How To Manage Your Reputation on Google Search

Brand SERP

What people see when they Google your name is your reputation.

So if you’ve ever wondered why some brands have more comprehensive search engine result pages than others, this post is for you.

How does Google decide which brands get a knowledge panel, Twitter boxes, video clips, or carousel results?

Your brand search engine result page is what appears when someone Googles your name, your company’s name, or your brand.

And at some point during the customer journey, they’re going to search your name, and what they find can kill or seal the deal.

If negative information surfaces on your brand SERP, it’s going to be tough to close business. So don’t wait until your online reputation needs a makeover. Be proactive and follow these steps.

That’s what this post is about. It’s about how to manage the search results Google displays when someone searches your name.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) have a direct impact on your perceived authority, credibility and influence.

To check your brand SERP accurately, do an incognito search, so Google doesn’t tailor the results based on your search history.

Branded search results and online reputation management are different from SEO.

B2C SEO is how you get found when consumers search an unbranded term or phrase. B2B SEO is about getting found when business customers search for solutions. And brand SEO tailors the results when someone searches for your brand name.

SEO vs ORM

When you search for an answer to a problem, Google shows you the bests results it can find. But if you search for a brand name, Google shows you the best information it can find about that brand.

Google returns 10 clickable links for every branded and unbranded search.

We trust Google to show us the most relevant results. But for a branded search, the results have a direct impact on our impression of that brand.

All brands want to rank first for their name.

But brands should be concerned with all page 1 results, because Google page 1 search results drive people’s first impression of your brand.

“With SEO, most people are just trying to rank above their competitor,” says Jason Barnard, a Paris-based consultant who offers a series of brand SERP courses in English.

“But with brand search, you’re trying to present yourself in the best possible light when someone searches your brand name,” says Jason.

For example, if the brand’s site ranks first, and a negative review ranks third, that colors our perception of that brand.

Yet most business to business marketers invest heavily in B2B content marketing without giving even a thought to their brand SERP.

Some companies out there that serve as online reputation management profile defenders.

These service providers offer permanent removal services that scrub negative results from complaint boards and company review sites like Glassdoor, Yelp, and Thedirty.com.

But here are some things you can do yourself to improve your brand’s SERP.

Specify Your Social Networking Accounts So Google Can Find Them

Your first order of business is securing top ranking for your brand’s website.

If you’re a thought leader trying to rank number one for your name, and your name is fairly common, hire an SEO specialist and implement some basic SEO.

But after you’ve got the number 1 ranking for your name squared up, your next step is to get your social networking profiles ranking under that.

Your social media accounts will need to be somewhat active. But you can help Google figure out which social networking sites are yours by adding what’s called structured data markup to your homepage.

It sounds more complicated than it is. But you’re basically just adding instructions to your website that make it easier for Google to understand which social media accounts are yours.

If you have a WordPress site, add your social media account URLs to your User Profile, like this:

Manage your online reputation by completing these fields on your WordPress User Profile.
Publish structured data to let Google know which social networking profiles to associate with your brand by filling out these fields in the Contact Info section of your WordPress User Profile.

If you don’t have a WordPress site, another option is to customize and add the template in this post to your site. Or forward it to your developer and ask them to do it.

Make sure you use your brand name as your social networking profile account name. Also, use the same logo as your profile picture, the same tag line and website URL.

Consistency here is key. If you change one profile picture, tag line and URL, you must change them all.

By repeating the same information from social networking account profile to profile, you’re making it easier for Google to recognize they are yours.

Structured data also helps Google include your social profiles to your Knowledge Panel.

But what in the world is a Knowledge Panel anyway?

2. Get a Knowledge Panel

Some organizations have a box that appears on the right of their brand’s search engine results page called a Knowledge Panel.

A Knowledge Panel, like in the example below, showcases information about the brand that Google considers to be factual.

On brand SERPs, the results on the left-hand side are recommendations. The right-hand side is factual information.

If you want to see and example of a knowledge panel, search any name brand like Apple, Disney or Slack. Don’t confuse a knowledge panel with a Google My Business result, because they are not the same thing.

