Managing your brand’s online reputation requires a holistic digital marketing strategy that considers your business goals, your brand’s current identity and your existing customer base. If all those factors are not aligned, then it is very difficult to even begin strategizing, let alone implementing that strategy. Your business goals need to be clearly defined in order to know what outcome the digital marketing strategy should have. In this case, the desired outcome is that you boost your brand’s reputation online. So, this requires first benchmarking where your brand’s reputation is sitting online and then being able to amplify or better that reputation.
The benchmarking process should be straightforward, but it does involve many interconnected and often technical parts. These parts are the various audits and checks you need to perform in order to see if your brand has a distinct and unified voice across the digital sphere. You will need to
- Conduct an SEO site audit
- Conduct a Content audit
- Audit your analytics, data and metrics, including your methodology for gathering data
- Audit your Online adverts (display and PPC, if applicable)
- Conduct a Social media account audit
- Audit your Email marketing
For the sake of brevity, and because they are so easily linked, I will connect 1 with 3.
Conduct an SEO Audit
You can try and do this yourself but there are dedicated companies and specialists who do SEO for a living. It’s advised that you make use of their services but also know what should and should not be included in a good SEO audit. Now, the depth of the audit is up to you and your budget but there are some basics that you will be audited on regardless. There are 10 core competencies of any SEO audit including:
- Competitor Research – You need to know who to surpass in the Google organic search results for your target keywords. This aspect will include competitor keywords, their estimated monthly traffic, landing page keywords, domain authority, and basic link profile. A visual is usually then employed for key features where there is a gap between your company and the competitor.
- Crawling and Indexing – Google ‘reads’ your site by crawling it and then it indexes the pages it finds. These are the pages that show up in the search results. Your SEO consultant will use Google Search Console to find out whether your website is being properly crawled and indexed. The sitemap should match the pages Google identifies as having been indexed.
- Accessibility – This not only refers to the layman understanding of accessibility, where alt text is added to images on your site for those who are unable to see; but it also refers to issues such as page load speeds, 404 errors, too many 301 redirects and long server response times. Nowadays, there is also the factor of mobile friendliness. Your site has to meet a number of criteria for it to be considered accessible.
- Link Analysis – Relevant links are an important ranking factor for Google. Your site should be both internally (outward-facing) and externally (inward-facing) linked to trusted third-party sites. Your SEO consultant will determine your link profile and identify link opportunities.
- Keyword Analysis – Your site may already be ranking for certain keywords. These will usually be kept so as not to lose any search volume. But which other keywords can you rank for, which have high search volume? You will be advised on a keyword strategy which will feed into the content strategy explained later.
- Content Audit (Basic) – This tells you if your blog is poorly structured or if your content schedule is too sporadic to create value. Your content should be optimised for target keywords and search intent.
- Site Architecture and Design – Google has made it very clear that your site must offer a good experience for users, for both mobile and desktop. The SEO consultant will test mobile friendliness and other UX/UI issues which may be affecting your site.
- Alignment with Business Strategy and Online Branding – If there are changes which will be occurring in the near future to your company’s online brand, then you should let your SEO consultant know. If you are changing your logo or CI or anything similar, full disclosure is a must, to align SEO efforts with the company’s new direction.
- Execution – You will also be given a recommended plan of execution which highlights issues in order of importance. This will let you know which issues to sort out first on your site, and subsequently, which issues will have the most impact.
Once all this is done, your company can audit its data capabilities: whether the information provided to the SEO consultant was the latest, most relevant information. Additionally, you may want to follow up on specific metrics or data on a month-to-month basis and you can then set up a strategy for this, a data-gathering strategy, which aligns to your goals. This a key skill in digital marketing and should not be something you outsource. Instead, try and upskill existing employees through an
d online course on digital marketing to provide them with the above, and all the other skills outlined in this article.
Conduct a Content Audit
This is an in-depth content audit which will look at more than how your content affects the sitemap or the SERPs. Your content will be broken down, page by page, to determine its value. If your content needs to be recategorized for better results, then it should be. If your content is too thin to serve user intent, thus creating a high bounce rate, then that will need to be fixed too. You will also need to figure out the ‘voice’ of your brand and what sort of messages you want you brand to communicate in the long- and the short term. This will include formulating a brand style guide and a CI so that all content across your site is consistent in tone, register, use of pronouns etc. After this you can decide on a content schedule which will determine your content output for a specific period. You can post daily or weekly depending on the type of content you produce, but your posts should be regular, and the style should be consistent.
Audit your Online Adverts
Not all companies need to advertise their products or services and instead rely on word-of-mouth or organic searches. This would be companies such as NGOs or those operating at a capacity where individual buyers cannot be enticed by adverts, for example a high-end car dealership. Most people who visit such a dealership already know what type of car they want. And they will not be using a Google Ad to be sold on the purchase of the car, but rather to find the nearest, convenient dealership to visit.
However, if your company does need to make use of display or other PPC ads, then you should audit this separately from your organic SEO changes, since ads are paid media. You will need to analyse factors like budget, CPC, duration of campaigns etc.
Conduct a Social Media Account Audit
Start by going through all of your company’s social media accounts and claim them. You may find that somebody created an account a long time ago and it has been lying dormant, so passwords will need to be changed or completely new, authoritative accounts set up. The process of reclaiming your accounts is twofold in that it prepares you for a social media strategy and secondly, it is a security measure. Claiming your accounts allows you to make sure passwords are updated, that they are shared with the correct people and that work can start on those accounts.
It is then advisable to make use of a social media marketer to craft a unique social media strategy for your business based on your goals and needs. This will necessarily tie into the content strategy devised as well, since some of this content will be linked in social media posts. However, some social media posts can live on each platform separate from your company’s site. This is only useful if you need to build brand equity without having to drive customers back to your site and through your conversion funnel. Because if that is the case, then you will tell your social media marketer so that she can plan and target posts (and sometimes ads) accordingly.
Audit Your Email Marketing
It’s very difficult for your email marketing not to be viewed as spam if the people you are sending it to do not opt in. So, if you are sending out email marketing which is a digital equivalent of cold calling, then you are doing something wrong. You are spending time and resources on a large percentage of what you perceive as your potential customer base, who end up putting your email into their spam folders. Rather create an opt-in mechanism on your website to send targeted newsletters to those people who genuinely want to see your content. Also, your email marketing strategy will have to link to the content strategy, but not necessarily the social media strategy.