FAQ

What is SEO and who needs it?

Search engines are comprised of a seemingly infinite directory of websites with various subjects and information. The search engine’s job is to help users find the information they need, based on each website’s subject and relevancy to the user’s search terms. When someone searches online, they will be given a list of the top sites that have information or product offers that relate to that search term.

Search engines “rank” sites based on their relevancy to the user’s search terms based on a number of factors. Search engines take into account a site’s age, it’s speed and design, the keywords found on each page, and how many other site’s refer to it with backlinks. The search engines can scan a site for all of this information, and put it in a ranking system based on keywords a user searches for.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the process of making your website user-optimized so it will rank well in the search engines (like Google and Bing). Marketers use SEO to help their sites make impressions with more online searchers. It can also be used to convert users to leads through integrative SEO and content marketing techniques. It is meant to improve the website’s user experience, and by proxy helps sites reach a larger audience.

To improve a site’s rankings in the search engines, you need to tailor it to your target audience. Your content should include keywords that your customers would use to find products and services similar to yours. You also want to make sure your site is easy to use and navigate. The better experience you create for visitors, the better your site will rank.

When you’re optimizing a site, you have to think about both the user’s experience and the search engine’s ability to recognize your content as relevant to them. In the past, this caused some dissonance, because search engines weren’t able to recognize certain human elements of content, such as linguistic relevance and readability. This caused many SEO specialists to write in a way that pleased the search engines, but wasn’t helpful to the consumer.

Now, search engines have improved to think more like consumers, and SEO tactics have shifted focus to creating a user-friendly experience. Sites that give the user easy-to-read and engaging content are ranked higher, even if they have a lower keyword density. But as search engines continue to change and develop around user preferences, the techniques in search engine optimization will too evolve.

Reasons Why You Need an SEO Strategy

SEO is one of the fastest growing specialties in the marketing industry. The list of SEO strategies keeps growing, and companies can do most of their optimization for free. Studies on websites with professional SEO campaigns have showed direct relation to profits, giving companies enough incentive to learn the practice or hire professionals to assist.

SEO is primarily a marketing tactic used to increase site traffic. A search engine can only display a limited number of search results per page. Their ranking systems put the top sites on the first page, and lower ranking sites on subsequent pages. For competitive keywords, there can be thousands of search engine results pages (SERPs). Consumers rarely look past the first SERP, so the higher your site ranks, the more likely you are to reach that first page and be seen. Increased visibility leads to more site traffic for less money.

Over 80% users research companies online before they make a purchase or inquiry. They may compare prices, look for online deals or ecommerce sites versus sites with only product information. If consumers cannot find your site online, it’s unlikely they will choose you over the competition. SEO puts your name out there without having to pay for ads. And, because your site is at the top of the organic (unpaid) search results, consumers may trust you more. They know your content is ranked well because you’ve earned it.

SEO optimizes for better lead conversions. One study on SEO campaigns for ecommerce showed that SEO-generated traffic converts to sales at a 15% rate, as compared to 3% of outbound leads. SEO-generated traffic is more qualified traffic than outbound traffic. When someone uses a search engine, they’re already interested in the information you provide. You aren’t taking a gamble when you solicit the user because they’ve expressed interest and, depending on what they searched for, intent to buy.

According to a Hubspot study, 91% of surveyed businesses said they saw a definitive ROI on SEO activity or paid services. SEO services are never more expensive than their worth. Because you’re generating more qualified traffic, you can almost guarantee a high percentage of that traffic will lead to sales, or at the least engagement with your brand. Plus, you can easily measure traffic gained from organic search results and calculate your cost-per-lead using SEO tracking tools.

Optimized websites build trust with your consumers. The more content they see about you online and on social media, the more credible your brand image is.  Think about it: would you prefer to purchase from a one-page site with little to no product information, or a well-developed site that has plenty of information and features to educate you on the product or service? SEO incentivizes businesses to update their sites with user-engaging content.

There are over 1 billion websites on the internet now, and more and more created everyday. That’s approximately one website for every three internet users worldwide. Every website faces steep competition, not only within their industry but with all other websites selling to consumers in similar target markets. SEO helps you climb to the upper echelon of websites for your target market. In a day and age where internet use is at an all-time high, you can’t afford not to utilize online marketing and SEO strategies to build your business.

Different Approaches to SEO

Like any other marketing discipline, SEO is a mix of creative and technical tactics working together to create a comprehensive, effective campaign. That’s why SEO strategists don’t all use the same techniques to build their campaigns. Some focus on perfecting the technical aspects, while others prefer to use a creative campaign approach. Neither approach is wrong, and both are needed to fully optimize a site.

Search engine marketing campaigns revolve around keywords. Almost every SEO campaign will start with a site audit and keyword research phase. The analyst discovers the site’s strengths and weaknesses, in design, technical aspects and content. Then they research keywords and competitive sites relevant to the target audience. SEO strategists often use a Keyword Plan to develop site content and subsequent social media campaigns.

There’s two different categories to SEO strategy: on-page and off-page. On-page SEO refers to the content, structure, and technical aspects of your website and its individual pages. Off-page SEO refers to your site’s popularity, quantified by backlinks (links from other sites to your site) and social signals. Both are equally important to your overall SEO strategy.

Onsite SEO includes both the technical and content-related changes you can make to your site. Some of the most important elements of any onsite SEO include:

  • Optimizing and updating content – Search engines look for sites that are updated regularly and contain keywords that relate to their user’s search. You want to update your site regularly with content, including blogs, articles and pages that have keywords related to your target market.
  • Load speed – A site that loads faster will give users a better overall experience. This is especially important for mobile optimization. You can improve load speed of your site by simplifying design elements and optimizing your files and code.
  • Image optimization – Images are also factored into a site’s rankings. Add images to your site that have keywords included in the alt text. This helps the search engines understand what the image is, and how it relates to the content. Reduce image size to increase load speed of your individual pages.
  • Titles, Headers and URL structure – Search engines consider headers to be signals of the subject matter of your pages. They also use the keywords in the URLs to determine the topic of your website. Include keywords in your headers, titles and URLs when possible.

Linkbuilding and social media management are the core activities for offsite SEO. However, search engines have begun to recognize which links are earned, and which are bought from infamous “link farms.” You can build links the right way by sharing your content on social media and building relationships with other site owners and bloggers in your same niche.

Both onsite and offsite SEO can be used to improve rankings and generate leads. A Healthy SEO campaign uses both strategies, gaining maximum results. Let’s take a look at several SEO campaigns that use these tactics for their online marketing campaigns.

Examples of Websites with Strong SEO Campaigns:

  • Buzzfeed is a top news and entertainment site for millennials. They attract approximately 2 million users a month, and have accumulated over 10,000 backlinks from 877 referring domains. Buzzfeed is a true testimony to the effectiveness of content marketing and SEO. They upload blog content everyday, have a great site design, and engage followers on social media. They dominate the entertainment news space for young audiences and social media users across the globe.
  • Reddit is a site who’s SEO strategy focuses on user-generated content. Members of the site can post questions and opinions of a wide variety of forums. The site often indexes in the search engines for specific questions that the site has “subreddits” with frequently updated content. User-generated content, though not considered as trustworthy, can lead to stunning results. Reddit ranks well especially for controversial subjects that other sites don’t cover, and has succeeded with their user-generated content strategy.
  • The Florida Dairy Farmersis an example of a small-scale but equally powerful SEO campaign. They have 770 approximate monthly traffic and 360 backlinks from 100 referring domains. It won a Webby Award for Best Association Website. The Florida Dairy Farmers website has strong onsite optimization as well. They update their blog with sharable content such as recipes and farm-life articles.

How to Measure Results:

SEO effectiveness is measured by your website’s SERP rankings, number of backlinks, and traffic increase from organic clicks. You can use a number of tools to track these changes over time. Ask yourself these questions to determine of your SEO strategy is working or if it needs improvement:

  • Is there increased traffic to my website? Is it from organic or paid link clicks?
  • For which keywords is my site ranking well? Is my site on the first or second SERP for these keywords? What other competitors are also ranking for these words?
  • How many other sites link back to my content? How often do they link to my site? Has this increased or decreased since I launched this SEO campaign?
  • How many likes, shares, and comments am I receiving on social media or on my blog?

You can find much of this information with tools like Google Alerts, SEMRush and SERPWoo. You can also talk to an SEO specialist for help understanding where you stand with your current SEO strategy, and how to make improvements on your results. Talk to a specialist at Rank K.O. for more information on SEO strategy and how to get the best results. You can Contact Us here.

What is ORM and who needs it?

What is ORM?

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the marketing practice of building and maintaining brand reputations online and repairing damage done by  bad reviews or other online content. It’s a two-fold process, not only to improve a brand’s presence but also to assess damages and minimize their effects. ORM is essential to any company or personal brand, if you want to stand out among competitors. It can be used to improve online presence, improve customer loyalty as well as bring trust to a company’s name.

ORM is similar to SEO in that it is highly integrated with content marketing. But, the focus of ORM is on the content that’s already present on the search engines. Companies want to own as much of the content that appears on the search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible. You don’t want customers to see content about your brand if it isn’t positive or coming from your own website and social media. ORM specialists create content plans to help you rank in the search engines above competitors and negative URLs.

Both individuals and businesses can benefit from ORM. Businesses should integrate ORM into their PR campaigns. Because customers rely heavily on reviews and referrals, contributing to your business’ online reputation is key to customer acquisition and retention. Individuals should consider it if they’re looking for a job or new clients for their business/self employment. An employer may search your name to find endorsements from past job experience, or other signs that you are right or not for the job.

Reasons Why You Need ORM:

In a world with over 1 billion internet users, your online reputation is something you can’t ignore, and can’t passively maintain. Active engagement is the key to any person’s or business’ ORM success. Here’s what you can do with a reputation management campaign:

Impress potential customers with positive reviews
Consumers look online before they contact a business or make purchases. Reviews, both good and bad, can shape a potential customer’s first impression. Reports show that 80% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they do referrals from those they know. ORM campaigns can improve your online reviews so those first impressions are positive.

Improve job prospects
Poor online reputation can hurt job prospects. If an employer finds incriminating information about you in a Google search, they may toss out your application. However, if you have a strong online presence with a website and multiple professional social media profiles, they will be more likely to hire you.

Generate leads with proactive ORM
Proactive ORM helps with SEO and lead generation. Proactive ORM can include content marketing tactics which draw qualified customers to your content and brand. We’ll get into the differences between proactive and reactive ORM later, but know that a proactive approach (building brand reputation before a crisis event) will aid in your SEO and online lead generation campaigns.

Take control of your search engine results
Much of what’s on the internet is untrue or irrelevant. You don’t want third-party information to reach your audience instead of your own, especially if the information is false in some way. A proactive ORM campaign helps update the search engines with more relevant content about your brand that YOU control.

Different Approaches to ORM

There’s no “one size fits all” ORM strategy. Your campaign needs to reflect the individuality of your brand. Rank K.O. uses a different approach for each client, but with a few standard practices that have proven to produce results. These are the different approaches we use for clients, depending on their ORM goals and the strength of their current online presence:

Proactive ORM is the development of a brand through a mix of content marketing and review management. ORM specialists create the content, optimize it for search engines and distribute it across multiple platforms (company blogs, microsites, and social media). They also monitor reviews and content written about the company on third-party sites. The goal is to encourage happy consumers to leave positive feedback about the brand, while creating their own positive content that boost search engine rankings for owned media.

