When speaking of guarantees and exact sciences, SEO shows up pretty low on the list. Even further below it sits Online Reputation Management (ORM), the distant, more volatile cousin of SEO. Online Reputation Management is one of the most popular SEO branches right now, and it doesn’t look like the growth of the industry is slowing anytime soon. With the top two companies in the business acquiring the smaller firms and new domain names left and right, it is clear that there is a place in the online marketing space for this reactionary approach to SEO.
Because of the lack of a guarantee in the ORM space, it is important to make sure that when embarking on this type of SEO journey, you have the right pieces and parts in place to make sure that your reputation management campaign is successful. What is the first and arguably most important step to any ORM campaign? Simple; selecting the keyword.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Before discussing the importance of selecting your keyword, it is important to first understand the industry you are dealing with here.
Online Reputation Management is generally practiced or invested in by those who have something they want to hide in SERPs. Clients of this industry vary from large, enterprise-style firms with negative listings on the web to John Doe down the street who is having trouble finding a job because of a DUI that shows up when you search his name. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but the beauty of the industry, despite its lack of guaranteed success, is that pretty much anyone or any business can benefit from the service in time of need.
What sets ORM apart from traditional SEO is that ORM does not set out to optimize content that is currently on the web. Rather, ORM’s bread and butter lies with new content creation, which is built specifically to fight the negative listings cluttering up SERPs.
So Why is an ORM Keyword Different then an SEO Keyword?
When selecting a keyword for a SEO campaign, the things that you consider are much less involved with the actual SERPs themselves. Let's say that you are a small company in Philadelphia that sells discount, professional cosmetics. In order to create a successful SEO campaign, you would select keywords such as "makeup Philadelphia" or "discount eye shadow" to rank for.
Now say you are the same company, but you are now attempting to combat a negative review on Yelp.com. Instead of optimizing your site and content to rank for keywords that should bring people to your site based on their search queries, you want your keywords to be based upon the search terms that searchers are using to find the negative information.
Let’s say that your searchers look for “Philadelphia makeup reviews.” Because Yelp is a powerful, highly authoritative review site, chances are that the link to the negative review that you are trying to avoid will be there, front and center, driving customers away by the second. Because the negative listing showed its ugly face after searching for this keyword, TA-DA! You have your keyword!
Using a Tool Like SEMrush to Help you Select Your ORM Keyword
In many cases, ORM clients have trouble with a negative listing ranking for multiple keywords. It can be difficult to narrow down exactly where to start. ORM is a tricky practice and a quick fix is often frowned upon by the Google algorithm. Instead of throwing lots of keyword optimized content at several keywords that display negative content when searched, it is best to start with a more pressing keyword first, and wait for the bleed over results. Bleed over is a beautiful perk in this industry. Because ORM focuses so heavily on creating NEW positive content versus optimizing what is already there, the new content you create and optimize to rank for your most relevant keyword(s) is more than likely to slowly make its way over to the SERPs of some of your other related keywords. The key to all of this, however, is time. Patience, though it may be painful, especially when you are waiting on the disappearance of a negative listing, is a requirement for any ORM campaign.
Because you are only selecting one keyword, or maybe two, at a time, it is important that you pick the most relevant keyword to your success. SEMrush makes it easy to find out exactly where you should start.
One of the most beautiful things about SEMrush, is the fact that you are not limited to searching for just keywords or exact domains. You can also search for specific URLs, which is pretty sweet.
If your negative listing is a Yelp review, all you have to do is copy and paste the URL for the actual review itself and you will see a list of keywords that it ranks for. This will help you narrow down which keywords you need to focus on.
In addition to seeing the keywords themselves, you can also see the position that they rank for. Below is an example of a URL results page for a positive (I don't want to call anyone out) Yelp review so you can see what these results look like and how you can use them in keyword selection.
By simply entering in this exact URL, you can see exactly what keywords this review ranks for organically. From here, you can select the most relevant keyword to start your campaign by examining the SERP position as well as the search volume of the keyword. For an ORM campaign, you want both of these numbers to be high. The higher the search volume, the more searchers see the listing - therefore making it more likely that they will click on the listing, which is exaclty what we do not want. If your search volume is high, but your URL position is not on page one, this particular keyword will not need the urgent attention as one that has a semi-high search volume with the listing being displayed on page one. In the case of the example above, the ideal target keyword would be "sephora Philadelphia" because it has a high search volume and the listing shows up in position two in SERPs. Make sense?
It is important to realize that a lot of this is common sense as well. If you have a keyword displayed by the SEMrush tool that does not relate to your business in a direct manner, or you do not think that people are being turned away from your business because of it, skip it. Focusing on what is relevant and important to your business will help you save time and money in the long run.
The Moral of the Story
It is important to know exactly what you are targeting when attempting to combat negative information online. A little keyword research using a tool like SEMrush can certainly put you on the right track to a successful ORM campaign and will keep you from spending excessive amounts of time on false targets.
Knowing what keywords your site ranks for as well as the SERPs behind them is the key to getting as close to an ORM guarantee as you can get.
Emily Murphy is the current Director of Content Development for SEMrush. She has been working in SEO, Online Reputation Management, and Social Media for several years and loves the industry so much that she has a fish named Hashtag.