Resource Center > Online Reputation Management > How search engine reputation management can rescue you from a negative online image

How search engine reputation management can rescue you from a negative online image

by Rockey Simmons

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Search engine reputation management (SERM) is the practice of monitoring and managing your online presence to ensure search results reflect positively on you or your business.

But what happens when negative content shows up in search results?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what SERM is, why it’s important, and how to effectively manage your online reputation. We’ll also discuss the different tools and techniques you can use to monitor and improve your search engine reputation.

Let’s get started.

What’s the difference between ORM and SERM?

Before we talk about how to improve your search engine reputation. We’d like to resolve any confusion about ORM and SERM—two terms that get mixed up all the time.

ORM (online reputation management) and SERM (search engine reputation management) are two different strategies used to manage online reputation.

ORM is the process of monitoring, analyzing, and improving the online reputation of a person, brand, or company. It involves monitoring online mentions of the entity, responding to negative feedback or reviews, and generating positive content to promote a positive image, whether it’s via a blog article or a social media post.

On the other hand, SERM is a subset of ORM that focuses on managing the online reputation of a brand or company in search engine results pages (SERPs). SERM involves optimizing search engine results for specific keywords, monitoring and responding to feedback or reviews, and creating noteworthy content to improve your brand’s online reputation in search results.

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In short, ORM is a broader strategy that includes various techniques to manage online reputation, while SERM is a specific strategy that focuses on managing online reputation in search engine results.

With that said, we can now talk about the benefits, different tools, and how you can use SERM to your advantage—either to revive your reputation or enhance your chances of being front and center on Google SERPs.

Benefits of search engine reputation management

We cannot overstate how important search engine reputation management is for modern businesses.

Just for a second, think about how fast you judge a business’s service when you visit a restaurant for lunch or dinner.

It happens even faster online. In today’s digital age, a negative online reputation can significantly hurt a company’s brand reputation and bottom line.

But, when you effectively control your search engine reputation, you can boost brand loyalty, attract more customers, increase profits, and establish yourself as an industry leader.

Something people often overlook is that a good online reputation also attracts new customers who rely on positive reviews and ratings to make purchase decisions.

Think about that for a second. That’s a big deal because according to Brand Rated, “58% of consumers say they would pay more for the products of a brand with good reviews.”

How about that?

In addition to attracting new customers, a positive online reputation established through search engine reputation management helps businesses stand out in their industry, which can provide all types of unforeseen opportunities.

Search engines and online presence

SERM focuses on improving your business’s online reputation by monitoring and managing positive and negative content on search engines and social media platforms.

Through various strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), guest posts, review management, and social media marketing, SERM can help establish and maintain a positive image for your business online.

But this process can be a lot of work. That’s why ORM experts and skilled SEO experts are in such high demand. Because with the right content creation, applying search engine reputation management properly can be a powerful tool for any business looking to enhance its online presence.

Understanding how search engines work

Search engines are sophisticated technology systems that deliver relevant results in response to user queries.

They work by constantly crawling and indexing content on the internet, and then using complex algorithms to match user queries with the most relevant results. Content creators can help ensure that their webpages are visible on search engines by following the SEO best practices and guidelines recommended by Google.

SEO can also be used to alleviate the impact of negative content on search engine results pages by building a positive online presence and reputation over time.

That’s what controlling search results is all about.

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To achieve high rankings, there are many on-page and off-page factors to consider. These include keywords, metadata, internal links, user-generated content, and the presence of positive reviews across various online platforms.

Effective SEO also involves careful keyword research and content development practices.

You can create a solid strategy yourself or have an expert do it for you.

Either way, you’ll ensure that your web pages are relevant and engaging for potential customers and begin creating a positive online reputation that people can easily find when they search for you.

Building an online presence through SEO and social media platforms

Building a robust and engaging online presence through SEO and social media platforms is critical for online reputation management. With 98% of online experiences ending up on some kind of search engine, social media posts and pages can be used to your advantage.

Social media presence and community engagement can have a direct impact on search engine rankings, with search algorithms favoring brands that have a positive image online.

This starts with links being shared, which increases your brand exposure. Search engine algorithms think (yes think), “Wow people like this. This brand must offer something really valuable.”

Add in tools such as Google Alerts, and you can easily manage and respond to what people are saying about you as well.

All of which help in creating a better online image that you care about your customers.

Establishing a positive image on search engines

One of the most effective strategies in building an impressive online presence is optimizing your Google My Business listing.

This helps in getting your business on the map and ensuring that your business details are consistent across all platforms.

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Here are 5 quick steps to set that up:

1. Go to the Google My Business website and sign in with a Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, you can create one.

