Brotherly love will not just come to your business: online reputation management (ORM) for Philadelphia businesses also requires a proactive approach. Compare this with the history of offline PR, where everyone knew journalists need to be hand-held OR ELSE. Your customers are now journalists.
Four years ago the Pew Research Center found consumers researched 58% of the products they bought online. There was a time when personal referrals and recommendations were the be-all-end-all for many businesses. No longer. The CEO of Reputation.com said in Time magazine that his company grew 600% in the last year. They are a bellwether amongst companies that specialize in helping clients manage online reputation. Search Engine Land showed that Google’s Penguin 2.0 returned even more localized results in the SERP. If you look lousy compared to your competitors, don’t expect any brotherly love from Google’s onward march toward making local search increasing important.
Update 2015: Google Ranks Via Semantic Similarities
Google no longer uses keywords to rank. If there is a common theme in something bad said about you, these relationships will help that bad theme to rank high. So, if your name appears next to “was caught kissing poodles on the mouth– again— in Center City,” the phrase is more likely to have relevance after many, many local blogs use your name— even though they use different wording to describe what happened. In the days of keywords, Google looked at “John Smith…Poodle kisser.” But today it understands the topic dog or kiss in many ways. It sees the association to your name being next to them. Google’s machine learning means a company can’t just use “keywords” to rank the pages you want high and push down the bad pages. They need to understand how to push down the topics related to what you’ve done that you don’t want seen in the search results.
How Bad Rankings Were Washed Two Years Ago
Reputation management companies face tight scrutiny in 2015: the industry left its infancy. SEO companies seek to improve rankings, but companies like Brand.com were pushing against rankings. They started with the assumption that most review systems and bad press happens mostly because someone has an ax to grind. For businesses that are not getting bad press and reviews online, this may not be a convincing argument. Local firms have seen huge growth by providing services for online reputation management. Reputation Changer brought on 200 additional employees to its West Chester office at the start of the year according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. The company moved their office to Philadelphia.
Brand.com owns many high trust online publications which it uses to rank positive articles about its clients. But they’ve left this business largely because it’s unsustainable. How do you recurring business just for people and companies that do bad things! It’s a bit like being an anti-PR agency. They were great at eliminating the line between editorial, objective online writing and pure publicity. SEO practitioners, by contrast, can’t easily use tricks to increase rankings on search engines. Google made SEO tricksters enemy number one with their Panda and Penguin updates.
Local Firms and Review Websites
Their corporate space is now a stone’s throw from Independence Hall: how’s that for trust. The Declaration of Independence may well be the most revered, most reputable document in the USA. They also purchased the domain Brand.com for a six figure sum, further insuring high placement in SERPS for searches about everything related to “identity.” A name change to Brand.com went with the domain acquisition. On September 5, 2013 Mayor Nutter visited the new office in Center City for the finale of the office opening.
I recently got my hair cut in Center City and the owner pointed out his phone doesn’t ring anymore. Appointments from existing customers come from texts, and new customers find him on Google Places (now Google Local), where he ranks in the top five for ‘Philadelphia haircut’. New customers click through to his website, where they set appointments by filling out a form.
A dentist I recently used had a ground floor office in Washington Square. He was shocked how few people sought out his practice, but also didn’t spend the time to find someone to claim accounts in Google Local or Yelp and fill out the profile.
When was the last time you used a local service and the company encouraged you write a review of your experiences? It’s rare. Yet, most companies know customer social sharing online is highly influential. Some are too intimidated to encourage online conversation about customer experience—even when they know their work is highly regarded. Google is a juggernaut and some imagine they should let the review system play out as is.