We have made some big decisions in 90, one of them is to focus on reputation management on Google for 2014. As with a lot of big decisions, this one has been building up over several months.

Like many businesses we concentrate on a mix of what we’re really good at and and what our clients tell us they want. Our clients are now putting their SEO budgets into a mix of reputation and prominence.

“In some ways you are who Google says you are”

Why Does Reputation Matter?

The reputation piece means that when prospects look at consideration phrases connected with their brand, they check out well. The brand name of a company is a good example.

Prominence is chasing rankings on generic phrases and getting as much organic search traffic as possible.

What I have been explaining to clients is that users will check you out and if you look great, then you will convert. And because of circumstances way beyond my control with Google, brands are going with us on reputation management.

When you combine a lack of attribution and excessive risk, brands are having to rethink their organic search strategies.

  • It was: Organic search = trackable traffic with great ROI and low risk
  • It is: Organic search  = semi trackable traffic with (probably) great ROI and high risk.

Why the shift in tide?

I put it down to analytics. In online marketing, especially search marketing brands have until recently been able to track the direct return on investment from SEO. This all changed with Google’s not provided, where they blocked data showing the referring keyword of a user on a website. This may seem like a minor technical thing, but it’s like driving in fog. You don’t have  enough data to be clear on where you are.

The other big change is risk. Google have finally decided to deal with spammy link building. This means when there is a competitive sectors like online gambling, car hire, finance and so on, any brand being too aggressive is very likely to be penalised.

Brands know organic search makes sense and since they still want to keep doing it, they are looking at the best way to employ resources. And we say:

“Google is where we ask questions. If you ‘check out’ well on Google, people will buy from you.”

Online reputation is a single step in a process:

  1. Passive absorption: Brand messages flowing by you in a river of content .
  2. Emergence of need: There is a need which can be fulfilled through a purchase.
  3. Active evaluation: Consider who or what can fulfill the need. (Questions = Google Organic Search)
  4. Buy: The cost and solution for fulfilling the need is acceptable equals ‘Buy’ (Google Paid Results)

Active Evaluation

The part we care about is active evaluation i.e. when your brand is being considered in the shortlist of purchases. If you have a good online reputation, you are more likely to take the consumer onto the final ‘buy’ stage of the purchase.

Now is a good time to do a search on Google for your big consideration phrase. i.e. your brand phrase.

Ask yourself:

  • If someone wanted to buy from you, what phrases would they use to evaluate you? i.e. [brand name][product name]
  • What are the implicit questions people are asking about you before buying? i.e.
    • Are the reviews good?
    • Why should I buy from you?
  • Reassure me when people have said [whatever it is] about you?
  • What are the answers to those implicit buyer questions?

Once those answers are there, we then look at

  • What resource  would take to rank on those phrases
  • Whether there is suitable content out there to rank, if not what suitable content can be created
  • Where can the content be placed where it’s credible and will rank well

And from there we have a basic online reputation plan.

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why this makes sense.

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Nick Garner talks about 2014 and why he sees big changes on Google that will affect how marketeers interact with Google.

Nick Garner, 90 Digital. Linkdex Think Tank – Online Marketing Planning & Strategy from Linkdex on Vimeo.

Nick Garner

Nick Garner

Nick is founder of 90 Digital. Previously he was head of search at Unibet and prior to that search manager Betfair.

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