What do online reputation repair services do?

What does a public relations firm do when a large company experiences an image-damaging crisis in the real world? They send out a TV spokesperson to tell a brand’s side of the story. That’s exactly what online reputation repair services do when your branded search results turn negative. Reputation repair helps foster positive relationships with the public as well as customers after a reputation-damaging event.

The difference?

Online reputation repair companies strategically bury unfavorable search results in Google to shape your narrative. Contrary to what many believe, online reputation management services don’t delete unwanted results or attack them with negative SEO. Instead, we use traditional SEO to promote positive, brand-affirming content that forces unwanted results off of Google page one.

Types of search results online reputation repair companies fix

There are innumerable types of content that can damage a corporate reputation online — whether it’s true or not. If the first page of Google contains negative content, it’s critical to work with an online reputation repair company to correct the record. Each type of search result requires a different strategy and approach to address it. 

Negative news articles

Negative articles are among the most visible and damaging types of search results brands and individuals face. Once unfavorable editorials become lodged on the first page of Google, they stick like burrs on your brand’s reputation.

Think they’ll just vanish on their own? Think again.

Google’s algorithm is designed to give people exactly what they’re looking for. When it comes to searches for brands and CEOs, that usually means reviews and editorial content. Since Google’s news algorithm favors timeliness, those stories will surface quickly. Once that content is featured on page one, or suggested in autocomplete, people begin clicking it. User interest encourages Google to add the result to your organic listings. Then, other journalists pick up the story and your narrative begins to spiral out of control.

There’s a lot more to know about this topic, so we wrote an entire post about how to remove negative newspaper articles from Google.

Negative reviews or comparisons

Online reviews are tricky because they typically appear on aggregate sites like Yelp, Facebook, or Glassdoor where customers and employees are the authors. Therefore, it’s often impossible to remove negative comments about your business. In the case of Yelp, fake reviews can be removed, but it takes a number of steps. The same goes for deleting Google reviews, which are even more complex to handle. In other words, review management can be a full-time job.

Comparison websites are a huge pain point for many businesses. Whether affiliated with competitors, or created by them, these sites often pose as legitimate editorials. Unfortunately, they present a biased snapshot of your brand for customers, business partners, and investors.

Personal information

While Google generally doesn’t delete bad reviews and other unfavorable content from the search results, there are some things the search engine takes seriously. For example, Google will remove certain search results that could harm your safety or finances.

Why should you invest in internet reputation repair?

The health of your business is directly tied to your online reputation. More people than ever before turn to the internet for advice on where to shop and what to buy. In fact, a recent survey by Google showed that the majority (51%) of respondents indicated that they “very frequently” or “often” make important life decisions based on information in Google search.

That’s why reputation management is important. It helps you maintain your brand’s success and visibility.

How a national furniture retailer repaired its reputation 

A national furniture and mattress retailer came to us for help because their first page of Google was inundated with unfavorable results. We immediately deployed an expert team to fix multiple online reputation issues for this company.

Our strategy earned preferred content in the SERPs for two, highly-valuable branded keywords. This approach flipped Google page one for brand name searches to 100% preferred content. As a result, our customer recovered more than $32 million in monthly revenue.

How to repair your online reputation

Image-damaging events and crises can shatter your online reputation. They tar your Google search results with negative content that doesn’t reflect your brand or personal legacy. In this section, I’ll explain how to fix your reputation with ORM.

1. Identify the root cause of the reputation problem

The first step is to identify the source of your problem. In other words, what broke your reputation in the first place? Sometimes a damaged reputation is the result of a content vacuum that is filled with anything Google can find in it’s index — positive or negative. In other cases, a viral news cycle creates an imbalance of negative content around a single event.

While investigating, it’s important to leave no stone unturned. Did a competitor create an unfair comparison site about your business? Are disgruntled former employees leaving negative Glassdoor reviews? Is it a viral news cycle about a recall, or a negative comment from your CEO? Or, maybe a customer data leak that could have been prevented with a more secure virtual data room.

