Online Reputation Management and SEO
When everything is going well for a business, reputation management is usually never given much thought. But when a company suddenly slips up somehow, negative publicity can take off like a rocket. Then, everyone will be scrambling for help.
As the SEO pro, you’re likely to get a call. You might not even be an expert in crisis control. After all, it’s a relatively specialized area of internet marketing. But don’t worry. The normal SEO techniques you use every day can help you respond to a PR crisis. Here’s a quick rundown on what to do:
Step One: Identify the Crisis
Trust us, you’ll know a crisis when you see on – especially online where controversy spreads like wildfire. The key here is to identify the source of the crisis as quickly as possible. Time is not on your side, so you need to move fast.
You want to identify the first place online where the controversy started. This is probably going to be a social media platform, but it could also be blogs or other pages on your website.
Step Two: Initial Response
Once you find where all the trouble started, you’ll need to respond here first.
If possible, try to apologize or otherwise correct the situation as best you can. Depending on your skillset and relationship with the business, you might simply be posting content they give you or you might be tasked with creating content on their behalf.
Last year, DiGiorno’s Pizza accidentally made a joke using a hashtag related to domestic violence. Their apologetic response came pretty quickly. Even better, they personally apologized to everyone who tweeted a complaint.
Step Three: Create a List of Keywords
You need to figure out what keywords are most closely associated with your negative mentions. Is it the company name alone? The company name and a few other phrases? Something else?
For instance, Amy’s Baking Company is an Arizona restaurant which exploded (metaphorically) in bad press after an appearance on the TV show Kitchen Nightmares. While the keyword phrase “Amy’s Baking Company” was important, much of the content written about the incident also includes the phrase “Kitchen Nightmares.” So that’s a keyword phrase you’d also want to make a note of if you were in charge of reputation management in this situation.
(Note: The real reputation management in the Amy’s Baking Company situation was handled so poorly it’s a case study in what not to do. But that’s another issue entirely.)
Step Four: Identify Any Negative URL’s
You want to identify any URL’s dedicated to tarnishing the company. These can be specific blog posts or even entire websites. These don't exist in every situation. If a slight misstep has been made on social media, you probably won’t find an entire website dedicated to it. But, still, it’s always a good idea to check.
Step Five: Optimize Your Social Media Profiles
A company can’t run away from what happened. Let’s take another look at DiGiorno’s. When they responded individually to each Twitter complaint, they weren’t just being nice (although it did seem like a legitimate mistake). They were also helping take control of their bad press.
Every one of their apologetic response contained hashtags associated with their bad press (#boycottdigiorno and so forth). If anyone searched by any of these negative hashtags, they’d see complaints. But they’d also see genuine apologies from DiGiorno’s, too.
Another way to do this is to insert keywords into an apology posted on Facebook and/or your webpage. This can be included as part of a long-form article explaining the situation. Again, this may or may not be content you, as an internet marketer, will actually create.
Step Six: Register Second-Tier Social Profiles
Think of your brand as a pond. Negative complaints are like stones being thrown into the pond. When there are a lot of complaints, the waters become choppy and filled with waves.
Expanding the size of the pond helps reduce the severity of the waves. To do this, you’ll want to register as many second-tier social profiles as possible. Some of these second-tier profiles even have high domain authority. This helps to eventually lower the negative press from the SERP.
Step Seven: Guest Blogging
You want to get your name out there in a positive way. Guest blogging is an effective method of doing so. You can blog about neutral topics related to your industry.
You can also blog about your recent experiences with negative PR. A topic such as “What We Learned During Our Recent Controversy” might be appealing to marketing and PR professionals. Plus, this topic lets you use those negative keywords in an overall positive way.
Step Eight: Go to Step One
Well, not really. But cleaning up a damaged reputation won’t happen overnight. You’ll need to regularly monitor the web for more negative attention and negative keywords. You’ll also want to continue to create positive content associated with your brand. This, along with time, will help push the negative info further and further down.
Keeping Your Reputation Clean
Of course, not having a PR problem in the first place is always the best course of action. There will always be a few complaints here and there. This is the internet, after all. But you want to do all you can to prevent future blunders originating from the company itself.
Obviously, this part is all more for the business owner than the SEO pro. But you might be in a position to help advise a company. Here’s what to tell them:
· Claim your company name on every possible social media name. This prevents someone else from taking over.
· Create multimedia content with a positive brand message. Search engines give a high ranking to YouTube and Google images.
· Be careful what you post. Social media mishaps are one of the most common sources of bad PR. Make sure the person in charge of your social media platforms is an experienced professional.
Online Reputation Management and You
You might spend 99% of your time doing traditional internet marketing. But you still need to be prepared for the rare time when a client contacts you in a panic. By following the tips above you can help mitigate and repair the damage. Even though a PR blunder isn’t ideal, it can be managed with the right moves.