Can bad publicity affect a brand’s search ranking?

Can bad publicity affect a brand’s search ranking?

There’s an old saying in the PR world: “any publicity is good publicity.” The belief is that if your company can become the topic of conversation, it’s a good thing because it stimulates product awareness. And, though negative impressions will disappear over time, increased awareness remains. As a result, this affects your search ranking.  

But how much can we rely on this theory when it comes to a brand’s search ranking?

Every year, we see some of the world’s biggest brands trash their reputation in the court of public opinion. Whether it’s due to the behaviour of corporate leaders or insensitive campaigns by PR and marketing teams.


How bad publicity affects your ranking 


Global retailer H&M came under fire for a product image featuring a child wearing a hoodie with the slogan “Coolest monkey in the jungle”. Dove drew global backlash for an advertisement that showed a black model transforming into a white woman. US tech company Cynet Systems sparked outrage. They posted a job position that listed the desired candidate as “preferably Caucasian.” 

Gillette rustled the feathers of its male customers because of an ad about toxic masculinity, referencing the #MeToo movement. Closer to home, insurance company, Momentum—stirred controversy after initially refusing to pay out a life insurance claim to the widow.

Some of these PR blunders had serious financial ramifications for the companies involved. Gillette may have suffered loss in sales after customers threatened to stop using its products. It is alleged that Momentum lost 80 000 clients in one day when the company refused settlement.


Search ranking SEO benefits


However, at the same time, some interesting things were happening on the SEO side of these companies’ websites. Brand mentions for “cynet systems” reached peak popularity on Google Trends. Around the time news of the scandal broke, with the company’s website experiencing an 86% increase in traffic between March and April.

search ranking graph


Similarly, the search term “Gillette” surged in January 2019. The time the ad was released, with a 33% jump in traffic from the previous month.

Search ranking for visits overtime

As seen in the examples, when these companies were pushed into the media spotlight, it generated both brand awareness. Media outlets have linked back to those companies’ websites in their coverage. This is something that likely boosted their position on search engine rankings and increased the authority of their domain. For Cynet Systems, it meant a sharp increase in backlinks from highly authoritative sites, which included referrals from NBC News and NYD News.

Search ranking referral

Bad publicity’s good side on search rankings


According to Alan Sorensen, an economics professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, bad publicity may actually be good for unknown firms as it can increase brand awareness and boost search rankings. But, it can put the reputation of established brands at stake.

If your site ends up ranking a little higher as a result of the link juice, unsuspecting customers looking for the type of products or services that you offer, might actually click on your site first.

In the end, remember that search engines do not factor positive or negative reactions toward brands as much the number of quality backlinks. This means as long as you earn lots of inbound links and dominate the news headlines, the sentiment behind these doesn’t matter to Google. Yet. 

It seems that reputation is becoming a pretty big factor in Google’s updated Search Quality Raters Guidelines. According to marketing expert Jennifer Slegg,

Google wants their raters to not only look at the reputation of the website itself, but also the content creators themselves…if content is created by someone with a great reputation. It makes sense for Google to rank that content higher than from someone with a bad reputation since it is generally a better user experience for the searcher.

When rating websites, Google will consider things such as financial fraud reports, overwhelmingly negative reviews, negative reviews from watchdog sites and negative news reports. As a result, the rating from Google has a huge impact on your ranking. 

Interactive Media Is The Future Of Display Advertising

Interactive Media Is The Future Of Display Advertising

Digital marketers are beginning to rethink the standard banner ad, adding creative, immersive, and responsive designs that aim to get users engaged beyond just clicking on a static image. Today, interactive rich-media ads are taking over and becoming the staple of display advertising, and it’s no surprise why. 

Interactive media comes in the form of rich-media adverts. According to Google, rich media is a term used to define adverts that encourage viewers to engage and interact with content that has video and/or audio elements. They are not text-heavy and use visual and audio stimulants at their core to selling a product or service. This allows the marketer a lot more creative freedom as the ads can expand, contract, and have multiple interactive buttons or call to action.

With ad blockers, a popular extension on many consumer’s browsers today, traditional banner ads were in need of a refresh, and the new model of rich media has saved the day. A win-win for both parties; marketers can now target consumers in new formats, and consumers are able to view adverts that are both more fun and have more relevance to them. This makes it far more likely for an action to be taken. 

The future of Rich Media

Today, rich media results will focus on user engagement, and report on metrics such as the number of views received, time spent on viewing, and interactions per click. While ad impressions and click-through rates will become more outdated and less relevant metrics to report on. The focus is now on quality, rather than quantity, and aims to drive better engagement that benefits all parties involved.

