Move over, SEO — there’s a new results-driver in the digital marketing space: Recommendation Engine Optimization (REO). SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, has long been hailed as the holy grail for businesses seeking online visibility and success. However, as algorithms shift, consumer behaviors evolve, and technology advances, relying solely on SEO is no longer cutting it. Enter, REO.

In today’s competitive arena, organizations have to recognize the importance of recommendations to stay relevant and competitive. In fact, 95% of consumers consult ratings and reviews before buying a product (GlobeNewswire).

Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube all rely heavily on recommendations in their business models. Whether you know it or not, your business depends on recommendations too — which is why you need to pay attention to REO.

What is REO?

REO utilizes user data including past engagements, preferences, and behaviors to forecast user preferences, enabling the delivery of personalized recommendations while managing and enhancing a brand’s online reputation across digital platforms.

It’s a combination of:

  • Traditional SEO
  • Rented Channel Optimization (like social media)
  • Earned Media (articles, review videos, etc.)
  • Emerging Media (AI and beyond)

REO can employ a combination of machine learning algorithms and traditional marketing strategies to get the right recommendations in front of the right customers, including:

  • Monitoring and responding to online reviews
  • Managing social media interactions
  • Curating user-generated content
  • Actively engaging with customers

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While SEO and REO both play crucial roles in digital marketing, they serve different purposes and require distinct approaches. While SEO aims to improve a website’s visibility in search engine results by optimizing content, keywords, and technical aspects such as site speed and mobile-friendliness, REO, on the other hand, focuses on cultivating a positive online reputation through various channels, including review sites, social media platforms, and online forums. While SEO helps businesses attract organic traffic, REO enhances product recommendations for a personalized shopping experience, ultimately turning visitors into customers and fostering long-term relationships.

Moreover, while SEO strategies may yield results like higher search rankings and increased website traffic, REO metrics often include online reviews, social media engagement, and brand sentiment analysis. By integrating both SEO and REO into their digital marketing efforts, businesses can create a comprehensive strategy that addresses both visibility and direct conversions.

How to Get Started with REO

REO is growing fast, but it’s also still developing. Currently, advanced recommendation engines are being used by some of the major tech giants, but the rollout to the general population is going to be a process as technology evolves and industries continue striving to learn more about their customers to improve recommendation accuracy.

But even if you don’t have access to a robust REO engine just yet (trust me, you’re in good company), there are still plenty of ways you can build out your REO efforts right now:

Analyze your online presence

Conduct a thorough audit of your brand’s online reputation. Monitor reviews on platforms such as Google, Yelp, and industry-specific review sites. Pay attention to social media mentions and discussions related to your brand, because your potential customers certainly are.

Engage with your audience

Actively engage with customers on social media by responding to comments, messages, and reviews promptly. Show appreciation for positive feedback and address any negative feedback or concerns professionally and empathetically.

Encourage user-generated content

Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences through testimonials, reviews, and social media posts. User-generated content not only enhances your brand’s credibility but also serves as valuable social proof for potential customers.

Leverage influencer marketing

If appropriate, collaborate with influencers in your industry to amplify your brand’s message and reach a wider audience. Choose influencers whose values align with your brand and whose followers are likely to be interested in your products or services.

Monitor and adapt
Continuously monitor your brand’s online reputation and adapt your strategies accordingly. Keep an eye on emerging trends, consumer preferences, and shifts in sentiment to stay ahead of the curve.

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About the Author: Jenny Farias

Meet Jenny — the founder and brand-alchemist-at-large here at BxH. She's an award-winning marketer and speaker dedicated to helping founders turn their unicorn dreams into reality. When she's not crushing it at work, you can find her jet-setting across the globe, supporting fellow female founders (hello, gWen!), or hitting up Charlotte's vibrant entrepreneurial scene with her boyfriend, Ben (#BenTheGem). Wherever she goes, Jenny brings her infectious energy and can-do attitude to the table — preferably alongside a spicy margarita.

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