Is a negative online review or press release restricting your business’s ability to attract and retain customers? If so this is an online reputation matter.
According to a Harris Interactive survey, nearly four in five consumers search for businesses on Google before engaging with them. If a consumer discovers a negative review or press release about your business at the top of the search results, he or she may think twice before purchasing its products or services. Using reverse search engine optimization (SEO), however, you can mitigate the otherwise harmful effects of negative reviews and press releases.
Reverse SEO is a reputation management tactic that involves pushing down the search rankings of a web page by optimizing other websites or web pages for the same target keyword. It is employed by reputation management companies and online PRs to control what the broader public sees about a person or brand. It’s designed to bury negative reviews and press releases so that fewer users see them. As the newly optimized web pages begin to rank higher in the search results, the negative review or press release will subsequently rank lower.
Unless it violates Google or Bing’s guidelines, you typically can’t remove a negative review or press release from the search results. A typical reputation management best-practice is to attempt to contact the author and resolve the problem that led to his or her negative opinion about your business. But assuming the author complied with Google and Bing’s guidelines, neither search engine will remove it from their search results.
The good news is you can prevent negative reviews and press releases from harming your business’s reputation by performing reverse SEO. When executed correctly, it will knock down the search rankings of those negative web pages. At the same, consumers who search for your business online will discover positive web pages about your business.
Reverse SEO is often confused with negative SEO, but they have different goals and require different optimization techniques. With reverse SEO, you build and optimize positive websites and web pages to bury negative reviews and press releases about your business. With negative SEO, you mass-produce low-quality backlinks to a competitor’s website in an attempt to lower its search rankings.
It’s also worth noting that negative SEO is prohibited by search engines. You can not build backlinks to a competitor’s website with the intention of harming its search rankings. If your business is caught performing negative SEO, search engines may lower your website’s search rankings while neutralizing the effects of any bad backlinks you created to your competitor’s site. Reverse SEO, on the other hand, is allowed by search engines.
After identifying a negative review, press release, or any web page that’s causing bad publicity for your business, you should begin a reverse SEO campaign. Start by identifying the specific keywords that trigger higher search rankings for the negative web page. If you have a subscription to Moz or SEMrush, you can use one of their rank-tracking solutions. Regardless, you should create a list of all the keywords for which the negative web page ranks high in the search results.
Now it’s time to bury the negative web page for those keywords by creating and optimizing other websites for the same keywords. If a negative review ranks on the first page of Google for your business’s name, consider optimizing your business’s website to specifically rank high for your business’s name. If your business doesn’t have a website, launch one using your business’s name in its exact spelling as the domain.
For long-tail keywords, either with or without your business’s name, create and optimize subpages on your business’s website. If a negative web page ranks high for the brand name of an exclusive product or service offered by your business, you can create a new page on your website and optimize it for that brand name.
In addition to your business’s website, you can optimize other online properties to bury negative web pages. Social media profiles, for example, are highly useful for reverse SEO. With minimal effort, you can often rank your business’s Facebook and Twitter profiles at the top of the search results.
Here are some other tips to succeed with reverse SEO:
The longer a negative press release remains unchallenged at the top of the search results, the greater the difficulty of reverse SEO. By targeting negative web pages as soon as they are indexed, you’ll have an easier time lowering their search rankings.
How do you know when new negative reviews or press releases about your business are published? You can always manually search for your business’s name and check the top-ranked listings. Alternatively, you can set up Google Alerts for new mentions of your business’s name to receive a notification. If Google discovers a new web page containing your business’s name, it will send you an email with a link to the respective page, which you can then target with reverse SEO.
To set up a Google Alerts, log in to your Google account, and visit google.com/alerts. In the “Alerts” field, enter your business’s name. If your business’s name consists of multiple words, place it in quotation marks to filter irrelevant alerts. In addition to your business’s name, you may want to set up Google Alerts for the names of its products and services.
Statistics show over nine in 10 organic clicks occur on the first page of the search results. If a negative web page about your business ranks on Google’s or Bing’s first page, it will likely cost you to customers. Therefore, you should perform reverse SEO to push down the search rankings of negative web pages. Even if a negative review or press release is only pushed to the second page of the search results, it will attract a small fraction of the views compared to a first-page ranking.