While you’re busy creating a carefully crafted image of your client or company, the majority of your stakeholders will form an opinion based on information available online, often drawing quick conclusions solely based on the top results of a Google search. This means that no matter how many news stories you earn or blog posts you write, they will be rendered ineffective unless they appear prominently as part of your client’s online presence. By including digital reputation management efforts in your PR plan, you’ll be able to better build, monitor, defend, and restore your client’s reputation online.
To get started, here are five things you need to know:
- Take ownership of your own content
The first rule of digital reputation management is to take ownership of your online reputation. Your owned channels and relevant content should be the first thing that appears in a Google search; if they are not, you have some work to do. Start by making sure you have claimed all relevant social media and online profiles available, and use them to share content you want your key stakeholders to see.
- Prepare for a PR crisis
If you plan ahead, you can prevent – or at least mitigate – the impact of a PR crisis on your digital reputation. Review your online content to evaluate how it references or addresses topics that might become the source of a PR nightmare. Then play the role of a reporter to unearth unflattering search results that appear when using various combinations of keywords and the name of your client. Don’t forget to search by using nicknames, alternate spellings, and different versions of names and titles. Finally, contextualize your results and formulate a plan for how to address the possibility of a looming crisis.
- Monitor and manage Wikipedia pages
Wikipedia is often a prominent search result and considered by many to be a useful source of information about your company or client, so make sure that the information is accurate and not unfavorable. While Wikipedia strongly discourages editing articles related to you, it is perfectly acceptable to closely monitor page changes so that you can submit content for inclusion within articles. You can also notify editors of inaccuracies or vandalism. To catch any potentially malicious or erroneous edits, track your Wikipedia pages using the free Five Blocks WikiAlerts tool.
- Pave the way to your content
Most PR practitioners focus on pushing content through various channels with the hope that stakeholders will come across the right content in the right place, at the right time. Your target audience, however, is busy pulling information by using specific keywords that may or may not lead them to your client. To better control the pathway to content you want them to see, use a tool such as the Google Search Console to identify keywords that do (or do not) direct traffic to your target website.
- Leverage search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing tactics
Ranking your desired content prominently in search is important if you want it seen by anyone looking for information online. For content to appear on top, focus on making it both relevant and engaging. If the search is for an individual, ensure the content answers the questions searchers are most likely to have about that person. You might also include video or other types of content the searcher may not have been expecting. Content that is not good enough will lead readers to “bounce” by quickly clicking the browser back button. Content that attracts bounces won’t rank as high as pages with engaging and interesting content.
At Five Blocks, we frequently partner with PR professionals to help their clients achieve a fair digital representation of themselves and their work with the help of data, proprietary technology, and over a decade of expertise.
If you’re looking to implement a digital reputation management program, or need help managing your digital reputation, contact us for a free assessment of your current situation.
Twitter jumped into the 2017 holiday season with something new for its 330 million users: the gift of more gab. As of early November, it officially doubled the character limit for a tweet, jumping from 140 to 280 characters.
Reactions so far are split on whether this is a good thing, with some already mourning the loss of creativity forced by the 140-character constraint. However, there is a major hidden benefit to Twitter’s new world of wordy: the way it affects your search results page.
Since August 2015, when someone Googles a term associated with a Twitter account, the search results have included a dedicated space for actual tweets from that account. That’s a win for companies, brands, and people who care about their online presence. It means their voice is right there on the search results page, in a section whose contents they completely control.
With Twitter’s newly doubled character count, we wondered if Google would come along for the ride. Would the Twitter box on the search page double in size? Or would it just cut off the tweet after 140 characters?
The answer? For Twitter boxes featuring the wordier 280-character tweets, the actual box has grown to accommodate the greater length.
This is an incredible branding gift from Twitter and Google, offering even more space in the search results for a brand (or company, or individual) to control and to tell their own story. This is the kind of space brands pay money to have on the search page.
Brands should welcome this gift with open keyboards. They have learned how to be creative in 140 characters; now it’s time to embrace the new challenge to be engaging, yet still pithy, in 280.
What’s more, companies can reap the benefits of a longer Twitter box on the search page without being needlessly wordy all the time. The box works as a carousel, allowing the searcher to scroll horizontally through a few recent tweets, beyond just the first three showing. We discovered that if any of the tweets in the box – even the ones not initially visible – are longer, it lengthens the whole box.
In this new era of Twitter 280, brands have the opportunity to offer deeper thoughts, or even just thoughts that are longer winded. That’s their choice. But now it pays to be wordy – without even having to pay.