Branding is one of the primary objectives for proactive ORM campaigns. This is similar to search engine optimization, but ORM doesn’t just focus on the company’s website. It focuses on multiple platforms to boost a brand’s online presence and reputation.

Reactive ORM is used in response to negative content showing up on the SERPs for branded keywords and relevant search terms. It’s the online equivalent to crisis management practice in public relations. If a brand is criticized online, it’s the job of the ORM specialist to assess the damages and repair the brand image. This is done in two ways:

Content removal

Some websites publish content online that is falsely leading or completely untrue. This content could come from the website’s users, or from someone who’s poor opinion of the brand led them to create incriminating posts. In some cases, you can ask these websites, or Google to remove the information. They may be required by law if the post is untrue and considered internet slander. However, most content online, whether it’s true or not, is subject to the website’s approval only.

Content suppression

If you cannot remove the content online, you can effectively suppress it in the search engines. While the information is available, most people won’t see it if it’s not on the first or second SERP. You can suppress content by optimizing your own sites and social media channels.

Examples of Good and Bad Online Reputations

ORM campaigns can be used for both businesses and individuals. An individual’s online presence is usually minimal, except for those in high-profile positions or those who have gained some sort of internet fame. Below are some examples of positive and negative online reputations for individuals. While each of these people has good and bad press associated with them, some have better online reputations than others.

Lori Greiner 
TV show stars often have positive reputations online, and Lori Greiner is no exception. In the first page of her Google search results, you see her personal website, her Wikipedia bio, links to her social media and guest blogs, and information about her shows on QVC and ABC. She has done an excellent job of maintaining a positive image in the press, including what others say about her online.

Brian Williams 
Even the most powerful people on television can be hurt by what is posted online. The NBC news anchor was recently affected by accusations against his professional conduct. Over half of the organic search results containing his name contain negative content about him leaving NBC, and how his misconduct will permanently affect his career. Even if the scandal isn’t at the forefront of television, his online reputation will be forever tarnished.

Sundar Pichai 
It comes without shock that Google’s CEO has a great online reputation. Though his name is not immediately recognizable, his name appears on page one for over 500 SERPs. What’s surprising is that none of the organic search results for Pichai are from his own content. Almost all of his online reputation has been built from others’ content.

Walter Palmer 
Walter Palmer’s online reputation has been taken over by a lion; more specifically, Cecil the Lion, whom he hunted and shot in an African safari trip. The Rhode Island dentist faced serious backlash in the public eye, and his professional reputation has yet to recover. When you search for Walter Palmer, most of the results are about Cecil’s tragic killing, and how Palmer’s dentistry career has since plummeted.

These examples of good and bad online reputations illustrate just how fragile someone’s reputation can be, and how well it pays off to have an active online presence. ORM isn’t just for businesses and branding. It’s used to protect individuals from public scrutiny and can save them from career-ruining online content distribution.

How We Measure Results:

Rank K.O. offers ORM services for businesses and individuals, using the methods we’ve discussed in this guide. But, it’s not enough to just distribute content and hope for the best. We track our efforts and their impact on search engine results. This way, our clients can see when their campaigns are producing results.

We monitor the SERPs and new mentions of your brand with tools such as SERPWoo, SEMRush and Google Alerts. We can also see how you’re ranking for certain keywords. Keyword optimization is a big part of our ORM strategy, and we want to make sure you’re improving in organic rankings for the terms that best match your target audience.

We watch negative content to see when it’s knocked down to the second or third SERP, at which point the content is effectively suppressed. Most content past the third SERP is irrelevant to users. After the desired results are achieved, we switch our focus from content suppression to proactive brand management.

If you have any more questions about ORM, please feel free to contact us today for more information.

The new SEO

Search engines were once a mystery to their users, and even the websites that were indexed on them. But now researchers have been able to figure out commonalities and factors that increase sites’ traffic across the board. But the tactics change over time, as do the way search engines read and understand the websites they rank. Figuring out these factors and staying up-to-date on changes are a full-time job for many SEO specialists.

Google, one of the largest companies in the world, is always trying to stay ahead of the competition and therefore, on top of what their users want most. That’s why they consistently update their ranking systems to provide the best content on the web to consumers. While they’re constantly innovating, it can be hard for marketers to stay ahead of the trends for “new” SEO techniques and tactics.

The team at Rank K.O., including content marketers and SEO analysts, have done the research and found what works and what doesn’t in the modern world of SEO. We’ve created this guide to help beginners update their SEO strategies.

Outdated SEO Tactics

Search engines constantly update their algorithms to find the most relevant sites to display for common search terms. But, it’s up to SEO professionals to stay up-to-date on these changes, or figure them out by trial and error. SEO tactics that worked five years ago may not be as effective today. In fact, some of them may hurt your rankings or get you penalized if you’re not careful.

Below are common SEO tactics that used to work for marketers, but are now losing their effectiveness due to search engine updates and new ranking factors:

Targeting head terms versus long tail keywords

Keyword research is an important part of any SEO campaign. “Head” keywords used to be the focus of most brands’ strategies. But now, users know that searching a generic term will give them irrelevant results. Long-tail keywords are more relevant to the user and will gain better ranking and traffic long-term.

Writing “keyword-rich” content (keyword stuffing)

Using similar keywords helps search engines understand the topics and audiences your website is targeting, but using too many on the same page can now hurt your rankings. Search engines like to see pages that are useful and easy to read for the user. If you’ve used the same search term in every paragraph, search engines may penalize your page for publishing content that isn’t user-friendly.

Relying on text-heavy content

Text content is easy to create, but it’s not the only type of content you need to publish on your site. SEO specialists used to upload text-heavy content because it can be created quickly, and therefore the website receives more updates per month. However, searches engines want to see well organized pages. A page with any more than 500 words is easier to read if it’s broken up by other media content.

Focusing on quantity, not quality of backlinks

Linkbuilding is still a valid SEO tactic, but the way some strategists do it is outdated. Accumulating as many backlinks as possible, if they are not from high ranking domains, provides little, if any benefit. Changes in search engine algorithms is putting more emphasis on the quality of backlinks (domain authority and relevancy to the topic) to determine page rank.

Submitting press releases to ezines or other free article submission websites

SEO specialists used to submit blogs and press releases to different online publishers in hopes of gaining backlinks and increased traffic. However, these press releases/article submissions can won’t count as a ranking factor anymore. They may even penalize you, if they come from a paid linkbuilding site.

Modern Ranking Factors

Due to recent updates, popular search engines like Google now rank content differently. For example, Google’s recent Hummingbird update incorporated semantic search to rank pages not only with keyword matches, but those that use phrases that have the same meaning to search terms. Google’s Penguin update has been able to catch sites that use paid links or link networks, therefore penalizing sites with illegitimate backlinks.

Other updates have allowed the search engines to better understand the context and quality of content, giving users more relevant pages at the top of the SERPs. This encourages content marketers to create quality pages for their users, rather than generating content solely for SEO. Now that search engine and user needs are better aligned, SEO tactics have changed.

Here are some of the ways that content marketers are changing their SEO tactics:

Regular content updates

Websites still need to update their content on a regular basis. Strategists used to do this by posting on a weekly blog, or by changing the content of core pages periodically. However, a better strategy is to add hidden pages or subpages to a site. This not only encourages visitors to stay on your site, but it helps you target individual keywords.

Focusing on quality backlinks

Quantity of backlinks means very little unless those links come from high-authority domains. To develop this recognition, you need to promote your high quality content and share it with people who are likely to backlink to it. Building relationships with others in your industry can help you cultivate the audience, and therefore better quality links.

Mobile responsiveness

Research suggests that nearly 60% of searches are done on mobile devices. Mobile websites differs from desktop, but marketers need to take into account both types of onsite SEO to increase their organic traffic. Local SEO is especially important for mobile optimization, since people looking for local businesses may use their phones to find recommendations on-the-go.

Other ranking factors include site security and elements within a page’s text

Most sites are now encrypted for security purposes, which you can tell if there is an “https” at the beginning of the url. Sites that are not encrypted for security (with “https” urls) will be marked as unsafe by Google. Anchor text, if used appropriately, can help a page rank. But, if it considered “spammy” it may be penalized by the Penguin update.

How Social Media is Changing SEO

We know social media is a great way to reach out to new and existing customers. We engage with them by publishing content and encouraging dialogue on social channels, but these efforts serve another purpose other than brand awareness. Social media plays an important role in SEO and increasing website traffic.

Content that generates a lot of traffic on social media (especially Twitter) contributes directly to page credibility and visibility. Search engines look at how many times a link has been shared or reported on social channels, and will take that into consideration for overall page credibility, and determining which keywords are most relevant for that link.

Most people focus on Google rankings, but the second-most popular search engine, Bing, uses social signals (such as number of “likes” or followers on a social profile) to rank sites. Having a strong social presence makes it easier to generate more likes and mentions across social media, which in turn can help you boost your web traffic. The best way to do this is to share your blog posts and resource articles, and boost these posts from time to time.

While social media pages aren’t indexed, they can drive traffic to your site, which Google uses as part of their ranking system. Make sure the pages you share on social media are highly engaging, to minimize the bounce rate. You also want to share a variety of content  types, including images, video, live streams, and even Facebook contests or polls.

Oftentimes, social media profiles rank better for small businesses than their websites do. While you should focus your SEO efforts on the website itself, a strong social media presence can help you gain those initial followers, and lead them to your site. If you’re working on an online reputation management campaign, or trying to repress negative content about your site, building a social profile will help you outrank those negative URLs.

Social media channels can also act as a type of search engine. If someone is on a social media platform, they may be likely to search it rather than leaving and searching on another platform. Use hashtags and keywords in your statuses to generate traffic to your social profiles. Visitors may want to follow you, or share your content with their own social followings.

New Common Practices

Now that search engines have evolved to meet the needs of their users, we can expect content marketers to use better tactics to gain their audience’s attention. SEO is geared more towards qualitative work, rather than technical tricks and hacks. SEO is becoming one of the more customer-centric elements of the digital marketing strategies.

You can use these tactics to boost your SEO campaign and generate more quality site traffic:

Optimize titles for clicks, not keywords

Just like in print, your headline is the most important part of a piece of content. Even on page one of the SERPs, without a headline that grabs attention, your blog post or article may not generate any clicks. Lists, how-tos, comprehensive resource articles and shocking news posts can generate the most traffic, and therefore the most conversions.

Target unique keywords with individual pages

To grow your site and update content (outside the use of a blog), you can create separate pages for each keyword you want to target. Create a list of keywords you want to target, and create content with images and copy that focuses on each phrase. You should also have one or a handful of primary pages to target all related keywords. Don’t worry about targeting all variations of one keyword, as Google understands the context of copy.

Use of microsites

Some sources say that microsites can hurt ranking for your main site, which has some validity. However, microsites work well for outranking negative URLs in an online reputation management campaign. Some companies create microsites specifically for their blogs,especially if the site is slow or if they want multiple blogs for different locations.

Creating comprehensive content, such as guides and “pillar posts”

The only way to successfully rank for head terms and even some long-tail search terms is to create in-depth, long-form content. Longer articles, especially if they have inbound links, images, infographics or video not only rank better, but they have lower bounce rates than short and simple pages. Creating content of this level of detail takes more time, but pays off long-term.

Rank K.O. uses these tactics in our SEO campaigns to target keywords and phrases of the highest potential for our clients. We’ve used these same techniques to build online reputation and increase traffic for multiple clients, and have seen long-term proven results.

