Why people hire reputation management companies
Wham! Out of nowhere your search engine results got hit with a negative article or review. You contacted the site, but they didn’t respond or refused to help. You’ve tried everything, but the content just won’t go away. Now it’s affecting your life, your work or your company’s reputation.
So you Googled something like “best online reputation management services” or “reputation management companies.” Then you read a few articles, but you’re still not sure what to do. You’re probably thinking, “Reputation management services cost a lot. Is it worth the investment?”
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The short answer is yes.
Sadly, too many people do nothing in hopes that their negative online reputation just goes away. Others try to drown out the problem with ineffective internet marketing. But these issues rarely self-correct; in fact, they often get worse — sometimes much worse.
Of the few who do take action, many attempt to tackle online reputation management by themselves. But while DIY options are cost-effective, they also require a profound understanding of SEO and public relations to be effective. Beyond that, anything involving SEO simply demands major resources.
In a nutshell
Enterprise companies and high-profile individuals like CEOs opt for internet reputation management services because they have more important things to do than manage their own reputations.
Once you’ve made up your mind to work with a reputation repair agency, you’ll need to figure out which services are best for you. I’ll elaborate more on that in the next three sections.
Types of reputation management services
Most ORM companies have two distinct types of offerings: online reputation management services for individuals and business reputation management. While the desired outcomes are the same, they often use different strategies to get results.
For instance, e-commerce businesses may want to focus on review management, while an individual may need to improve his or her online presence. Let’s dig deeper.
Online reputation management services for individuals
It’s important to note that individual online reputation management services aren’t for everyone. Even offerings on the cheaper side of the spectrum can be too expensive for most people. Then again, just because something costs a lot doesn’t mean it will be effective.
That said, individuals who will truly benefit from reputation management services are those with the most to lose from a damaged image. This group includes: CEOs, executives, company founders, celebrities, philanthropists, politicians and financial services professionals. This list is far from exhaustive, but you get the idea.
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The vast majority of people who look into reputation management services for individuals ultimately end up choosing a simplified DIY solution that costs less. However, those individuals who can afford an enterprise-level offering are primarily concerned with the following issues:
- Misrepresented legacy
- False or damaging news articles
- Public personal information
- Underrepresented digital presence
At the risk of oversimplifying things, here are a few common strategies ORM firms might deploy to address those issues:
- Expand and improve the individual’s social media accounts
- Create additional websites, blogs and professional profiles
- Earn positive media mentions
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Business reputation management services
Reputation management services for businesses are incredibly situational. For example, negative reviews require a very different approach to eradicate than, say, a flood of viral news articles on top-tier publications.
As a matter of fact, it may be best to refrain from aggressively publishing positive promotional content until a crisis has been resolved. Instead, agencies should build up digital assets that you control until the media frenzy dies down.
It’s also important to mention that while small businesses often look into reputation management services, many eventually settle on lower-cost review management software. Then again, it really depends on your situation and how much you’re willing to invest.
What drives most businesses to look for an ORM agency?
Businesses seek out reputation firms for many different reasons, but these are the top issues:
- Bad reviews (Google, Yelp, Facebook, Ripoff Report or employee)
- Negative brand/product/service comparison articles
- Unfavorable press (about the business or executives)
- Underrepresented digital presence
- Brand ambiguity
Essentially, anything that affects customer trust, sales or revenue is worth fixing.
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ORM isn’t just about repairing damage, though. Many companies opt for preventative services to protect their reputation from future issues. Personally, I recommend a sustainable, ongoing solution over a short-term contract that may lack permanence.
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At this point, you probably understand that ORM services aren’t cheap quick fixes. So what exactly do you get for your monthly check? Here’s a rundown of the most common and impactful types of reputation management services:
Best online reputation management services
The best ORM services don’t offer templated solutions. Instead, they draw from an arsenal of online reputation management strategies to solve search-related problems.
I’ll be completely honest: Some of our strategies are closely-guarded secrets, so I won’t discuss them in this article. Only our clients have complete visibility into our process. However, I can share the most widely-used strategies to get results, many of which we deploy at scale for our own clients through our proprietary software.
Content marketing and press release distribution
Content plays first fiddle in most online reputation management services. In fact, it’s used in so many different ways that I could write an entire article just about content strategy.
For starters, firms use content marketing to dilute negative topic density in Google’s index. They do this by publishing tons of high-quality positive material, whether through press releases or paid placements. But it’s not just about brute force. Here are a few examples of how the top reputation management companies creatively leverage content marketing for their clients:
- Expert article writing
- Microsite creation
- Video production
- Image publication
- Posting to social media sites
I bet you thought positive content creation solely meant articles. Here’s the thing: In order to build an unshakable online presence, you need to diversify your search landscape. As an added bonus, images and videos take up a lot of real estate on the first page of Google.
