Strong search results can stave off negative online content by making it more difficult for the negative content to rank in your branded search results. Put another way, reputation protection enhances the strength and relevance of good content. Online reputation protection is like insurance. Set up a protection plan ahead of time and you’ll be able to minimize damages when a crisis almost inevitably occurs.
At Reputation X, we work with and for our clients to form strategic blueprints that direct businesses on where they want to go, how to get there, and what to do if disaster strikes. Here are some of the key areas of focus you, as a brand manager, can use to protect your brand from malicious actors, or just fate.
If ___________________ happens, how do we act? Establishing proper responses to certain types of negative possibilities helps mitigate problems fast and keeps everybody on the same page. We help our clients develop clear responses so that they’re prepared if rumors, bad reviews, or unflattering news hits the Web. For example:
- USC wasn't ready for the college admissions scandal
- Uber wasn't ready for its CEO to be videotaped by a driver
- Boeing wasn't completely prepared for the 737 Max problem
- Peloton didn't think that holiday ad would be a problem
Proactive vs. reactive reputation tactics
The first page of results that come up when someone types your name or your company’s name into a search engine box are either going to help you or they’re going to hurt you. With so much at stake, setting up a plan for making sure those results are positive is a must-do for any individual or corporate brand. It's called a crisis management plan. But a crisis management plan is reactive, what we are talking about is proactive.
Be proactive by strengthening your online brand
When something goes wrong it shows up online almost instantly. Instead of waiting for something unforeseen to happen, protect the good things in your search profile. That way when something does happen the bad news will have a tougher time rising to high visibility in search, and when the crisis fades search results will rebound that much sooner. The alternative is often a multi-month or year scramble to fix problem search results.
How to strengthen your online brand
Search results can be protected by proactively creating and placing certain content like articles, video, graphics, or even audio, on reputable web sites. Great branded content, properly placed and promoted, means that negative results are less likely to come up first. This is reputation protection.
A plan for reputation protection involves researching similar entities such as people like you, or brands like your brand—their page strength, topical relevance, approachability, and more—to learn what websites tend to rank well within your niche. Sentiment analysis is often a factor here too. You can then use that information to learn where you should be sharing your content, as well as to gather takeaways for how to improve your own site.
For example, let's say you are the brand manager for a medical staffing company. You'd Google your brand and make note of what articles and other content are returned. Then do the same for your competition. Compare the two. What do they have that you don't? Now you have your short list of publications to approach with valuable content about your brand.
A content plan for third-party publishers
Now that you have your short list, develop a detailed content plan to promote positive content about your brand. The content plan outlines on-site and off-site content to be created, which is then strategically implemented using an editorial calendar and, based on your research of the search results of "similar entities", the list of websites you’ve determined would be a good fit for improving your search results.
This article about content types for reputation management can help.
Placing the wrong content on the wrong sites will most often have no positive effect on search results. Just because you can get a free article on someones Medium.com blog doesn't mean it will help you.
It’s not enough to just write a few words and create a link to them anymore. Make sure that content is high quality and maximized to meet search engines’ “trust factor” algorithms. Search engines react well to silo-based content that is structured for search engine bot consumption. From SEO press releases to guest posts and third-party articles, well-architected content is key.
Tip: Another key to third-party content, put your brand name in the headline. It makes a huge difference.
Now you have your target short list of publishers, you have a content plan with ideas you'll pitch, and you know to create the highest possible quality content you can - and to put your brand name in the headline as often as you can manage it. Now the rowing begins. We won't lie to you, it's an uphill battle for most brands. Unless you've invented transporter technology like Star Trek, you might run into headwinds. So make sure your story is compelling. We call that your "brand mythology" and a strong one will reduce marketing costs and streamline effective reputation protection campaigns.