When it comes to search engine rankings, most companies pay big bucks to boost the online visibility of their business or product. Made first page of Google? That’s great…as long as the news or reviews are positive.
But what happens if the first mention of your business is a scathing review from the local newspaper? Or negative customer comments posted via blogs or online complaint forums?
According to a Cornell University study, 56 percent of Google users click on the first result shown after a search. Only 13 percent visit the second result shown and it decreases from there. Unsatisfactory reviews can quickly take a bite out of business, so it’s important the top online listings highlight your company in a positive light. Fortunately, there are strategies to push down negative results. Consider it the reverse SEO method.
Here are some tips to improve and manage your online reputation.
Get social: One of the best ways to sink negative content is to blast out the positive. Start a blog on your company’s website and update it regularly to increase search ranking. Blogging can help control the message and put a favorable spin on negative news. At the same time, create an active and engaging Facebook page and Twitter feed and share positive news to increase audience reach. Respond quickly and pleasantly to anyone who comments on the various social channels. That could ultimately help you win over critics and build a rapport with your audience.
Think video: Videos often surface higher in the search engine results, so develop a series of positive clips that can be posted on your website, blog, YouTube and social channels.
Don’t be so negative: If you find your business being disparaged, the best approach is to respond publicly and in an accommodating manner. Don’t lash out against the criticism; use the opportunity to minimize problems and resolve issues. By showing accountability and attempting to solve the problem, you’re giving potential (and existing) customers more reason to trust you.
Write optimized releases: Draft and distribute press releases highlighting your business or products, as well as any upcoming event or promotion. “Optimize” the content with relevant keywords and submit to press release sites. With proper optimization, it’ll be easier for the target audience to find your news through search engine results and separate it from the online clutter.
Hire a pro: Just like companies pay professionals to handle search engine optimization for promotional purposes, you can also hire experts well-versed in reverse SEO strategies to make sure negative pages don’t impact your business. They can also identify potentially illegal links and work to remove them. In a worst case scenario, you can always request removal of the content through legal action. Make sure your demand is valid, as there could be repercussions if you file an unjustified claim against a content owner. Seek the advice of a qualified attorney before taking such action.
The Internet has fundamentally changed the way that buyers and sellers interact in the marketplace. Reviews – both good and bad – spread faster and reach more people than ever before. Whatever your business is, a good reputation is crucial so it’s important to find ways to reduce any online damage.