Picture it like this: Each piece of positive content in your search landscape is like a brick in your digital fortress.
Search engine optimization
Want to know the difference between online reputation management services and public relations firms? It’s SEO. No amount of content in the world will improve your reputation if it doesn’t rank on page one of Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engines.
Reputation management services use search engine optimization in several ways. First, they make sure the content you control is optimized properly so it performs well in search. That means they’ll meticulously craft your meta descriptions, title tags and even the page copy on all your websites and blogs so it ranks for your branded keywords.
A word of caution, though: Some back-alley online reputation management services use black hat SEO techniques for quick wins. We firmly advise against these tactics because they can get your websites into hot water with Google. If you get hit with manual actions, your sites could be deindexed completely. We won’t let that happen to you.
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Online review management
You can actually look at online review management as three separate strategies:
- Earn new reviews – Did you know that it takes as many as 12 positive reviews to offset the damage of a single bad one? But don’t let anyone talk you into faking favorable reviews. I’ll explain more on that in the “worst reputation management services” section.
- Remove or bury negative reviews – You may be able to delete a Google review if it violates their company guidelines, and the same goes for Yelp. On the other hand, sites like Ripoff Report won’t remove complaints at all. Experienced reputation management consultants will know how to map out the best course of action to get rid of negative results.
- Manage customer feedback – Potential customers read your company’s reviews, so it’s critical that you stay on top of them. If you can’t keep up, you’ll need to work with a firm that provides that type of service. For example, some software companies only offer tools that discover and organize reviews. ReputationManagement.com, on the other hand, will manage them for you.
If an agency doesn’t offer brand monitoring as part of their online reputation management services package, you should probably walk the other way. Reputation monitoring can range from manual searches to Google Alerts or even fully-automated web crawls using proprietary technology.
Here’s the bottom line: Whichever reputation management firm you choose to work with, make sure they’re constantly watching your back. The more quickly you uncover negative pockets of information, the easier they are to deal with.
Social media management
The social media strategies deployed by reputation services vary quite a bit by situation. For example, individuals may need to expand their social presence while brands might be missing opportunities on niche platforms.
Good reputation managers won’t establish random online profiles on a bunch of obscure social sites, though. Firms should work with you to understand where your brand belongs. They’ll then optimize your profiles and either recommend content to post or actually manage it for you.
For individuals, that may mean building a robust profile on LinkedIn, complete with professional bios, headshots and thought leadership.
Here’s the deal: the more profiles you have, the more work it is to maintain them. I’m not just talking about posting content, either. You’ll need to engage with your followers, answer questions and maybe even put out some fires. If you’re not personally up to the challenge, make sure your reputation management service is.
Public relations & crisis management
This is where things get a little dicey. There are tons of ORM companies that claim to offer crisis management solutions. But in reality, what they’re really offering is online reputation management services to mitigate the digital impact of a crisis.
It’s crucial that business owners understand that difference. Crisis management firms and public relations teams will help you execute communication strategies and resolve any incidents. Once a situation is no longer active, reputation management companies will help you clean up your search results.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t work with an ORM service until a crisis is resolved. On the contrary, there are still plenty of things that we can do to strengthen your online presence and mitigate reputational damage while a crisis is still active.
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Best reputation management companies for you
Now I’ll help you figure out the best online reputation management companies for your situation. Most firms tend to work with a range of customers with a focus on one segment in particular. So be wary of reputation marketing companies that claim to work with everyone. As the saying goes, “jack of all trades, master of none.”
DIY reputation management companies
If you can’t afford a managed service, DIY software may look attractive. But BE WARNED — most of those solutions are only designed to monitor your search results, not improve them.
Think about it this way: Reputation management is basically search engine optimization on a larger scale. If one person could influence Google search results using DIY software, do you think Fortune 1000 companies would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per month for similar services? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Review management companies
The next tier of reputation management companies includes review monitoring and management. Again, these firms may range from DIY to white-glove, so do your homework before signing on. Pricing is likely to rise significantly as you enter managed services territory, but you may find those services more worthwhile in the long run.
White-label ORM software solutions
This is an interesting group. At first glance, it may seem like these firms cater to individuals. But many of them are actually Software as a Service (SaaS) models marketed to other online reputation management consultants. “White-label” simply means that you can personalize their software with your own logos and branding.
In short, most of these companies may not even have a consumer offering.
Enterprise reputation management companies
At the upper echelon of the industry you have enterprise reputation management companies. Although the name suggests that these firms only work with businesses, they also service high-profile individuals. As with the other groupings, there’s a range of agencies that run the gamut from “technically” full-service to the absolute pinnacle of white-glove ORM. As you can imagine, there are only a handful of companies at the tip of that pyramid.
