What is SERM and how to polish
a company's reputation in Search Engines?

To make it clear from the first words, let's dive into the terms a bit. ORM (Online Reputation Management) is global reputation management on the Internet, while SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management) is the part of it that refers to reputation in search engines. If you are
a marketing manager, a brand manager, or a PR specialist, then most likely you have already come across these concepts and know that this is a great part of the work to be done.

In this post, we will explain in detail what SERM (search engine reputation management)
is for, define the main stages of its launch, and share relevant tools you should pay attention to.

What is SERM used for?

Specialists who deal with the business reputation manage all information related
to it on the Internet: from review sites to search results. They control brand references on websites and social media, monitor feedback on specialized review sites and location-based services. That is, they monitor the business reputation globally. Usually, you either have such a specialist in your team or turn to a SERM agency that will do this work for you engaging their experience and professionals.

SERM services have two main tasks:

1. To form search results with mostly positive mentions of the business;

2. To exclude negative mentions from the front pages of the search results.

Whether you do it yourself or with the help of a SERM agency, you need to constantly generate positive brand mentions, motivate customers to leave good feedback, and quickly neutralize negative moments. And you might understand that this requires a comprehensive and complex approach.
serm
An example of search result for a brand query: On the screenshot, you can see that most
of the results are occupied by location-based services — Google My Business. Algorithms consider the information that is placed in them (including reviews).
So, why should your company turn to a SERM agency or even think of doing search engine reputation management?

A Company Should Definitely Engage SERM if...

  • It has just entered the market and needs to develop and improve online reputation;
  • It faced negative feedback and needs to return positive mentions as soon as possible with
    the help of internet reputation management;
  • It found irrelevant search results for queries that mention the brand.

The main stages of work on SERM

1
Determine what search results look like for your queries
First, study the results and determine the approximate ratio of positive, neutral and negative mentions.

We recommend paying particular attention to the following points:
  • Where your company is mentioned and where you get reviews — for example, social media, location-based services, review sites, etc. This will allow you to keep an eye on the most popular sites where there is a target audience that is inclined to order your product or service;
  • Realistic feedback: location-based services such as Google My Business, may contain fake negative reviews that have been ordered by competitors or other companies. You should track them and send competent complaints to the location-based services.
How to get more customer reviews on Google with a QR code

For companies looking to compete in local search results,
it is important to ensure a constant stream of fresh reviews
to Google listings. Here comes a QR code — a quick and convenient way to invite a customer to leave a review about
your business.

  • Impact on the company's image: that is, how much the mentions of the company converge with the overall positioning of the business and relations with the target audience, how strengths and weaknesses of your business are presented. At this stage, you will probably need to find out the cost and order these services from a specialized SERM agency.
2
Analyze the performance of competitors
Gather all available information about competitors: on what queries they are promoted, on which sites their content is placed, how they work with maps, location-based services, review sites,
and so on.

For example, your company holds a chain of restaurants. Do a little research on where competitors in a similar niche publish their PR materials to form a strong online reputation,
as well as on which sites they work with customer feedback. You can do it by yourself or turn
to a SERM agency to save your time and efforts. But remember, all this will help you to build
a thorough marketing strategy and start working with search engine reputation management
in a proper way.
Happy Bar & Grill and RocketData case study

RocketData is a great tool for working with online presence and reviews as you have just one place where all the information is coming so there is no chance to miss it.

See how RocketData helped Happy Bar & Grill restaurants manage their online presence as well as online reputation in location-based services.

3
Consider a strategy for working with mentions of your company
  • Select topics based on the queries users search for to get into the search results, not for random queries, but targeted ones. Examples of such queries: "holiday clothes" plus brand name, "self-made cakes" plus brand name;
google local pack
  • Ensure all sources have relevant information about the company to eliminate irrelevant data that could damage your reputation. For example, information in maps and directories is often aggregated from other sources and is not always accurate. So, be attentive;
  • Track brand mentions on your own, through a SERM agency or specialized services and platforms.
4
Pay attention to your reviews management strategy
Since customers often mention the company name in their review text, pay special attention
to their feedback. A single negative review on the Internet could do great damage to any brand.
It is important to remember that 93% of users are guided by reviews when choosing a product or service, so do not underestimate this part of the work.

Our recommendations for action in this regard:
  • If your business clients leave dozens of reviews a day on different sites, you can conduct monitoring on a daily basis. Connect special tools for collecting and processing customer reviews;
  • Be sure to respond correctly to the negative, try to turn the situation in your favor
    so as not to alienate potential clients and show them you're in touch with their questions
    and needs;
  • Generate positive reviews: customers often refer to the company name in positive feedback. This is exactly what you need :)

RocketData reviews management services

5
Put content creation on a stream
Create a content plan with topics that will include search queries involving your brand.
Decide on the format of publications (for example, press release, expert column, long read)
and platforms for its distribution.

The most popular platform is a corporate blog on your site. It can also include blogging
on external platforms, guest posts or publications in popular media sources. For that reason,
you should have a qualified content specialist in your team, turn to trusted freelancers
or a reliable SERM agency that can carry out this work on a professional level.
6
Evaluate performance and then optimize your marketing strategy
Specialists usually evaluate the results of working with search engine reputation management after three to six months. The main criterion for evaluating performance is the change in search results for branded queries. One must also consider how a company's reputation and its relationship with the audience have been affected.

Each specialist sets their own online reputation management evaluation criteria, as universal metrics are difficult to define. That is why it is a good idea to turn to a SERM agency, because they carry out such work
on a regular basis and most likely they know what you should pay attention to, what should
be changed or overthought. It's a marketing tool that works not to attract leads but to increase conversion. It's unlikely a company will know that the client didn't show up at their coffee shop because they read a dozen negative reviews. Recent studies confirm that 52% of people will not use the services of a company if its rating is below 4.

After evaluating the work, think about which approaches to reputation management should
be changed, what doesn't work and what works best, and whether additional tools are needed.
7
Monitor search results on a regular basis
After a SERM agency or your own team conducts an optimization, do not forget to check
the search results and track the company mentions
. Quickly respond to customer reviews
and rating changes in location-based services and review sites, increase positive search results
for branded queries on the first two search pages. This will help you to perform search engine reputation management in the most effective way.

Let's sum it up

SERM (search engine reputation management) is complex and thorough work that focuses on a global and important part of any brand — a company's reputation.

To use this marketing tool effectively, start by analyzing the search results for your queries, noting competitors' moves, drawing up a strategy, taking into account the daily activity with content and customer reviews.

Once launched, keep track of the results and remember that online reputation management cannot be streamlined. This is daily work related to online reputation and strategy optimization for specific tasks. So to do it systematically, turn to a SERM agency or hire a professional not to lose a chance to boost your business with the help of such a useful tool.

Take care of the beauty of search results for your brand and provide search engine reputation management of the highest quality!
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