Online reputation management vs. search engine optimization: are they the same? Not at all.
If you’re at all familiar with online reputation management and search engine optimization, you probably have an idea that they are related. And that’s true: online reputation management uses search engine optimization principles to improve the online reputation of a business or individual (or both). But they’re not the same, and in fact, online reputation management is typically more difficult than search engine optimization. The biggest difference? Instead of focusing efforts on ranking a single page like SEO, online reputation management pushes up multiple pages to make a good first impression on search engine results.
What Search Engine Optimization Does
For the completely unfamiliar, search engine optimization (SEO) influences the visibility of a website or webpage on search engines. When you see search engine results, they are ranked by algorithms that consider each page’s quality, trust, and popularity, among other factors. Ideally, SEO will result in a top search engine result ranking for a single desired website or page.
SEO is done by improving on-page factors such as quality content, site architecture, and HTML, as well as off-page factors such as links and social sharing. These improvements can be made to a single page or an entire website depending on the goals of the owner.
Typically, performing SEO means that just one website or webpage is focused on ranking well in search engine results. Things are much different for online reputation management.
For someone doing SEO, they’ll mainly try to promote their own site, which likely includes some social media work. Unlike online reputation management, doing SEO doesn’t typically mean signing up for multiple social media platforms, performing public relations, or maintaining presence on review website — but all of these make sense from an online reputation management standpoint.
How Online Reputation Management Uses SEO
Like SEO, online reputation management often focuses on top search engine results. After all, the first place most people will turn to in order to learn more about a business or individual is search engines, particularly Google.
In online reputation management, we absolutely want to use SEO to influence top search engine results so that they offer a positive and accurate first impression of a business or individual. But to do so, that means ranking not just one or two websites or pages, but multiple properties.
To truly make a good first impression on search engine results, online reputation management ensures that 10 to 20 different positive pages are ranked at the top of search engine results. That means the work of SEO is multiplied: online reputation management isn’t simply focusing on the ranking of one page, but the ranking of roughly a dozen or more.
Pulling Search Engine Results Up vs. Pushing Search Engine Results Down
One major misconception we hear a lot in online reputation management is the notion that SEO can target and push a particular result down in search engine results. An individual may have a single embarrassing article and want to see the link for it buried on page three or beyond of search engine results. They want online reputation management to basically zap that result — and the rest of the existing results can more or less stay the same. Search engines don’t really work like that.
The reality of pushing a result down is not that online reputation management does anything to that page. If you don’t own it, chances are, you can’t do a thing to change it — and that means there is little you can do to influence its SEO factors. Rather, getting that page pushed down into oblivion means that roughly 20 other pages have to get pulled up to rank higher than that page on search engine results.
Let’s go over that again: in order to push down a single result to page three, that means you’ll have to pull up 20 other results to outrank it in search engine results. So the SEO work that you’re doing for one website is now multiplied by 20 in order to pull up these results while pushing down the one you want gone. This is no easy task, but with effective online reputation management, it can be done.
Online Reputation Management Using Positive Long Term SEO Techniques
Online reputation management done well is designed to establish a long term positive online presence for a business or individual. Creating engaging social profiles, a positive review presence, and multiple points of positive, high quality content will ensure that you can maintain a positive online reputation that lasts.
While the majority of SEO techniques are responsible and will result in positive search engine results. There are some black hat SEO techniques that are avoided in online reputation management. Practices like keyword stuffing, cloaking, spam blogs, or hidden content are frowned upon by Google and other search engines. They can spell serious trouble for your search engine rankings and online reputation, as your website may be removed from Google completely if you’re caught engaging in black hat SEO tactics.
Online reputation management avoids using black hat SEO techniques, as these tactics can ultimately damage your reputation by making it difficult to maintain a positive long term presence on search engine results. Ethical online reputation management will also avoid harmful tactics like buying fake reviews.
Rather, online reputation management uses white hat SEO techniques such as writing high quality content, making HTML helpful and clear, and quality inbound links. This is of course in addition to other online reputation management tactics including public relations, social media building, and review maintenance.
What Online Reputation Management Does that SEO Doesn’t
Online reputation management includes SEO, but SEO is just one tool in the online reputation management arsenal. In addition to SEO, online reputation management ramps up content creation and marketing, public relations, social media cultivation and interaction, and review site maintenance. Online reputation management also regularly monitors online presence to ensure that results remain positive.
Many of these actions influence search engine results and how positive they appear. For example, maintaining a positive presence on Yelp means that the Yelp search engine result will include a good star rating, which reflects well on the business even if someone is simply skimming the first page of Google results.
Online reputation management also analyzes and monitors top search engine results and decides how to categorize them. It looks at results to determine whether they are positive, negative, or neutral, and that’s just not something you do with SEO.
Online reputation management focuses on proactive work that will support a positive online presence such as building a regularly updated blog, developing social media properties, and reaching out to the press to develop positive news story links. This proactive work means that online reputation management clients enjoy a positive long term presence online while also protecting against surprise negative results that may pop up. By consistently building a positive online presence through multiple channels, it’s much easier to squash negative results as they occur.