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Reputation Management SEO: Why Branded Keywords Should Be On Your Radar

Online reputation management involves more than establishing a website and social media profiles. Conversations about brands are happening at various channels around the web, and the loudest of these discussions converge at one important place: the search engine results page. This post covers the basics of reputation management SEO, including the relationship between reputation and search engines, branded keywords, and strategies to dominate page one.

Branded Keywords

What is Reputation Management SEO?

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Not everyone might admit to it, but it’s doubtful anyone could resist Googling their name at least once or twice.

For most people, the results are typical: a few social media profiles, a company “About Us” page, maybe a quote in a local newspaper. Depending on your name’s popularity, the top results might be about an entirely different person; someone you’ve never met, but with whom you share a search engine results page.

You might’ve Googled yourself out of curiosity, or boredom, or because we put the thought in your mind just now. But there could be a time in your life where someone makes that inquiry with more significant intentions: a manager thinking of hiring you, a college weighing your application, or a potential partner scoping you out before a date.

In that case, the search engine results could have very real and lasting impact on your reputation.

The same goes for brands.

What shows up on page one of the results for branded keywords (searches that include the name of the brand) has a measurable effect on that brand’s reputation. That’s the importance of reputation management SEO, which is search engine optimization strategies and tactics to influence the results for branded search inquiries in order to preserve and improve a brand’s reputation online.

How the Search Engine Results Effect a Brand’s Reputation

It’s Friday night, and you’re decidedly too exhausted to make dinner. But you’re not feeling like any of your go-to restaurants, either. So, you pull out your phone and Google the name of that new place in town.

The first result is the restaurant’s homepage; the second is a link to their menu. Perfect. But there, in place three, is a preview of their Yelp rating:

Rating: 2.5 – 63 reviews – Price range: $40-$60

 In an instant, your opinion has turned; there’s no way you’re paying 5-Star prices for a 2-Star meal.

Review sites like Yelp can have an enormous impact on a brand’s reputation online. So can Google reviews, news stories, blog posts, forum discussions, directory pages, career sites, and all the other third party websites that rank for branded search inquires.

The problem is that brands can’t control the content on these sites as they rule their own domains. A well-optimized homepage will usually outrank third party sites for branded inquiries, but customers aren’t as likely to click through if it’s surrounded by negativity on the SERP.

You can ask the authors to remove negative pages, but that can easily backfire and result in an even worse reputation.

So, what can be done about it?

Reputation Management SEO Strategies

Rarely do brands have the power to remove negative search engine results outright. However, it is possible to:

  • Use search engine optimization (SEO) to influence the results for branded search inquiries
  • Influence the content of third-party review sites
  • Publish new types of content to claim more above the fold space on the results page

The goal is to enhance the ranking of positive items in favour of negative ones, either by displacing the negative content or improving it. There are several ways to go about this; we’ll briefly cover three strategies in the sections below.

1. Encourage Positive Reviews

Third party review sites like Yelp (along with industry-specific sites like G2Crowd for B2B software, or HomeStars for trade contractors) are crucial when it comes to reputation management SEO for local service industries.

These sites tend to rank well because they provide relevant information consumers want to see. Authentic customer reviews tend to carry more weight than curated testimonials on a brand’s own website.

It might not always be possible to outrank them, but it is possible to turn these sites into an asset:

  • Most third-party review sites allow brands to “claim” and modify their profiles. Take this step and fill out the profile completely, using it as a platform to speak to potential customers.
  • Upload enticing, high-quality photos that put products and services in the best possible light.
  • Encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews on the site to bolster the score. Great reviews are the most effective way to diminish the weight of negative ones.

2. Publish New Content

With proper placement and optimization, quality blog posts, videos, and images that utilize branded keywords can rise in the rankings to displace negative pages.

YouTube videos are especially powerful in this way, since they can even claim the coveted position zero ranking, claiming valuable above-the-fold real estate.

It’s worth utilizing off-site publishing platforms as well as those on the brand’s domain. Industry-specific news sites, as well as pop news sites like The Huffington Post, can be valuable both for back-linking and reputation management.

3. Get Others to Write About the Brand

Journalists, bloggers, editors, and video creators are always on the hunt for great content. Pitching positive stories about the brand helps to seed the web with a variety of content relevant to branded search inquiries.

Over time, these stories can gain enough traction to rise in rank and claim a spot previously occupied by negativity.

