3 Fixes for Your Bad Brand Reputation That SEO Will Love

Bad brand reputation happens quickly on the web. Google urges SEOs to focus on building quality sites that provide a good user experience. Specifics on how exactly this is achieved are distilled into the acronym E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust.

Bad brand reputation happens quickly on the web. Google urges SEOs to focus on building quality sites that provide a good user experience. Specifics on how exactly this is achieved are distilled into the acronym E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust.

This simple acronym has a lot of complex elements bound into it. Instead of presenting an airy discourse on how Google defines quality, an exercise much like considering the medieval problem of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, let’s focus on three practical tactics you can do to improve your site’s quality score.

Show Your Credentials

Tout your expertise in the subject domain that your site represents. Today, SEO requires having lots of quality content. A definition of quality content is content written by subject domain experts.

Beware of creating content that has no whiff of expertise. This is surely going to be considered thin content. This means for evergreen content, tout either:

  • Your business’ expertise; or
  • The qualifications of the expert writing the content

Plan for Regular Link Hygiene

Links still matter and factor into search algorithms. Links have long been used as signals for authority.

Are you letting others corrupt your link profile? If you do not have in place a regular schedule for reviewing your backlinks, then bad links may be negatively impacting your search results.

Use the Google Search Console (GSC) to review and evaluate the sites that are linking to you. If you do not visit this regularly, you may be in for surprises.

Review Your ‘About Us’ Pages

If you don’t already have an “About Us” site section that is easily found via your navigation, then you may be hurting your reputation.

This information is important for building trust for your site. The absence of robust information about your business begs that you are trying to hide important information from users. The “About Us” section should state where you are located and have contact information readily available.

If the information is stale and has not been updated in years, perhaps it’s time to give it a look and refresh it. If you are a commerce site, don’t be tempted to bury this information; because savvy users, unfamiliar with your brand, will come looking for this information before they purchase.

Key Takeaway for Marketers

Follow these three simple tactics, and you will be on your way to improving how Google perceives your site’s quality.

Building Trust – An Overlooked SEO Task

Politicians ask voters to trust them without a whit of evidence supporting their imprecations. They say just “trust me.” Today, news is constantly being declared as “fake” even when there is substantial factual basis. In our current environment where trust in media is under attack, SEOs must look for ways to instill trust in their content even before the first click.

building trustPoliticians ask voters to trust them without a whit of evidence supporting their imprecations. They say just “trust me.” Today, news is constantly being declared as “fake” even when there is substantial factual basis. In our current environment where trust in media is under attack, SEOs must look for ways to instill trust in their content even before the first click.

How can SEOs add to the credibility of the sites they work on? Here are two ways:

  • Reduce content-to-query mismatches by carefully optimizing pages for what users want.
  • For commerce sites, exploit customer ratings and reviews for validation.

Avoid Content Query Mismatches

It has always been my contention that the SEO’s job does not end at the search result. It extends beyond simply positioning the page to perform well on the search engine and only ends when the underlying business performs well.

When a searcher clicks on a search result and arrives at the page and leaves immediately because it does not answer the query, the SEO has done a poor job. The bounce is a signal that there is a mismatch between content and query. By frequently optimizing pages that do not provide an adequate answer for a searcher’s query, the SEO conditions the user to look past the site on the search result, because it won’t answer the query on the spot.

Very large sites that offer access to databases of aggregated information are my favorite example of this. They lure the user to the site through search and then require a subscription or charge a fee to obtain the information. Once the user knows that there will be a paywall or other barrier to the information, it does not matter where the site appears in the search results, the previous experience will prompt the user to simply overlook the site.

Google’s algorithm includes bounce rate as one of its vast number of ranking factors. Reducing the mismatches is in Google’s best interest, because a search engine’s very lifeblood is user confidence. The more confident the user is that the desired information will be delivered for the query, the more likely it is that the user will continue to use the search engine. It behooves the SEO to more tightly optimize pages to ensure content/query concurrence. As we move to a mobile environment, speed of access to information will become increasingly valuable.

Customer Ratings and Reviews – Your New Best Friend

A number of studies have shown that users rely heavily on ratings and reviews. When individuals do not trust the usual “trustworthy” sources, they rely more heavily on their peers for information. Neighbor-to-neighbor private social networking sites like nextdoor.com are witnesses to this phenomenon. In my area, this site is heavily used by neighbors looking for trustworthy local repair companies — plumbers, electricians, roofing, etc. The value is in the hyperlocal, validated experience information.

If you have a commerce site and have not yet implemented a system for ratings and reviews, now is the time to do it. Google has recently announced that it is closing the Google Trusted Stores program and transitioning it to Google Customer Reviews. The details are still forthcoming. By using structured data, you can already include your customers’ assessments of your merchandise in the search results. Your product pages will show up in the search result with stars that clearly indicate the number of ratings and the aggregate results. By monitoring the pages on the site that obtain the most reviews and ratings, the SEO can make sure that products top-rated by users are optimized most carefully. This improves how the content relates to the query, boosts trust even before the first click by clearly demonstrating that the product is of value, and increases the likelihood of customer purchase.

Take Heart: Send a Brand Valentine!

‘Tis the season for valentines. What makes me smile in my professional life is finding companies that foster an intentional and caring attitude towards their employees all year long. Of course, I am taking for granted that these brands already show an intentional love for their customers all year long. That’s certainly how they have become “Lovemarks” (to borrow Keven Roberts’ term for beloved brands) in their industries: building trust, continually wooing and wowing new and existing customers and exceeding expectations.

