What is reputation management, exactly?
Before I show you how we manage your reputation, it’s important that we’re on the same page about what online reputation management is, and what it isn’t.
Online reputation management (ORM) influences search engine results to improve public perception of an organization or an individual.
Services like ours use a combination of public relations tactics and advanced SEO principles to create positive content and push it onto the first page of your search results. That strategy forces negative content off of page one and protects your search profile against future incidents.
ORM vs. SEO vs. PR
It’s easy to be confused by these three services because they often overlap. For example: online reputation management services use press releases and earned media mentions just like public relations firms do. Yet we also leverage search engine optimization techniques to push positive content higher in Google results, similar to an SEO agency.
However, there are some noteworthy differences in what each service actually does:
Rank a single website for many keywords.
Influence public perception about a brand.
Online Reputation Management
Rank multiple websites on the first page of Google for a small set of branded keywords in order to influence public perception.
A balanced approach
As you can see, SEO and PR fuse together to form the foundation of ORM.
It’s imperative to work with reputation management experts who intimately understand search algorithms as well as the subtleties and nuance of PR. Otherwise, you could end up with tons of great content that nobody sees, or a search landscape filled with robotic, poorly written copy.
Why your online reputation matters
Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 1000 brand, a financial services executive, a politician or a local business owner, your online reputation is your most valuable asset. Here are just a few situations in which a good reputation is important:
- Launching an IPO
- Securing financing for a new business venture
- Attracting new clients
- Developing a strategic business partnership
- Running for public office
- Advancing your career
- And much more…
First impressions are critical
When we want information or advice, we ultimately end up on Google. Just like first impressions in the real world, what people find online influences their perception as well as their actions.
If potential customers discover negative reviews or unflattering articles, they may choose not to do business with your company.
Four negative search results can cost you 70 percent of your potential business.
69% of job-seekers won’t apply to companies with online reputation issues.
In fact, reputational risk costs financial institutions hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
It’s not just businesses that are vulnerable. Negative articles can drag anyone’s online reputation through the digital dirt and impact their livelihood, relationships and legacy.
That’s why it’s so important to develop an aggressive online reputation repair strategy before an issue gets worse. But ORM isn’t just about protecting your online reputation. Check out all these other benefits:
Benefits of online reputation management:
- Ensure that your online reputation reflects your company or personal brand
- Eliminate brand ambiguity from Google search results
- Protect your name and your legacy with a positive, accurate online presence
- Establish yourself as a trusted authority on the internet and across social networks
- Leverage a network of online relationships to build trust and credibility
- Identify and address reputation attacks
- Professionally respond to negative and untruthful claims
- Amplify existing digital marketing campaigns
I’m sure you’ve realized by now that reputation management isn’t a quick fix. It’s a long-term project to protect and reinforce your digital image before, during, and after negative news cycles. But what type of problems can an online reputation management plan fix?
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…
Although contracts generally last for 12 months, it’s common for our clients to work with us for years. That’s because they know how valuable a positive reputation is. To that end, the benefits of our online reputation management services extend far beyond a positive search landscape.
Contact our team to learn more.
Top online reputation management issues
There are literally hundreds of reasons why clients contact us for help. Executives may want to delete personal information from the internet, while companies might want to remove negative articles from Google. Here’s a short list of the top online reputation issues that we help clients with every day.
Negative reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and of course Ripoff Report cost businesses hundreds of billions of dollars each year. That’s because consumers overwhelmingly trust online review sites to learn about products and services before they make a purchase.
What’s worse, consumers can rarely differentiate between legitimate customer complaints and fake one-star ratings. But don’t panic. An online reputation management company like us can help you with review management so you aren’t caught off guard.
Unfavorable competitor comparisons
Customers do a lot of research before they make a final purchase. And comparison articles have a significant impact on their final decision.
Sadly, hundreds of “product comparison” websites are actually disguised affiliates or allies of one of the products they compare. Even worse, many of those websites are in fact owned by the same parent company. As a result, what looks like several unique perspectives could just be paid advertising from a single biased voice.
Negative articles are a huge online reputation management issue for our clients. Bad press weighs down a company’s reputation like a ton of bricks. It affects revenue, hiring, employee retention and funding. Financial services firms lose clients, investors dump stocks, and customers won’t buy from you.