While the adoption of interactive media might appear slow, many believe it won’t be. With the implementation of faster internet connections in the form of 5G and fiber, a number of consumers will be ready to receive and actively engage with video and audio-based ads immediately. According to the Global Intelligence report by Zenith Media, the display is already one of the biggest paid media contributors to consumers’ experience of tech brands. Surrounded by more traditional, above-the-line forms of media including TV, newspaper, and magazine.

While interactive media is still considered the future, it is in fact already here and advertisers must catch up to the benefits it can offer. Change should be embraced, and while strategies and reports might start to look a bit different, it is to the benefit of all those involved — directly and indirectly — in the advertising world. The future might include fewer ads at a more premium price, but ads that are guaranteed to attract valuable attention and engagement.


Google Search Ads Formats: A Complete Guide

Google Search Ads Formats: A Complete Guide

Google Search Ads Formats: A Complete Guide


With Pay Per Click (PPC) ad formats changing frequently, and so many to choose from, it can be difficult to keep up with every ad format available across Google Adwords. To ensure you don’t get confused, here’s a guide to six Google search ads formats you need to master.


Text Ads


There would be no PPC without the good old text ads. These are the ads with two headlines and one 90-character description. At times the ads are displayed with a third headline, which is usually the URL itself and ad extensions below. Google and Bing both moved away from the old version of standard text ads. Text ads are now bigger with a more varied alignment of extensions unlike what we saw in years past.


Responsive Text Ads


Responsive text ads have the same appearance as standard text ads, however, they allow you to enter multiple headlines and descriptions. By automatically testing different combinations, Google decides which headlines and descriptions to display when a search is made. By optimising the content in your ad to closely match the search terms your potential customers use, responsive text ads can improve the performance of your campaign. They also make it possible for you to compete in more auctions as they attract more clicks and conversions.


Local Service Ads


Local Service Ads were only recently introduced and are only available for garage door services, electricians, plumbers and locksmiths. It is however expected that many more household services will be able to advertise using this ad format over the next year. This type of ad allows you to advertise your business on Google where you can receive leads directly from potential customers. Among the benefits of local service ads, is that your ad appears at the top of Google’s search results page and you are only charged for leads related to your business and your services.


App Download Ads


Through App Download Ads you can display your app to tablet or mobile users. These types of ads can be showcased in a number of places including on Google Play, YouTube, AdMob, the Google Display Network and several other publishers who host app ads. You simply need to add a few lines of text and everything else is optimised to help your audience find you. 


Call-Only Ads


The purpose of call-only ads is to encourage potential customers to call your business, and thus these types of ads can only be displayed on devices that can make phone calls. When someone clicks on your ad, they are able to call you from their device. 


Dynamic Remarketing Ads


Through dynamic remarketing, you can display ads to people who have visited your website before or used your mobile app. With messages personalised for your audience, you can use dynamic remarketing ads to build leads and sales by drawing previous visitors back to your site to complete an activity. There are a few other ad formats which we did not cover in this guide, such as TrueView Discovery Ads, which are a video-driven version of Responsive Display Ads, and Bumper Ads which are only six seconds long but receive high engagement and view rates. These, however, are the basic Google search ads formats to be familiar with. 

Keyword Cannibalisation: How To Prevent Your Site From Turning Into Hannibal Lecter

Keyword Cannibalisation: How To Prevent Your Site From Turning Into Hannibal Lecter

If you’re not an SEO specialist you may have believed that the more pages you have targeting a keyword, the better your SEO ranking will be for that keyword. However, having several pages that target the same keyword on your website can actually do more harm than good to your rankings. This SEO misstep is called Keyword cannibalisation, and happens when you have a few pages with the same targeted keywords, which dilutes the strength of the core page.


What is keyword cannibalisation?


Search Engine Journal puts it this way: “Keyword cannibalisation is so-called because you’re ‘cannibalising’ your own results – you’re splitting CTR, links, content, and (often) conversions between two pages that should be one”.  When this happens Google can’t pick up any of your expertise and you don’t improve the authority of your site for that subject.


How keyword cannibalisation can damage your SEO


Keyword cannibalisation can have several negative effects on your SEO efforts. Most people don’t even realise the disastrous consequences of cannibalisation on their site, which may include a drop-off in site traffic, queries being directed to the wrong page, and fluctuating SERP rankings. Ultimately, drop-in site visits could mean a drop in sales should you have an eCommerce site. As emphasized by Oncrawl, Keyword cannibalisation lets you miss out on valuable SEO opportunities that include the following:

  • Content quality: If you are focusing on the same keywords across multiple pages on your site, you may end up with duplicate content. This minimises your chances of receiving referrals and links.
  • Internal anchor text: Using internal anchor text to link to several pages focused on the same topic doesn’t add any value to your SEO. It is best to focus your anchor text on one specific page.
  • External links: External links are great for the SEO value of a page focused on one keyword. However, if you have the same keyword across different landing pages, your external link value is split to different pages instead of being targeted at one landing page.

