Digital Brand Monitoring and Getting Rid of Harmful Links: How to Protect Your Real Estate Business & Brand Reputation Online

In Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Real Estate Marketing, Search Engine Optimization by Robb FahrionLeave a Comment

Reading Time: 13 minutes

Remember the term “There’s no such thing as bad publicity"? Well, that's not true. Think of it this way. People who are looking to purchase their dream home would search online for the one thing that makes their home-buying experience easier (That would be you).

They use the search term "real estate agent Colorado." They find you online, and before they even contact you, they look at what others have to say. They come across a few negative reviews and immediately click off your profile. You lost them before you even had a chance to show them who your brand is. 

80% of consumers make decisions based on online reviews. So, making sure that your reputation across all social media and other digital mediums is imperative. That means that negative reviews could impact your real estate business. Because let’s face it, negative reviews happen. But knowing how to respond to them makes a difference, yet avoiding them all-together (if you can) is better. 

Negative reviews also affect where you appear in search engines. Google checks backlinks for authority and looks at the sentiment. So, it sees more value in links that have either neutral and/or favorable reviews over those with negative reviews. 

Now that you know that positive reviews affect search engine rankings let's look at the best tips and tools that you can use to avoid and monitor negative mentions about your business.

Here’s the bad news and good news:

THE BAD NEWS: Negative online reviews will hurt your bottom-line in a big way.

You risk losing as many as 22% of customers when just one negative article is found by people who are considering buying a new home or finding that perfect rental.

Now imagine you have 2-3 negative reviews show up for your brand. You are looking at losing 44-59% of potential customers.

Plus, this could be picked up by the media and have a crippling effect as trusted news sources rank high in search engines. 

THE GOOD NEWS:  You can take control of your online reputation. Be proactive, influence what people are saying about you, and manage what comes up in any search results.

Don't be shy to ask your customers to leave positive reviews about their experience with you. If they're keen to do an in-depth review about meeting you, viewing potential new homes, and even how easy the application process was, helps others get a feel for how you work. 

It’s time to get cracking on monitoring your brand. Do this by removing harmful links, generating authority links, and positive brand mentions. But you begin with online reputation management.


What is online reputation management?


Your online reputation is how people perceive your business when they come across your real estate website. You see, first impressions matter, and it will be used to gauge what others think about your brand. 

Online Reputation Management (ORM) means that you can control what information others uncover about your brand. It's a way of getting people to feel a certain way about your business, but at the same time, they're not negatively influenced by negative reviews.

Why would you want to do this? So that people can trust your brand and use you to help them find their dream stretch of real estate. 

Let's go back to the fact that negative reviews happen. Using ORM to leverage negative reviews helps you build trust in your customers. Showing them that when negative things happen in your business, you're able to diligently and professionally resolve the matter to set their mind at ease about who you are. Then use this negative review to spruce up internal processes so that you minimize the risk of the same thing happening.

You can do this through Digital Brand Monitoring.


How to use Digital Brand Monitoring like a pro real estate marketer.



Through regular (daily and even hourly) monitoring of your social media platforms, you improve your processes, which leads to higher engagement from you, and in turn, higher engagement from your audience.

By actively looking out for what people are saying about your real estate brand, you’re able to leverage the information to your advantage by using Google Alerts.

This tool allows you to keep track of new articles and posts that are relevant to you. Google Alerts lets you monitor news websites and know what people are saying about your competitors.

You also need to monitor your social mentions:

To know what people are saying about your business, monitor your social mentions daily. To do this, use essential keywords such as your brand name or real estate [+Area that your service]. Set up a notification whenever new content is published. 

These are monitoring tools that you can use:

The next important step you need to take is:


Getting Rid of Harmful and Toxic Links 


Since Google began, backlinks have been an essential point of focus to help websites rank higher. But, some backlinks cause more harm than good. So, your strategy shouldn't just be backlinking, but it should focus on quality backlinks.

It sounds complicated enough, but here's how to find useful links.