But It’s not just businesses that are affected. High-profile individuals have also had their online reputations ruined by false information, lawsuits and public scandals that dominate their search results. Sometimes this content is embarrassing, other times it’s completely fabricated.
Unfortunately for CEOs and executives, when the press gets ahold of a juicy story, they often run with it while it’s hot. If accusations are later dropped, the story will still remain online — sometimes for years. And the damage is further amplified when false stories become syndicated hundreds or thousand of times.
Online defamation is perhaps one of the worst problems you can have. It’s one thing if negative content leaks out by mistake, but nothing is more hurtful than false, slanderous attacks.
Whether the source is a disgruntled former employee, a bitter ex, or an underhanded competitor, you must fight back. But be warned: these situations are extremely delicate. It’s best to seek help from online reputation management experts like us so you don’t make things worse.
Not all businesses have unique names, and that can severely hamstring your digital marketing efforts. If your brand name is also a common word then you could be left out of your own branded search entirely. That means potential customers may not be able to find your website.
That level of brand management requires substantial resources and expertise to remedy.
You may have a spotless online reputation, but others who share your name might not be so careful. Sadly, digital identity confusion could cause someone else’s social media accounts, inappropriate photos, and criminal activity to appear in your personal search results. While you may know which results are yours, others might not be able to sort them out.
Brands are also at risk. Spoof accounts are on the rise and they can seriously damage a brand’s reputation if customers think they’re your official profiles.
Some of our clients are global business leaders and philanthropists who’ve helped to change the world. Yet their search results didn’t accurately reflect their accomplishments. And in some cases, Google results, Wikipedia pages or public profiles were inaccurate or incomplete.
Online reputation management ensures that your contributions and legacy are accurately preserved online.
Online reputation management strategies
Now that I’ve covered what reputation management is and how it works, I’ll get to the important part: how to do it. But before you dive in, be warned:
Managing your internet reputation takes time and effort. In fact, we assign multiple reputation managers, SEO analysts and content writers to our high-profile accounts. With that said, let’s get started!
Internet reputation monitoring
It’s much easier to bury negative search results if you find and address issues before others notice them.
First, search yourself or your brand to see what comes up. Check out our post about how to Google yourself properly, because if you don’t do it right, you could miss something really important.
Next, sign up for Google Alerts. You’ll get a notification whenever someone mentions your name or brand so you can react in real time. Check out these other incredible online reputation management tools that help you keep tabs on your search results, social mentions and brand sentiment.
Build your social media empire
Social media platforms are a powerful asset to your brand’s online reputation. Claim and use your social media accounts, and regularly respond to customer feedback—no matter what. While you don’t need to post everything you do to all of your accounts, you should maintain an active social media presence.
It’s also important to let your followers and search engines know that your properties are official. To build authenticity, set up profiles with images, logos, and business information. Include your business mailing address, email and phone number if applicable.
It goes without saying that you should be present on Twitter and Facebook. But also consider Foursquare, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, or other social networks. Whether or not you plan to manage these accounts, you should at least claim them before someone else does.
Social media monitoring is critical, so if you don’t have the experience or bandwidth, hire a company that can help.
Expand your online presence
Claim all of your online properties and domains. Most businesses have websites these days, but many executives don’t. Likewise, there are many businesses that don’t have a blog (either on their website or elsewhere).
Branded domains are an important keystone in your online reputation management strategy because they’re much easier to rank at the top of your Google search results.
Similar to your social media profiles, you should register your domain as well as any similar spellings. The last thing you want is for a troll to register a domain and pose as your brand. Spoof accounts and domains can leave a black mark on your online reputation.
More importantly, harmful online content will be kept at bay if you can lock out the first 10 search results with digital properties you control.
Earn positive reviews and brand mentions
Positive reviews and brand mentions are the foundation of all good online reputation management strategies. In fact, there’s no such thing as too much good press. So if your customer service is great, and you already get positive feedback from happy customers, then ask them for Google reviews!
Additionally, a great way to clean up your online reputation is to make a positive impact within your community. Go above and beyond to help veterans, donate to homeless shelters or be an environmental steward. Not sure where to start? Check out these corporate social responsibility examples to get some ideas!
Most importantly, leverage reputation marketing to let the world know about your philanthropy.
Become an industry expert
Online reputation management won’t work without self promotion. Make a name for yourself (and your company) as a credentialed industry expert. To begin with, you can publish white papers that include unique data and write helpful articles on your website. But don’t stop there.
