SEO vs. ORM: What is the Difference

seo vs orm what is the difference

Last Updated on August 23, 2023

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Reputation Management (ORM) have come a long way over the years. When used properly, these are extremely powerful digital marketing concepts to boost your online presence. If you’re wondering what the difference between the two is, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at how they compare, as well as some helpful techniques  you use both like a professional. 

The Differences Between SEO and ORM

The two main differences between SEO and ORM are their purposes. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) employs techniques to create and optimize websites,webpages, and online content. This is important so that people can easily find your content when searching on Google 

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is about how people perceive your business, your brand, and yourself. Having a good online reputation means that people like and trust your brand.

Essentially, online reputation management involves anything you do to establish your brand. Search engine optimization is what you do to get people to easily find your brand. For best results, these two pieces must work together.

Other Differences Comparing ORM vs SEO

DifferencesSEOORM
FocusSEO is sales-oriented.ORM is brand-focused.
TrackingSEO focuses on your own websiteORM tracks brand mentions across all websites and platforms. 
Purchase FunnelSEO can reach higher stages in the funnel marketing, including the awareness phase.ORM factors into lower funnel buying cycle stages, including consideration (comparing your company to competitors), and post-purchase activity (leaving reviews).

Examples of Search Engine Optimization vs. Online Reputation Management  

Imagine that a new pizza shop has just opened up in your area. Passing by, the shop looks like a little authentic Italian pizza restaurant, clean, tidy, welcoming, and ready for business. During the first week of business, the pizza shop did amazing by getting new customers and positive online reviews. They also received a lot of attention on social media platforms, which raised awareness of the new business to potential customers.

Right now, the online reputation of the business is flourishing, and customer reviews are all positive. People are sharing photos of the restaurant, which are circulating online like wildfire, bringing in new customers from nearby towns.

That in return helps the overall SEO of the business’s online website, profiles, and pages. With the increase of the business’s name popping up online, SEO increases as a result.

Had the business gotten poor reviews during its first week, its reputation would have plummeted from the beginning. The unbiased opinions of others spread quicker than word of mouth when it comes to the online world. 

If the business had no online presence, people wouldn’t be able to leave 5-star reviews or tag the restaurant in photos. This would have meant that their business would not have received online attention, and their SEO wouldn’t be good.

This same concept is true for any business, no matter what product or service you are selling. SEO and ORM go hand-in-hand, but are different entities entirely. 

Online Reputation Management: Perfecting Your Online Presence 

With the help of technology, brands have the ability to create a positive online reputation built to impress any target audience. ORM often utilizes SEO practices to help improve the overall online reputation of a person, business, or brand. 

search engine statistics for business owners

Online Reputation Management usually starts with a main goal:

  • Increase the likability of a brand
  • Create a deeper sense of trust in a brand
  • Improve overall brand reach and quality
  • …and more

Depending on the main goal, you can utilize a SEO strategy to create content that directly reflects whatever you are trying to achieve.

Search Engine Optimization: Optimizing Content to Get Found Online

The goal is Search Engine Optimization is to help people easily find the content they are looking for online. When your content ranks higher on search engine results pages (SERPS) people will look at your content first. In order to improve search results for your branded keyword content, several factors come into play:

  • Keyword research
  • Image & video optimization
  • Writing style
  • Featured snippets
  • Catchy taglines
  • Improving user/customer experience
  • Creating easily digestible and shareable content
  • Review management and responding to customer reviews
  • Suppressing negative search results

The internet is here to stay, so it is important to learn how to use this tool for your benefit. Failing to take SEO into account, this tool can work against you. In today’s world, creating a solid online brand is essential. This is true for college students applying to schools or entrepreneurs trying to make a name for themselves.

Essentially, Google bases SEO principles on three core values:

  • Likability
  • Trustworthiness
  • Usefulness

These values are all about making sure the user has a positive experience. Therefore, when you make content, you have to ask yourself: does the content align with these values? When you cater to the user, you build a positive online reputation. Your content will perform better when you use these principles, along with SEO techniques.

What is Reputation Management in SEO? 

It’s no secret that startups, small businesses, local businesses, and independent brands are usually a little strapped for cash. As a business owner, you need to be discerning about where you invest your money. This begs the question: is SEO reputation management worth it? If you need help monitoring, managing, and enhancing your brand’s online reputation, it could be a good investment.

Is SEO a Waste of Money?

Go to Google Search and enter “best pizza restaurants near me”. Wherever you live, Google will try to find the best answer possible to your search query. Google’s algorithm sifts through all of the results to you the best, most trusted, and most mentioned pizza restaurants near you.

Anything that appears is there because those businesses have a solid, positive reputation. Google does all of this to ensure that you do actually find the best pizza place you can find.

If a pizza restaurant has:

  • Bad or no reviews
  • No likes on social media
  • No photos
  • or a website that looks like no one has updated it since the 90’s

…then that pizza restaurant will not make it to the first position on Google. Low Google rankings mean that people can’t find you online, causing you to lose out on a lot of potential customers. The real question is: Can you afford not to use SEO?

However, you can start implementing many of these SEO tactics for free. Make sure to update your website, fill out online business profiles, list your business on review sites, and generate online buzz about your brand. Utilizing these strategies is a great start, but it is vital to do them properly. This is where you may consider hiring an SEO specialist or investing in reputation management services.

In the end, investing in SEO and ORM will pay dividends when you get more customers coming in the door.

Why Are First Page Google Results So Important? 

The last time you used Google Search, you probably found all the information you needed on the first page. This is no accident because Google’s algorithm shows you the most relevant information as quickly as possible. In fact, 9 out of 10 users do not click past the first page of Google search results.

If you search for “best pizza near me”, you’ll likely go to a place that comes up on the first page. If a pizza place is on the second or third page, you may never even know they exist.

Because of this, having good SEO can only benefit your business. The first page of Google is the difference between a customer coming to your shop or going somewhere else. If you don’t have good SEO, you risk losing brand awareness, customers, and profit.

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Closing Out

Now that you know the difference between SEO and ORM, you can use these strategies to benefit your business. Knowing how they work together will help you boost your online presence and make sure people find you on Google.


When it comes to your managing online business reputation, there are endless ways to enhance it with the help of SEO. Use our online tools and guides to improve your Google search ranking for good.

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