Can you influence the brand’s reputation on the Internet? It is possible to influence the brand’s reputation online. All you need is to understand a few basic rules and how search engines work.
Alex Judd is Director of Customer Relations at Greyling communications agency, and heads the GCore team. He explained what users need to do to please them and keep them in the top.
Google is the most important search engine and why they are so important
Search engines are a major influencer on the internet. They have a huge impact on what content users are interested and how they perceive companies and brands.
Here are some facts:
- 93% of online travel begins with a search engine (source Forrester 2016,).
- Search engines bring 47% of all organic traffic to any website.
- Search engines process over 55 billion queries per day
- The volume of search engine traffic exceeds the number direct visits, transitions from other sites and paid search results (marked as “advertising”), as well the volume traffic from social media.
Search is also an important part of online shopping’s decision-making process: 81% of B2B transactions and 89% start with an internet search (source Prospecta 2016,).
Which search engine is most popular?
This is Google’s market share of 90% on a global level. Google is the only system with a higher percentage than Google. Google is the most popular search engine for internet searches with eight out of ten results.
Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, is second; Baidu, which is based in China, is third. Yahoo! is fourth.
These search engines are followed by many “small” search engines such as Yandex, Russia’s most popular search engine, and DuckDuckGo, which is a privacy-focused search engine. If you are not located in China or Russia, it is more likely that you will search for information via Google.
It’s more than popularity. A Grayling and OnePoll study of four thousand Americans and Britons conducted in October 2017 found that Google search results are the most trusted source of information. They are trusted more than media, company websites, and social networks.
Google’s popularity, trust and reach are what make it a valuable tool for communication professionals.
How PR can affect search results
Internet users can recognize ads and ignore them. In search engines, advertising only accounts for 6% (source: Nielsen 2014).
PR professionals have many options to influence where a resource appears in search results.
Credibility of a brand
It consists of three elements.
- The quality of the links to your resource. A link from a dozen bloggers with a combined audience of 100 readers will have a minimal effect. A single link from The New York Times, however, can greatly increase your credibility.
- Who and How talks about the brand. While a direct link to a company website is the strongest incentive for Google, it will suffice and mention the brand. This applies to all publications: The more authoritative the publication, the better the brand’s reference will be.
- The number people searching for your brand. If you’re a tour operator, and people search for your name more often than other tour operators, it means that you are the most popular tour operator on Google. The search engine will rank your content higher even if users are searching for information about travel trips but don’t mention a particular brand.
It is crucial for PR professionals to ensure that influencers and media speak positively about the brand. This happens mostly online these days, so Google ranks such conversations.
Practical tip: Google Trends can be used to track the search volume for the company name prior and subsequent to large projects.
This will allow you to determine the success of your campaign. You should also convince bloggers and journalists to include a link to the brand’s website within the publication. Even though the publication may be small, it will increase brand credibility.
Relevance of the brand
Although your brand might be the most trusted in the world, if it doesn’t meet the needs of its audience, it is useless. Microsoft will not be found in the “how do I fix a bicycle” search box.
Google uses language to learn about your brand and the language used by media and audiences to describe you. This helps them understand what you do. Artificial intelligence enables the search engine to match the language used by people when they search for your content.
If you are a tour operator but don’t use the term “tour” because you believe you’re selling “dream vacations”, your website is unlikely to be found by people searching for tours.
In some cases, relevance should also consider the time factor. Google will show you articles published in the past two weeks if you search for sustainability trends.
Practical advice: Determine the search terms used by your target audience and incorporate this information into your PR strategy.
Communication professionals must be up-to-date on the latest trends, look for “free niches”, produce relevant content, and monitor its proper use in the media.
Interaction with content
Google wants people to find the information they are looking for when they visit your site. This must be considered if the user has any questions about the site or requires additional actions.
Let’s suppose you are reading a recipe with a strange product called cherimoya. It’s bad if you can’t find what the word means on the same website and have to use a search engine to google it (cherimoya, by the way is a fruit from the Inca tribe).
Interactive graphics and video are great tools. If they can see an interesting video or are given an opportunity to play an online game, people are more likely to stay longer on the site.
If the content is good enough, people can sign up to a newsletter and share the resource with their friends. These are all powerful signals to Google that people enjoy this resource. This will positively impact your rating.
Practical tip: Engaging people in positive interactions is one of the main goals for any campaign. Google is a journalist. Just like a press release should attract media attention, your content should be compelling enough to win Google’s approval.
A PR specialist can create high-quality content much more effectively than those who just buy online space and then fill it. You must ensure that your content meets Google’s criteria and is posted on your website.
Influencers online can play an important role. A link from a social media channel will not increase brand authority. However, more traffic can significantly increase engagement rates.
About brand search
Two ways can people get to a brand’s website via a search engine:
- Branded Search: Users search for a brand name by entering its name into the search box.
- Unbranded Search: Users search for information about a particular topic or category such as “best smartphones”.
Remember that 90% of users only click on links from the first page in search results. This is because they consider this collection to be the most informative (source AWR 2018, 2018).
Google’s algorithm selects the most authoritative, relevant and interesting content when you ask about a brand. Negative reviews that were published years ago may appear on the first page search results.
Many companies don’t understand the importance of search results and the reputational risk that negative content can pose. It is a common problem for many brands, even though they might not be aware of it. You’ll find negative headlines about Manchester Building Society on Google. Some of these headlines are more than two years old.
It is important to remember that a brand’s reputation is the perception of others about it. These opinions can be very diverse!
Research shows that one negative title in search results can decrease the number of people visiting a website’s website by as much as 22%. The more negative content in a network, the greater the impact it has on the audience volume (source: Moz 2015).
What can the Manchester Building Society do? You can remove negative titles from the first page of search results and replace them with positive content, either your own or that of a third party.
We can control some results (links to our website and social media), but the rest must satisfy the criteria above to be ranked by Google. Remember that the content must be:
- Published by an authoritative source (e.g. Major news outlets
- Interactive (have likes and comments, as well as reposts).
Although it may sound paradoxical, brand mentions in the news are more important than ever in these days of Google. Search engines view online media as having a high level of authority. This means their content will appear more often in branded search results, and will therefore be more accessible to more people.
Google won’t forget anything
Google doesn’t care what other people think about you. Google is only concerned about one thing: whether the content source enjoys enough authority and how much engagement it has.
It is highly likely that a brand will be on the first page when it has been the subject of negative media coverage.
Negative stories are quickly forgotten . They can be found online forever. Negative online stories can often be found in search results for brands five to ten years after publication.
Controlling search results for your brand is essential to maintain your reputation.