Online reputation is everything when you have a digital presence. A negative review or bad press ranking on page one of Google will have an adverse impact on your online business. 91% of young consumers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations.
In this blog, we will cover the concept of Reverse SEO, which is the central pillar of SEO reputation management.
What is Reverse SEO?
Reverse SEO is the process of using SEO techniques to push pages down the SERP Results. You aim at targeting pages that badly impact your business (like pages with bad reviews and bad press or those that promote competing products or services).
Only 0.78% of users will click a search result from the second pages of a search engine. Your goal is to push the harmful pages to the second page of the leading search engines. Once pushed to the second page it limits or is close to exclude any impact to your brand.
Reverse SEO should not be confused with Negative SEO.
Reverse SEO is a white hat approach and should not be confused with Negative SEO. Negative SEO refers to the practice of using unethical and illegal techniques to impact the search ranking of a competing website. For example, buying spamming links and pointing them to a web page that you want to outrank.
Negative SEO is based on SEO white hat techniques to influence the top position of Google for search queries. One main difference from standard SEO is that you need to get ranked at multiple positions on Google for the same keyword. Technically you can use Negative SEO to target pages that are impacting your brand but the side effect is that these techniques can land you in trouble if you are caught.
It is better to accomplish your goal using a white hat approach like Reverse SEO.
How to perform Reverse SEO
There are multiple SEO techniques that you can use to perform Reverse SEO, and given that you need to rank on multiple positions, you will need to use more than one technique. Your aim is to generate content that in the eyes of Google looks better so your content will outrank the page you want to target.
All the techniques are based on one main pillar keyword research.
The first task with Reverse SEO is to understand which keywords the page impacting your business is ranking for. The best approach is to use an SEO tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush. Both these tools will provide you with the keywords that a page is ranking for. It is also important to determine the traffic volume and difficulty of these keywords. These will help you understand the resources and, ultimately, the budget you need to outrank this page for these keywords.
Based on your research, you can understand how many pages you need to create and how many backlinks you will require to outrank the page that is causing you trouble.
The following are the Reverse SEO techniques that will help you bury a page down the lower positions of Google.
1. Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword Cannibalization is the process of targeting the same keyword on the same website.
The concept is to use internal sub-pages (like a blog) on your site to target the same keyword or if you are crafty the same keywords. The pages should have the same word count, the same number of backlinks but different content ( same content quality).
The result is that Google will not be able to determine which keyword your pages should rank since all the pages will have the same weight, and in that scenario, you will earn multiple positions on the search results.
Typically pages that contain your reviews will include your brand name so the link building effort should be high, but if you are competing with a domain with much higher domain ranking (like yelp) you will need to add backlinks to the internal pages that you have created.
The concept with this approach is to confuse Google and give it multiple options to choose from. That said, eventually Google will determine the right version of content to display to users and canonicalize that URL.
2. Influence Search Trends
When it comes to Reverse SEO apart from page 1 of Google, you also have to contend with the search suggestions. Google uses a prediction algorithm to help users complete their searches. The suggestions are based on the related searches and your browsing history. It is important that you remove phrases that are negative to your brand. The way to accomplish this is that you suggest new ones for Google by doing a campaign around the keywords you want to remove. A (or multiple) marketing campaigns will influence users to perform searches using new keywords around your brand name.
Suppose, “Product X does not work” is trending in the Google suggestion, you can do multiple marketing Campaigns about new Features of your product. Replacing the top suggestion with “Product X features”, “Product X feature Z”.
3. Leverage Google SERP Features
Google SERP results have become more complex over the years, and you can use featured snippets to steal the users’ attention from position 1. If the keywords you need to act upon are generating featured snippets into the SERP results. You can leverage other platforms that rank well and can influence the SERP features. For example, using Pinterest when it comes to images, Youtube for videos, and News sites if you want a spot of the Top stories section.
4. Use Your Social Platforms
Social Media Platforms are an easy way to take up quite a few positions on SERPs. Social sites have a substantial ranking power and with few backlinks, you will be able you populate SERP results with links pointing to your social media.
Creating microsites around your brand / keywords is the go-to approach to push down Google search results with pages that have a bad reputation OR impact your bottom line in one way or another.
To build microsites for brand protection, you need to register multiple separate domains with sites filled with new unique content. There must be no digital figure prints between the microsites and the main site.
Google can recognize sites behind the same domain registration wall and with the same characteristics (i.p, templates, media files). If the microsites are not properly built, Google can mark the microsites as a PBN. Potentially you could end up with a penalty on the microsites & the main site.
There are 10 positions on Google. In practice, if you currently occupy position 1 on Google and would like to push other positions down in SERP rankings, you would need to create 9 microsites to own page 1 of Google.
The disadvantage of microsites is cost. You need to build new sites with unique content, and based on the competition on the keyword you will also end up doing a link building, adding more costs. A cheaper option is to leverage external sites.
6. Guest Blogs from External Sites
Guest Blogs are also a very good way out to outrank another page from SERP results. Particularly if the site is a reputable news site with high domain authority. A press release that is newsworthy on the keywords you are interested in will give you exposure on multiple high ranking domains.
Final thoughts and Recommendations
Having the ability to influence SERP results will allow you to repair any damage from pages that impact your brand. We all know how the search results on Google will influence your conversion rate and could hurt your brand amplification. It is also important that you have proper monitoring when it comes to your brand and ranking. You can utilize tools online and be proactive in order to limit any bad reputation that can arise from SERP results.
Simon Bonello is Co-founder of Gain Changer. His main area of focus is Business Process Automation, Software Technical Architecture and Technical SEO