ORM Guide

Bots now determines how people see you online

Today's bots are often powered by artificial intelligence (AI)

Search engine reputation management starts with Search engine robots, also known as “bots” or “spiders”. They continuously trawl the depths of the Internet, indexing written content on all the webpages that permit their passage. If your business depends on organic search results to drive business, then those AI are directly affecting profits. The best way to encourage kind treatment is by using "authority" sites.

How search engine authority works

It is helpful to image that they begin with “authority” sites, following links between its pages as well as all outbound links that lead to pages on other websites. Though they’re not everywhere all the time, they visit a given website often enough to keep track of late-breaking changes in reasonable fashion.

Not all websites are equal

Search engines don’t prioritize first-person accounts over anything else on the Internet. In fact, they don’t care much about the source of information at all, except as it pertains to something called the “authority” of the web page and the website it lives within. Like it sounds, authority is a measure of a website’s perceived quality and trustworthiness, as defined by ever-changing search engine algorithms. 

Websites are arranged in a vast landscape of authoritative websites surrounded by densely linked networks of ‘lesser authority’ sites. You can think of it like the galactic clusters that populate our universe. Authority sites (sites search engines think are important) are like big bright stars, sites with less authority are like planets, or even moons. Spammy websites are like assteroids. 

Search engine robots index most of these sites, but their algorithms aren’t as generous to lower authority sites when it comes time to turn these indexes into search results. For search phrases containing keywords that appear in their index, low-authority sites are much less likely to rank on the first or second results page.

The bad news

Sites that have a lot of authority tend to rank very high in search results than those with lower authority. This means that if a business has a negative mention on a high authority site, it will be more difficult to remove than if it were on a site of lesser authority. It also means that a negative mention on a high authority website is more likely to be seen by searchers. 

"If a business has a negative mention on a high authority site, it will be more difficult to remove"

High authority sites usually occupy the first page of search results and that can be a problem, because it is where the vast majority of users end their searches. In fact, fully 75% never make it past the first page. And, possibly more depressing, the very first result on the very first page gets between 10% and 20% of total clicks for the corresponding search phrase.

The good news 

It also means that good news mentioned about a business on a high authority site will rank well. In other words, other things being equal, an article about your business on the New York Times will usually outrank most other websites. This method of reputation management uses either suppression or protection as an online reputation management service tactic.

Attracting the right kind of attention 

When placement is so important, how do you get yourself noticed in the right way? The practice of search engine optimization (SEO) has been around since the early days of the Internet and continues to evolve as search engines change how they index and present information. But there are a few best practices that can help you with your search engine reputation management as they shape and present your company’s content for optimal visibility in Google, Bing and other search engines: 

  • Keywords

    You've probably heard that the keyword is the basis for online searches but in reality it is something called "user intent". People use keywords to describe their intent. You need to identify the intent and keywords that best apply to your company and industry, sprinkling them — not too much though — into your online content. Placing keywords in a 'keywords tag' does no good. 
  • Easy-to-navigate websites

    Search engine robots find it easier to trawl websites that load fast and have simple internal navigation components. The "mobilegeddon" update now penalizes websites with bad mobile user experience.
  • Links from high-authority websites

    When your content receives inbound links from high-authority websites, it looks good by association. Such connections are critical to your sites’ overall placement in search results. You want sites that are close to the center of the galactic cluster we talked about earlier.
  • Unique, engaging content

    Search engines deem unique content to offer more value to readers. Engaging, well-written content hooks readers in and tends to attract more inbound links from high-authority sites.
  • Frequently updated content

    As long as it’s unique, search engines give preference to fresh content. According to Search Engine Journal, companies with a regularly updated blog have over 400% more indexed pages than companies that don’t blog. Maybe that’s why SEJ also found that more than 80% of companies believe their blog is a valuable asset.
  • Linked domains

    Creating and linking multiple domains, like companyabc.com and company-abc.com, can be a great way to magnify your company’s content and dominate search results — as long as you follow the other “best practices” outlined here.

How not to attract attention 

For every yin, there’s a yang. Search engines don’t like the following SEO practices, which are sometimes lumped together as “black hat” tactics:

  • Link farming

    Though the practice is less common these days, many sites still accept payment to link to other sites, typically from a page with dozens or hundreds of unrelated links. Search engines penalize such sites — and the sites they link to. 

  • Duplicate or spun content

    Search engines hate duplicate content just as much as they love unique content. Using this technique can get your results removed from search engine indexes altogether.

  • Keyword stuffing

    Having a few keywords sprinkled throughout your content is essential, but too many can trigger alarms. In most cases, one or two keyword phrases per 500 words of text is sufficient.

  • Hidden text and links

    Hiding keywords and links from readers’ view, perhaps by making them the same color as the site’s background or relegating them to a little-viewed page, is a big no-no. Search engines may treat this as spam.

There are other dangerous tactics, too, but these are among the most common (and easiest to do without realizing you’re doing something "wrong"). Unfortunately, it’s difficult to quantify their impact on your results because search algorithms are notoriously opaque. 

The takeaway here is clear

It’s best not to tempt fate with risky tactics at all. An ongoing campaign of positive SEO — the backbone of modern online reputation management — is a far safer, and ultimately more rewarding, course of search engine reputation management action.

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