2. Enter the name of your business and its address. If your business is online-only, select the option “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” and enter your service area.

3. Verify your business by phone or mail. Google will send you a verification code to your business address or phone number to confirm that you are the owner of the business.

4. Once your business is verified, add details such as your business hours, phone number, website address, and photos of your business.

5. Optimize your profile by adding a business description, selecting relevant categories, and encouraging customers to leave reviews. You can also use Google My Business to post updates about your business, respond to customer reviews, and track analytics.

It’s also important to control the front-page results on search engines with your website, social media profiles, and profiles on review and industry comparison sites.

This ensures that the first impression potential customers get is a positive one.

Creating people-first content, then focusing on SEO best practices is how you really build your flawless reputation with your audience and Google.

This includes writing blog posts and guest posts and publishing user-generated content that highlights positive experiences and mentions of your brand.

Negative content and reviews

One of the greatest threats to your business reputation is negative content and reviews.

A single negative review can impact potential customers’ purchase decisions and drive away business. That’s why it’s crucial to manage negative content effectively.

This is especially important if you have a local storefront business because good online reviews can flood you with foot traffic or dry up your sales like the Death Valley desert in California.

What can you do to stay on top of this?

Identifying areas with negative content or reviews

The first step is to proactively monitor brand mentions to identify areas where negative comments or reviews exist.

There are tons of tools and workflows (paid and free) that help with this, including:

  1. Google Alerts
  2. Social media monitoring
  3. Review platforms
Do you have a good online reputation? Find out with our free
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There are tons of options, but the three options above are the fastest (free) ways to track brand mentions and flag negative comments right away.

Making monitoring your digital reputation a daily habit can help you respond quickly and prevent the spread of negative information. Once you identify the negatives, it’s crucial to assess the credibility and validity of each comment.

In this complete guide to online review management, you can find all the top places to look for when searching for your brand

In the end, you want to not only respond to these reviews but also understand the underlying cause of any negative feedback.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into this topic.

Developing strategies to manage negative content and reviews

Developing strategies to manage negative content and reviews is the best way to maintain a positive reputation online. It’s time-consuming, yes, but worth every minute.

We’re going to give a brief strategy here on how to respond to reviews. But again, check out this complete guide and you’ll learn everything you need to know.

One other thing to note:

Reviews that violate review system guidelines should be removed. Any time you face an instance where the reviewer cannot be identified or the review is fake, is grounds for immediate removal.

Responding to negative reviews in a professional manner

When a negative review is received, the first step is to stay calm and avoid any emotional responses.

Then, respond promptly with empathy and understanding regarding the customer’s experience.

Offer a potential solution (if needed) to resolve the issue and show that your company values its customers.

However, if the negative review is unjustified, it is important to address it in a professional manner and get it removed if it violates a review platform’s guidelines.

This is where working with a professional search engine reputation expert comes in handy. We immediately know how to handle these situations and which steps to take to get it removed (if possible).

Every person who sees that negative review is a lost opportunity. And, depending on your level of organic traffic, it can cost you a lot.

Positive content and reviews

Publishing positive content online is a fundamental aspect of search engine reputation management.

It involves creating and sharing content that highlights your positive attributes and paints you in the best possible light. You can use positive content, such as blog posts, guest posts, and articles on social media accounts, review sites, and forums to counter negative content and provide potential customers with an accurate representation of your business.

Do you have a good online reputation? Find out with our free
Reputation Report Card.
Start Your Scan

One effective approach is to ask satisfied customers for reviews on social media and other review platforms. This process can help amplify positive experiences and drive down negative mentions.

Positive content, such as testimonials, reviews, and personal experiences, can enhance your online reputation management efforts. (Remember to solicit only genuine feedback from the customers and do not offer any discount or other reward in exchange for a positive review.)

Then responding to the positive review in a systematic way that further enhances your reputation can provide you with an even better SEO advantage.

Generating a wealth of positive content is an effective way to push negative content or reviews to the bottom of search results. This makes it easier for potential customers to find and consider choosing your business over your competitors


In conclusion, search engine reputation management is a valuable tool to help individuals and businesses recover from a negative image online. There’s a lot more to it, but this is not an ultimate guide. Besides, who’d want to read that behemoth of an article?

By taking proactive steps to manage your online reputation, either on your own or with help from a professional SERM firm, you can provide yourself and your brand with a positive image online. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start managing your reputation.

Want to find out what people are seeing online about you right now for free? Good. Grab a copy of your reputation report card. Then, speak to an expert for personal analysis.

This post was contributed by Rockey Simmons, founder of SaaS Marketing Growth.