In today’s interconnected digital world, businesses and individuals need to stand out in the online environment in order to succeed. Digital marketing is comprised of numerous strategies, including search engine optimization (SEO) and online reputation management (ORM). While the end goal of these two strategies may differ, there exist several similarities in their application and processes. In this guide, we’ll explore SEO and ORM and how they intersect to promote positive and effective online search visibility.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of developing website content that ranks highly in online search results. Google and the other major search engines use complex algorithms to index and rank web content; by leveraging SEO, those algorithms can more easily determine what the content is about and whether it is relevant to user searches. Done correctly, SEO can help to position webpages at or near the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), improving their chance of discovery by search users.
SEO relies on several factors to satisfy search algorithms, including:
Online reputation management, or ORM, is the practice by which an individual or business manages its online reputation. One’s reputation is critical to business success; a good reputation can drive business growth, while a poor or damaged reputation can harm business prospects. ORM can be used to restore a damaged reputation, or it can be used to serve as a brand-building tool, helping to share information about a given company or person with web users.
In practice, ORM attempts to suppress negative search results by flooding the web with positive content. Fresh content, especially content that is well-written and informative, triggers search algorithms to index those new pages at or near the top of search results for a given keyword. In effect, ORM has the same result as SEO in that content is ranked highly, improving online visibility in search and influencing users in a positive way.
Google’s search algorithm has evolved dramatically over the past decade. The search engine giant has incorporated advanced technologies such as machine learning, natural-language processing, and artificial intelligence (AI) into its algorithm. The goal for Google is to make the search experience positive for users, delivering relevant results for a given search even if a specific keyword or phrase is not used. In other words, the search algorithm attempts to understand the searcher’s intent – what it is that they are searching for and the kinds of information they wish to learn about a particular subject.
To leverage the Google search algorithm, digital marketers have begun to focus on what Google refers to as “EAT”: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness:
When looking at the individual components of EAT, several words stand out: informative, positive, and engaging. These factors tie SEO and ORM together; in each digital marketing practice, the quality, relevance, and positivity of a given piece of web content help it to stand out in search results. Marketers should continue to focus on EAT as a critical aspect in both SEO and ORM.
By creating content that shares detailed information with visitors and does so in an engaging, positive way, search rankings for that content will improve dramatically. And, it helps with one’s online reputation; this content strongly influences others, helping them to make informed decisions about which companies to do business with. Together, SEO and ORM work to improve online search visibility, setting the stage for continued success well into the future.
Hayden Koch is the Director of Search Engine Marketing at Internetzone I, Inc., specializing in SEO and ORM strategy.