What it means and why it matters for your brand, company, or organization
When you visit a company’s website, particularly for the first time, how often do you use Google instead of typing in the website address, even when you know the site well? If you’re like most users, the answer is: “almost always.” But via search, your site may not appear first—or even among the top three or four rankings. Negative news, or even ads from competitors, might be more prominent.
Several recent studies of website traffic prove that as much as 64 percent of a company’s website visitors come from searches using the brand or company name, and that behavior is on the rise, especially on mobile.
Several years ago, a website visitor would have reached your website directly by typing your URL or “web address”; today, because of the merger of the search and address bars in popular browsers such as Chrome, as well as the growing use of mobile internet, the majority of every company’s website traffic now comes through organic search.
Suggested searches and search results are often your brand’s first impression for most of your clients, prospects, media, and potential employees. Even when visitors intend to go directly to your website, those who navigate via a search engine will see news, images, videos and third-party content about your company. This makes it more essential than ever to manage and monitor the digital reputations of your brand and your executives to manage or mitigate potentially damaging results in the event of a crisis or other negative event.
Digital Reputation Priorities:
Your Company Name: Your first priority should be owning the top search result for your brand name; depending upon the industry, a top ranking Google result is worth about $5.30 per click in advertising spend, so the effort to maximize SEO is well worth the investment.
Website SEO: Further, 77% of users only click on the first three links, so a well-indexed site that displays sitelinks can present a user with even more positive owned content, as well as pushing up to three links of third-party content from the critical first page of results.
Other Sites: Another priority should be claiming and optimizing third-party managed pages, such as social media profiles and directory listings. These sites provide additional opportunities for sharing your story and for connecting with stakeholders. They also can enable you to provide a boost to positive content about your brand, including company press releases and news articles.
Digital, or online, reputation management is both a science and an art. It’s vital that you or your agency partner understand “domain authority,” the necessity of strong “owned” content and optimized multiple websites, the importance of timeliness, the value of third-party content and other more quantifiable elements to meet your overall communications strategy. Algorithms are one part of managing your online presence, creating and posting strategic content and generating social and media coverage while ensuring your brand or company values are presented are yet another.
Google, Bing, and Yahoo have become your front door, but they also offer easy access to many other doors you may not want opened. So even if you follow the basics, you should attempt to control as much content on the first page of search engines as possible, ensure it remains current and accurate, and continually add new content.
Digital reputation management is not a one-time quick-fix solution; it is a process that requires constant monitoring and attention. A few negative results won’t turn off all of your potential clients, but the more each client or other key stakeholder is worth to your business, the more your search results are business-critical.