This is the category we’ve dominated for nearly two decades.
Clients seeking enterprise reputation management services at this level are most concerned with shaping sentiment, defining their legacy and protecting their brand. They include Fortune 1000 companies, C-Suites and executives, A-List celebrities and financial services firms.
Collectively, our clients control hundreds of billions of dollars in market capital.
Worst online reputation management companies
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a list of the worst reputation management companies, would it?
I’m certainly not going to name names here. That would be unprofessional and antithetical to the nature of online reputation management. But I will help you spot the bad apples. Here’s an important list of red flags to keep in mind while researching firms.
Lack of transparency
Maybe I’m a little biased due to our industry-leading transparency, but you should be suspicious of a reputation management company (or an SEO agency) that won’t tell you how they plan to get results for you.
If an online reputation management service says they can’t share their “proprietary secrets” with their clients, what they’re really saying is they use black hat techniques they don’t want you to know about.
Low-quality link building
I can’t tell you how many clients have shown us toxic links that other firms have built for them. In fact, I’ve read even descriptions on reputation management service pages that actually state three “quality” tiers of backlinks. Why would any company intentionally execute a sub-par strategy — especially when the stakes are so high?
Everything we do for our clients — from content to off-page SEO — is top-tier.
Generating fake reviews
This is another harbinger of a bad reputation management company. All online review platforms strictly prohibit purchasing or fabricating reviews to manipulate ratings. A trustworthy firm knows this and will actively help you earn legitimate positive reviews.
If you work with a firm that suddenly generates dozens of reviews overnight, you deserve to know where they came from.
Spammy, automated content distribution
As we previously mentioned, content is king for reputation management. You’re trying to improve your online image, so do you really want to flood the internet with poorly-written copy that’s tied to your name? Of course not.
While volume is certainly important to shift the narrative and dilute negative information, it’s critical to maintain integrity when publishing everything, including social media posts, articles and press releases.
Promised removal of negative content
There are two problems with this. There’s no way you can guarantee anything with 100 percent accuracy when it comes to Google. Beyond that, you can’t actually remove most negative content from search results unless you personally control the site.
So either these firms have relationships with the sites that published negative information about you (which would be extortion) or their “guarantee” is conditional. In the end, would you rather work with a reputation management company that gets results or one that promises not to charge you when they fail to resolve your issue?
Too-good-to-be-true reputation management pricing
Before I get into this one, I’ll admit it’s hard to quantify. Reputation management pricing is more like a hyperbolic curve than a bar graph.
Suffice to say that online reputation management services require substantial expertise and resources, and that means substantial capital. If a company says it can push down or delete negative content for a flat $500 fee, you’re probably throwing away your money.
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How long does reputation management take?
I’m sure you’re sick of hearing “it depends” by now, but here’s the thing: There are way too many variables to give an accurate answer to this question.
Here’s what I mean: One individual may be satisfied with removing negative content from page one of his search results. On the other hand, the CEO of a financial services firm may want to completely rebuild her personal brand, push damaging content to page five of Google, remove any trace of the issue from autocomplete and clean up related searches.
As you can see, those scenarios are incredibly different interpretations of “results.” But if you really want an estimate, I’d say that most contracts last for at least 12 months. Many of ours extend for years.
Yes, I said years. Let me clarify that statement.
I’m not saying it takes years to get results. What I mean is that many of our clients want to continue immunizing their brand against any future issues long after we’ve helped them rebuild their search landscape. To that end, the benefits of our online reputation management services extend far beyond a positive search landscape. Contact our team to learn more.
The problem with reputation management company reviews
Nothing is more frustrating to me than reading online reputation management company reviews. Why? Because none of the companies were actually put through a real-world test to see if they are actually effective.
That’s not just wrong, it’s also dangerous.
If you write an article reviewing the best online reputation management services, the least you can do for your readers is test them out for a full six to twelve months in real-world scenarios. Otherwise you’re just pulling descriptions from a bunch of reputation management websites and crowning one the top service.
Additionally, many comparative reviews are actually sponsored placements or affiliates. That means the website owners receive kickbacks from at least one of the services they recommend.
So what does this all boil down to?
Essentially, digital marketing and public relations aren’t enough to maintain a positive reputation these days. You also need to have a diversified search landscape supported by positive content.
There are a ton of factors you need to consider when choosing between reputation management services.
- Who do they help — local businesses, large enterprises, individuals?
- What type of clients do they typically represent?
- Does the firm offer services that will solve my problem?
- Do they have services within my price range?
- Will the services at that price point be effective?
- Is the company considered an industry leader?
- Is the agency trustworthy?
If you can answer those questions, you should be able to find the best online reputation management services for your needs. If you think that’s us then contact our team to set up a call.