Online Reputation Management (ORM) uses strategies and tacticsthat actively take control of the online conversation about your business. This includes Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques that ensure you get found by customers searching for you and that when you do, it creates the right perception.
While SEO generally aims to get a website into top positions of search engine results for relevant keywords, ORM does this and more, using SEOto control the overall image of a brand and how it appears in search.Creating the right presence in search results, social media and third-party sites means that your customers get the best impression of your business.
Google your business. What do you see?
Asearch engine is the first place people turn to learn about anything. In fact, 93% of online experiences start with a search engine and with the internet going mobile first it’s only getting more pervasive. 87% of smartphone users now use a search engine at least once a daywith voice assisted search making it even more convenient.
Google is responsible for 94% of internet searches, butless than 10% of people go past the first page. This is especially true for local businesses with 92% of search engine usersbuying frompage one of local search results.
Is your business in the top three coveted positions in Google Maps?
SEO used to be something bigger companies did, but times have changed. In 2019, a study found that in 93% of searches with local intent, Google’s maps listings appear in the top position of search engine results with local listings attracting 39% of clicks.
Local search is highly targeted and timely with people searching for a business at the exact moment they need it. 46% of searches in Google are now“near me” or “close by” type searcheswith these search types resulting in a phone call 76% of the time.
The top three positions in Google Maps can create a gnarly competitive advantage.
What impression do your business reviews create?
Online reviews and star ratings have become a key success factor in local search, providing a quick visual indicator of customer satisfaction. Reviews now attract 40% of clicks in search results, which says a lot about how much people value the opinions of others online. One adverse comment or negative reviewcan impact a business’ bottom line.
Starratings can improve click-through ratesin search engine resultsby as much as 35%. Reviews and rating have a big impact on customer purchasing decisions. In fact, businesses withstarratings of4 to 4.5earnthe highest average revenue.Take note that low ratings on Google and TripAdvisor have been found to have the largest negative impact on revenue.
Are there obstacles in your customer journey?
Online Reputation Management is about more than creating the right impression, it is also about providing a great user experience.
Local businesses mustmake the effort to create a frictionless customer journey.This means creating a smooth experiencefrom touch point to touch point, from awareness to post-purchase. Obstacles in the customer journey, such as incorrect details, broken links and negative reviews, deter customers. 82% of customers will be put off by negative reviews, and 50% of customers would be deterred from using a local business if their online information was inconsistent or seen to be out of date.
SEO can highlight positive content and simultaneously push irrelevant or negative content down the page. While this helps your image, it can also help shape the customer journey by ensuring that customers easily find the most relevant content for their enquiry.
Meanwhile, businesses must be proactive with customer feedback and provide up-to-date and consistent information and communications to make the online experience easy.
How popular are you?
If you want your business to be found in the top three positions in Google, you better be popular with both customers and algorithms because search engines prioritise popularity. This is why ORM uses SEO techniques to increase your rank.
In an aim to provide the most relevant response to a user’s query, search engines such as Google use algorithms to determine its search results. Because algorithms can’t tell whether information is truly accurate, it bases this decision on a probability score. Applying a mathematical formula, it evaluates relevance and authority, which it sees as determinants of rank.
For local businesses, reviews and ratings have become a key indicator of popularity for search engines.Businesses in the top three positions tend to have an average rating of 4-5 stars. To achieve better rankings in search results a business needs a favourable star rating and positive reviews that signal trustworthiness to Google.
Is SEO worth the investment?
Online Reputation Management and Search Engine Optimisation go hand in hand. Successful SEO in ORM proactively coordinates contentsuch as articles, images, videos, blogs, and websites, as well as reviews and ratingsinsearch engine resultsto improve your businessimage online, thus helping craft a conversation that influences customer buying decisions. If the advantage results in more revenue and more happy customers, then the investment’s a no-brainer.
Melissa How M.COM(MKTG) M.E.I. founded Marketing Wise in 2010 and has delivered digital marketing projects and campaigns for more than thirty organisations. She is a thought leader on Online Reputation Management for local businesses.