Brand Monitoring: what it is and why it is important for SEO too

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It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it, says a well-known aphorism by Warren Buffett, the American entrepreneur considered the largest value investor in the world. The reason is quickly understood: a single mismanaged brand crisis can quickly damage that reputation that took years to fortify. Being aware of this, he continues, you will do things differently to try and protect a valuable resource such as reputation. Even in the world of digital marketing and SEO what others think of us has a weight and there is a specific activity to improve the brand reputation and defend the image of the brand.

What is brand monitoring

We can define brand monitoring as a process of business analysis of various Web and media channels to keep tabs on the information around the company, its products, the brand, and anything explicitly related to the business.

More simply, it is an activity focused on monitoring the reputation and reception of the brand by the general public and targeted consumers. It also involves not only monitoring direct mentions, but also understanding the context in which these references occur, to also check the predominant sentiment in people.

Thus, it is the management of how the brand is perceived and discussed in the digital world, and therefore doing brand monitoring consists of carefully monitoring various online channels to keep track of brand mentions and related conversations that occur in spaces such as social media, blogs, forums, review websites, news, and any other digital places where there might be references to our brand.

Not just monitoring: what online reputation management is for

The theoretical basis of brand monitoring refers to the broader “reputation management,” which argues that the public’s perception of a brand can have a significant impact on a company’s success. Therefore, by monitoring and responding to brand mentions, companies can positively influence their reputation.

This activity has its roots in the pre-digital era, when companies monitored traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and television broadcasts to keep track of their brand mentions. However, with the advent of the Internet and social media, brand monitoring has taken on a new dimension: today we are all online, and companies have easier access to sophisticated and automated brand monitoring tools through which they can track brand mentions in real time across a wide range of online channels.

Today, then, the purpose of brand monitoring is to periodically and strategically survey the landscape of online media and resources to uncover different perceived sentiments about our brand or that of our competitors and respond with specific strategies to improve people’s grip.

It therefore means monitoring brand reputation and reacting proactively to concerns and criticisms from press or customers in order to foster trust and brand awareness.

Why reputation monitoring is important

It should already be clear from what has been written that brand monitoring is critical for many reasons.

First of all, it can help companies understand how they are perceived by the public so that they gain valuable information that can guide marketing and product strategies.

In addition, it can help companies identify and respond quickly to potential brand crises-for example, if customers are sharing negative experiences with our product or service online, monitoring can help us identify these conversations and respond appropriately.

Finally, brand monitoring can help improve SEO, as we will see more analytically: when the brand is mentioned online, especially on high-quality websites, Google recognizes this as a signal of authority and reputation, and this can provide a positive boost to the site’s visibility in search results.

Even more than brand monitoring, today we talk about web monitoring or even SEO monitoring, referring specifically to the main channels on which users inquire or search for news about a brand. The numbers, as always, help us put the context in context:

  • More than half of consumers (56 percent) always look for information about the company producing a good or service before making a purchase.
  • If a consumer cannot immediately figure out who the producer is, he or she becomes irritated and annoyed in 61% of cases.
  • 70% of consumers no longer buy the product they were interested in if they appreciate the company’s performance, they decide not to buy.

In the background, then, we should not forget that more than 1 in 5 people in the world has made at least one online purchase in the last 30 days and that now the web is populated (surfed) by 64% of people in the world. And in most cases, their online journey starts with a Google search and then ends up on other “shores.”

The benefits of brand monitoring

Looking at the practical side, there are various goals that can be achieved with an effective strategy: to quickly identify any cases of crisis, such as brand transgressions, to address the feelings –  positive and especially negative ones – of consumers and competition, to understand in a more specific way if and how much are appreciated the modalities of communication of the company and to estimate the quality of the products and services offered as perceived from the market and the customers.

In particular, brand monitoring allows us to find out if there are violators who use the name or logo of the brand in an unauthorized way for utilitarian purposes, trying to exploit in a dubious and illegal way their popularity, or if there are situations of unfair competition (for example, very similar and easily confused domain names etc.).

At the same time, keeping track of what people say about the brand allows the company to react to the consumer’s feelings, expressed on social media, in forums, on review aggregator sites or on the former Google My Business tab. This can also be used to monitor the moves of the competition against our brand, which can typically manifest in the form of comparative advertising or negative reviews.

The relationship between brand monitoring and SEO

It might be surprising to learn that brand monitoring has a significant impact on SEO, but over time we have also come to realize that there are many aspects that can influence online visibility while not strictly falling under the umbrella of site optimization activities.

We can again be guided by an aphorism: “Your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is“. Word of journalist and author Chris Anderson, among other things longtime editor of Wired USA, who then urges us not to underestimate the value of immediately presenting a good image of our brand in SERPs to avoid possible serious negative effects.

How to manage SEO online reputation

This sentence makes it practically clear why brand monitoring is also useful from an SEO perspective and vice versa, considering the brand as a holistic whole composed of many activities that can, if well executed, make our web marketing strategy more essential and effective, allowing us to nip in the bud controversial situations or bad reviews that might otherwise slip through the cracks.

As they point out from Pixelcutlabs, the presence of inaccurate and untrue statements about a business that are published in the public eye is a humiliating and devastating experience, especially when they are undeserved. Some statistics allow us to frame the problem:

  • 92% of consumers read online reviews.
  • 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • Over 80% of the risk of reputation damage comes from hype facts not based on reality.
  • 75% of brand value is based on a company’s reputation.
  • 59% of companies have experienced a public relations crisis, but only 54% have a plan in case it happens.

