How to Control Search Results to Optimize Social Media

By Ric Shreves, Michelle Krasniak

Although some factors that affect company reputation are outside your control, you can do some effective things with social media optimization (SMO) to manage reputation. Two of the most important things are to use social media to stake out and control your brand’s online visibility and to affect what people see when they search for the brand. Search engines are key.

Always use your best efforts to control your brand’s presence on the search engine results page. Although it’s nearly impossible to get your website to the point where results from your website alone dominate page one of Google, with strategic use of social media channels, you can control a large hunk of the territory on page one and beyond.

Social media profiles on key channels tend to rank highly in the search engines. Google considers social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, SlideShare, and Pinterest to be high‐authority sites by Google, so when your brand profile appears on those sites, it’s likely to show up high in the search results. Therefore, staking out your turf on the key social media channels is strategically important.

Claim any profile related to your brand name and company name on the major channels.If, for example, you are working with company ABC, and they also have a brand named XYZ, then you should try to obtain the profiles for both ABC and XYZ on all the major channels. Build at least enough of a presence to make sure that the profile registers as a brand presence on the channel.

Creating solid brand profiles on key social channels can help ensure that the page‐one Google search results reflect the legitimate presence of your brand. Control of that territory can act as partial insurance against negative reviews and other destructive public relations. If you hold the high ground on a search engine results page, you can marginalize the effect of posts, comments, and reviews by detractors.

Page one of Google is the most important territory for your brand’s reputation. Rank well so that if a crisis strikes, you have plenty of visible channels that can help you get your message out.

Take a look at the Google search results for Costa Coffee. With the exception of a Wikipedia entry and the Google News items, page one of Google is dominated by brand‐controlled properties.

Costa Coffee on Google.

Costa Coffee on Google.

If you look past page one, you see that Costa also controls most of page two. The firm has leveraged Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to its advantage, using the strength of those high‐ranking sites to strengthen its presence in Google. This strategy is highly effective (and legitimate) for staying in control of your brand presence and, therefore, for staying in control of what people see when they search for your brand.

Want to take this strategy further? Apply the same technique to control your company’s product names in Google search results, or, if possible, for the primary keyword associated with your company or product.