Managing Your Reputation Online

Reputation management SEO takes time. Positive stories cannot displace negative ones overnight; high-quality links need to be developed over time; and legitimate customer reviews don’t always come easy.

But at this day and age, reputation management SEO is absolutely worth the time and effort.

The search engine results page serves as a brand’s first impression to many, many people. Negative results can stop potential customers in their tracks.

It’s like the old saying about planting a tree. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now. Change takes time, so there’s no better time than the present to work on your brand’s online reputation.

Get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about where your brand stands in the digital marketplace.

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How Local SEO Services Can Increase Inquiries and Drive Foot Traffic to Local Businesses

Local search engine optimization refers to tactics that increase a website’s visibility in local search queries. Search engines have become the primary directory people use to shop local (64% of customers use search engines as their main way to find local businesses), and Local SEO services are meant to ensure a business ranks in the search engine results for localized inquiries.

Small Business

The bare basics of local SEO are things most business owner can do on their own: creating a complete and current Google My Business profile, encouraging customers to write positive reviews, and writing timely Google My Business posts. However, outranking competitors in a crowded local market requires a deeper optimization strategy.

How Google Determines Local Rankings

Search engine algorithm are built to recognize when a user is searching for results specific to a certain geographical location. These queries often include the name of a city or town (“donuts in Guelph”) or another geographical marker (“donuts near me”).

When someone makes a local query in Google, the search engine algorithm tailors its results to the specified location. In 93% of local queries, the top of the results page includes a box called the Local Pack, which highlights three local results for the query.

The Local Pack is a coveted spot in the rankings. It’s the first thing people see on the page, placing above even the top-ranking search result, which bolsters the business’s visibility and credibility.

Whether the query produces a local pack or not, local SEO is essential for businesses that want to reach new potential customers through search. On average, only the top three search results have a clickthrough rate above 10%.

Local search results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. Distance is just as it sounds how far away the potential results are from the location specified in the search. Relevance refers to how well: a local listing matches the search query, drawing from information the business provides in its Google My Business profile. Prominence is more complex.

Although Google has not released the full details on how its algorithm determines prominence in local results, we know it includes:

  • How well-known the business is in the “real world” (famous landmarks or well-known store brands are likely to be prominent)
  • Backlinks to the business’ website
  • Number of Google Reviews
  • Overall star-rating in Google Reviews
  • Business’s ranking in web results (Google states that, “SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization”)

Return on Investment of Local SEO Services

Local SEO services provide a high return on investment for businesses focused on dominating a specific geographical market. No other advertising channel is as successful in targeting the most people who are currently looking for your product or service.

Local SEO is:

  • Highly Targeted
    Local SEO tactics are designed to increase exposure to people who are already searching for the business’s products or services and thus more likely to convert. Unlike traditional advertising channels, there is little exposure wasted on people who aren’t interested.
  • Able to Reach Massive Potential Audience
    Google says that 46% of the 3.5 billion searches it processes each day are local queries. Local SEO is increasingly important as more and more people embrace search engines as their primary business directories.
  • In the Moment
    Local search tactics position a business to reaching local customers who are looking for that product or service right now. Half of all local queries from mobile devices are searching for basic information like a company’s hours, address or phone number; 78% of those result in an offline purchase. No other advertising channel is as effective at capturing customers at the exact moment they’re ready to make a purchase.

Local search tactics and strategies are particularly effective in reaching prospective customers in the middle of the marketing funnel. They have already decided they want a certain product or service; all businesses have to do is help them choose between local options.

Blogging For SEO

Blogging may seem simple, but there’s a lot more to content SEO than just putting words to a page. Just because you’re able to write doesn’t mean your content will do well on the internet. Years ago all that mattered was what you said (i.e., keywords), but modern SEO needs you to pay close attention to how you say it.

If you want your content to rank, of course it needs to be optimized, but search engines are getting smarter every day. Google can tell when content is well-written, engaging, and informative by analyzing your content and monitoring how people interact with it. If you take nothing else away, remember this one key: content SEO relies on good writing.

Blogging for SEO

Long tail Keywords

Before getting started, you need to decide on the key words you want your content to rank for. The best way to think about this is to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer and think about what they would type into their search box.

Of course, some key words will be harder to rank for than others. If you sell t-shirts, you’ll never rank for the term “t-shirts,” but you might rank for longer keywords more relevant to your business. These are called “long-tail” keywords.