Proactive vs Reactive ORM

When a potential customer or client Googles your name, it’s vital that what they see is favorable – informative blog posts, good reviews, and maybe even other websites talking positively about your brand. But brand positioning in the search engines isn’t always up to you. Anyone can write about you online, and not everyone has the best intentions. An unhappy customer, scammer or even a competitor in your industry can just as easily influence a potential customer’s opinion about you.

To ensure that customers get the best first impression of your brand online, you need an online reputation management (ORM) plan. If you aren’t aware of what’s being said about you online, you may soon have a crisis situation that requires reactive reputation management. However, if you’ve prepared for such situations, you can easily recover from any bad press. An ORM specialist can help you design a reputation management plan that positions you favorably, and creates resiliency against online aggression or misinformation.

Overview

Online reputation management used to be a digital marketing specialty that focused solely on recovery from bad reviews and articles online When a company received this sort of negative attention, marketing specialists would try to suppress the negative content or remove it entirely from the web. This reactive approach is similar to the way PR managers try to minimize press coverage when a crisis or public controversy involves one of their clients.

While this strategy is still effective in crisis management, most companies have adopted a more proactive approach to ORM. Rather than focusing on defense, companies build their online reputation early on, to create resilience in case they run into negative content. A proactive approach to ORM protects you, and directly benefits other elements of your digital marketing campaign.

Both a proactive strategy and reactive plan must be in place for companies to successfully build a strong online reputation. The current reputation of the company, as well as the industry and it’s size determine which ORM strategies work best. Rank K.O. uses both proactive ORM and content suppression techniques to help clients gain the trust of their target audience online.

Proactive

If you are able to build a proactive ORM campaign for your company, it’s a great idea to start it now. Even if a company has a relatively strong reputation, it’s better to be the one in the driver’s seat than to risk your online reputation being ruined by one angry customer or competitor. Plus, proactive ORM is easily integrated into your SEO and other digital marketing campaigns. While the disciplines differ in various ways, a strong proactive ORM campaign will surely help with any SEO activity you’re currently pursuing.

Proactive ORM is also a tool many PR specialists use to promote their initiatives. Publishing and distributing content about your recent good charity or community involvement gains as much attention online as incriminating articles or negative opinions about your brand. Once an online publisher posts a positive article about your company and links to your site, the more likely others are to do the same.

Proactive campaigns more closely resemble SEO strategies than reactive campaigns. In a proactive ORM approach, you want to target keywords that your target audience searches for, but also terms that could potentially yield negative results. However, you have the creative freedom to choose topics you want to include in your brand positioning, not just topics that relate to your ORM keywords (which we will discuss in later sections of this guide).

Reactive

Companies in industries with higher risk factors have to focus more on reactive ORM. Law firms, finance companies, or healthcare providers – all of these businesses have a higher risk of disappointing their customers, as opposed to other low-risk business models. Because of these industries’ higher likelihood to receive negative press, most will have to launch a reactive ORM campaign at some point in time.

Reactive ORM campaigns take more time to produce results. Instead of providing protection for your brand, you are fighting against another website for top links on a SERP (search engine results page). This SERP “real estate” is very hard to win if you aren’t already implementing an ORM or SEO campaign. Oftentimes negative content has an advantage because of its relevancy to a consumer’s search, and time sensitivity to recent events within your company.

Unfortunately, most companies are not introduced to ORM until they need to implement a reactive approach. However, if the company takes the time to rebuild their reputation after a crisis event, they can continue to promote their brand through proactive ORM. Transitioning from a proactive to a reactive campaign helps companies overcome their reputation management challenges, and can yield very positive results long-term.

What is the difference in Proactive vs Reactive ORM Campaign Strategies?

The first steps are the same, whether you pursue a proactive or reactive ORM strategy. Just like in an SEO campaign, you try to target specific keywords to develop a content strategy. For ORM campaigns, however, you focus more on what already appears in the SERPs, and if it’s negative or positive. If you’re combining a proactive and reactive ORM strategy, these are the steps you would take:
Proactive and Reactive ORM Strategies:

Research – A precursor to any digital marketing campaign is research. ORM specialists use tools to identify keywords and competitive URLs to help their clients gain more SERP “real estate” and promote positive content. You don’t need to target every SEO keyword in an ORM campaign. It’s important to identify and focus your efforts where they will be most valuable to your campaign.

Create an ORM Keyword Plan – ORM keywords are slightly different from SEO keywords. ORM keywords are the words that populate negative content about a company, whereas SEO keywords are any words or phrases that potential customers use to find brands in your niche. Creating your ORM keyword plan after research will help you design your content strategy.

Remove Negative Content (if possible) – In a reactive ORM campaign, your specialist will try different methods to remove negative content. If an online article or review is misleading or includes false information, they may be able to negotiate with the site owner to take it down. However, in most cases this isn’t a viable option. Websites and online consumers have great freedom to post whatever they wish, as long as it is not considered internet slander.

Develop Content Strategy – Next, you will create content based on your ORM keyword plan. This content should be technically and linguistically optimized for your keywords. Different types of content, including blog posts, resource pages, infographics and multimedia should be included in your ORM content strategy. A variety of content will help you rank higher in the search engines and suppress negative content.

Monitor Campaign Progress – Your ORM specialist should monitor your progress, providing evidence that the campaign is reaching ORM goals. You can measure progress by monitoring SERP activity for your keywords, and tracking both positive and negative mentions of your brand online.

In a proactive campaign, you are free to create a brand voice from scratch or target certain keyword groups and demographics. Proactive ORM resembles SEO in that you’re trying to rank for a variety of terms and are building an overall positive brand image. However, in most proactive ORM campaigns, you want to target keywords that could potentially have negative content, such as “Company X reviews,” or ‘Company X cost.”

Proactive ORM allows you to take more time in the content creation phase. When trying to suppress negative content (in a reactive approach), you must focus more on the speed of publishing content than the actual quality.. However, when taking a proactive approach, you have the freedom to be creative and take on an integrated campaign with your SEO and overall digital media strategy.

In a reactive campaign your ORM Keywords will determine the type of content you create. You must focus only on the specific terms that yield negative search results. To find these terms, you analyze every popular search term that your company ranks for and make a list of all negative search results that also appear for those terms. Then you can begin creating and publishing content to outrank those negative URLs.

Reactive also requires more content to suppress, which takes more time. The more content you can publish in a short amount of time, the quicker you’ll be able to suppress negative content in the SERPs. Reactive ORM can take significantly more resources than the proactive approach. However, in some industries reactive ORM is just part of the process, and is well worth the effort. You can always transition from a reactive ORM campaign to a proactive one once the negative content is off page one of the SERPs.

Proactive ORM is a branding effort, and reactive ORM is it’s crisis management counterpart. Both digital PR tactics can help your company in the long-run gain customer trust and support from other websites in your niche. If you want to compete in the online marketing arena, a comprehensive ORM strategy is essential.

Rank K.O. uses both the proactive and reactive ORM approach to help our clients achieve certain goals. Each client we take on has different objectives, and we respect their needs by creating individualized ORM campaigns. Please contact us with any questions you might have.

ORM for businesses

In today’s world of marketing, staying offline isn’t an option. Even the smallest local businesses need some sort of online presence. If they don’t, they are almost invisible to the majority of even the local markets. Plus, adding digital marketing to your marketing plan is easy. Any business can build a website and social media presence at little to no cost, and start reaching out to customers through the channels they are using most.

Digital media is the new PR. Studies show that consumers get over 60% of their local and national news information from social media alone. Online shoppers also go to online reviews and information before making purchases or inquiring about new products. This means that a majority of your customers encounter you online before they ever make initial contact with a salesperson or visit a store.

With this wealth of information available to consumers, it’s also easier for them to compare you to the competition. No longer does a customer have to visit multiple stores to find the best price or compare the customer service experience. 92% of consumers read online reviews about local businesses before making a purchase, and 88% of consumers say they trust these reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. Consumers have unprecedented power through the internet, and businesses can’t afford to have a poor or no online presence.

Online reputation management is the practice of promoting positive content about a company online, and suppressing negative content that an online user might find. Negative content includes bad reviews, incriminating online press, or negative opinion posts about you or your brand. Every business is subject to negative content being published about their brand. It is essential to monitor the search engines for this content, and minimize it’s impact if possible.

Companies need to encourage positive reviews and update their sites and social profiles with fresh, engaging content. The more information and positive content a consumer sees about a company, the more likely they are to choose that company to give their business. There are a variety of ways in which you can boost your online presence, and the more proactive you are, the better your website will perform in the search engines.

Proactive vs Reactive

Proactive ORM bolsters your brand reputation. When someone searches your company online, you want them to find your website, social media pages, and other third-party content that speaks highly of your brand. Third-party content can include blogs from reputable websites, Wikipedia pages, and review sites. But, the more of this content you control, the better.

Even when you try to prevent negative content, your business may experience bad press or a negative review that climbs to the top of the search engines. When this happens, your ORM focus shifts from promoting positive content, to suppressing or removing the negative content. There are different techniques to suppress negative content, depending on what was published and who published it.

Reactive ORM involves identifying ORM keywords and suppressing negative URLs. An ORM keyword is any search term that causes negative content about your brand to populate in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The best methods for suppressing this content is to upload new content on different sites that target those keywords. This process can take quite some time, but yields positive, and often permanent, results.

For more details about proactive and reactive ORM campaigns, read this article.

ORM Audit and Competitive Analysis

Planning and researching your ORM campaign is essential to successfully suppressing negative content and boosting your own. It takes more than writing a few blogs and sharing them on social to completely outrank competitors or the poor reviews about your company. You have to find the right keywords that show negative URLs, and target them specifically for optimal results.

An ORM specialist will first analyze current SEO (search engine optimization). Factors that influence a brand’s ORM strategy include domain authority, current Google PageRank, the total number of backlinks existing, and social media presence. Then, depending on what strengths and weaknesses your brand has, a specialist will create a comprehensive plan to bolster your online presence with new elements that could help SEO.

An ORM audit will also include research on the top competitors for your keywords. Though ORM focuses on the negative and positive content for your brand, you will want to identify keywords and phrases which other brands are targeting more effectively. This will help you understand which keywords will be easier or harder to rank for.

Researching the competition gives you a better idea of what techniques others in your industry use for SEO, and what strengths they have that you can counter. Perhaps your major competitor has a superior website, but a weak social presence. You can use that to your advantage, by creating multiple social profiles and targeting the consumers who prefer social engagement over online search.

Google My Business

You can easily outrank competitors and negative content with a Google My Business profile. Google My Business is an online directory for local searches. You can display your name, address, phone number, and website all on one page. Google My Business profiles connect your location to Google Maps, and puts you at the top of the SERPS, above organic results.

Google My Business can also help you increase reviews. Unless you have a strong follow-up campaign for customers to leave reviews on your website, most people will go to Google to leave online reviews. These reviews can have powerful effect on your business’ online reputation. The more happy customers that leave reviews (and the fewer dissatisfied ones), the stronger your brand presence will be against competitors.

Business Listings

You can use many different online directories and business listings other than Google My Business. The more listings you have, the higher you rank in the search engines. Business listings help customers find your website, which increases its’ organic rankings. Your brand should be present on any and all relevant business listings and online directories.