‘Tis the season for valentines. Those who know me well know that I am partial to all things heart-shaped … especially when found spontaneously in nature. I am drawn to heart-shaped rocks while hiking, heart-shaped shells on the beach, clouds in creative heart forms and fruits and vegetables that have grown unexpectedly in heart-shaped ways. Yes, these hearts make me smile in my personal life. But what makes me smile even more in my professional life is finding companies that foster an intentional and caring attitude towards their employees all year long.

Of course, I am taking for granted that these brands already show an intentional love for their customers all year long. That’s certainly how they have become “Lovemarks” (to borrow Kevin Roberts’ term for beloved brands) in their industries: building trust, continually wooing and wowing new and existing customers and exceeding expectations.

But I want to focus on a brand-building ethos that often can get neglected as companies pour all their attention in outward facing ways: internal brand love. A brand valentine of sorts! Brand leaders need to be sure that first and foremost their employees feel empowered, respected and celebrated.

Without an ethos that highly values employees’ contributions, there is no foundation for valuing customers or stakeholders. Even the best external brand-building activities will be soulless. You know it when you experience lukewarm (at best) service from a brand ambassador at a retail establishment or at a restaurant or on a plane. There is no real human connection … it is simply a transaction. Conversely, the experience that occurs when brand ambassadors feel highly motivated and engaged with their work comes across as genuine, true and helpful.

Several years ago, Kip Tindell, CEO and cofounder of the Container Store, started National We Love Our Employees Day—a celebration (coinciding with Valentine’s Day) to show appreciation for all that its employees do for the company, their colleagues, customers, vendors and communities. This is not a publicity-driven effort. It stems from Tindell’s deep-seated belief that employees are the heart of its business and how employees are treated are how customers will be treated. (Read Tindell’s inspiring book, “Uncontainable,” for a deep dive into this stellar brand.)

And, just last year, Tindell continued to celebrate this ethos by creating The Container Store’s Employee First Fund. Here’s how it is described on the website:

The Fund provides grants to employees experiencing unforeseen emergencies like a major medical situation, a catastrophic event, or other grave challenges that they are not financially prepared to deal with. This fund will support our company’s commitment to an employee-first culture, ensuring all employees are well taken care of, safe, secure and warm. It’s a culture that is driven by our seven Foundation Principles® and results in an environment where the lives of everyone connected to our business are enriched and brimming with opportunity—where everyone can thrive—starting with our employees FIRST!

So, take heart! In this season of love, why not take some inspiration from Tindell and find a creative way show (and tell!) your employees just how much they matter to your brand!

A New Way to Net B-to-B Services Sales With Social Trust

Oh no … not another article on how important building trust is with social marketing. Please I can’t take it anymore! I admit we hear too much hype about the importance of trust but behind all the blather there’s a powerful new approach emerging in B-to-B services sales forces. This is the exact system you should be using to exploit social marketing programs that tap LinkedIn, blogging, Twitter, video, etc.

Oh no … not another article on how important building trust is with social marketing. Please, I can’t take it anymore! I admit we hear too much hype about the importance of trust, but behind all the blather there’s a powerful new approach emerging in B-to-B services sales forces.

This is the exact system you should be using to exploit social marketing programs that tap LinkedIn, blogging, Twitter, video, etc.

This foundational method has traditional roots. It’s based on what works—amplifying concepts that have always worked. It’s just re-tweaking them for our hyper-networked, always-on world.

A Buyer’s Decision Model
Selling B-to-B services in the past looked like this. It’s a selling process:

  1. Lead qualification
  2. Presentation
  3. Objection management
  4. Close
  5. Buyer’s remorse (sometimes!)

The new buyer-focused decision model (forced upon us by the Internet) looks like this:

  1. Cognitive thinking
  2. Information gathering
  3. Divergent thinking
  4. Convergent thinking
  5. Evaluation

For years now we’ve been hearing “it’s not about how we are selling, it’s about how customers go about buying.”

Well duh! Realizing this means nothing. Acting is everything. Building practical B-to-B social marketing strategies that create leads and sales is a must. That’s what this post is all about.

From Messenger to Trusted Advisor
A buying decision model is different than a selling process. Herein lies the emergence of an entirely new industry that hot new companies ranging from point-of-sale messaging firms like Corporate Visions to software-based lead generation companies like HubSpot are set to exploit.

So what’s in it for you and your brand?

In his book, “Putting the Win Back in Your Sales,” Samurai Business Group’s, Dan Kreutzer reveals this decision-making model and quickly elaborates on putting it to use.

“This model provides a framework for how buyers make decisions and, ultimately, how sales people can build trust by helping buyers make effective buying decisions,” says Kreutzer, a 25-year veteran of building winning sales organizations on an international scale.

Think about that for a minute. As social marketers, what if our job is actually less about messages and email “blasts” and more about guidance and education? In this context the buyer decision-making model comes into clear focus.

Social marketing suddenly makes more sense.

What If?
What if you could bring marketing and sales together by helping customers:

  • Engage in critical thinking and situational analysis—placing less strategic emphasis on qualifying leads and coming up with killer content marketing messaging?
  • Move toward or away from your services—gaining confidence in decisions they’re making thanks the trusted, needed advice we provide.
  • Determine ‘best fit’ by publishing powerful (“transparent”) and overtly honest truths—helping customers evaluate all options available to them through useful decision-making tools and education.

What if “the doing of” all these things resulted in creative, effective brand messaging, better quality leads and shorter sales cycles? Well they already are for some organizations.

In weeks ahead I’ll be profiling companies and diving deeper into the subject of using this B-to-B buyer-side model to make social media sell for you.

What do you think?