their questions and concerns before they turn into negative feedback.

SERP Cleansing

SERP Cleansing is a practice of cleaning the first pages of search engine results out of negative ones. You need to optimize at least the top ten search results for the name of your business. To do that you need to aggressively publish new content around your company: reviews and testimonials, media coverage, guest posts and other.

“Question: Where do you hide a dead body? Answer: On the third page of Google results.” — Lori Randall Stradtman, Online Reputation Management for Dummies

So to recap, consider posting into social media profiles, contribute to relevant websites and publications. You are not able to control what others say about your business, but you can control if other people see it.

Improve SEO

Search engines return the results according to the relevancy and authority of a particular webpage and a website as a whole. There are hundreds of scoring factors that are taken into account. SEO allows you to influence some of these factors, improve the ranking of the relevant websites and mitigate the impact of the negative content.

91% of searches don’t go beyond Page 1, and Google is your new business card — Nadia Munno

The following article might be of help:

Social Media Presence

Social media is a powerful tool to build and maintain your audience, influence and trust. It is a perfect opportunity to connect with your customers and improve your SERP positions. The more engagement there is on your social media, the more trustworthy you are to the search engines. Positive mentions and feedback of your company or brand positively influence your ranking and online presence.

Don’t wait until your online reputation is a mess before you decide to take care of it — Ryan Erskine

Create official accounts in some of the most relevant to your niche social media networks. You might want to start with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. Be active: announce your updates, react to the feedback, respond to everyone who reaches out to you. You might want to introduce particular hashtags for customers to tag their User-Generated Content (UGC), that also influences SEO and SERM.

Respond to Negative Content

In most cases, communities and forums allow companies to respond to feedback. These resources provide a perfect opportunity to contact the unsatisfied customer, solve their problem if it’s not too late and influence their opinion. Let them know they’ve been heard and apologize for the negative experience.

“If consumers dig up something that they don’t like, they’ll share it with people who are still forming an opinion about your business.” — Digital Squad

Consumer forums and review platforms can be your best friends or worst enemies. If you’re not proactively monitoring the tide of opinion, it may be too late to save a sinking brand.

Push Positive Content

You need to create positive content to rank well in the search engine result pages (SERP). Search engines should associate your company and its product with positive experiences to return relevant (positive) webpages at the top. Moreover, positive content builds your brand’s reputation and increases awareness.

“Businesses risk losing as many as 22% of customers when just one negative article is found by users considering buying their product” — MOZ

Ask your customers with a positive attitude to share their experience through review platforms or YouTube, for example — these rank very well on Google. Make public your partners’ names — show that you are a strong player on the market.


Conclusion

Let me sum up with the words of Jes Gonzalez:

“An online presence is not only beneficial to entrepreneurs but also essential because it enhances accessibility, enables effortless marketing, builds relationships and consumer trust, and allows you to tell what works and what doesn’t”.


Are you monitoring and influencing your SERP positions on a regular basis in your company? How do you deal with negative reviews and feedback? What SERM issues are you solving right now in your company?