Secrets of search: how the big guns manage their online reputation

What does Google Search reveal about your company? How do you keep bad reviews from overshadowing your reputation? Justin Flaherty reveals how some of the world's biggest companies manage their reputations online.

This is about your company and how you are presented on the world’s most ubiquitous search engine – Google.


Online search engines have taken out the hassle associated with finding your company, but are your potential clients seeing what you want them to see?

Alongside your website which, for argument’s sake, let’s say ranks #1 on Google Search, potential clients or even investors also see your reviews, social channels, media coverage and whatever else the relentless search engine has dug up.

So, what is Google Search saying about you? What appears on page one when you search your brand? Are you effectively communicating to prospective employees, potential clients, stakeholders and shareholders?

Horizon Communication Group’s New York based partner, Five Blocks’, CEO Sam Michelson highlights that when stakeholders search your brand, they need to find a variety of accurate and up to date results.google-logo

What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)?

Your online reputation encompasses all the information available online about you and your brand. This includes your owned, earned and paid platforms. In plain English this means your website, media articles, reviews, social media and anything else referencing your organisation.

ORM refers to the way that you collate, analyse and utilise that information to build and support your brand. From this information, stakeholders quickly form opinions and decide whether to move forward – or perhaps move on (often to a competitor).

Most businesses and brands have come to realise ORM is critical to their success but many still struggle to differentiate it from SEO. SEO can be used as an ORM tactic, but should not be solely relied on to put your best brand forward.

Horizon Communication Group with partner Five Blocks developed the Optics Report 2016 to analyse how or if 300 companies are using ORM to appear on Google Search page one. The 300 organisations comprised of ASX50, Fortune100, FTSE100 and HSI50.


“Australia’s top performing companies are quickly falling behind their international peers”, Justin Flaherty, CEO Horizon Communication Group.

The Optics Report 2016 revealed the ASX50 is lagging behind its international counterparts. The greatest mistake we are seeing across the board is the under-utilisation of publicly available channels.LinkedIn logo

The Optics Report showed that LinkedIn is one of the most underused resources. In fact, the report revealed Twitter as the most visible social media asset among the ASX50, followed by Facebook. It also revealed that every company within the ASX50, has at least one external article about them.

This is great – if the articles are positive and up to date. Michelson agrees that identifying existing content and working to promote it is the important first step in telling your story and preventing potentially damaging content on the first page of search.

“In the US our top corporates are taking an increasingly proactive approach to Google search. They’ve realised it’s critical to ensure proactive communications such as PR need to be managed with an eye on Google search,” Michelson explains.

Google yourself. Take a look at your brand online. Does it explain what you are trying to achieve on a corporate level? Are all your company details correct or does the wrong logo appear?

Traditional media still draws a larger ‘clicking’ audience which creates the risk of sensational headlines taking up your valuable space on Google. If you start actively taking control of your online reputation you can push this content down.

What to do

“The best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google”, Sam Michelson, CEO, Five Blocks.

  • To facilitate ORM the first thing any organisation has to do is identify your key objectives. Essentially, what do you want people to see about your organisation? For example – if you are looking for investors what do you want them to see? If you have had issues with internal communications, do you want the work you have been doing on workplace culture promoted? This is your chance to take control and start considering all of the channels you are viewed on.
  • Actively engage your audience through your owned social media sites such as LinkedIn. The more you interact, for example by posting new thought leadership articles or tweets, the more likely people will visit your page, making it the ideal place to feature your key messages.
  • Some of the most prominent information contained in Google’s knowledge panels are drawn directly from Wikipedia. It is surprising how highly Wiki ranks for typical organisations and notable people. Remember that stakeholders who search for your company’s wiki article will be researchers (company analysts, investors, partners, media regulator, activists and clients), making it incredibly important to keep it accurate and up to date.
  • Finally, make sure your key messages are consistent on all of your platforms but not verbatim. This is a critical element not just for SEO purposes – Google actually penalises you for duplicated content and will actively de-prioritise repeated content.

ORM is all about looking to protect and improve your brand. It is important that although you can’t control external media stories, you can start taking control in creating quality content reflective of your ideal online presence.

Justin Flaherty is the CEO of Horizon Communication Group


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