Below are the most popular business listing websites. If you don’t already have a listing on these sites, you should create one immediately:

Yelp – review site that helps customers find the best local stores for their queries

Bing Places – similar to Google My Business for the second-largest search engine

Manta – online directory and marketing service for small businesses

Angie’s List – Online directory with reviews and top local business listings

Yahoo Local – Local listings for businesses and their contact information

Thumbtack – for individual professionals (lawyers, trainers, consultants, etc.)

Kudzu – Compare pricing and reviews for professional services

Better Business Bureau – Independent ratings of small businesses

Social Profile Creation/Management

A strong social presence is essential for online reputation management. Social media profiles are the most effective distributors of content across the web, and the best way to engage with customers directly. Consumers spend much of their time surfing their favorite social media platforms, and reaching them directly has never been easier for businesses.

Below are the top social media platforms, and how you can use each of them for your ORM campaign:

Facebook

The world’s largest social media platform, Facebook helps businesses reach over 1 billion users everyday. You can share photos, videos, links and statuses on Facebook. This social profile usually ranks well when consumers search a brand online. And because you have control of the content that is shared (unlike the content on review sites like Yelp), Facebook is favored among businesses for brand management.

Medium

This platform is not as well-known as other social media, but can be a powerful tool for ORM campaigns. Medium acts as a personal blog, but is shared by millions of other users. Readers subscribe to different topics, while the writers are free to publish anything they want. Sharing your blogs on Medium increases their visibility, and gives you yet another platform to promote your brand.

Google+

Google My Business’ counterpart, Google+, helps you share content across the web and organize your contacts all in one place. Your Google+ account manages your contacts, and creates a profile that is used for every other Google application. It also allows you to upload blog posts and photos, which increases their prominence in the search engines.

Youtube

This platform is the largest video-sharing social media channel. Businesses can use Youtube to create promotional or informational videos for their followers. Youtube is a powerful tool for branding, and for publishing content to share on Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter

Businesses use Twitter to share links and photos with their fans. Audiences have more access to Twitter feeds than they do Facebook, which makes it a popular platform for content sharing. Twitter users are more likely to mention your brand if you consistently post interesting content and contribute to trending topics online.

Content Strategy

Creating content for your brand is part of preventative ORM as well as your content marketing strategy. Search engines will rank websites that update their content regularly above websites that are stagnant. But, you shouldn’t upload just any content. For effective ORM, you need to tailor your writing to targeted keywords. Keywords that populate negative or content should be the focus of your web pages and blog topics.

ORM specialists will make a keyword plan, and form your content strategy around that plan. The content you publish should follow SEO best practices. Content should be a certain length, and contain a variety of other keyword-match phrases. Your blog posts and web pages should also include photos and videos, as search engines prefer websites with a variety of media for users to engage with.

The more content you publish that includes or relates to your ORM keywords, the faster you’ll be able to suppress negative content in the search engines. These tactics will also boost your overall rankings for competitive keywords and phrases. You can weave ORM keywords into blog posts, case studies and white papers, articles, site pages, and a variety of other content forms on your website. You can also use microsites and Medium to get more use from the same articles and resources.

Content Distribution

Content needs to be distributed to other places across the web for it to be visible. SEO can only do so much to help you boost your online presence. You have to send your content to your audience, and guide them to other content they may find useful. There are many different ways to distribute content, and choosing which ones to use depends on your brand’s current audience and ORM campaign goals.

Online newsletters, communities and forums are a great way to start distributing your content. If you have an email list, send your blogs and articles to these contacts on a semi-regular basis. You don’t want to flood your customers’ inboxes, but don’t neglect them either. If you don’t have many emails, try directing members of an online community or forum to your blog by posting links in relevant conversations. If you’re contributing to the conversation (and not being “spammy”), most users will appreciate the input.

You should also share it across multiple social media channels. Rank K.O. recommends you use Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Medium, and Google+ to distribute your content, but other platforms such as LinkedIn, Pinterest or Instagram may be applicable to some clients. Check out Rank K.O.’s social campaign management page for more info.

Tracking and Reporting

To measure the effectiveness of your ORM campaign, Rank K.O. monitors the SERPs for your keywords and track the changes over time. We do so using a variety of tools, and give clients detailed reports so they can see the progress their campaign is making. Here are a couple of tools that are very useful in tracking ORM campaign results:

Google Alerts

Google allows you to track activity relating to any keyword or phrase, including new content posted about your brand. You can see if new negative content is ranking in the search engines, and if there is positive content you can promote. Google Alerts is free and sends you email notifications, so you stay on-track with ORM.

SERPWoo

Monitor the SERPs for your ORM campaigns with SERPWoo. This tool helps us track our progress with our clients’ ORM campaigns, and let’s us know when negative content is bumped off page one and into page two of the Google rankings. It allows us to show clients when our campaigns are showing progress, and how we can alter our campaigns for best results.

By using the tools and techniques in this guide, you can launch your own successful ORM campaign and take control of your online presence. For more information on ORM for business, send us a message below or check out our ORM for Business services.

ORM for Individuals

What is ORM?

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the marketing practice of building and maintaining brand reputations online and repairing damage done by  bad reviews or other online content. It’s a two-fold process, not only to improve a brand’s presence but also to assess damages and minimize their effects. ORM is essential to any company or personal brand, if you want to stand out among competitors. It can be used to improve online presence, improve customer loyalty as well as bring trust to a company’s name.

ORM is similar to SEO in that it is highly integrated with content marketing. But, the focus of ORM is on the content that’s already present on the search engines. Companies want to own as much of the content that appears on the search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible. You don’t want customers to see content about your brand if it isn’t positive or coming from your own website and social media. ORM specialists create content plans to help you rank in the search engines above competitors and negative URLs.

Both individuals and businesses can benefit from ORM. Businesses should integrate ORM into their PR campaigns. Because customers rely heavily on reviews and referrals, contributing to your business’ online reputation is key to customer acquisition and retention. Individuals should consider it if they’re looking for a job or new clients for their business/self employment. An employer may search your name to find endorsements from past job experience, or other signs that you are right or not for the job.

Reasons Why You Need ORM:

In a world with over 1 billion internet users, your online reputation is something you can’t ignore, and can’t passively maintain. Active engagement is the key to any person’s or business’ ORM success. Here’s what you can do with a reputation management campaign:

Impress potential customers with positive reviews
Consumers look online before they contact a business or make purchases. Reviews, both good and bad, can shape a potential customer’s first impression. Reports show that 80% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they do referrals from those they know. ORM campaigns can improve your online reviews so those first impressions are positive.

Improve job prospects
Poor online reputation can hurt job prospects. If an employer finds incriminating information about you in a Google search, they may toss out your application. However, if you have a strong online presence with a website and multiple professional social media profiles, they will be more likely to hire you.

Generate leads with proactive ORM
Proactive ORM helps with SEO and lead generation. Proactive ORM can include content marketing tactics which draw qualified customers to your content and brand. We’ll get into the differences between proactive and reactive ORM later, but know that a proactive approach (building brand reputation before a crisis event) will aid in your SEO and online lead generation campaigns.

Take control of your search engine results
Much of what’s on the internet is untrue or irrelevant. You don’t want third-party information to reach your audience instead of your own, especially if the information is false in some way. A proactive ORM campaign helps update the search engines with more relevant content about your brand that YOU control.

Different Approaches to ORM

There’s no “one size fits all” ORM strategy. Your campaign needs to reflect the individuality of your brand. Rank K.O. uses a different approach for each client, but with a few standard practices that have proven to produce results. These are the different approaches we use for clients, depending on their ORM goals and the strength of their current online presence:

Proactive ORM is the development of a brand through a mix of content marketing and review management. ORM specialists create the content, optimize it for search engines and distribute it across multiple platforms (company blogs, microsites, and social media). They also monitor reviews and content written about the company on third-party sites. The goal is to encourage happy consumers to leave positive feedback about the brand, while creating their own positive content that boost search engine rankings for owned media.

Branding is one of the primary objectives for proactive ORM campaigns. This is similar to search engine optimization, but ORM doesn’t just focus on the company’s website. It focuses on multiple platforms to boost a brand’s online presence and reputation.

Reactive ORM is used in response to negative content showing up on the SERPs for branded keywords and relevant search terms. It’s the online equivalent to crisis management practice in public relations. If a brand is criticized online, it’s the job of the ORM specialist to assess the damages and repair the brand image. This is done in two ways:

Content removal

Some websites publish content online that is falsely leading or completely untrue. This content could come from the website’s users, or from someone who’s poor opinion of the brand led them to create incriminating posts. In some cases, you can ask these websites, or Google to remove the information. They may be required by law if the post is untrue and considered internet slander. However, most content online, whether it’s true or not, is subject to the website’s approval only.

Content suppression

If you cannot remove the content online, you can effectively suppress it in the search engines. While the information is available, most people won’t see it if it’s not on the first or second SERP. You can suppress content by optimizing your own sites and social media channels.

Examples of Good and Bad Online Reputations

ORM campaigns can be used for both businesses and individuals. An individual’s online presence is usually minimal, except for those in high-profile positions or those who have gained some sort of internet fame. Below are some examples of positive and negative online reputations for individuals. While each of these people has good and bad press associated with them, some have better online reputations than others.

Lori Greiner 
TV show stars often have positive reputations online, and Lori Greiner is no exception. In the first page of her Google search results, you see her personal website, her Wikipedia bio, links to her social media and guest blogs, and information about her shows on QVC and ABC. She has done an excellent job of maintaining a positive image in the press, including what others say about her online.

Brian Williams 
Even the most powerful people on television can be hurt by what is posted online. The NBC news anchor was recently affected by accusations against his professional conduct. Over half of the organic search results containing his name contain negative content about him leaving NBC, and how his misconduct will permanently affect his career. Even if the scandal isn’t at the forefront of television, his online reputation will be forever tarnished.

Sundar Pichai 
It comes without shock that Google’s CEO has a great online reputation. Though his name is not immediately recognizable, his name appears on page one for over 500 SERPs. What’s surprising is that none of the organic search results for Pichai are from his own content. Almost all of his online reputation has been built from others’ content.

Walter Palmer 
Walter Palmer’s online reputation has been taken over by a lion; more specifically, Cecil the Lion, whom he hunted and shot in an African safari trip. The Rhode Island dentist faced serious backlash in the public eye, and his professional reputation has yet to recover. When you search for Walter Palmer, most of the results are about Cecil’s tragic killing, and how Palmer’s dentistry career has since plummeted.

These examples of good and bad online reputations illustrate just how fragile someone’s reputation can be, and how well it pays off to have an active online presence. ORM isn’t just for businesses and branding. It’s used to protect individuals from public scrutiny and can save them from career-ruining online content distribution.

How We Measure Results:

Rank K.O. offers ORM services for businesses and individuals, using the methods we’ve discussed in this guide. But, it’s not enough to just distribute content and hope for the best. We track our efforts and their impact on search engine results. This way, our clients can see when their campaigns are producing results.

We monitor the SERPs and new mentions of your brand with tools such as SERPWoo, SEMRush and Google Alerts. We can also see how you’re ranking for certain keywords. Keyword optimization is a big part of our ORM strategy, and we want to make sure you’re improving in organic rankings for the terms that best match your target audience.

We watch negative content to see when it’s knocked down to the second or third SERP, at which point the content is effectively suppressed. Most content past the third SERP is irrelevant to users. After the desired results are achieved, we switch our focus from content suppression to proactive brand management.

If you have any more questions about ORM, please feel free to contact us today for more information.

