Search engine reputation management issues come in many forms including: short-term, news-driven and longer-term SERP pollution, brand/company name, and those affecting product name. The diversity of reputation management issues and the fact that often the SERP in question isn’t exclusively for the brand search alone, but may also include the words “reviews,” “ratings,” “testimonial,” or industry terms. Because reputation management issues come in all flavors, the proper strategy varies. Certainly for any long-term SERP pollution issues, an SEO strategy makes the most sense, but SEO often takes time, so PPC search can provide a temporary fix, even in scenarios where a long-term solution must be SEO-driven.
For short-term crisis situations such as a product recall, C-level individuals named in a compromising situation, or via a news-driven change to the SERP, PPC search can be a great tool for both pushing down negative elements in a SERP and facilitating distribution of a positive or balanced marketing message.
That brings us to my five tips for using PPC for reputation management:
- Use the company blog as the place to host the landing page for your reputation management-related message. Blogs can nearly always be created and edited faster than the main corporate site due to combinations of policy, IT involvement, and/or content management system. Blog themes can reflect an editorial style, which may also play well for consumers looking into your company or brand.
- Go beyond your own domain for the PPC campaign. If you only use your site and/or your blog in your reputation management PPC effort, then you only have one chance to persuade the searcher that the ad you’ve written and the content you’ve created addresses her thirst for knowledge about your product, service, company, or brand. You probably have a bunch of other businesses in your ecosystem that would be OK for putting up content on your behalf, especially if you paid the media cost to get visitors to the content. For example, consider the following PPC reputation management landing page candidates:
- Social media profile. LinkedIn and Facebook are obvious contenders – and depending on how active you are on Twitter – add that in too. The added benefit of using these as reputation management landing pages is that you may capture the visitor in a “like,” “app,” “follow,” or other registration action, which becomes a CRM-like touch point for you down the road.
- Publishers. Ever get any good press? I certainly hope so. Consider finding some particularly good press and promote it via PPC ads during your reputation crisis. No one need know that you paid for that link 😉 If you want to “make it real,” have a publication interview you about the issue and “come clean.” The authenticity might result in something worth promoting with PPC, plus it may have enough link-bait potential to rank well in SEO.
- Association member profile pages. It may be the case that you control your member profile page for a trade association. If this provides the kind of third-party endorsement you want, then pay for traffic to that page.
- Suppliers. You buy from them. Perhaps they’d be willing to feature you on their blog in a case study. My guess is that your ad agency or PR agency would be more than happy to have you pay them to help create a case study or flipbook.
There are lots more. Just think about it for your business. These also help for SEO reputation management.
- Make the content great and max out your Quality Score. Don’t make all your ads puff pieces. Write ads that will get clicks because the last thing you need is to have your Quality Score drop so low your ads don’t serve.
- Use Twitter Advertising. Reputations aren’t only undone within the SERP. Consider whether buying ads in Twitter to send users to tweets or content you control is a worthwhile investment.
- Don’t get emotional. PPC can get expensive when you have to use it to protect reputation. Realistically evaluate the negative impact that whatever is in the SERP will have. Perhaps you don’t have to invest as much as you think to mitigate the risk. On the flipside, if the impact of a smeared reputation is significant, you may want to invest in both PPC and SEO for reputation management purposes for a long time.
Some of the strategies listed above are difficult for one team to execute in-house. Consider using an agency. Some agencies even use campaign management technology that can determine which ads should be favored and avoid the scenario in which you are overpaying for clicks because you happen to be bidding against your strategic partners in a reputation control effort.
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