Online reputation management (ORM) emerged as a natural evolution of search engine optimization—and to this day, reputation management makes heavy use of leading search engine optimization (SEO) principles. It’s almost enough to make the novice think ORM and SEO are just two sides of the same coin—but of course, that’s a major oversimplification.
Really, online reputation management can better be described as SEO on steroids. Yes, many of the tools and techniques used are the same. But ORM takes everything about standard SEO and pumps it up.
A Matter of Purpose
The best way to think of it is in terms of objectives. In SEO, the goal is usually to get certain keywords optimized. If you can get a particular page of online content to “rank” on the first page of Google, Yahoo, and Bing, then your SEO campaign has been successful.
In ORM, however, the goal is usually to get certain listings off of the first page of search engine results. It’s not about advancing certain content to the top of Google, strictly speaking, but rather it’s about suppressing listings that you don’t wish to be seen.
To put it another way: Claiming the top spot on a Google search results page would be, for the SEO professional, a major win. For the ORM professional to consider it a win, however, he or she would need to take control of the first ten spots on Google—that is, the entire first page. That’s what is necessary to successfully suppress an unwanted listing and bump it off the search engine’s first page.
ORM: Pumped Up SEO
Obviously, online reputation management is a much farther-reaching, more expansive undertaking. So while the techniques used in ORM are sometimes similar to those used in SEO, the big picture is very different. Here, in a nutshell, is how a typical ORM campaign operates:
- Each ORM campaign is tailored to meet the specific reputation management needs of the client, which means each campaign begins with a thorough assessment. The reputation management professional will assess the negative listings that are out there; which search keywords are used to find these listings; and how authoritative these listings are (which is to say, how tough they’ll be to suppress).
- From there, a customized action plan is formed. A ORM team will involve SEO strategists, for sure—but also content writers, social media specialists, news syndicates, and more.
- Next comes the execution of that plan—a huge undertaking by any standard. Remember that the goal of the reputation management campaign is, at the very minimum, to assume control of the first ten listings on the first page of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. This involves the creation of a huge volume of unique and compelling content, which is used to flood the search engines and push those negative listings out of the way. It also involves a newswire blitz, an aggressive social media campaign, and more—all in the service of propelling the new, positive content to the top of the search results page, and pushing the negative listings out of the way.
ORM: Not Just SEO
So is online reputation management just another spin on SEO? Hardly. The similarities are unmistakable, yet everything about ORM—from its purpose to its scope—is on a whole other level. If anything, it’s SEO that’s been beefed up and made battle-ready, which is ultimately why it’s so powerful in influencing public opinion and managing online listings.
This article is written by Rich Gorman, a veteran of the direct response marketing industry and an expert in reputation management and direct response marketing for companies large and small.