Instead of “t-shirts,” your long-tail keywords could be “custom designed t-shirts in Toronto.” The longer the search input, the more unique it is and the easier it is to rank for it.

Titling Your Blog Articles

There are two things that you need to think about when deciding on a title for your blog article:

  1. Making it catchy and attention grabbing
  2. Optimizing it for search engines

The best written blog is nothing if no one stops to click on its title. To grab your readers’ attention and make them want to click, figure out what would be appealing to somebody stumbling around on your site. Try to pique your readers’ curiosity with catchy words and a captivating concept.

Optimizing your title is relatively simple: just make sure your long-tail keyword is present. Search engines, not surprisingly, put more weight into a title when deciding where your content fits.

And don’t forget about subtitles. While not as important as the title, Google also uses the subtitles to decide what your article is about.

Writing a Blog Introduction

The introduction of your article is, arguably, the most important part. Unfortunately, it’s also often the weakest for new writers.

The introduction needs to set up your entire article, and be interesting and captivating enough to get someone to decide to continue reading. The best advice is to figure out why someone will stop to read your blog, and quickly tell them exactly what they want to hear. If you’re writing about how to clean a

carburetor but begin your article with a history or guide of all the engine components, you’re going to quickly lose your reader.

If there’s any part of your blog that you should focus on, it’s the introduction. Unless you can read it and picture a reader saying, “and then what?” or “oh wow, this is going to tell me exactly what I need,” you need to go back and rewrite.

In terms of SEO, Google also weighs the introduction of your blog heavier than any other paragraph in your article

Writing the Body

This is usually the easiest part for a writer. You already know what needs to be there, you just need to get it on the page in a way that’s easy to read and absorb.

Here are some quick tips for SEO writing:

  • Avoid being wordy. This is a sign of an inexperienced writer. Sentences that are too long or have unnecessary words are extra work for the reader. Be short and to the point.
  • Do NOT keyword stuff. Keyword stuffing is using the same key terms over and over again. This is not only bad SEO, it’s bad writing. Writers will always try to avoid using a word more than once. Why limit yourself when there are so many words in the English language? If you’re hyper-focusing on optimizing every word— don’t. Google and other search engines are smart enough to know that different words can have the same meaning. Your keywords should be in your blog organically. If they aren’t, your blog article has taken a wrong turn somewhere.
  • Use your subtitles as an outline. Without an outline, it’s easy for a blog post to go off the rails. Keep yourself on track by creating an outline and sticking to it.
  • Longer is not always better. Yes, longer content is better for Google, but not at the expense of readership. If you’re saying the same thing repeatedly, consider cutting out the fluff.

Proof Your Articles

It’s incredibly easy to write the last sentence of an article then sit back and think you’re done. Just read over a piece you’ve done this with after a few days or so and you’ll see the error of your ways. No writer has ever been happy with their first draft, and for good reason. A first draft of anything will always have errors, omissions, and poor wordings.

Editing and proofing is an absolute must. Not only will Google spot your errors, online readers are notoriously ruthless for jumping on any errors they find. Read over your writing out loud. It’s the best way to catch spots that don’t sound quite right or sections that seem to ramble on.

And if possible, get someone else to read it over. It’s not an easy task to catch all your own mistakes. That’s why even professional writers have editors.

Improve Your Writing with Practice

If you’ve finished high school, you’re probably confident in your ability to write. But even though we’ve all learned the nuts and bolts of writing, as with any other skill, you won’t just be good at something because you know how to do it. Do you think Tolstoy just decided to start writing one day and put together War and Peace?

Being a good writer takes practice, and becoming a great writer requires a lifetime of writing.

On-Page and Off-Page SEO: A Quick Guide

You have a website for your company, but is it performing as well as it should? Putting up content related to your business and creating an aesthetically pleasing look is essential in the beginning stages, but there are many factors beyond information and design that determine how a website will perform. You must incorporate both On-Page and Off-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)  to gain traffic and success for your website.

Seo

The importance of SEO lies in the impact it has on your website’s appearance to Google. Google is constantly crawling websites to algorithmically rank their relevance, authority and usefulness, providing a status that will determine where your website shows up in the search engine.

At first glance, SEO can be complicated and technical, but as long as you follow a procedural and intentional approach, a few simple changes can significantly boost your ranking.