You should also write for other blogs in your industry. While it’s definitely time consuming to write bylined articles, it’s absolutely worth it. You’ll build up your personal brand, authority, and expertise as a credentialed author. Further, Google will have tons of new content attached to your name to show searchers.
To top it all off, you can even link to other content within your articles that you want to push up in your search results. That’s a win-win strategy.
Remove negative content if you can
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just hit the delete button anytime something bad popped into your search results? Unfortunately it’s just not that easy. In fact, there are only a few rare instances in which you can remove search results from Google.
Google will only remove something if it violates their guidelines or you have a court order. Since most negative content doesn’t qualify, that means you’ll have to resort to pushing it down with reputation management techniques.
Use SEO and reputation management techniques to bury bad content
As we just covered, your best bet to remove negative articles and reviews from your search results is to push them way down. Focus your attention primarily on the first page of Google results, since 84 percent of people don’t look past page one.
Many of the ORM techniques we’ve already discussed will help you do this. Namely, starting a blog or two, expanding your social media presence, and writing contributor articles. But to be honest, SEO isn’t something to take lightly.
You’ll need to work with an online reputation management expert to get results. In fact, even a few honest mistakes could make your situation worse.
Respond to negative comments quickly and professionally
I’ll admit that this rule is very hard to adhere to. When someone attacks you or your company, the last thing you want to be is polite. But trust me, if you lose your temper you’ll make things much harder for a reputation management agency to fix.
Let me put it another way: respond to negative comments as if you were in a public forum surrounded by potential customers, business partners, employers and even your family. If you do that, you’ll never go wrong.
Diversify your search landscape
Do your search results contain an image carousel or any videos? If not, you should consider publishing that type of content. Those features take up valuable real estate in your search landscape, and that means there’s less room for negative content to creep in.
Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube are all excellent ways to leverage visual search features. What’s more, they’re free to set up and easy to use!
Get help from internet reputation management experts
You probably feel a bit overwhelmed at this point. There’s a lot that goes into online reputation management. It’s hard to get it right, and even if you know what you’re doing, you may not have the resources to get results by yourself. We can help.
Reputation management tips and best practices
The following online reputation management tips can be used by just about everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, job seeker, or any average Joe or Jane. Jump right in and start protecting your reputation today.
Triple check everything before you post
It sounds simple. And it is. Way too many brands have had their feet held to the fire because of a preventable gaffe. Just check for grammar, spelling and tone. And don’t post something in anger that you’ll later regret.
While you can certainly edit or delete your own post, you can’t stop others from taking a screenshot. Which means once you post something, it’s more or less permanent. That’s especially true if you have a ton of social followers.
Stay away from controversial topics
Look. I know that social media has evolved into a casual space where people (and brands) can openly share their thoughts. But there are limits to what you can get away with. CEOs have created corporate reputation management nightmares for their companies due to social media comments. And some even resigned as a result.
Stay positive and professional
Do you want to avoid online reputation management problems? Only post things that you’d say in front of your boss and your grandmother. It goes without saying that you should avoid vulgarity, hate language and slang. But take it a step farther. Present yourself as a kind, intelligent professional, and you’ll avoid the most common issues.
Use your real name
This is important. If you want to build up a positive online reputation, you must use your real name (or your brand’s name). I’m not talking about your social handles. I mean in your profiles. If you use “me”, “we”, or “I” throughout your profiles and descriptions, Google won’t associate these accounts with your name. That means you won’t benefit from their ranking power. Your LinkedIn profile is an excellent place to write a bio in the third person without sounding odd.
Here’s the bottom line:
Online reputation management isn’t easy to execute without the right help. While small businesses may be able to hold back negative content by earning good reviews and establishing social profiles, enterprise companies need much more firepower.
The strategies and techniques above will give you a head start, but if you’re up against major news sites, you need professional help.
Contact us to discus your solution today.
Online reputation management FAQs
Most reputation management contracts last between 6 and 12 months.
Industry pricing is based on how severe the issue is. Costs can range from $500 per month to $75,000 per month.
Reputation management firms publish positive content about a business or individual. Then they use SEO techniques to move that content higher in the SERPs, which pushes negative content down.
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Corporate ORM for Brands and Enterprise Companies
See why corporate reputation is important, and find out how we manage it.
How to Remove Negative Search Results from Google
We explain how to remove content from Google, and what to do if you can’t.