There are many different elements needed to create a marketing strategy. While these elements may intertwine they are dissimilar, and it is important for businesses to understand that there is a significant variance between SEO and reputation management. One an organization understands these differences they will be able to utilize the benefits of these strategies to create a successful marketing campaign.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is a technique that a business uses to make Internet content easier for search engine spiders and humans to find. These strategies are also important to use as a way of explaining what the content is about so that surfers know if it is pertinent to their search.
Search engine spiders crawl over content to look for keywords in order to categorize and rank content. Originally, this lead to web builders filling content with popular keywords in order to place their information at the top of a search engine results pages. Changes to the way the algorithms analyze and interpret information on web pages has resulted in companies abandoning these techniques. Now they rely on HTML, meta tags, and other strategies in addition to keywords to effect the way spiders rank their content.
Reputation management (RM) is where a company protects the image of the organization, its staff, and its offerings. This form of marketing entails branding, image, and customer service strategies to control the way the public and its market perceives the organization. It can include marketing and public relation campaigns both on and off the Internet in order to monitor and maintain public perceptions.
People often see reputation management campaigns in the terms of individuals. Whenever a scandal occurs and a famous person holds a press conference to tell their side of the story they are practicing reputation management. Companies often do this as well when a major event impacts the opinion of people against a company. The Valdez oil spill and recent bank scandals are two examples of when the public felt negatively toward a specific company and the organization created a public relation’s campaign in an attempt to sway public opinion.
The Differences between SEO and RM
When considering SEO and RM companies need to understand how they work separately but equally to create a marketing strategy. For while many companies know about SEO and actively use key strategies to impact Internet marketing, many organizations don’t create and implement a RM campaign. They believe that RM is only necessary when something bad has already happened, when in truth, a comprehensive management strategy helps to mitigate the effects of negative occurrences in the market.
Finding You and What They See
The main difference between SEO and RM is that SEO is used to help a target market find a company’s Internet content and RM is used to determine how they interpret what they see when they look at information about the organization.
If a person is looking for golf clubs for a birthday present they may do research on the Internet before making a purchase. The search engines results will offer them with many different companies where they can buy golf clubs. If the person has already heard about a company, the information may impel them to either rule that company out or put that business above other ones they haven’t heard of.
RM is all about Perception
Reputation management is all about perception. It is how the public perceives a company, its staff and its products that matters, and facts aren’t always a part of this perception. This means that a company can work for years to create a positive image but one negative campaign based only on innuendo can destroy everything in a matter of months.
SEO, on the other hand is not about perception it is about information and utilizing the right strategies to impact results. And a company can use SEO to impact RM, while RM can’t be used to impact SEO. An organization can create all of the TV ads it wants to create an image for a new product, but that project won’t appear at the top of Google results without an aggressive search engine campaign. Yet, if a company has a negative image, it can create content that will impact public opinion and use SEO to make sure this information ranks higher on a results page than negative information posted by competitors.
SEO Can’t Convert Contacts
Search engine optimization can’t be used to help convince potential contacts into customers whereas reputation management is the main reason why those in the market become and stay loyal customers. By utilizing branding, image and customer service strategies a company can monitor how the market perceives the organization and its offerings in order to create a marketing campaign to overcome objections and inspire confidence.
With the majority of adults researching products and services on the Internet, it is important for reputation management to include content that educates people about the organization. This can be done on websites, blogs, social media sites, press releases and downloadable content. By informing individuals about the organization and its expertise, the company will help build trust. Trust is an important aspect of converting contacts into customers. Even if an organization has a superior product, if the market doesn’t trust the company they will not buy from it.
RM Can Prevent a Negative Reputation
Companies often believe that there is no way to prevent a negative reputation; they just have to react when it happens quickly to minimize the damage. This isn’t true. Reputation management doesn’t have to be about closing the barn door after the horse gets out, it can be about fixing the gate to the stall and checking on the horse to prevent escape.
By monitoring specific keywords on the internet, a company can determine if there are negative conversations about the organization. These conversations can be from customers complaining about poor service, competitors creating negative campaigns and even spam campaigns created with the goal of ruining a company.
Careful monitoring will also let a company know what people think about the company and its offerings. This will help create an understanding regarding public relation policies, improvements to offerings and future offerings the company may want to provide. If there are customers complaining on social media sites about a public or the way they were treated by employees then the company can put a policy in action that will rectify these issues before their reputation is irrevocably damaged.
SEO can Make RM Strategies Visible
Once a strategy is designed, SEO is necessary to make it successful on the Internet. While RM can suggest keywords to target, keyword research will be necessary to determine which keywords will bring out the desired results. Tags and titles can be used to attract the attention of people who may be surfing for more information about a company. It can take time to achieve the desired ranking, but combining SEO and RM strategies can help offset negative information on the Internet.
RM can lead the Conversation
People are always talking about companies on the Internet. Social media is one of the main resources people use to learn about an organization because they trust the opinion of friends and family over advertising. Even if a company doesn’t participate on social media a quick search will often reveal people talking about the good and bad points of a business.
Social media strategies should be a part of reputation management and monitoring conversations about a company and its products should be a task for the marketing and customer service departments. Companies should have a strategy in place for how to handle complaints on social media sites. When handled correctly, a business can turn a potential problem into a positive. This shows the market that the company does care about the customer’s experience and when a problem is discovered they take action to rectify the situation.
An Ounce of Cure
They say that an ounce of prevention is better than an ounce of cure. By making reputation management an essential element of a marketing strategy a company can control the market’s perception and take steps to make sure that public opinion stays positive.
While SEO techniques can be used as a part of relationship management, RM entails much more than just SEO. It starts with a company deciding how it wants to be perceived by the market and how they can influence opinion. Once strategies are in place, monitoring is necessary to determine the current perception of the market and how the company can reverse negative opinion.
RM also means putting customer satisfaction first and strengthens relationships within the market so that if something does go wrong the public will give the company the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst. SEO can help with all phases of relationship management but businesses need to understand that search engine optimization alone isn’t enough to affect the perception of the public.