The importance of mentions for the SEO and the SEO value of mentions

The search path of the reputation of the online brand begins with the mentions tracking: in the context of digital marketing, the mentions are all the references to a brand or an entity within a resource without the presence of a direct link.

We do not always get a link when other sites talk about us, our products or our content: sometimes we can receive just a simple mention, because our brand is mentioned in a text but without there being a link to the site.

The mentions can be positive reviews or, often, passing quotations within an article written by another site. In this case, although probably less impactful than a classic link, they are still useful for the purposes of SEO, because they are signs of strength and authority of our brand, which is recognized as a reference in its specific area of belonging and gets the so-called social proof.

However, we have the opportunity to make them even more significant, by doing a good brand monitoring and implementing some public relations strategies. Initially, we will use some tools to find out all the online references to your brand, with and without links: now we have a list of sites to which we can turn to so to try and turn the mentions into backlinks, and sometimes you just need to contact the owners or authors of the article to reach the goal.

Keeping under control the users feeling

Another important source of information comes from feedbacks, which as well can come from various spaces such as social media networks, Web site articles and related comments, YouTube videos, or more direct reviews via forms and contact center involvement.

Monitoring who and how they talk about us and our online business is also crucial for two other reasons.

First of all, it gives us the opportunity to know what users really think, eventually also intercepting negative references that could worsen the reputation of the site and trying to intervene where possible. In practical terms, we can, for example, highlight and resolve customer pain points, taking direct and targeted action to make the experience smoother.

But the mentions are also useful to intuitively check if our backlink profile is balanced or unnatural, evaluating the relationship between quotes and backlinks: simplifying, if we receive an excessive amount of backlinks and few mentions we may appear suspicious in the eyes of Google concerning the natural distribution of the sector to which we belong, and thus increase the risk of incurring a penalty.

Risks of a negative advertising

Sometimes, however, the mentions can also be insults or heavy criticism, and soon become viral. If word of mouth still remains one of the most effective ways to attract new customers and create brand awareness, it can also be a double-edged weapon  since it creates a real stigma that alienates users and customers.

We know that the Net is the place that brings together millions of users, who discuss, compare and share information, thoughts, experiences with respect to the most disparate things; these interactions also create a collective sentiment, that can influence the perception of other consumers and influence the future choices of buying the products and services of a brand and its fame.

This is true on social networks – on the official pages, as well as on the collateral pages that are sometimes created expressly to complain about some disruption – but also in the Search system. If there are articles that speak badly of the company, they will also emerge during searches on Google in the carousels of the latest news or, even worse, among the organic results, as well as any controversial reviews will be visible in the GMB tabs.

Inevitably, an unsuspecting user looking for information about our brand will notice this negative advertising and draw its ratings accordingly, which may also dissuade him from completing the operation he had in mind, making us lose a conversion and a potential client.

How to do Brand Monitoring: the tools and techniques

Coming out of what relates more directly to SEO, there are various tools and techniques for brand monitoring, leveraging tools to monitor the Web to receive alerts for brand mentions (like Google Alert, for example) and to delve into the sentiment of conversations, identify influencers and provide detailed analysis.

These tools allow us to do monitoring activities of mentions and mentions, so we can actually find out if there is information that is beyond our standard control, i.e., digital places we are not manning where users and people are talking about us.

The most famous and practical monitoring tool for marketers is Google Alert, Google’s free service that is used precisely to monitor the Web for interesting new content and results that relate to the search terms we have identified. We can, for example, set as keywords the name of the company, the names of trademarked products, the name of the CEO or employees who enjoy the most visibility, but also monitor competitors, etc.: when new results appear in web pages, newspaper articles, blogs or scientific research we will receive an alert, that is, an alert with notification.

Other paid tools allow for more precise monitoring and discovering the sentiment that is conversations are generating, or even navigating within the mentions that arrive on various social networks.

As we said, brand monitoring is influenced by several factors, which can have a positive or negative impact. For example, a strong content strategy, excellent customer service, and an active social media presence can lead to more positive mentions of your brand and improve your online reputation.

On the other hand, a poor customer experience, brand crisis, or lack of online presence can lead to negative brand mentions and damage your reputation. Intuitively, it is important to closely monitor these mentions and respond appropriately to manage any potential brand crisis.

Monitoring the brand online on an ongoing, real-time basis ultimately serves to identify these trending moments as soon as they occur and to manage them before they escalate: by checking with relevant mentions and keywords not only on social media platforms, but also in customer feedback forms and more, we will be able to anticipate the winds of crisis that affect us.

Strategies to defend the brand

Receiving a series of negative public comments can be nerve-wracking and the first human reaction is to completely ignore the accusations or respond aggressively: both solutions are not ideal in the business world, because they risk provoking an even worse storm.

The advice is to deal with these crises cold-headed and try to understand what the lesser evil is: although sometimes it may seem impossible to reverse the situation, having somewhat awareness of the problems allows you to act and prevent things from getting worse, intervening with swift and targeted actions to mitigate the damage and recover from an embarrassing setback.

The bottom line is that a digital monitoring strategy makes it possible to defend, monitor, and protect reputations, in the digital and virtual mode, but not only. It is therefore not surprising to find that there is a specific activity to manage and influence brand information that is available to Internet users, a.k.a the Online Reputation Management (ORM), a proactive protection measure that monitors Internet mentions and seeks to maintain a positive presentation in web searches.

Specifically for organic searches, then, we also quickly mention the Search Engine Optimization Reputation Management (SEO Reputation Management), which focuses on Google’s SERP and keyword performance, with the aim of presenting a brand in the best possible light in the strategic queries, finding opportunities to improve the rankings of positive content and eliminate (or lower positioning) negative search results.