Why managing online reputation should be a crucial part of your offpage SEO
Like other streams of digital marketing, SEO is passing through a transition. What was popular yesterday may not be relevant today. This is not limited to a few strategies and practices, but your overall understanding of SEO and how you should approach it.
Earlier, SEO was all about ensuring that you rank well for the right keywords on popular search engines. The overarching objective of SEO has now shifted to creating an online footprint both for your prospective customers and the search engine spiders. It comes through building links, relationships, and a content strategy. When it is done right, it increases your website traffic, positive brand mentions, search engine rankings and last but not the least – conversions.
Online reputation building goes one step further. An extension of traditional link building, reputation building is about how other websites / customers perceive your brand. Your customers now have access to this information either when they come across it directly or indirectly in search results. Because this directly affects their purchase decision, it becomes an important part of your off-page SEO strategy.
An SEO expert’s job is to expand the digital footprint of your brand. While the process of building backlinks continues to remain a standard practice, savvy SEO experts now include all aspects of a brand’s organic digital presence under SEO. When you keep this insight in mind, backlinks will follow automatically.
Your website is also like your home. If you want people to visit your website, you need to understand what off-page SEO is all about. Reputation building is an essential element of SEO and it should be an ongoing effort.
Importance of offsite SEO for your brand
According to some estimates, an average consumer is exposed to thousands of brands every day. Chances are they already have some information about your brand before they seek it online. The important factors influencing this opinion can be the reviews, comments, and recommendations from the people you know and also what other people say online on social channels.
Just like traditional marketing, online marketing is all about branding and promotion. The only difference is that it is two-way marketing rather than one. For example, before buying a mobile phone, you would like to listen to the feedback from friends and family members first. It usually follows a brief research online that includes the comparison of features, specs, and prices. At any stage during the decision making process, a single negative comment about the phone’s battery or performance may reverse your decision to buy that phone.
Because there is an off chance that these reviews are indexed and rank high for your brand name, the negative SEO can directly impact your leads and sales. So, it’s more about reputation building, PR, and social marketing. Links definitely help in online marketing and SEO, but it’s not the be all and end all of SEO.
A successful off-page SEO campaign involves creating positive signals and interactions about your brand. It will bring you many positive reviews, mentions, and links, which would serve your purpose and boost your online marketing.
It’s about considering the entire digital marketing ecosystem from creating a product and matching it with excellent customer service. It also includes blogger outreach and influencer marketing using earned and paid media, capturing positive reviews, increasing social media interactions and “mentions” of your brand.
This way we would be able to achieve much better results.
In his article about off-page SEO strategies, Ronell Smith has divided off-page SEO into three broader categories:
A. Product and Branding
According to him, the first step of branding is to create a 10x product or service. Even the best off-page SEO strategies are useless if your product or services are inferior.
i. Focus on offering a good product
You should perform a thorough research online and offline before you even think of launching a product. Research your competition and look for the positive feedback about their products and services. Also look for the complaints about similar existing products and scope of improvement if any.
Now, you should design your product according to the most sought after benefits it may offer to the audiences. This way we can automatically remove objection and improve brand mentions.
ii. Don’t dare ignore customer service
As we know that customer service is an important element of a brand and that poor customer service can spell the doom of a brand. The news of bad customer support may go viral overnight acting as a nightmare for the brand.
Make sure that your staffers answer queries in a warm tone and professional manner – both online and offline. Also make sure that they treat every customer individually with a cheerful disposition, exhibit genuine concern and offer solutions that work. The same goes for your content. It should leave people feeling good about your product or service.
That’s probably the reason why we think that SEO and content marketing are married as one and both act complimentary to each other.
If people do not have anything great to say about your product or services your SEO will become a tough job. When there are no positive reviews or conversations about your brand, referral traffic, and resultant sales would also be quite low.
i. Get to know your audience better using social platforms
The best way to get to know your audience is to go through the conversations, comments, complaints, opinions, and feedback of your targeted audience on different social platforms.
Social media can be instrumental in your off-page SEO game. Hire someone to monitor social interactions on a regular basis and answer questions in a timely manner. Allow genuine interactions to take place without resorting to blatant promotion.
