If you’ve worked with Google AdWords or any other type of PPC, you may already be familiar with negative keywords. When customers type in a search term, some specific word combinations indicate they are interested in your product, while others suggest they’re looking for something quite different. A negative keyword list will allow a business to exclude certain search terms from an AdWords campaign so as to avoid wasting money by showing the ad to people who aren’t interested.
Negative Keywords in ORM
What does this mean in relation to Online Reputation Management ? In ORM, a negative keyword may be an undesirable term typed by a user, but it could also be a negative autocomplete suggestion that pops up automatically when anyone starts to enter a query about your brand. This can be especially damaging, since autocomplete will direct anyone researching your company towards the worst content on the internet. Once a negative keyword becomes associated with a company, it will increase traffic to undesired URLs and make any reputation issues exponentially worse.
What Is a Negative URL?
Negative URLs are results that are especially harmful to a company’s reputation. A negative URL is more than a typical minor reputation issue (such as a bad review); it’s a damaging result that’s credible enough to rank high on Google and attract a lot of attention. In some cases, this could be a website created by a competitor with the direct intent of targeting your brand’s reputation, or it might be a news article or press release covering a scandal. Negative URLs are likely to rank especially high on a search that includes a negative keyword, but as they attract more traffic, they’ll begin to appear on page one even for a brand-name search.
ORM Must Account for Negative Keywords and URL’s
Since most negative results aren’t removable, ORM traditionally focuses on the positives: building positive associations, increasing positive search terms, creating new positive content etc. However, to be effective, a positive ORM campaign much be directly targeted to eclipse any negative content that already exists on the web. This makes managing negative keywords and URLs an essential strategy in any effective ORM campaign.
ORM professionals typically map all keywords related to the brand, both positive and negative. They’ll then work to increase the number of positive searches associated with the company name by directing traffic towards fresh, brand-generated content that is accurate and informative. Google’s autocomplete algorithm can’t be directly manipulated, but it can be influenced. Shifting query volume towards a targeted term will minimise the impact of negative keywords and help get the company’s reputation back on the right track.
Negative URLs gain ground as a result of negative keywords, so timely ORM will help to reduce the chances that a damaging URL becomes strongly associated with the brand-name. However, companies that are already facing serious reputations issues will need ORM that focuses on both negative keyword and negative URLs. Even those businesses that are only looking at preventative ORM should consider the potential impact of a negative URL.
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