With over 90% of all online searches occurring on Google, companies and individuals throughout the world are waking up to the importance of defending their reputation via the first page of search results.

In the not too distant past, companies would be pleased, when performing a Google search of their own name, to see their own website sat happily at the top of page 1. Today, a common page 1 in Google will quite often show a mixture of news, social media platforms and review websites and blogs. This content is great when positive, but negative content is  rarely controlled by the company, brand or person.

Igniyte often works with clients to not only deal with negative online PR, but more importantly to prepare for it. It’s true that in the midst of a press storm there’s little to be done but wait and see who picks up a story and how the online content affects your first few pages of search results. But there are a number of SEO techniques in Online Reputation Management that will result in you being in a stronger position to defend your name online.

Five of our best defensive Online Reputation Management techniques follow:

1. Does your page 1 show 10 results or 7? If 10, it’s likely that your own website sat at the top of the page isn’t optimised fully. Gaining site links is important, if only to potentially reduce the number of negative search results.

2. Do you actively promote positive news stories online? Creating and maintenance of good relationships with local and national press and online trade publications is essential. If a bad story or review hits, you can utilise your own contacts with optimised positive content.

3. Have a policy for responding to negative press or reviews. Staff and advocates of your company or brand may be tempted to jump to the defense of a negative review and respond. One unfortunate consequence of this is that this sometimes gives more life and ranking power to the article or review. It may encourage more sharing (Google loves natural sharing) and linking to other negative content. Think before you respond.

4. Set up social media listening and Google alert monitoring on your brand or company name. Google alerts are really easy to set up. They’ll inform you of top stories and articles mentioning your company or brand name. This works for individuals too. There’s also lots of software available that monitors social media platforms, invest in these if your company is susceptible to volume online reviews. Being alerted early to negative content is always better than a client or customer making you aware of it.

5. Be active on social media. It’s not always easy or possible in terms of resource or budget. But encouraging tweets and ensuring that a company linkedin page is optimised is important. Don’t just set them up then leave them alone. They’re important tools and, if optimised, will hold their position well on Page 1 of Google. Don’t forget YouTube and Google images. Make sure that titles of images and videos contain your brand/company name. They won’t rank for you without carefully labeling.