The role of ORM in PR

It can be said that companies earn their success based on two factors: their brand and their public reputation. Without a positive reputation, companies suffer. Negative press can ruin customers’ good faith in a brand, cause boycotts, lawsuits, and support of legislation to punish the wrongdoers. Ultimately it can cause a once-thriving company to go out of business.

Consumers are also taking more interest in the merit of the companies they buy from, not just the value or quality of their products. With the rise of the internet, marketing has shifted from a product and company-based approach, to a consumer-based approach. If you can’t win the price war, you have to win market share with your brand image.

But, you can’t rely on your company’s goodwill and the loyalty of a few good customers to build a brand. Consumers want to buy from recognizable brands with meaningful brand messaging and personality. A brand with character and a positive reputation (I.e. a brand that stays true to its mission and values) has a better chance of creating a following than the one with the lowest price.

This is the new role of public relations: to create brand personalities and good rapport with the public. However, the traditional methods that PR specialists use to build brands are not nearly as effective. Consumers get a majority of their news through online journals or social media, as opposed to print news, TV or radio. Therefore, a modern PR manager’s task of creating and maintaining a brand image starts with online reputation management (ORM).

The partnership of ORM and PR is the best way to make sure that your reputation is covered on all fronts. While traditional media is still highly effective, if you ignore ORM you are ignoring the majority of your audience. And because the web isn’t filtered or cycled through like traditional media, your online reputation faces a higher risk of damage from false or unjustified criticism that lasts long-term.

ORM and public relations are complementary components of a bigger strategy. The brand image you create, as well as the feedback and reviews you receive from others online can have major effects on your relationship with the public. ORM is now a necessary part of any PR campaign, and if done well can even replace PR firms in the future.

What is PR?

Public relations is the practice of shaping the public opinions of a business, organization, or an individual. PR firms and specialists create relationships between the media and their clients to gain attention on television and in print. They also try to minimize the effects of poor publicity, in the event of a crisis or public scandal.

PR indirectly connects consumers to businesses in their community. The variety of tactics that PR specialists use is unlimited. But they all have the same goal in mind: to portray the client in a positive light. Different campaign strategies yield different results, and it is only by trial and error that PR firms can make a long-lasting impression on their target audience.

PR specialists research their client’s target audience. They learn about their client’s niche, their consumers wants and needs, and the community issues that concern them the most. They also conduct surveys to determine client’s strengths and weaknesses in the public eye. Most businesses, from the moment they serve their first customer, have a brand reputation. It’s the job of the PR specialist to define this reputation, and figure out ways in which it can be used as a tool to connect the business to more customers in the future.

Some PR campaigns use a proactive approach, by promoting community events and cultivating good press for the company. These campaigns are used to establish a growing brand. PR campaigns can also include unconventional tactics to attract shocking or “breaking news” worthy press. Again, the goal is to have the client appear in the media without an ad placement or sponsorship.

However, many PR campaigns are launched in reaction to negative attention. Crisis management PR campaigns try to minimize the effects of bad news in the media. Companies suffer tremendously when their name is associated with a scandal, environmental crisis, or employee outbursts, for example. PR firms help their clients recover from the incident and rebuild their reputation in the community.

PR initiatives can include employee training, such as how to respond to crisis events internally and publicly, or how to act during news coverage events. These sorts of campaigns usually occur after an issue with one employee goes public. For example, if a company’s employee is accused of a criminal offense on the job, the company may want to publicly announce new HR protocol or release details about the reprimands of that employee to clear their reputation.

PR campaigns rely on reactions from the public. Whether that audience is local or nationally-based, the PR manager’s job is to make those interactions as positive for the consumer as possible. However, creating those positive interactions happens differently online, which is where ORM specialists come into play.

What is ORM?

ORM is a behind-the-scenes effort to create a positive image around an individual or brand. Just like a traditional PR manager, an ORM specialist will develop comprehensive campaigns to attract consumers’ attention and send positive messages about their clients online. The use of social media has made it possible for any individual or brand to use basic ORM tactics to augment or position their brands.

ORM is usually implemented as a reaction to negative publicity. If an online journal or unhappy customer posts poorly about a brand, the negative content rise to the top of the search engines. That content will then be seen by potential customers, therefore altering their view of the company as a whole. This is similar to a company receiving bad press on television or in print, but this negative information stays at the top of Google results. It can cause long-term effects on a brand’s reputation if not handled correctly.

To curb the influence of negative content on a brand’s reputation, ORM specialists will find ways to remove or suppress negative URLs in the search engines. They research keywords that populate negative search results, and target those keywords in an ORM content strategy. They post articles relating to the brand that are optimized for those keywords, and over time their ORM content outranks the negative content.

Though most ORM campaigns are reactive, proactive ORM campaigns can resemble proactive PR campaigns. They promote a company’s mission, values and involvement in the community. The more content published about a brand’s positive reputation, the less likely it is for a negative article or review to climb to the top. Proactive ORM campaigns serve the same purpose as a proactive PR strategy in traditional media.

Many proactive ORM campaigns focus on social media as a content distributor. Traditional PR uses media connections with journalists, news stations and contributors to major media outlets to gain publicity for their clients. ORM specialists, however, don’t have to use connections with others to gain attention. Social media is a place where any and all news is shared, and its reach is largely determined by what the audience finds relevant and useful.

Proactive ORM can also include employee training, in how employees talk about the company online and on social media. Employees can get many companies into trouble by posting information about them online, especially if it is leading or falsely incriminating. Employees should be trained on how to properly use social media in regards to their employer’s protection.

The Future of PR

PR specialists are now expected to have a wider range of digital media skills. Without these skills, their career and their clients suffer. PR firms that aren’t implementing digital media solutions for their clients will fall short of modern media’s demands.

PR firms need to change the ways in which they provide value to clients. Firms that already offer digital media services are ahead, but they need to offer more than social media and website services. Much of digital media marketing can be done by the companies themselves. But not everyone has the expertise nor the time to be aggressive with their ORM campaigns. The distinction between an average PR firm and exceptional ones is their willingness to collaborate and educate clients on campaign strategies that competitors aren’t already using.

Robert Wynn, public relations specialist and Forbes contributor, wrote in a recent article:

Public relations is quickly evolving as the industry barrels down a three-pronged fork in the road with three separate directions: Traditional PR, Advocacy PR and Social Media… The media business is changing, and so is PR.  Fewer consumers are reading newspapers and magazines on paper each year as they consume their news online.”

This statement is hinting to companies that traditional media isn’t the only, or even the best PR marketing method to use. Do consumers still pay attention to these methods anymore? To some degree, yes. But consumers are increasingly pulled away from traditional media by the allure that online and social media presents to them. It’s better to integrate digital media now, before your competition learns to do it better.

It’s a significant change of mindset to accept marketing, public relations, and digital media as a unified practice, rather than separate disciplines like they were in the past. In some ways, it makes planning and executing your marketing initiatives more difficult. But, in the end your brand image and reputation will be upheld by multiple channels all working towards the same goal. ORM and PR are two sides of the same disciple, and when you improve one, you can improve the other.

Have questions about ORM as a public relations speciality? Contact us at Rank K.O., or check out these resources for more information.

Negative Search Results and ORM KWs

A bad review is left for your business. An online editorial publishes controversial news about you. And soon, that article or review spreads on the internet and it starts to appear when potential customers search for you. One poor article can ruin your online reputation, and deter hundreds of potential customers. But, negative search results can be removed with an effective online reputation management (ORM) campaign.

When someone searches your name or company online, approximately ten websites will appear on what is called the search engine results page (SERP). The purpose of an ORM campaign is to remove or suppress negative search results (news articles, bad reviews, and other negative URLs) from the top SERP.

ORM Keywords are the search term combinations that yield negative search results. In order to suppress negative results on the SERP for certain keywords, you have to launch a content marketing campaign that targets those words. By creating fresh content optimized for your ORM keywords, you can suppress other high-ranking search results that reflect poorly on your brand.

What are Negative Search Results?

Negative search results can happen to anyone, whether you’re the CEO of a major company, or a job seeker with a public record. Bad reviews, poor news publicity, defamatory blog post and editorial content can happen to anyone. It’s the job of an ORM specialist to remove that content or suppress it with positive online content.

Negative search results usually occur after a public controversy or sensational news is posted. Let’s look at a few examples of public figures whose online reputations took a hit after news was spread about them online:

Heather Bresch

Bresch is the CEO of pharmaceutical company Mylan, creator of the  EpiPen. Mylan was scrutinized in the media for raising the price of the drug, which saves millions of lives each year. Because of Bresch’s position at Mylan, search results about the controversy of the price increase populate when you search her name. At the top of the SERPs, five negative results outnumber the four positive about her career and the advancements that Mylan has made in the pharmaceutical industry.

Austin Lee Russell

Also known as “Chumlee” from the T.V. show “Pawn Stars,” Austin Lee Russell’s online reputation took a major hit after he was arrested for possession of drugs. The third, fourth, and eighth search result for his name are articles about the arrest. The fifth result is also an article about a rumor that Russell died of a heart attack. Each of these results have buried positive press about the T.V. character, and have tarnished his reputation tremendously.

Parker Conrad, Zenefits

Parker Conrad is an entrepreneur and former CEO of Zenefits. In the top search results for Conrad, you’ll find articles surrounding his impromptu resignation from the company after it was suspected of selling insurance to customers without license and other suspicious business practices. The negative search result, “The Rocky Life of Zenefits Parker Conrad,” is #1 in the Google search, outranking the Wikipedia biography on him.

Stories like these are far from uncommon. Many well-intentioned people get caught in a public scandal, and soon their online reputation is dominated by these negative URLs. They climb to the top of the SERPs, and spread quickly through social media. But there are ways to resolve the issue with an effective ORM campaign.

What are ORM Keywords?

An ORM keyword is a search term that yields negative results. These terms are most likely related to the event that surrounds the negative search result. Depending on the significance of the event, you may have multiple ORM keywords surrounding your professional reputation or brand. To find every potential ORM keyword, a specialist will conduct thorough keyword research on your name and mentions of you on the web.

ORM  keywords are different from SEO keywords. They focus more about the SERPs themselves, rather than the keywords you want to rank for. One of the ways to find negative URLs is to do a simple Google search on your name, and see what autopopulates in the search bar. If you see any negative content on the first page of these search terms, look for related keywords that may populate the same results.

Just like in an SEO campaign, you will want to create content that ranks for those keywords. The difference is that with SEO, you’re trying to outrank competitors, but in an ORM campaign you want to outrank content that is negative for your brand image. SEO keywords are more diverse, because you want to target any search term that could lead a potential customer to you. ORM keywords pertain to what online users may be searching that instead of yielding positive results, shows negative content or bad reviews.

How can you find your ORM Keywords for Negative Search Results?

Finding your keywords for negative search results is a more lengthy process than finding SEO keywords. You need to know how to navigate Google search autocomplete and Google’s Keyword Planner. Using these tools you can find which terms are most commonly associated with your name or brand, and which of these popular terms yield negative results.

Let’s take a look at our previous example of the negative search results for Parker Conrad. When you type his name into Google, the search engine autosuggests the keywords, “Parker Conrad net worth,” and ‘Parker Conrad Zenefits.” Both of these are examples of ORM keywords. Keywords related to his company, such as the two autosuggested by Google, “zenefits news,” Zenefits scandal” and “Zenefits reviews,” could also play a role in Conrad’s ORM campaign. It’s likely that any article related to Zenefits scandal will also mention his name.

