In online marketing, the old adage used-to-be that if you built it, marketed it and optimized it, they would come. A top ranking in Google could be achieved through search engine optimization techniques and you’d have all the traffic you wanted to your site. Over the years, however, people got tired of going to websites that were “over-optimized” and didn’t answer their needs. Google and the other engines started updating their rankings less on algorithm manipulations and based positioning on relevancy and solid user experiences. While all this was going on with the search engines, the explosion in Social media occurred. Suddenly, your brand reputation became the focal point for smart and savvy consumers. A top position in Google, for example, meant a whole lot less… if you had several bad reviews in Yelp. Google and the other engines also started docking businesses that were not living up to their promises. This change in online marketing has been happening now for the past few years behind the scenes but has been a welcomed change for good brands. So now, in late 2011, it is extremely difficult to rank if your site and your company does not deliver.
We are now in an era of complete transparency. If you don’t believe it, try searching for your “brand name” and use the word “reviews” at the end of your search query. Chances are there is either a review site out there with real customers posting a review about your site and/or your competitor has built a landing page that compares your brand with theirs. Reputation matters a whole lot these days. Ask anyone who has been on “rip off report” and has tried to manage back to better rankings.
The goal, moving forward, for any online business is to be consistent in thought, in message, and in fulfillment. From your advertising to your customer service department, stand for who and what you are and be that brand. Those brands that heed the call will undoubtedly receive a wealth of praise and new business opportunities from word of mouth marketing through Social media channels and higher rankings on the engines. The age of transparency is a win-win for both customers and for the best brands out on the web. We, at Ninthlink, love what we are seeing and look forward to seeing how this plays out in the coming years.