GMB results have ratings and reviews. Knowledge Panels don’t. Anyone can get a GMB profile. But not every brand gets a Knowledge Panel.

Zoom’s Knowledge Panel

A screenshot of Zoom's Google Knowledge Panel lists their social accounts.

Knowledge Panels are automatically generated, and information that appears in them comes from various sources across the web.

They should not be confused with Google My Business panels. Although they are similar, Knowledge Panels don’t have ratings or online reviews. So review acquisition supports local rather than brand optimization.

One sure-fire way to get a knowledge panel is through Wikipedia. But creating your own Wikipedia page is against the Wikipedia terms of service.

And since Wikipedia publishes no original information, you need enough citable, third-party reference material to justify the adding a new article.

This why there is tremendous value in hiring a good public relations consultant when it comes to online reputation management. Earned media is a key component to securing a Knowledge Panel.

A good digital public relations strategy is working to get press coverage to generate enough source material for a Wikipedia page in order to secure a Google Knowledge Panel for your brand SERP.

If your public relations advisor can generate enough third-party news coverage, the visibility of that coverage may be short-lived in Google search results.

It can also serve as source material for a Wikipedia page, which means the value of impartial, third-party coverage gets extended indefinitely.

Keep in mind, that since we’re looking for factual reference material that Google trusts. So most online influencer content isn’t as legit as recognizable news media brands or books with the imprint of a brand name publisher.

You can’t force the Knowledge Panel to display something that’s not corroborated by the majority of information on the web.

“Google’s Knowledge Graph isn’t just rooted in public sources such as Freebase, Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook. It’s also augmented at a much larger scale—because we’re focused on comprehensive breadth and depth. It currently contains more than 500 million objects, as well as more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects. And it’s tuned based on what people search for, and what we find out on the web,” according to Amit Singhal, SVP of engineering at Google.

Optimizing Videos for Brand Search

If you embed videos on your site, you can optimize them for brand search too.

If you get it right, your reward is a video carousel on your search results page. You can also get your videos ranking in Google Video search.

But here’s an example of a video carousel in universal brand search results:

example of brand SERP video carousel search reults for the GoPro camera brand

In this case, GoPro’s videos hosted on their own site (not YouTube) appear on page 1 when someone searches for their brand.

Yoast, which makes software to support search engine optimization, has a WordPress plugin for video SEO that makes this process easy. Simply install the Video SEO plugin and re-index your site, and it will generate a video sitemap to help Google find your videos.

Here’s the video sitemap for my website:

An example of an XML video sitemap to help Google show videos in SERPs

I’m helping Google find my videos, so they can be displayed in search results when someone searches my name.

And my video sitemap is doing that by publishing my videos as an XML feed, and by adding schema markup to my website. Schema is just another form of metadata and it’s a language that Google understands.

Corporate vs Personal Brand SEO

On the personal branding side, it’s worth noting that you’ll never be able to effectively SEO yourself without your own website.

You and your company or employer are not the same entity.

Even if it’s your company, you could always sell it. So Google sees you and company differently.

Individuals need to have their own personal site, even if it’s only a one pager.

If you’re a thought leader in the B2B space, use your name as your site URL and your company name.

You should be ranking number one with your own site, number two with LinkedIn, and your other active social networking accounts after that.

If you’re active on Twitter, and you get engagement from your audience, that’ll trigger the Twitter boxes. When someone queries your brand, that appear like this:

An example of Twitter boxes from my account appearing is SERPs

Conclusion

The search landscape is much broader than simple SEO. And reputation management in the digital age is much broader than media monitoring.

Optimizing your site is a great way to drive organic search traffic and generate leads.

But if you want to protect your reputation, you need to optimize page one of your results when someone Googles your brand name.

Follow the ORM process outlined this post and you’ll be on your way to dominating your brand SERP.

And be sure to listen to my podcast with brand SERP expert Jason Barnard which was the inspiration for this post. He offers a series of Brand SERP courses.

Jason is a living guide to ORM. So subscribe to the podcast and learn how to manage your online reputation through SEO.

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