Online Reputation Management: How to Develop a Positive Internet Presence
Imagine for a moment you are in need of legal representation and have narrowed your selection set to a particular law firm either through a recommendation, advertisement campaign or other research method. What now?
Most likely, your next step is to ‘Google’ the firm to do some further due diligence. which mostly likely will return hundreds—if not thousands—of search results; the top hit is probably a link to the law firm’s website followed by many others including employment site reviews, social media links, Google reviews, blog sites, and more. Although you are tempted to go straight to the firm’s website, you notice a negative headline on the first page of results, and, out of curiosity, you click that instead. After reading that article, you do a little more digging, and maybe find a few more questionable articles as well. Even if you don’t click any of these negative links, just seeing these adverse headlines (true or not) will give you pause, and most likely, deter you from engaging this firm for your needs.
Now not every firm has pages of negative press but, in this litigious time, it’s very easy for an unhappy client or malicious competitor to pollute your search engine results with unwarranted criticisms or unsavory comments, all of which could end up being a major problem for your business. In fact, 93% of searchers never go past the first search engine results page, instead use only the first 10 search results to form their impression. Therefore, it is essential that you pay attention to the way your firm is perceived in online searches.
But how do you improve your online standing? That’s where online reputation management comes in.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is a strategy that helps you influence the way your brand appears online. ORM encompasses a wide range of activities that help you achieve a set of positive search engine results when users search online for your company and your services. It encompasses review sites, your website, social media mentions, press articles, microsite content, Wikipedia entries, and more.
Many people get ORM confused with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The difference is that SEO is about optimizing the content you produce and release on a specific webpage so it ranks higher on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP), whereas ORM is about maintaining a level of control over all of the search results that appear. Although SEO plays a critical role in ORM, managing your reputation online involves strategizing about posts that you control as well as the ones you do not.
What contributes to ORM?
To get ORM right, you need to consider the different types of content that may appear when someone searches your firm. These types are:
Earned media is content you did not pay for, including press releases, reviews, and social mentions. You have the least amount of control over this type of media, as it comes from outside sources.
Paid media refers to paid advertising including search engine ads, paid social media ads, sponsored blog posts, and other forms of pay-per-click (PPC) ads. This type of media is beneficial for your brand and should be incorporated in any ORM strategy.
Owned media includes content on the online channels that you control including your website, microsites, social media pages, and online directory listings. Focusing your efforts on SEO, content creation, and distribution can be a good way to get information ranking high on SERPs.
Diversifying your plan across these types of media is important. According to the Edelman 2022 Trust Barometer, trust in search engines is at 59%, followed by traditional media at 57%, owned media at 43% and social media at only 37%. By diversifying the media types you use, you are able to influence more people and gain more trust among audiences.
Understanding what constitutes ORM is a vital first step to ensuring your brand character remains unquestioningly positive. If you want to know how best to manage your online reputation, or, if you are already struggling with a poor reputation online, read the second part of this guide: 7 Steps to Improve Your Online Reputation Management.
And you can always contact us for expert advice on and assistance with your online reputation management.