Avoid Link schemes:


Any links pointing to your site or outgoing links used to manipulate PageRank is considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

Here are a few examples:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. So, paying money or exchanging services for links, or posts with links is seen as trying to manipulate page rankings. 

stop-buying-links-seo-risky-practices

  • Link exchanges such as “Link to me and I’ll link to you” is another manipulative ploy. 
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links are also against Google's Webmaster Guidelines. 
  • The use of automated services or programs to create links to your website is a link-building technique that you should avoid.
  • Even using others to link to your website as part of your Terms of Service, a contract, or a similar arrangement where you don’t allow a 3rd party to qualify the link is seen as unnatural link building too.

bad-links-ahrefs-google

Here are a few examples of link building activities to avoid: 

  • Link networks & link farms
  • Footer links & site-wide links
  • Blogrolls & other blocks of links
  • Aggressive blog commenting
  • Forum profile links & signatures
  • Web & article directory links
  • Heavy anchor text distribution/keyword stuffing

So, how do you know what a bad link is? And how do you find them?


Trying to find low-quality backlinks manually is a tedious task, and the chances are high that you'd not see all of them. Ahrefs is the best tool to find them for you. Besides backlink research and analysis, Ahrefs is “SEO-focused” and helps you generate keywords that are relevant to what home buyers (and renters) would use to find you.


This is How you'll Find Bad Links With Ahrefs.


Create an account on their website and add your website to your dashboard. Do this by entering your domain in the search bar in Site Explorer.

This will bring you to the overview page of your domain. Next, Click on Referring Domains located in the sidebar.


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Ahrefs will give you a list of sites that are pointing to your domain.


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By default, the list is sorted by the sites’ domain ranking (DR). It displays sites with the highest ranking at the top.

Now, the links you’re looking for is the low-quality ones. To find them, click DR to reverse the order.

Work your way through the list to find suspicious sites. Look out for unfamiliar domains and foreign-sounding ones. The backlinks column will tell you how many links Ahrefs found within the source that you’ve provided.

Clicking Backlinks will give you more info about the link, including the anchor text that is used.


backlink-details-ahrefs

Clicking on the link will display the source of the link. You can gauge if the link comes from a reputable source. 

Do everything you can to have links removed that come from sites that spin content.  Tick all sites next to the Referring Domain column as you continue down the list. 

Export the list and download the report so that you can work through it.

The next step would be to contact the webmaster of the site and politely request to remove the backlink. 

If you send mass emails, it’s highly recommended that you customize and personalize each email. Why?

Because, most link removal requests look spammy, malicious, dishonest, misdirected, mistaken, and even dangerous. Often, they are ignored and misused. (source: SearchEngineJournal)

Now that you know which links you DON’T want pointing back to you, you’ll have to disavow them.

This is how Google wants you to disavow low-quality links

Watch this YouTube Video:


How to Disavow URLs using Ahrefs & Google Webmaster Tools


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/z9tde2QI39c" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>


First, decide if you need to do this.


Google can decide which links are trustworthy, so most websites won't need this tool.

Only disavow backlinks if:

  1. You have a high amount of spammy, low-quality, or unnatural links pointing to your site. 
  2. The links pointing to your site causes a manual action or will do so in the future.

Step 1: Create a list of links to disavow

Do this by creating a text file that you will upload to Google. The format and rules that you’d use are:

Specify one URL or a domain to disavow in each line and prefix it with the domain. This won’t work for an entire subpath.

Use a text file encoded in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII, and the file must end in .txt

Tip: you can apply comments for yourself by starting a line with a # mark. These lines will be ignored by Google.

An easy way to create a list of URLs to disavow is by exporting a report. Make sure that you remove any sites that you wouldn't want Google to ignore.

Step 2: Upload your list.

Every time you upload a new list, previous lists will be replaced.

  1. Go to the disavow links tool page and select your website
  2. Click on Disavow lists
  3. Click on Choose File and choose the new disavow list.

Now that you’ve uploaded your list, you won't see results immediately as Google takes a few weeks to consider your list and will only be done at the time that your site is crawled. Even after the site is crawled,  your disavowed links are still shown in the Links Report.

By spending most of your time on promoting the positive mentions, you show property buyers and renters that you're the go-to brand in their area. That doesn't mean that you let the negative remarks slide. Respond diligently, and remove low-quality backlinks to help boost your search engine ranking.

The best way to do this is by focusing 80% of your time on the positive mentions and a mixture of the remaining 20% between responding to the negative comments and removing harmful backlinks.

Do you have any questions about our article [Digital Brand Monitoring and Getting Rid of Harmful Links: How to Protect Your Real Estate Business & Brand Reputation Online], or care to suggest any other topics you think we should explore? Feel free to let us know.


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Robb Fahrion
Robb Fahrion, Partner
Flying V Group