Why Search Engine Reputation Management is Different than SEO

What is the role of ORM in digital marketing? What is the difference between SEO and ORM? S.E.O. stands for "Search Engine Optimization". O.R.M. stands for "Online Reputation Management".

You may have heard of it referred to as Search Engine Reputation Management. SEO is generally concerned with getting a website to rank better for a product or service-related search terms. ORM uses SEO, and a variety of other techniques, to improve the overall image of a brand. Both are subsets of online marketing. 

For two decades, companies and individuals have been utilizing search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve their search engine page rankings. In the late ’90s, it became clear that the optimal place for your site to appear was on the first page, officially waging the never-ending battle for page rankings. The war continues today, affecting online and offline businesses alike.

SEO is so prominent that most online marketing campaigns focus on improving page ranks for specific targeted keywords. This is an essential piece in the digital marketing puzzle, but it's not enough on its own. To make lasting changes to the way you, or your company, look online, it is critical to employ strong SEO and ORM techniques. 


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What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management improves how brands look online. It improves rankings, ratings, search profiles, social media, and websites by getting a company (or person) more online press and mentions. Reputation management is sometimes called SEO reputation management

ORM = Many websites. Fewer branded search terms.

ORM companies employ many techniques to get the job done. One of those techniques is SEO (search engine optimization). They engage in SEO along with other disciplines such as web analytics, web development, content development, and online public relations

The benefits of ORM extend beyond search results to include: 

  • Higher trust. People trust a brand or person with a good reputation more.
  • Increased profits. Companies with high star ratings and reviews get more business.
  • Better talent. Brands with a positive reputation earn better employees.
  • Less risk. People move with crowds. Call it the "broken window theory" of reputation management.
  • Gentler treatment. Companies that share the same core values as their clientele are likely to overcome a reputation scandal easier than one without. Think Apple Computer vs. Monsanto.

What does SEO do?

There are a lot of different factors that go into it, but search engine optimization increases a page’s visibility by increasing its rank, thereby placing the page at the top of search results and onto the holy grail of the first page.

SEO = One website. Many search terms.

Not only is SEO a technique good reputation firms use in their toolbox, it is also the name of an entire discipline that is primarily engaged in getting a website to move up in search results, most often for commercial purposes. 

Ever-changing SEO techniques

The methods of SEO are always changing, like a frantic game of keep-away between internet users and search engine companies. Internet marketers and Search Engine Reputation Management companies are the monkeys in the middle, working diligently to keep an eye on both sides, catching whatever hints they can. Over time patterns emerge. 

The game becomes even more interesting because Google changes its algorithms between 500 and 600 times a year, with major changes interspersed through the years. Still, SEO experts manage to figure out key aspects of these algorithms and apply them to website creation and upkeep.

For example, this week Google will be rolling out the "Helpful Content" update. It's going to shake up the whole SEO industry.

Here are just a few of the main tactics these experts employ.

On-site optimization

One of starting places for SEO is in the HTML of the page itself. You don’t have to be a web developer to make changes to the markup language behind the browser. Without delving into the actual details of editing an HTML page for the sake of space and scope, know that beefing up your meta description and title tag, adding more header tags of varying levels, and utilizing internal links will all help your page rise in rank.

Content is (still) queen

Put simply, the more high-quality content that is relevant to your niche you have, the better your chances of getting a page into the top search results; especially for long-tail search terms. Combine that with the fact that more content means more opportunities to keep people browsing your site, and you’ve got all the more reason to keep a steady stock of good content online.

Link-building, or offsite optimization

Link-building means getting other reputable sites to link to your page. Doing this organically is the best way. A link that was obtained organically by the volition of the person who linked it, is not only ethical but is also considered of a higher caliber and value to the search engines. The idea is simple: if other trusted sites find something of value on your site, Google thinks, “Hey! There must be something good here.”

Online Reputation Management SEO practices

A good online reputation management company uses SEO and other tactics to create or maintain a positive image of a brand, company, or individual.

A reputation campaign, and much of the work involved in Search Engine Reputation Management, relies on positive content creation. These companies may create a mass of awesome content and host it on a company’s blog, website, social media, and other sites relevant to that entity. Then, using the arsenal of tactics under the SEO umbrella, the reputation company pushes positive content to the top of search results.

If past events or digital PR problems haunt a company, they’ll often approach a Search Engine Reputation Management company to reinvigorate the brand and its online image of the company. An online reputation management company can engage in a campaign to bring to light all of the good things about the company and the brand by way of SEO.

The big thing to watch out for

Most Search Engine Reputation Management companies don't do SEO (at least not in our studies over the past ten years). This is because it's expensive, and the customer normally cannot tell it isn't being done. But not doing SEO as part of a Search Engine Reputation Management campaign causes problems. SEO cements the search results, giving them longevity as well as better performance. If an ORM agency does not back up their work with real honest-to-goodness SEO, look elsewhere. 


About the author

Kent Campbell is the chief strategist for Reputation X, an award-winning online reputation management agency. He has over 15 years of experience with SEO, Wikipedia editing, review management, and online reputation strategy. Kent has helped celebrities, leaders, executives, and marketing professionals improve the way they are seen online. Kent writes about reputation, SEO, Wikipedia, and PR-related topics, and is an expert witness for reputation-related legal matters.


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