In today’s Internet age, your search results and your reputation are increasingly synonymous. Knowing what Internet users are able to find when they type your or your business’ name into Google is the first step to taking back control and authorship of your online reputation.
While traditional search engine optimization, or SEO, is generally focused on ranking a single page in order to increase traffic and revenue, SEO for online reputation management works more holistically to improve your entire search landscape with multiple pages, web properties, and types of information. Building a professional reputation management strategy is an investment in yourself or your business. Your search results are, after all, the modern first impression.
5 Reasons Why Google Ranks Content
The first step towards knowing how to build a reputation management strategy is understanding why Google ranks certain kinds of content well. This includes negative content, even when the information may be misleading, unfair, or embellished. Google’s algorithms rely on more than 200 signals to help it return the best answers for various search queries, but the following 5 characteristics are the basic factors Google looks for in a site or page.
Google values timely content and rewards sites that publish frequently, including news aggregates and other community platforms such as review sites. If a story breaks, even if it’s negative news, articles that cover it will begin to rank.
For a given query, Google aims to return the best answers possible, which means satisfying a variety of possible search intents and diversifying the results. Negative content can be seen as a unique result.
A certain article or webpage becomes relevant for a specific query or set of queries when those keywords are included in headlines, body text, and other content elements. The appearance of certain keywords on a page, such as your name or your company’s name, send signals to Google that the page should rank for those keywords, no matter if the content is positive or negative. Even further, Google is able to discern content that is related in topic, so new popular content can make old related content reappear in the results.
Over time, websites build authority in a number of ways, such as gaining citations or links, and Google assigns every site a certain level of authority. High authority sites, such as major news websites, generally rank very well because they have proven to be active, trustworthy, and respected sources. Content that is either published on high authority sites or builds authority itself, then, will rank well.
The more people talk about or interact with something online in the form comments, likes, shares, etc., the more apt it is to gain visibility online. While not a direct ranking signal, these types of engagement can signal to Google that a piece is timely and potentially credible, and thus may deserve to be found easily.
Where Information About You Can Appear in the SERPs
When content does rank, it’s not necessarily just going to appear in the top positions of the first page of the search engine result pages, or SERPs. There are in fact a number of SERP elements that individuals and brands should be monitoring within the search landscape, including:
- Image and Video
- Local Search Results
- In The News
- Tweet Streams
- In-Depth Articles
- Suggested/Related Search Queries
- Knowledge Graph
5 SEO Methods For Managing Your Reputation
Building an SEO-focused reputation management strategy takes expertise and time. Individuals and businesses experience the most success when they invest in a professional and discreet team who can dedicate the required resources to the following core methods involved in reputation management.
Method 1 — Content Creation
In order to regain ownership of your search results, you need to ensure that you’re publishing fresh content on a variety of web properties frequently. However, it’s essential that you publish strategically to avoid accidentally uncovering old (but related) news you may not want to give additional visibility to.
Method 2 — Web Optimization
Simply building a portfolio of web properties isn’t enough. Technical on-page elements must be properly optimized for a website to perform successfully.
Method 3 — Combat Negative Content
There are a number of ways to combat negative content, including the methods mentioned above as well as actively working to devalue the content. However, devaluing content needs to be handled carefully and should only be done if absolutely necessary.
Method 4 — Amplify
As previously discussed, engagement can signal to Google that something is worth giving visibility to. Engagement comes in many forms, including social platform interactions and backlinks. It’s important to actively create and spark conversation to naturally influence sentiment and ultimately improve organic rankings of your priority content.
Method 5 — Monitor
Reputation management is an ongoing process, so continuous monitoring is key to success. There are a variety of tools available that help make monitoring easier, but it is a 24/7 task. Investing in a dedicated team who will monitor around the clock on your behalf will allow you to get back to business.