On-page and off-page SEO work together to improve both the user experience and the Google impression. One is not more important than the other, and both must be optimized to ensure the success of your page.

What is On-Page SEO?

On-Page SEO refers to improving and optimizing everything that a user can see on the web-page. This includes providing relevant and engaging content, properly coding HTML tags and meta-tags, optimizing system functions like page-load time and URL names, and editing CSS layout and tags.

All of these features will impact the user experience on your website and will encourage readers to either stay and explore your site, or cause them to leave. Think of the user experience on your website as an indicator of customer service for your brand. If a user experiences slow page loading or finds your content boring they are likely to be unsatisfied with their experience.

On-Page SEO is essential for user experience, which in the end will impact your ranking. The more people enjoy your content and are impressed by your website, the more likely it will be shared and engaged with, therefore increasing the visibility and social clout of your brand and website.

What is Off-Page SEO?

Off-Page SEO deals in the “behind-the-scenes” of a website. It can be summarized in one word: links. The more that your website is linked to, the higher the authority of your domain will be.  If you have a great deal of valuable links pointing to your site, search engines can assume that you are providing good content.

Getting other websites to link to your website increases traffic and signals to Google that the content you are offering on your website is useful and relevant, and therefore should have a higher ranking.

Off-Page SEO tells Google what others think of your site.

This concept is often referred to as “backlinks”, and the better your backlinks are rated, the better your website will rank. Without backlinks pointing to your website, it is almost impossible for Google to figure out the usefulness of your page. Natural links from authoritative and relevant websites act as votes of confidence that help search engines trust your website.

However, it is important to note: link quality is much more important than link quantity.

In the past, the number of links you had was extremely important but as Google algorithms have become more complex, they have shifted to value quality links higher. At this point, On-Page SEO becomes relevant. High quality, fresh, and relevant content and positive user-experience make you more shareable. With awesome content, lots of social media shares, and support from bloggers and influencers,  you will build backlinks to your website.

Tips on improving SEO

Typically on-page SEO is taken care of first, then off-page follows. You don’t want to share a page that isn’t ready for users.

Here are some tips to make sure that your web page is ready for sharing.

  • Organize your internal pages. Having a good flow and layout to the pages on your website ensures that the “SEO juice” will keep moving throughout your whole website. Make sure you create a homepage or landing page that has links to the other pages of your website through tools like drop-down menus. No internal page should stand alone, but rather be connected with seamless navigation.
  • Keyword Target thematically. Do some research on Google Keyword Planner (hyperlink)  to figure out the best keywords for your company to try to rank for.  Avoid popular keywords that massive corporations are ranking for because you will never be able to compete.Don’t be afraid to brand your keywords for ultimate specificity.  Pick a few that are thematically related and this will signify to Google what you do and are all about.
  • Place Keywords throughout your website.  Once you have your keywords, ensure they are present throughout your website, especially on the landing page. This will tell Google the most important and informative page of your site. Make sure your Keywords are in the title tag of your page. The closer the keywords are to the start of the title the better, as this has more weight with search engines.
  • Don’t Overload Keywords. While it is tempting to put keywords everywhere, have restraint when making content for your webpage. Google penalizes websites who try to overload keywords; Remember, quality over quantity. Use tools like LSIgraphic.com for ideas on variations of keywords.
  • For a list of 12 additional things you should do optimize on-page SEO click here. http://backlinko.com/on-page-seo.

So your website is ready to share, what now?

  • Fix broken links: When links on a website are broken they lead to a 404 error page. This is unappealing to the user. These problems pop up over time as the result of hosting expiration, pages upset during file transfer, typos or URL changes. Check that all the links on your website are functioning, and replace or get rid of those that are broken. This will improve the speed and function of your website.
  • Distribute Quality Content: Blogs, and other high-quality media like pictures, videos or infographics are great ways to engage users and are easy to share. Infographics tend to have a great deal of success online as they are visually appealing and can share a lot of information easily.
  • Share content with bloggers and influencers. Get your content out to as many people as possible. The more eyes the better! If you can be shared on a website that has a pre-existing high authority domain, it will significantly increase your ranking.

The most important things to consider when it comes to SEO are user experience, user intent, and valuable content.  Optimize for users and create content that will be relevant to them and you will be sure to increase your ranking.

Be consistent and methodical and you will grow in Google’s rank system.

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