On social media, you should be humble, friendly, honest, polite and ready to help. Make sure you don’t ever sound robotic or self-centered.
ii. Be a resource for your audiences
Try to become a resource for the online audiences in your domain. It will establish your authority and would be the best thing for you in terms of off-page SEO.
iii. Be responsive on social media
On social media, answer the queries genuinely, even if it involves praising a product offered by your competition. If you are unresponsive on social media, it may cost you a big deal in terms of off-page SEO and reputation building.
Your brand loyalty may take a nose dive; people are less likely to use your products and services and are more likely to go to your competition. Such unresponsive behavior on social media may also result in negative feedback about your brand.
iv. Start networking with online influencers
Social can be a gold mine for your SEO efforts as it sends quality traffic to your website. It also helps you make potential supporters and customers online. Social media, therefore, can be a great asset for any SEO expert. The key is to use it wisely.
It also helps you in building long-term relationships with influencers, followers, and fans. It also includes other high ranking websites that can be helpful in your marketing campaign. Google has started considering social signals as a ranking factor. Apart from this advantage, influencers on social media can do wonders for your brand in terms of increasing your visibility and outreach.
Social media comes as a blessing for your off-page SEO as it offers a big leverage to your brand in the entire online ecosystem. Social media helps you come on the radar of your targeted audience and influencers without making a lot of efforts.
When you make use of social media, you can be easily recognized the next time you are going to publish your content as the people you interact with are likely to share it. Once you’re able to forge such relationships, you can collaborate with them for your content outreach.
v. Participation in discussion boards, forums and comments blogging
People, who think that SEO is all about making backlinks would be surprised to know that commenting is a great way to get noticed by your desired audience and the influencers in that domain. It’s all about creating your online footprint. However, you need to do it smartly.
Most of the SEO experts ignore comment blogging because their focus remains on getting dofollow links.
Most blogs offer nofollow backlinks in the comments and it’s largely because of the comment spam that they receive. But, it shouldn’t deter you from posting interesting and informative comments.
We should rather focus on other objectives of off-page SEO and reputation building that are far more important than link-building and these objectives include increasing your digital footprint, getting connected with your target audiences and finding the opportunities to connect with influencers.
The same thing goes for popular discussion sites like Reddit and Quora.
People who read your comments are likely to follow you and search for your brand on Google and LinkedIn. It will send quality traffic to your website, where people can sign up for your newsletter or even subscribe your blog. So, your presence in relevant forums, discussion boards, and comment areas expand your digital footprint.
Content planning is the most important part of your online marketing strategy. Let’s see how you should plan your content.
i.How to plan your content?
You should match your offering with the needs of your prospects. It involves using the keywords that your audience uses to look for similar products. It’s also known as determining web searchers’ intent. There can be a huge range of keywords that your prospects might have been using online in order to search similar products at different levels of their buying cycle.
Most of the SEO experts end up using few keywords, especially if they haven’t conducted proper research. Titles, keywords, and description in your content should match with searchers’ intent. It’s known as search intent optimization.
There are various methods to find out searcher intent. It involves reading discussions on Reddit and Quora, monitoring conversations on various social platforms, broadening your queries and talking to people.
To find a broader range of keywords, you can use keyword Explorer, keywordtool.io, Google Auto-complete and Answer the Public.
Create quality content and use it for relationship building via social media, outreach, and PR. It will improve your relationship with media, bloggers, your target audiences, and influencers. This is applicable to both on-site content and off-site content. Yes, you can also achieve some authoritative backlinks this way.
ii.Experiment with different content types.
When we talk about content with reference to SEO and reputation building, we mean content in all its formats i.e. images, text, videos, and information shared on social media. In broader terms, the user experience on your website, the brand design, taglines, logos, phone calls, blog, text, videos, and images can all be included in the content.
So, the success lies not in what you are comfortable doing but rather considering what should be done in order to improve your branding, networking, outreach, and user-experience. To achieve this you should continue experimenting with content.
If you diligently do the things suggested above, you will definitely achieve better results in terms of off-page SEO, reputation building, and overall brand building.