Negative Search Results and ORM Keywords

A bad review is left for your business. An online editorial publishes controversial news about you. And soon, that article or review spreads on the internet and it starts to appear when potential customers search for you. One poor article can ruin your online reputation, and deter hundreds of potential customers. But, negative search results can be removed with an effective online reputation management (ORM) campaign.

When someone searches your name or company online, approximately ten websites will appear on what is called the search engine results page (SERP). The purpose of an ORM campaign is to remove or suppress negative search results (news articles, bad reviews, and other negative URLs) from the top SERP.

ORM Keywords are the search term combinations that yield negative search results. In order to suppress negative results on the SERP for certain keywords, you have to launch a content marketing campaign that targets those words. By creating fresh content optimized for your ORM keywords, you can suppress other high-ranking search results that reflect poorly on your brand.

What are Negative Search Results?

Negative search results can happen to anyone, whether you’re the CEO of a major company, or a job seeker with a public record. Bad reviews, poor news publicity, defamatory blog post and editorial content can happen to anyone. It’s the job of an ORM specialist to remove that content or suppress it with positive online content.

Negative search results usually occur after a public controversy or sensational news is posted. Let’s look at a few examples of public figures whose online reputations took a hit after news was spread about them online:

Heather Bresch

Bresch is the CEO of pharmaceutical company Mylan, creator of the  EpiPen. Mylan was scrutinized in the media for raising the price of the drug, which saves millions of lives each year. Because of Bresch’s position at Mylan, search results about the controversy of the price increase populate when you search her name. At the top of the SERPs, five negative results outnumber the four positive about her career and the advancements that Mylan has made in the pharmaceutical industry.

Austin Lee Russell

Also known as “Chumlee” from the T.V. show “Pawn Stars,” Austin Lee Russell’s online reputation took a major hit after he was arrested for possession of drugs. The third, fourth, and eighth search result for his name are articles about the arrest. The fifth result is also an article about a rumor that Russell died of a heart attack. Each of these results have buried positive press about the T.V. character, and have tarnished his reputation tremendously.

Parker Conrad, Zenefits

Parker Conrad is an entrepreneur and former CEO of Zenefits. In the top search results for Conrad, you’ll find articles surrounding his impromptu resignation from the company after it was suspected of selling insurance to customers without license and other suspicious business practices. The negative search result, “The Rocky Life of Zenefits Parker Conrad,” is #1 in the Google search, outranking the Wikipedia biography on him.

Stories like these are far from uncommon. Many well-intentioned people get caught in a public scandal, and soon their online reputation is dominated by these negative URLs. They climb to the top of the SERPs, and spread quickly through social media. But there are ways to resolve the issue with an effective ORM campaign.

What are ORM Keywords?

An ORM keyword is a search term that yields negative results. These terms are most likely related to the event that surrounds the negative search result. Depending on the significance of the event, you may have multiple ORM keywords surrounding your professional reputation or brand. To find every potential ORM keyword, a specialist will conduct thorough keyword research on your name and mentions of you on the web.

ORM  keywords are different from SEO keywords. They focus more about the SERPs themselves, rather than the keywords you want to rank for. One of the ways to find negative URLs is to do a simple Google search on your name, and see what autopopulates in the search bar. If you see any negative content on the first page of these search terms, look for related keywords that may populate the same results.

Just like in an SEO campaign, you will want to create content that ranks for those keywords. The difference is that with SEO, you’re trying to outrank competitors, but in an ORM campaign you want to outrank content that is negative for your brand image. SEO keywords are more diverse, because you want to target any search term that could lead a potential customer to you. ORM keywords pertain to what online users may be searching that instead of yielding positive results, shows negative content or bad reviews.

How can you find your ORM Keywords for Negative Search Results?

Finding your keywords for negative search results is a more lengthy process than finding SEO keywords. You need to know how to navigate Google search autocomplete and Google’s Keyword Planner. Using these tools you can find which terms are most commonly associated with your name or brand, and which of these popular terms yield negative results.

Let’s take a look at our previous example of the negative search results for Parker Conrad. When you type his name into Google, the search engine autosuggests the keywords, “Parker Conrad net worth,” and ‘Parker Conrad Zenefits.” Both of these are examples of ORM keywords. Keywords related to his company, such as the two autosuggested by Google, “zenefits news,” Zenefits scandal” and “Zenefits reviews,” could also play a role in Conrad’s ORM campaign. It’s likely that any article related to Zenefits scandal will also mention his name.

You can use different tools to track your ORM keywords, such as Google Alerts. This Google app will send you notifications for new articles and websites that mention any keyword you want to track. You can track your name, your company name, and any other ORM keywords you identify. Serpwoo is another tool that allows you to track the SERPs for any keyword, which can help you track the effectiveness for your campaigns.

What to do once you find your Negative Search Results and ORM Keywords?

Once you’ve identified which negative search terms you want to suppress, and which keywords to target in your campaign, you can begin developing the ORM campaign. There are two different methods for an ORM campaign: content removal and/or content suppression. Depending on the type of negative search results you’re trying to suppress, you will use a mix of these two methods throughout your campaign.

Content removal involves contacting different third-party sites and asking them to remove negative content on your behalf. You can usually follow this approach only if the content is false. However, some websites will allow users to publish inaccurate content and ask you to pay fees to remove it. Many review sites don’t allow you to remove content unless the user is accused of internet slander. In these cases, you will have to follow the route of content suppression.

To suppress content, you want to create new content around your ORM keywords that outranks the negative search results. Most users will not look past the first SERP, so your goal is to “own” all or most of the content that appears on that first search page. Publishing new site pages and blogs on your own website and microsites, as well as updating your social media profiles, will help your brand rank well in the search engines.

The more content you publish, and the faster you can distribute it on social media platforms, the sooner you can outrank negative search results. Google boosts rankings for sites that update their content regularly. The process takes time, often several months or even a year, but is the most effective method of suppressing negative content long-term.

Linguistic Relevancy

A part of writing effective content is considering the terms and slang your audience commonly uses. Google recently implemented changes to their search-ranking methods, which now takes into account the user and relevant websites’ semantics. It can detect similar keywords and their meaning to give users a better variety of results for their search queries. But what does this mean for your ORM campaign?

Linguistic relevancy in the search engines means that pages can rank for terms, even if they don’t have the exact keywords that the user searches for. For example, if someone looks up “how to make pancakes,” the search engine will understand that websites with the terms “pancake recipes,” and “best breakfast foods” may also contain information that the users would find useful. In an ORM campaign, if your keyword is “Zenefits scandal,” the search engine may populate articles related to “tech scandals of 2016” or “Zenefits bankrupt.”

Prior to this update with search engine rankings, SEO specialists would create separate pages optimized for specific keywords. But now, marketers can spend more time creating quality content, and targeting a greater variety of keywords. In fact, the practice of creating separate pages for essentially the same terms can cause penalties for your site, if the search engine considers it “keyword stuffing.”

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