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ORM and SERM: Peculiarities of Building Reputation on the Internet



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It is wrong to think that the main task of Internet marketing is only the launch of advertising campaigns. In fact, it combines many objectives, including dealing with brand reputation. Which also comprises several important tasks related to work on ORM (Online Reputation Management) and SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management).

What are these concepts and how to take them into account when promoting? How to work properly with reviews about the company in general? What is it for? RMAA specialists share their knowledge on these issues, as well as the insights how to effectively implement the reputational tasks of Internet marketing in practice.


Imagine a situation: you want to buy real estate in Turkey without leaving Moscow. Most likely, you will start searching for information about it using a search query, like most Russian users, as evidenced by the findings of the Online Market Intelligence research. Indeed, Russian people constantly turn to search engines. At the same time, 42% are searching for information solely using search queries. The remaining 58% use search and other channels (social networks, applications, etc.).

So, you entered a query, and the search engine showed a lot of sources for it: links to real estate aggregator websites, agencies that represent Turkish developers in Moscow and abroad. At the same time, various selection criteria will be taken into account here, starting from geo, keywords, etc. Probably, you will view, at most, one or two search pages and contact a specific company for a service. In fact, most will do so. According to international statistics, 59% of users are limited to sources in the TOP 10 of the search and only 6% “go” further by studying four or more pages.

Accordingly, a logical question arises - if a company gets into the TOP 10 for a specific request, then how to make a link to the brand's website more attractive to the user. At this stage, Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) comes into play, which is responsible for business reputation in search engines and concentrates on the TOP 20 results for the target query. This parameter is formed based on ratings and reviews about the company. That is, a user will see information about it in a search query.

As you can see in the screenshot, the Yandex search page (which is the most up-to-date search system in Russia during the sanctions restrictions for foreign services) for the request “Buy Turkish real estate in Moscow” shows various links to companies and agencies. Here we can clearly see which of them work with SERM according to ratings and the ability to view reviews on the right. Of course, users will primarily pay attention to those companies where such information is available. Since we always value and consider the opinions of other people who have already bought something from the brand as important. Moreover, if their experience was positive, then, most likely, the probability of purchase by a new customer will be much greater.

The main objective of SERM is to fill search engines with resources with positive information about the company, displacing negative assessments and heavy handled situations where possible negativity is more difficult to work out. In addition, they quite often lead to crisis cases when the company will have to use a whole range of additional online and offline measures. Anticrisis Online Reputation Management (AORM) is responsible for this issue. Dealing with AORM, as a rule, is based on the publication of counter-content, potential removal or replacement of the negative, communicating with authors of the negative in a neutral and positive way, if their review cannot be deleted. Besides, script developments for sales department, technical support, as well as speech writing for the company's management, improvements to the website are also added here, which are, basically, the elements aimed at increasing the level of trust in the brand after a crisis situation. So, it is, at least, an additional budget expense as well as a certain amount of time for implementation of all actions.

Therefore, well-timed work with SERM is not just an additional task of the reputation marketing, but an essential condition for every company with Internet resources. Since SERM, in addition to the image component, affects the level of sales, among other things.

Let's summarize all the main SERM areas of focus which are:

  • to create and maintain brand reputation in a positive way;
  • to promote the company's image and possible correction of negative perceptions about the company that the potential audience already has;
  • to neutralize negative reviews in search queries;
  • to drive sales by increasing the level of loyal users;
  • to counteract possible negative assessments from competitors published specifically;
  • to analyze feedback from customers in order to improve the quality of products and services;
  • to increase the investment attractiveness of the brand for potential partners.

You need to understand that all these tasks will be solved at the lower levels of the marketing funnel. It means, with those users who are already interested in the company's products or services.