You can use different tools to track your ORM keywords, such as Google Alerts. This Google app will send you notifications for new articles and websites that mention any keyword you want to track. You can track your name, your company name, and any other ORM keywords you identify. Serpwoo is another tool that allows you to track the SERPs for any keyword, which can help you track the effectiveness for your campaigns.

What to do once you find your Negative Search Results and ORM Keywords?

Once you’ve identified which negative search terms you want to suppress, and which keywords to target in your campaign, you can begin developing the ORM campaign. There are two different methods for an ORM campaign: content removal and/or content suppression. Depending on the type of negative search results you’re trying to suppress, you will use a mix of these two methods throughout your campaign.

Content removal involves contacting different third-party sites and asking them to remove negative content on your behalf. You can usually follow this approach only if the content is false. However, some websites will allow users to publish inaccurate content and ask you to pay fees to remove it. Many review sites don’t allow you to remove content unless the user is accused of internet slander. In these cases, you will have to follow the route of content suppression.

To suppress content, you want to create new content around your ORM keywords that outranks the negative search results. Most users will not look past the first SERP, so your goal is to “own” all or most of the content that appears on that first search page. Publishing new site pages and blogs on your own website and microsites, as well as updating your social media profiles, will help your brand rank well in the search engines.

The more content you publish, and the faster you can distribute it on social media platforms, the sooner you can outrank negative search results. Google boosts rankings for sites that update their content regularly. The process takes time, often several months or even a year, but is the most effective method of suppressing negative content long-term.

Linguistic Relevancy

A part of writing effective content is considering the terms and slang your audience commonly uses. Google recently implemented changes to their search-ranking methods, which now takes into account the user and relevant websites’ semantics. It can detect similar keywords and their meaning to give users a better variety of results for their search queries. But what does this mean for your ORM campaign?

Linguistic relevancy in the search engines means that pages can rank for terms, even if they don’t have the exact keywords that the user searches for. For example, if someone looks up “how to make pancakes,” the search engine will understand that websites with the terms “pancake recipes,” and “best breakfast foods” may also contain information that the users would find useful. In an ORM campaign, if your keyword is “Zenefits scandal,” the search engine may populate articles related to “tech scandals of 2016” or “Zenefits bankrupt.”

Prior to this update with search engine rankings, SEO specialists would create separate pages optimized for specific keywords. But now, marketers can spend more time creating quality content, and targeting a greater variety of keywords. In fact, the practice of creating separate pages for essentially the same terms can cause penalties for your site, if the search engine considers it “keyword stuffing.”

Content creation guide

Content marketing has quickly become the #1 tactic for brand awareness and ad spending in 2017. In an age where most people are connected to the internet everyday, businesses are shifting from a company-centric to a consumer-centric marketing approach. This means providing information that interest and educates consumers, while gently leading them down the sales funnel through effective content marketing process. The customer is now in control, and makes the decision to interact with your brand without direct advertising.

Many companies facilitate the entire buying process online, but almost every customer will conduct an online search or engage with your brand in some way to make the final purchase decision. Studies show that 60% of consumers are influenced heavily by custom content from their favorite businesses and influencers. In 2015, a survey was conducted that revealed content marketing helps marketers reduce their budgets by 62%, yet were able to generate 3X more leads from their efforts.

No matter what industry or market you’re trying to target, implementing a content marketing strategy is crucial. You can use different methods, including content curation (reposting content from an industry leader), and original content creation. Successful content marketers usually create 60-75% of their own content, and use attribute-free reposted content for the rest.

Questions to ask before deciding what types of content to create and curate:

Who is your target audience?

Be very specific. When, and on what platforms are these customers most likely to engage with you? Are you reaching this audience on social media the most, or do they go directly to your site? Are you creating content for an internal audience, such as employees or others in your industry? Each of these questions should help you create in your mind a personality for your audience, as if you’re writing to someone specific.

What is your target audience’s opinions and views on current topics of interest?

Once you’ve thought a little more about who your target audience is, you need to consider their common traits and understand what social topics are of most interest to them. You want to align your content with the opinions of your audience, so they revisit your sites and social profiles for more. What unique perspective do you provide on these subjects that they can’t get anywhere else? You need to offer something of true value for them to return to you.

What other sources provide similar opinions or research to back up my content?

You can use others’ content as part of the curation process. Take insights from individual industry leaders, trade publications, research papers, and other reputable sources. You can share this content directly, or use it in your own content creation. Content curation shouldn’t be your main objective, but it can be used to provide outside evidence for your positions on certain topics.

What are the goals of this content strategy?

Is it to entertain, to inform, or to persuade? Depending on your target audience, you may or may not want to provide information for a sale in your content strategy. Many successful businesses create content simply for the reader’s enjoyment or educational benefit, and profit from ad placements or because they’ve developed a high level of trust with their consumers. No matter what strategy you choose, you should stay consistent with your content goals.

What is the purpose of this content for my audience?

What would prompt your audience to engage in your content? Do they use your content to learn more about my company, or are they using it for their own benefit? Most people use social media as an outlet for entertainment. If you’re going to target consumers on these platforms, you want to provide them with something that’s enjoyable to read or watch, not something that’s persuading them to buy.

Who else is publishing content in my category?

Trying to publish content for a market that is oversaturated can be very difficult. Your demographic has to be very specific to create a following that is loyal to you. You can use other content creators for your curated content, but don’t use direct competitor’s material. You can, however, get ideas from competitors and publish your own opinions to topics that are trending in the industry.

Written Content

Written content is usually at the top of content marketers’ priorities, because it is the best way to share information and a brand message to potential customers. Written content helps search engines understand what your company is about (through keywords and phrases), which helps you reach more customers. Written content also keeps customers engaged longer than an image or video. It is the pillar of any strong content creation strategy.

Though written content is the most important type of content to include in your strategy, it is also the most time-consuming. To write quality posts and articles, you need to do some research on your target audience. You need to understand what sort of search terms they are using, and what topics interest them the most. Plus, you need to keep your content fresh, so that repeat visitors don’t run out of things to read.

These are the most popular types of content to use on your website and social media channels:

Opinion Posts

Sharing your views on a hot topic in your industry or one that is especially important to your target audience can gain fast traction on social media. Use other articles from reputable sources to back up your posts’ credibility.

Site Pages

The pages on your website give specific information about your company and products or services. These should contain most of your targeted keywords. Aside from your main pages, you can add keyword-specific pages to boost your rankings in the search engines.

Blog Posts

Blogs can be used to entertain, to give easy solutions to a customer’s problems, or to provide interesting information about your company or industry. Common blog posts provide easily-digestible information, and give the reader just enough detail to feel satisfied with their inquiry.

Status Update – A status update is a personal message from your brand to your followers. It gives your brand a more personal representation, and can give followers insight into your company.

How-Tos

A how-to is a guide to help your customers solve problems that relate to the topic you cover on your blog. Giving away this free information will incline readers to learn more about you as a company, and perhaps opt for an even easier solution to their question – becoming one of your customers.

User Generated Content (Product/Service Reviews) – User-generated content helps with online customer acquisitions. Prospective consumers are more likely to buy a product (especially if it is in a medium too high price range), if prior customers have had good experiences.

Resource/Link Pages

A resource page differs from a blog in that it provides extensive coverage on one specific topic, and is usually research-based rather than opinion-based. These are essential for B2B services and high-dollar products. They also stand a better chance of ranking well in search engines.

Images

Images are some of the most popular and easily curated content online. Different types of images are used for different channels. You can inform, entertain or or simply capture a customer’s attention with a high-quality image. Though creating your own custom images is preferable, you can also find thousands of free stock photos online.

Research from BuzzSumo says that “having at least one image in your post leads to double the number of shares on Facebook and Twitter.” Simply adding a featured image will make your content more appealing to online consumers, especially if you plan to use social media as a primary content sharing strategy. Below are some of the most common types of images to use in content creation strategies:

Custom Graphics

Graphics are most commonly used for blog post headers and social media ads. And surprisingly, they aren’t that difficult to create. Using Adobe Illustrator or a web-based image editor, you can create custom graphics that fit your brand. The only downside to using custom graphics is that they take more time to develop than using a stock photo.

Memes

A meme is a captioned photo that gains internet fame for its humor and relatability to a particular audience. Memes can be about social cliches, TV or pop culture references, arts and culture, and commonalities of different demographic or interest groups. Memes are very popular on social media. If used appropriately for your target audience, memes are a great way to gain brand trust and more followers.

Infographics

Infographics are visual representations of data or information that consumers use to learn moore about an topic. They are most commonly used for B2B marketing, as these consumers often want to be more educated before buying a product or service. However, infographics are used to create visual “How-To” guides for B2C content marketing. These types of images are more likely to direct consumers to your product offers.

Visual Quotes

Quotes are some of the most liked and shared photos on social media. They are very easy to create, and work well for platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. You can use famous quotes, or quotes from executives within your company.

Audio/Video

Lastly, audio and video content needs to be an integral part of of your content creation strategy. While you present most of your information in written content, video and audio forms of that information are more likely to receive attention and gain traction on social platforms. A well-made video speaks volumes for your company. It can also be used on almost any media channel.

These are some of the most common audio and video types to include in your content marketing strategy:

GIFs

A GIF is an image that moves like a video animation, and can be used for many different content purposes. Some GIFs are used to showcase products, while others are captioned and used as animated memes.

Product Demos

Videos are a great way to showcase your product and how it works. Video tutorials are useful for all markets, from beauty products to computer software. End each video with a call-to-action that leads the viewer to a product offer.

How-To Video

How-Tos are a great way to help customers and engage them with your content series. Creating a how-to video as a blog post will draw a lot of attention to your site, especially when you share it on social media.

Livestreams

You can record and share events live, now very easily with tools such as Facebook Live. You can also use livestream video to share information with followers and allow them to ask questions as you’re recording.

Interviews

Interviews with company executives or members of your organization again make it easier for your customers to relate to you. It also gives you a chance to interact with them “face-to-face” and answer their questions in a more personal way.

Podcasts

A podcast is a series of live or recorded audio “shows” that are broadcast and shared online. Most podcasts are either free to the public or subscription-based. These are very useful marketing tools, because your audience can listen to your podcast when they’re at work, driving, or just about anywhere else.

Conclusions

By answering the questions in this guide, and using a mix of the content options, you’ll be able to create an optimized content marketing campaign that’s sure to bring in online leads for your business. Remember, there’s no one formula or strategy that works for every company – your content strategy has to be customized to your audience. Don’t wait to start creating and publishing content now. The sooner you start, the easier it is to gain a following.

Have questions about how to implement these strategies? Rank K.O. is here to help. Send us a message below, or check out our other guides on SEO and Digital Marketing Strategies.

Advertising in a mobile world

Twenty years ago, when people thought of advertising, television and print ads or radio spots would come to mind. But that’s not the case in 2017. Today, if someone is marketing to you, they’re reaching out via social media, pay-per-click or search engine ads. They’re collecting data on your internet activity and, based on that data, are targeting you for products and services in your search results and Facebook feed.

Online and mobile advertising has taken precedence for most marketing strategies. Even when people are watching television, their attention is often diverted to their smartphones during commercial breaks. The average American spends almost 90 hours a monthon their mobile devices. If you don’t have a mobile ad campaign, that’s 90 hours a month that your potential customers are spending on your competitor’s sites.

