In today’s information-saturated world, where headlines come as often through Twitter as they do CNN and product advertisements appear alongside friends’ baby pictures, consumers are coming to search better informed than ever. Are you putting your best foot forward?
According to a white paper from SEO automation platform company Posirank, consumers access to information from any number of sources means that they’re deeper in the funnel when they get to Google and search is taking on a new function that’s as much about you as it is the product you may be selling.
“While consumers still discover solutions/products using search, they increasingly rely on search to instead compare offers, research brands & people, and otherwise help them make a decision about something they’ve already discovered,” the authors write (emphasis theirs). “As a result, many brands are finding that most of their search referrals are visitors that first discover them elsewhere (e.g. Facebook ads), and are now researching the brand further before engaging further.”
In this new reality, search strategies should not only focus on visibility, but also have an eye on reputation management. These days, search results will not just provide consumers with your best offer, it will also provide them with information about you.
“Once a visitor has determined your site or offer is likely to help them, many of them are going to turn to Google again to get more information,” according to the paper. “Reputation management, including brand visibility, positive/negative press, etc. is going to significantly impact your conversion rates across the board.”
Engage In Conversations
Managing reputation through search involves many different pieces, but it should start with the basics of improvising onsite optimization (bounce rates, CTRs and time spent on pages), to ensure you’re at the top of search result rankings. From there, you need to expand outward, hitting other likely places a customer might encounter your business.
“Whether that’s trying to find your LinkedIn page, Facebook fan page, or heading over to Yelp to find reviews about you, search engine users are more likely than ever to attempt to have multiple contacts with your brand before making a final decision,” the authors write. “When your visitor is on your site, you control the conversation, and you need to continue to do that after your visitor leaves your site too.”
One way to further control the conversation is to engage in the conversations that happen beyond the areas you control. Answering questions on Quora, Yahoo Answers or industry message boards gives you an air of authority, which can lead to more positive mentions and referrals among consumers. Respond to feedback — particularly negative reviews — with open communication and without being defensive, and highlight the positive experiences on your own pages, bringing it all back full circle.
In the world where consumers have access to more information every day, successful reputation management through search will help achieve more than mere visibility when it comes to search, the authors write. It simply can’t be ignored.
“Managing reputation has a wide, sweeping impact across all of your marketing efforts and it needs to be prioritized as such because expanding discovery placements is nearly futile without it,” the paper concludes.