Many of our PR firm partners and existing clients have been asking us about the controversial “Right to be Forgotten” ruling passed by the European Court of Justice – the highest ranking court in the EU. We’ve created a special Five Blocks report that is a distillation of hundreds of news articles and blogs on the subject.
The Five Blocks report is now available to the public on our website. We anticipate publishing at least two Five Blocks thought leadership articles on the subject in the coming days. As always, we welcome your feedback and updates on this constantly evolving story.
Before we can start work aligning a brand’s online reputation to match their corporate objectives, we need to understand something about the playing field.
We need to understand what types of results are typical for brands in the same market. Many of our clients are Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, so we have done extensive research into this market.
Below is a table depicting the frequency with which we find various sites as top ten results in Google’s natural search results. (Data is from Nov 9, 2012).
The number above each bar represents the number of company search results in which each website appears.
As you can see from this chart, the most prevalent result for companies in the Fortune 100 is Wikipedia – appearing in 90% of page one results for Fortune 100 companies.
It’s interesting to note that Facebook and Twitter are each appearing in F100 first page Google results about 25% of the time.
Also interesting is that Yahoo Finance continues to be an important finance site as compared to Google Finance – which does not show up in the top ten.
A takeaway for companies in the space would be to look at the frequently occurring websites and determine if your brand should also have similar results. Knowing that Google tends to “like” showing a specific type of result seems to make it low-hanging fruit – an easy win if it’s something that will help your online reputation.
What about the FTSE 100?
In preparation for a week of meetings in London, we decided to compare the same type of data as seen in Google.co.uk results for the FTSE 100.
In the UK, Wikipedia is even more prevalent. Only 3 FTSE 100 companies have no Wikipedia page appearing in their Google page 1 results! Also noteworthy is the strength of The Guardian as a result shown in the first page Google results for 59% of all FTSE 100 companies! (Note to PR department – The Guardian is more likely to impact online reputation than the BBC, The Telegraph and Reuters combined!). In the UK Markets.ft.com outranks Yahoo Finance in prevalence by a significant margin, with Yahoo Finance still maintaining a significant foothold.
On the social media front, Twitter and Facebook are less than half as likely to be in the Google first page search results for a FTSE 100 company – as compared to a Fortune 100 company.
Notable as well is that neither group has video results coming up with any frequency. Image results show up in 6 of the FTSE 100 search results, but in only 2 of the Fortune 100 first page results.
With this knowledge, we are better prepared to look at FTSE 100 companies – and indeed at company results for other companies in the UK with a better understanding of which sites play significant roles in online reputation. When we approach a client program, we then take the additional step of doing a more exact comparison of the peer group – the companies or individuals that are most similar to the client. This offers further insight as to the way in which Google treats those keywords within the local search market.
There’s no doubt that Google (and the other major search engines) have made it extremely fast and easy to get accurate (and sometimes less accurate) information. Do you remember those arguments about important issues like why we need to call it tomato ketchup? Are there other types of ketchup? (there are actually…) With Google and nearly any cell phone you can know the answer instantly.
This ability to get immediate information that answers our questions has been largely positive, although it means that we often scratch the surface (get the right answer) without getting much depth.
We are now even more impatient than we once were. We want the answer instantly and if we don’t find it, we move on – immediately. The most popular button on the internet is the ‘Back’ button (or the ‘Next’ button). Nothing to see here… Keep moving!
Once people figured out they could search anything online and get an answer instantly – “people searches” became fair game as well. Almost no one enters into a business agreement without first Googling (or Binging…) their prospective partner. Let’s make sure they have a good track record, that they are not a scam artist, and that they are who they say they are.
Incredible! Now all of us can be saved from scams, bad doctors, and substandard hotels! But the ease with which information is retrieved is reflective of how quickly it can be created. That means it’s not terribly difficult to bad-mouth your competitor online.
In steps online reputation management – with the goal of giving a balanced or accurate picture of the best side of the client’s reputation. So a restaurant that has mostly good reviews may want those to rank higher in Google or Yahoo than the few negative ones. The hedge fund that was investigated by the SEC a few years ago has put that in their past; they’ve moved on – but you wouldn’t know it if you googled them.
The ability to get a quick answer (should I do business with this person?) instantly on almost any person created the need for online reputation management. It also means that owning the top 10 Google results – fashioning them by creating accurate, relevant, positive content and promoting those results – secures your online reputation.
At the moment, attention spans don’t seem to be getting longer. So what people see in that quick search of your name, your brand or your product name is critically important to your success.