Mobile use varies by age range and other demographics. Surprisingly, over 10% of Americans do not use a desktop at home, but rather use their smartphone. However, the frequency of mobile use is more common with people ages 18-29 in urban areas. Smartphone usage also increases with income and educational level.

Smartphone and tablet owners use their devices for much more than online search. Social media usage on mobile devices has skyrocketed. Other common mobile device sues include online banking, health and fitness tracking, and ecommerce browsing and purchasing. There’s no limit to how companies can use mobile campaigns to reach their customers.

In order to create an effective mobile ad or mobile SEO campaign, you must understand the fundamental differences between mobile and desktop use.

Why You Should Optimize Everything for Mobile

Smartphones are no longer considered a high-end luxury product. Approximately 1.2 billion people now have smartphones. They’re commonly used for daily personal functions, and can be found in business and even school settings. U.S. consumers spend an average 20+ hours a week on mobile devices, browsing mobile sites and social media. And digital media is now consumed on mobile 20% more than on desktop.

This is great news for digital marketers and advertising platforms. Businesses can reach consumers when they’re at home, or when they’re out looking to shop. Local search is very popular on mobile devices, especially since most smartphones have navigational apps that correspond with mobile versions of search engines. However, companies still have room to grow in their mobile optimization and ad campaigns.

In 2014, mobile usage accounted for approximately 24% of media consumption. However, mobile ad spending accounted for only 8% of digital ad spending. Some companies are catching up to the trend, but this still poses an opportunity for companies to get ahead of the competition by increasing mobile ad spending.

An effective mobile optimization campaign starts with the right market research, and by creating mobile-friendly versions of a website and landing pages. Businesses that take the time to incorporate mobile strategies in their overall SEO campaigns have a better chance of engaging potential consumers and eventually converting them into happy customers.

How Mobile Data Helps You Find Your Target Audience

Consumers ages 18-34 spend an average 20% on mobile as compared to less than 3% on desktop (December 2015). Contrast this to people ages 55+, who spend 26% of time on a desktop, and only 7% on mobile, and you’ll see there is quite a bit of variation with mobile user demographics and target audiences. However, mobile users range from ages seven to 90. No industry or target audience is excluded from being affected by mobile advertising.

To figure out which of your customers are responding to your mobile SEO, you can look at your mobile site or app’s SDK data. An SDK (software development kit) is the set of tools an app or web developer uses to create certain functions for users. It also allows you to track user behavior on your site, to see what is most effective and what types of site visitors you’re attracting. Some web platforms will let you export and download this data.

After you’ve analyzed the data from your own mobile sites and web applications, you can create a lookalike audience for ad campaigns. Most lookalike audiences are developed through behavioral targeting. You target your ads at internet users with the same browsing behavior and interests, regardless of their age or other demographic indicators.

Using the lookalike audience, you can create custom ad targeting for search engines and social media campaigns. These platforms will also give you data on your desktop versus mobile users, to see which ads resonate better on certain devices over others. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook often do better with mobile ads, while Google AdWords perform better with desktop users. However you structure your mobile targeting, be sure to include a variety of audience segments. No one group of customers is unlikely to respond to mobile ads.

Does this Affect SEO Strategies?

Many businesses believe that their websites easily transfer to mobile. But, unfortunately most websites have not evolved to incorporate mobile and desktop friendly versions within one site. The change in screen size often alters the content on a website, and the user’s ability to easily navigate sites on mobile screens. It’s recommended that most sites have completely separate site designs for smartphones and tablets.

When you optimize content and site design for mobile, your emphasis should be on user experience. On a desktop, long-form content is easy to read, but on mobile it is often a distraction or disruption to visitors navigating the site. For this reason, much of your SEO strategy has to change when building a mobile-friendly version of your website.

The main difference is SEO strategy is your page design. Certain elements that can be useful on a desktop version shouldn’t be used for mobile design. Popups, small buttons, or anything that could interfere with scrolling should be eliminated from your mobile site. Visitors can get frustrated if they accidentally click on a link or can’t exit out of a popup. This especially hurts conversions if your checkout navigation is difficult to use.

You should also minimize text on mobile-versions of your site, including meta tags, titles, and page content. Instead of adding lengthy text, use videos and CTA buttons on mobile versions. Oftentimes, users browse the internet on their phones when they’re bored or don’t have the time to research something on their computer. They usually aren’t looking for long articles or product details – they will return to their desktop for this.

Local SEO is the second-most important part of mobile optimization. When users are on the road or trying to find a place to shop, they may turn to their smartphones for suggestions. In fact, over half of all mobile searches are for local results, and 61% of those users make a purchase after the local search. Ranking high in the search engines and having an easily navigable page will help those consumers find you. Most of them will then search a navigation app or review site, potentially comparing you to the competition.

Because mobile users spend less time per page during their search, you should optimize site speed as much as possible. There are a couple of easy ways to increase your site speed:

  • Minimize size and quality of images to help increase their loading speed.
  • Only use one redirect – from the main site to your mobile version. Eliminate all other redirects if possible.
  • Eliminate as many plugins as possible, unless they are necessary for the page.
  • Prioritize “above the fold” content by splitting your CSS into two segments
  • Choose a faster hosting service, or switch servers if your site is still running slow.

Types of Content Users Want

While your mobile and desktop consumers may be the same demographic, they use their devices in different ways. Mobile users search online for reviews, menus, business locations, and entertainment. They rarely do in-depth research on products and services from their smartphones. However, you need to provide a variety of content to attract all types of mobile users at different stages in the buying process.

Users prefer images and video on mobile because they’re easier to see. GIFs and memes, if appropriate for your branding, can be a great way to engage consumers on social media (which accounts for over 90% of mobile use). These types of images and video induce positive feelings for the viewer, which translated to a positive image of your brand in their minds. Humor and inspirational content work very well on social platforms. Audio content, such as a podcast, engages consumers even when they’re not directly engaged with their phone.

Other examples of content for mobile sites and social media:

  • Quotes (either in text-status or image form)
  • Introductory videos (replacing long-form text on landing pages)
  • Product demo videos
  • Video testimonials from customers
  • Live-streamed video
  • Infographics
  • Data visuals and diagrams
  • GIFs and Memes
  • Quizzes and Polls
  • Vlogs
  • Podcasts

Aside from social media, most smartphone owners use their devices primarily for email and apps. Almost ¾ of mobile users say they check emails on their phone. Email marketing is another content option for mobile users. Very few content marketers use mobile-responsive email templates for their campaigns, which means you can likely beat out the competition with a killer mobile email marketing campaign. Make sure you use highly-visual emails with graphics to encourage recipients to follow your CTAs.

The bottom line is, mobile users prefer visually appealing and easily-digestible content. Spend less time on copy, and more time on great animation and graphic design for whatever types of mobile content you use.

Is Desktop Still Relevant?

Despite the boom in mobile usage, desktop is still vital to your overall SEO campaign. Even with smartphones most people use desktops for business and some personal use. Some people use their smartphones for everything, while others only use it when a desktop isn’t available. You need to be aware of your target demographic and how they incorporate mobile into their everyday lives.

Conversion rates on desktops are higher, but most consumers find you first on mobile. Users may visit your site or a social media profile on mobile, but then return on a desktop to make the purchase or read more. Most use desktop for big ticket items or for anything that requires a lengthy login or application process. If you’re selling a product that requires a longer decision-making process for most consumers, you need to put extra emphasis on your desktop version, so consumers feel comfortable buying online or contacting you for more.

Small items are easy to sell on mobile and social media (especially visually-focused platforms like Instagram). If an item costs less than $10, you have a good chance of selling it on a mobile site. Otherwise, you’ll need to capture the mobile visitor’s information or encourage them to contact you so you can follow up with buying options on a desktop application.

Integrating your mobile and desktop SEO strategies is the best approach to a successful campaign. While you’ll need to alter some elements of your website for mobile, the same principles apply to ranking high in the search engines and engaging consumers to guide them towards their first purchase. After you’ve built a following, your rankings will only continue to rise and your online reputation continue to grow.

Reverse engineering leaders in your industry

Search engines were once a mystery to their users, and even the websites that were indexed on them. But now researchers have been able to figure out commonalities and factors that increase sites’ traffic across the board. But the tactics change over time, as do the way search engines read and understand the websites they rank. Figuring out these factors and staying up-to-date on changes are a full-time job for many SEO specialists.

Google, one of the largest companies in the world, is always trying to stay ahead of the competition and therefore, on top of what their users want most. That’s why they consistently update their ranking systems to provide the best content on the web to consumers. While they’re constantly innovating, it can be hard for marketers to stay ahead of the trends for “new” SEO techniques and tactics.

The team at Rank K.O., including content marketers and SEO analysts, have done the research and found what works and what doesn’t in the modern world of SEO. We’ve created this guide to help beginners update their SEO strategies.

Outdated SEO Tactics

Search engines constantly update their algorithms to find the most relevant sites to display for common search terms. But, it’s up to SEO professionals to stay up-to-date on these changes, or figure them out by trial and error. SEO tactics that worked five years ago may not be as effective today. In fact, some of them may hurt your rankings or get you penalized if you’re not careful.

Below are common SEO tactics that used to work for marketers, but are now losing their effectiveness due to search engine updates and new ranking factors:

Targeting head terms versus long tail keywords

Keyword research is an important part of any SEO campaign. “Head” keywords used to be the focus of most brands’ strategies. But now, users know that searching a generic term will give them irrelevant results. Long-tail keywords are more relevant to the user and will gain better ranking and traffic long-term.

Writing “keyword-rich” content (keyword stuffing)

Using similar keywords helps search engines understand the topics and audiences your website is targeting, but using too many on the same page can now hurt your rankings. Search engines like to see pages that are useful and easy to read for the user. If you’ve used the same search term in every paragraph, search engines may penalize your page for publishing content that isn’t user-friendly.

Relying on text-heavy content

Text content is easy to create, but it’s not the only type of content you need to publish on your site. SEO specialists used to upload text-heavy content because it can be created quickly, and therefore the website receives more updates per month. However, searches engines want to see well organized pages. A page with any more than 500 words is easier to read if it’s broken up by other media content.

Focusing on quantity, not quality of backlinks

Linkbuilding is still a valid SEO tactic, but the way some strategists do it is outdated. Accumulating as many backlinks as possible, if they are not from high ranking domains, provides little, if any benefit. Changes in search engine algorithms is putting more emphasis on the quality of backlinks (domain authority and relevancy to the topic) to determine page rank.

Submitting press releases to ezines or other free article submission websites

SEO specialists used to submit blogs and press releases to different online publishers in hopes of gaining backlinks and increased traffic. However, these press releases/article submissions can won’t count as a ranking factor anymore. They may even penalize you, if they come from a paid linkbuilding site.

Modern Ranking Factors

Due to recent updates, popular search engines like Google now rank content differently. For example, Google’s recent Hummingbird update incorporated semantic search to rank pages not only with keyword matches, but those that use phrases that have the same meaning to search terms. Google’s Penguin update has been able to catch sites that use paid links or link networks, therefore penalizing sites with illegitimate backlinks.

Other updates have allowed the search engines to better understand the context and quality of content, giving users more relevant pages at the top of the SERPs. This encourages content marketers to create quality pages for their users, rather than generating content solely for SEO. Now that search engine and user needs are better aligned, SEO tactics have changed.