Of course, SERM is vital for all brands, even if the business already has a built positive image. Since there is always a risk that another competitor brand in the segment may “do some work” on the brand's reputation. However, there are those companies who need SERM as a matter of priority. For example, these are brands that enter the market or launch a new product. Also, these are companies that have decided to conduct a full rebranding. Besides, it can be businesses whose demand was at a dramatically low level. And of course, the brands that are at the critical stage of the information war with their competitors will have an acute need for SERM. In other words, if the audience's loyalty to the business is unstable or has not yet been built at all, then SERM is a mandatory point of the marketing strategy.

However, the work with ratings and reviews is not limited exclusively to search queries. This is just one important component for building a company's reputation on the Internet.

ORM as a More Global Campaign,

SERM is included in Online Reputation Management (ORM), the essence of which is to deal with not only search queries, but also with social networks, thematic forums, portals, blogs, mass media and other platforms. Including the company's website and its representative offices on other platforms. That is, it is reputation management all over the Internet. At the same time, the main goal of ORM is to promptly respond to the reference of the company in any source.

The tasks included in the ORM are following:

1. To register company’s accounts in catalogues, aggregator websites, geo services, and other sites where you can track reviews of real users and quickly respond to them.

2. To encourage customers to write real reviews about a product or work of the company in general. For example, it can be done in exchange for a discount on further purchase.

3. To place custom reviews on some resources. At the same time, they should be written in the most neutral style, have a positive connotation and, preferably, talk about frequent cases of interaction with the company. In other words, it is better to use this format when the business has an idea about the most frequently asked questions from customers or problems that customers face.

4. To deal with negativity on various platforms: resolve problems, compensate damages, remove reviews if possible.

5. All of the above actions should complete in one direction which is setting up search advertising, which will reflect all reviews about the company on the output pages for specific user requests.

6. To keep expert blogs on profile portals and in the media.

7. To do SEO optimization of the company's website.

8. To promote social networks.

9. To publish press releases, informational materials, selling articles on third-party resources.

10. To promote own sites for targeted queries (official website, blog, telegram channel, etc.).

11. To carry out a reputation audit, which includes work with opinions of customers, partners, competitors and everyone who mentions the company on the Internet.

Having extensive practical experience in reputation marketing with various brands, we recommend using a comprehensive ORM. Such a solution will lead to more effective results - the formation of audience loyalty to the brand as a whole and an increase in sales, as well.

Three Main Principles of Reputation Marketing. Instead of a Conclusion,

As we see, reputation marketing is a consistent work aimed at building a brand reputation and forming a pool of loyal audience. It combines various tools and tactics, one of which is SERM.

At the same time, the following points should be taken into account.

Firstly, working with search queries in this case will be effective only in combination with other ORM tasks. Since working out the top of search platforms will not do anything without interacting with customers on the same social networks and other online platforms, communicating with bloggers, image publications in the media, and so on. In addition, the effect may even turn out to be negative. For example, existence of negative reviews on social networks, but at the same time the complete absence of ratings on search pages, will only increase the distrust of users.

Secondly, neither SERM nor ORM is a one-time job. The elaboration of these processes should be a continuous. At least because the same TOP-20, for which SERM is being built out, is mobile. If today or tomorrow the search results will be ideal for business, then this is far from an indicator of stability. On the contrary, after a while the situation may radically change for the worse. The same can be said about social networks and other sources of communication with customers. Reviews are written constantly, therefore, work with them should be continuous.

Thirdly, reputation marketing is only a support, but not a solution to the problem itself. If you do not eliminate the causes of negative situations on time, they will appear again. Therefore, there is no way to do without improving the quality of the company's service itself, optimizing the product line, implementing loyalty programs, etc. But this is another topic for research.

In any case, a professional approach is required.

RMAA experts offer a full range of reputation management services for your business. We are ready to conduct a detailed assessment of the company's information background, develop a strategy for its correction, establish processes related to search queries, site optimization, social networks and other resources. Our expertise is personalized and aimed at solving specific problems and negative situations that have arisen for the brand. Trust the professionals!

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About the Author

A content lead. Natalia runs marketing projects promotion with different digital tools in the Russian-speaking market. 


Author Natalia Gorenkova

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