Solving keyword cannibalization


Solving keyword cannibalisation


If you have fallen into the trap of keyword cannibalisation, the good news is that identifying the problem and fixing it is easy. Here are three possible solutions:

  • Restructure your website: According to Search Engine Journal, the simplest solution to tackling keyword cannibalisation is to “take your most authoritative page and to turn it into a landing page that links to other unique variations that fall under the umbrella of your targeted keywords.”
  • Create a new landing page: Another option is to create a unique landing page that serves as your authoritative source page and can link to all your other product pages.
  • Use 301 redirects: Making use of 301s gives you an opportunity to consolidate your cannibalised content by redirecting the less important pages to the targeted landing page. Doing this will ensure that your visitors land on the right landing page. Google will also rank the most valuable page. You should, however, note that this strategy only works best for pages with similar content that match specific keywords.
  • Look for new keywords: The final thing you can do is simply to find new keywords, as the only thing doing damage to your website is likely to be a poorly planned keyword strategy. All you need to do is ensure that your keywords describe your page’s content accurately.


While keyword cannibalisation can occur unintentionally, it happens more frequently today than ever before. Fortunately, there are simple solutions to this problem and the damage isn’t permanent. You can now easily find and fix cannibalisation issues on your site.

The Benefits of Google News For Your Online Business

The Benefits of Google News For Your Online Business

Google News has been around for some time. Introduced to the world in beta version in 2002, released to the public in 2006, launching Community Updates (localised news) in 2017 and a brand new update in May 2018 that saw a ‘For You’ tab added to the menu layout. While its primary purpose is to bring up-to-date news to all its readers, it’s pretty clear that its goal is not to be just another news aggregator. 

Google pulls relevant global and local news sources together to match each and every reader’s interests. But it doesn’t just show you the news, it has become a one-stop-shop for all news topics that interest you specifically. Through artificial intelligence, it learns your behaviours and preferences and displays only the most relevant snippets and links to you.


Why become a Google News publisher


For those who are unaware, news based websites can make use of Google by becoming a Google Publisher. Why would you want to become a Google Publisher? Well if you’re looking to spread your content far and wide and take the next step of online advertising, locally and even internationally, Google News is the place to be. 


google news publishing


With millions of readers accessing the platform on a daily basis, it’s difficult to see why you wouldn’t want to be a publisher. Whether you’re a blogger, news only website owner or content marketer here’s a look into the off page SEO benefits for online businesses.


Increased awareness


If you’re looking to improve visibility of your brand online, Google News is a great place to start. As we already know that Google News has an incredibly large daily audience, if you manage to get onto Google’s list of approved publishers, you’ll be reaching a very large and new readership. If you’re struggling to increase your awareness of your brand, or just want to grow your awareness to new heights, Google News will put your site on the map.


Improved targeting


Having your content pulled through onto Google helps you reach a more targeted audience. As readers can filter their news searches by location, date, news category and relevancy, you can ensure your content includes this information and will inevitably be shown to the right people. In the end you’ll be reaching people who are specifically interested in the content you produce.


Faster indexing


Ever wished you could get your content to index on Google just a little bit quicker to help your website ranking? Well with Google now you can. As a Google News publisher, your content is indexed in both Google and on the main Google search engine almost instantly. This is mainly due to the fact that Google News needs to provide the most up-to-date content, and if your piece of news is most relevant it will index it and pull it in as quickly as possible to serve readers fresh content.


Increased authenticity 


As a Google News publisher, your website is automatically stamped with the Google seal of approval. This not only proves that your website is worth clicking through to, but that it and its content is truly authentic. In an age of fake news, readers appreciate real news that they know they can trust. With this added advantage over your competitors who aren’t Google publishers, your site’s authenticity is bound to overtake those around you.

With all these benefits now at the front of your mind, how do you get your site onto Google News and become a verified publisher?  According to Google’s Publisher Centre, the process is rather simple:

  1. Go to the Google News Publisher Centre.
  2. Open the search console and verify that you own your website.
  3. Request inclusion in the Google News index.
  4. Enter all requested website details, including your news sections and URLs.
  5. Submit.

After a period of one to three weeks, the publisher centre will provide the status of your application with either, “included” or “site rejected”. So if your website includes some form of fresh news, you can or your marketing team can put the Google News hub to good use. Not only can it improve your SEO efforts, but also get your content in front of a large, yet targeted audience.