Here are some of the ways that content marketers are changing their SEO tactics:

Regular content updates

Websites still need to update their content on a regular basis. Strategists used to do this by posting on a weekly blog, or by changing the content of core pages periodically. However, a better strategy is to add hidden pages or subpages to a site. This not only encourages visitors to stay on your site, but it helps you target individual keywords.

Focusing on quality backlinks

Quantity of backlinks means very little unless those links come from high-authority domains. To develop this recognition, you need to promote your high quality content and share it with people who are likely to backlink to it. Building relationships with others in your industry can help you cultivate the audience, and therefore better quality links.

Mobile responsiveness

Research suggests that nearly 60% of searches are done on mobile devices. Mobile websites differs from desktop, but marketers need to take into account both types of onsite SEO to increase their organic traffic. Local SEO is especially important for mobile optimization, since people looking for local businesses may use their phones to find recommendations on-the-go.

Other ranking factors include site security and elements within a page’s text

Most sites are now encrypted for security purposes, which you can tell if there is an “https” at the beginning of the url. Sites that are not encrypted for security (with “https” urls) will be marked as unsafe by Google. Anchor text, if used appropriately, can help a page rank. But, if it considered “spammy” it may be penalized by the Penguin update.

How Social Media is Changing SEO

We know social media is a great way to reach out to new and existing customers. We engage with them by publishing content and encouraging dialogue on social channels, but these efforts serve another purpose other than brand awareness. Social media plays an important role in SEO and increasing website traffic.

Content that generates a lot of traffic on social media (especially Twitter) contributes directly to page credibility and visibility. Search engines look at how many times a link has been shared or reported on social channels, and will take that into consideration for overall page credibility, and determining which keywords are most relevant for that link.

Most people focus on Google rankings, but the second-most popular search engine, Bing, uses social signals (such as number of “likes” or followers on a social profile) to rank sites. Having a strong social presence makes it easier to generate more likes and mentions across social media, which in turn can help you boost your web traffic. The best way to do this is to share your blog posts and resource articles, and boost these posts from time to time.

While social media pages aren’t indexed, they can drive traffic to your site, which Google uses as part of their ranking system. Make sure the pages you share on social media are highly engaging, to minimize the bounce rate. You also want to share a variety of content  types, including images, video, live streams, and even Facebook contests or polls.

Oftentimes, social media profiles rank better for small businesses than their websites do. While you should focus your SEO efforts on the website itself, a strong social media presence can help you gain those initial followers, and lead them to your site. If you’re working on an online reputation management campaign, or trying to repress negative content about your site, building a social profile will help you outrank those negative URLs.

Social media channels can also act as a type of search engine. If someone is on a social media platform, they may be likely to search it rather than leaving and searching on another platform. Use hashtags and keywords in your statuses to generate traffic to your social profiles. Visitors may want to follow you, or share your content with their own social followings.

New Common Practices

Now that search engines have evolved to meet the needs of their users, we can expect content marketers to use better tactics to gain their audience’s attention. SEO is geared more towards qualitative work, rather than technical tricks and hacks. SEO is becoming one of the more customer-centric elements of the digital marketing strategies.

You can use these tactics to boost your SEO campaign and generate more quality site traffic:

Optimize titles for clicks, not keywords

Just like in print, your headline is the most important part of a piece of content. Even on page one of the SERPs, without a headline that grabs attention, your blog post or article may not generate any clicks. Lists, how-tos, comprehensive resource articles and shocking news posts can generate the most traffic, and therefore the most conversions.

Target unique keywords with individual pages

To grow your site and update content (outside the use of a blog), you can create separate pages for each keyword you want to target. Create a list of keywords you want to target, and create content with images and copy that focuses on each phrase. You should also have one or a handful of primary pages to target all related keywords. Don’t worry about targeting all variations of one keyword, as Google understands the context of copy.

Use of microsites

Some sources say that microsites can hurt ranking for your main site, which has some validity. However, microsites work well for outranking negative URLs in an online reputation management campaign. Some companies create microsites specifically for their blogs,especially if the site is slow or if they want multiple blogs for different locations.

Creating comprehensive content, such as guides and “pillar posts”

The only way to successfully rank for head terms and even some long-tail search terms is to create in-depth, long-form content. Longer articles, especially if they have inbound links, images, infographics or video not only rank better, but they have lower bounce rates than short and simple pages. Creating content of this level of detail takes more time, but pays off long-term.

Rank K.O. uses these tactics in our SEO campaigns to target keywords and phrases of the highest potential for our clients. We’ve used these same techniques to build online reputation and increase traffic for multiple clients, and have seen long-term proven results.

Websites: why simpler is better

When a potential customer or client Googles your name, it’s vital that what they see is favorable – informative blog posts, good reviews, and maybe even other websites talking positively about your brand. But brand positioning in the search engines isn’t always up to you. Anyone can write about you online, and not everyone has the best intentions. An unhappy customer, scammer or even a competitor in your industry can just as easily influence a potential customer’s opinion about you.

To ensure that customers get the best first impression of your brand online, you need an online reputation management (ORM) plan. If you aren’t aware of what’s being said about you online, you may soon have a crisis situation that requires reactive reputation management. However, if you’ve prepared for such situations, you can easily recover from any bad press. An ORM specialist can help you design a reputation management plan that positions you favorably, and creates resiliency against online aggression or misinformation.

Overview

Online reputation management used to be a digital marketing specialty that focused solely on recovery from bad reviews and articles online When a company received this sort of negative attention, marketing specialists would try to suppress the negative content or remove it entirely from the web. This reactive approach is similar to the way PR managers try to minimize press coverage when a crisis or public controversy involves one of their clients.

While this strategy is still effective in crisis management, most companies have adopted a more proactive approach to ORM. Rather than focusing on defense, companies build their online reputation early on, to create resilience in case they run into negative content. A proactive approach to ORM protects you, and directly benefits other elements of your digital marketing campaign.

Both a proactive strategy and reactive plan must be in place for companies to successfully build a strong online reputation. The current reputation of the company, as well as the industry and it’s size determine which ORM strategies work best. Rank K.O. uses both proactive ORM and content suppression techniques to help clients gain the trust of their target audience online.

Proactive

If you are able to build a proactive ORM campaign for your company, it’s a great idea to start it now. Even if a company has a relatively strong reputation, it’s better to be the one in the driver’s seat than to risk your online reputation being ruined by one angry customer or competitor. Plus, proactive ORM is easily integrated into your SEO and other digital marketing campaigns. While the disciplines differ in various ways, a strong proactive ORM campaign will surely help with any SEO activity you’re currently pursuing.

Proactive ORM is also a tool many PR specialists use to promote their initiatives. Publishing and distributing content about your recent good charity or community involvement gains as much attention online as incriminating articles or negative opinions about your brand. Once an online publisher posts a positive article about your company and links to your site, the more likely others are to do the same.

Proactive campaigns more closely resemble SEO strategies than reactive campaigns. In a proactive ORM approach, you want to target keywords that your target audience searches for, but also terms that could potentially yield negative results. However, you have the creative freedom to choose topics you want to include in your brand positioning, not just topics that relate to your ORM keywords (which we will discuss in later sections of this guide).

Reactive

Companies in industries with higher risk factors have to focus more on reactive ORM. Law firms, finance companies, or healthcare providers – all of these businesses have a higher risk of disappointing their customers, as opposed to other low-risk business models. Because of these industries’ higher likelihood to receive negative press, most will have to launch a reactive ORM campaign at some point in time.

Reactive ORM campaigns take more time to produce results. Instead of providing protection for your brand, you are fighting against another website for top links on a SERP (search engine results page). This SERP “real estate” is very hard to win if you aren’t already implementing an ORM or SEO campaign. Oftentimes negative content has an advantage because of its relevancy to a consumer’s search, and time sensitivity to recent events within your company.

Unfortunately, most companies are not introduced to ORM until they need to implement a reactive approach. However, if the company takes the time to rebuild their reputation after a crisis event, they can continue to promote their brand through proactive ORM. Transitioning from a proactive to a reactive campaign helps companies overcome their reputation management challenges, and can yield very positive results long-term.

What is the difference in Proactive vs Reactive ORM Campaign Strategies?

The first steps are the same, whether you pursue a proactive or reactive ORM strategy. Just like in an SEO campaign, you try to target specific keywords to develop a content strategy. For ORM campaigns, however, you focus more on what already appears in the SERPs, and if it’s negative or positive. If you’re combining a proactive and reactive ORM strategy, these are the steps you would take:
Proactive and Reactive ORM Strategies:

Research – A precursor to any digital marketing campaign is research. ORM specialists use tools to identify keywords and competitive URLs to help their clients gain more SERP “real estate” and promote positive content. You don’t need to target every SEO keyword in an ORM campaign. It’s important to identify and focus your efforts where they will be most valuable to your campaign.

Create an ORM Keyword Plan – ORM keywords are slightly different from SEO keywords. ORM keywords are the words that populate negative content about a company, whereas SEO keywords are any words or phrases that potential customers use to find brands in your niche. Creating your ORM keyword plan after research will help you design your content strategy.

Remove Negative Content (if possible) – In a reactive ORM campaign, your specialist will try different methods to remove negative content. If an online article or review is misleading or includes false information, they may be able to negotiate with the site owner to take it down. However, in most cases this isn’t a viable option. Websites and online consumers have great freedom to post whatever they wish, as long as it is not considered internet slander.

Develop Content Strategy – Next, you will create content based on your ORM keyword plan. This content should be technically and linguistically optimized for your keywords. Different types of content, including blog posts, resource pages, infographics and multimedia should be included in your ORM content strategy. A variety of content will help you rank higher in the search engines and suppress negative content.

Monitor Campaign Progress – Your ORM specialist should monitor your progress, providing evidence that the campaign is reaching ORM goals. You can measure progress by monitoring SERP activity for your keywords, and tracking both positive and negative mentions of your brand online.

In a proactive campaign, you are free to create a brand voice from scratch or target certain keyword groups and demographics. Proactive ORM resembles SEO in that you’re trying to rank for a variety of terms and are building an overall positive brand image. However, in most proactive ORM campaigns, you want to target keywords that could potentially have negative content, such as “Company X reviews,” or ‘Company X cost.”

Proactive ORM allows you to take more time in the content creation phase. When trying to suppress negative content (in a reactive approach), you must focus more on the speed of publishing content than the actual quality.. However, when taking a proactive approach, you have the freedom to be creative and take on an integrated campaign with your SEO and overall digital media strategy.

In a reactive campaign your ORM Keywords will determine the type of content you create. You must focus only on the specific terms that yield negative search results. To find these terms, you analyze every popular search term that your company ranks for and make a list of all negative search results that also appear for those terms. Then you can begin creating and publishing content to outrank those negative URLs.

Reactive also requires more content to suppress, which takes more time. The more content you can publish in a short amount of time, the quicker you’ll be able to suppress negative content in the SERPs. Reactive ORM can take significantly more resources than the proactive approach. However, in some industries reactive ORM is just part of the process, and is well worth the effort. You can always transition from a reactive ORM campaign to a proactive one once the negative content is off page one of the SERPs.

Proactive ORM is a branding effort, and reactive ORM is it’s crisis management counterpart. Both digital PR tactics can help your company in the long-run gain customer trust and support from other websites in your niche. If you want to compete in the online marketing arena, a comprehensive ORM strategy is essential.

Rank K.O. uses both the proactive and reactive ORM approach to help our clients achieve certain goals. Each client we take on has different objectives, and we respect their needs by creating individualized ORM campaigns. Please contact us with any questions you might have.