SEO is more than just a marketing strategy — it is a direct method for responding to criticism, creating PR movements, and generating buzz for a business. While established and professional SEO practitioners are always keen to point to the potential income that SEO can bring, there is so much more potential available. SEO can be used as a branding tool, or even as a tool for social change.
One area that is both free of direct marketing and very appealing to businesses is reputation management. From resolving consumer complaints to establishing a well-rounded brand, search engines give businesses an opportunity to do what few other platforms can: directly respond to customers, and provide a well-rounded index of their operations, all accessible with a single click.
If you are interested in using SEO as a reputation management tool for your business, these five strategies, tips, and tactics could be of value. Before investing in any search strategy, reputation management or otherwise, plan things out, survey the options that are available, and take action.
1) Create brand-friendly domain names.
SEO-style domain names, particularly hyphenated keyword names, are particularly popular amongst direct marketers looking to establish their websites quickly in the search rankings. However, while valuable for short-term sales and direct response marketing, they are of limited value for branders looking to establish long-term recognition and success. Reputation management is about being known, and a brand-style domain name is always more memorable than a keyword-only title.
2) Use content websites to promote your business.
Content directories are great platforms for ranking high in the search results without much effort. While earnings are relatively poor, especially through on-page advertising or sponsored links, the potential for branding and reputation management is huge. With a single well-ranked article or blog post, your search results could effectively be controlled by no one other than yourself.
3) Respond to criticism head-on.
Almost any high-profile business attracts criticism, whether it is from disgruntled customers or ex-clients looking to make waves. With the search engines acting as a literal index of all online activity, it is your duty to respond to criticism head-on and ensure that potentially damaging posts are responded to. Whenever possible, acknowledge what happened and offer an explanation. This strategy might cost a little time, but the advantages are obvious: when potential customers search for you, they are no longer struck with unanswered criticisms.
4) Actively search for criticism and discussion.
Google Alerts may just be the most valuable search asset around. Active efforts to search for criticism give you a huge opportunity to improve your search position and clear your search results or any potentially harmful information. Monitor discussion actively and it won’t be something to fear, but an opportunity for quick, well-planned, and valuable search-powered responses.
5) Register all domain names, in case of a search-powered wave of bad publicity.
For any brand-related term, the top search results are almost always exact-match domain names. To prevent competitors, unhappy customers, or online criticizers from appearing in the search results for your name, make sure to register all potential domain names for your business. The $9/year cost is easily outweighed by the potential damage that an unregistered domain name could cause to your business-related search results.
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