It’s vital to map out your entire search landscape — ReputationManagement.com looks at the first 500 results. The reason something ranks well could be that there’s an underlying foundation of content around this topic already in Google’s index.

Identifying the root of the problem allows you to tackle it with a clear head and to start building a positive reputation. It also allows you to fully assess the reputational risk to your business should more unfavorable content rise to the first page of Google.

2. Repair negative content at the source

Just because Google won’t remove content from the search results, doesn’t mean that you can’t attempt to repair the problem right at the source. If a media outlet or blogger published an unfavorable story about you, you can attempt to reach out to the publisher or author and politely ask them to update or delete the content. Unfortunately, most news sources won’t remove content upon request because they are stewards of important, historical records and have to remain as impartial as possible. If you do decide to reach out, remember a few things: 

  1. Be polite. 
  2. Try to document as much of the request as you can in writing. 
  3. If you get the content removed don’t forget to have it removed from Google’s index.
  4. Don’t threaten legal action or you could create bigger problems.

3. Remove negative results from Google

If you successfully correct the issue or remove the content, then you can submit a content removal request to Google. But be warned, this only works if the content no longer exists. So, if you can’t remove online content from the source or the internet, the next step is to sink these negative results right to the bottom of the SERPs.

4. Push down negative search results that you can’t remove

Suppressing negative search results is both an art and a science. You can attempt to do pieces of the process yourself, but you’ll likely find it’s a time-consuming endeavor that demands massive resources. For an in-depth look, check out our post about how to push down negative search results on Google. But the simple explanation is that you have to create and optimize positive information so that it outranks unwanted content, forcing it deeper into your search landscape.

Encouragingly, according to the Moz study conducted in 2019, only 7 percent of those surveyed clicked past the first page of Google. In other words, if it’s not on page one, it’s as good as gone. Top executives agree with that sentiment, too.

A new commissioned study by Forrester Consulting revealed some surprising reputation management statistics. For instance, 54% of executives believe reducing unfavorable search results would drive revenue growth. Additionally, executives felt that reducing negative content in Google would increase leads and sales. You can read the full study here.

5. Strengthen your online presence with positive content

The best way to not only restore a bad reputation, but also protect it, is to strengthen the web properties you own and control. Optimize your existing content and continue to publish favorable, timely content that your customers want to read. You can do this in a number of ways: 

  • Maintain a strong social media presence and social media profiles across as many platforms as you can.
  • Publish blog posts and dedicated, positive review pages that highlight your customer loyalty and positive brand image.
  • Craft engaging, timely press releases that accurately and positively represent your company’s voice and mission.
  • Build backlinks that promote visibility and favorable brand sentiment.

The strategy behind crafting positive content is complex. It’s easy to blow smoke in the SERPs by pumping out hundreds of low quality articles, but it takes expertise to create high-quality content that will perform well in the SERPs. Regularly maintaining a social media presence alone often requires at least one or two dedicated employees managing customer engagement and maintaining the platforms.

Can I fix online reputation issues myself?

The simple answer is: yes, you might be able to handle very minor reputation issues yourself. For example, asking a webmaster to remove your mugshot from their site. However, the truthful, more complete answer is that the workload and expertise required vastly outweigh the capacity and capabilities of most businesses experiencing online reputation issues.

Promoting positive content requires an expert staff of writers, PR specialists, and SEO analysts. To craft a lasting online reputation you can be proud of, you need the kind of expertise only a reputation repair service can offer through a search engine optimization strategy.

But, if you simply don’t have the budget, here’s a list of tools that may help you fix your reputation.

Essential reputation repair tools

Google Alerts– This tool takes brand monitoring a step further. You’ll get notifications each time the search engine discovers a keyword that you’re tracking.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act– Don’t let others use your copyrighted material inappropriately. Send a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice to have online images removed. Protected content includes photos, text, and other intellectual property.

Help a Reporter Out– Expert mentions are a great way to repair your online reputation, especially when they’re earned. Why? Because these citations help build trust. Use HARO to connect directly with journalists and get free publicity as an expert source.

Quora– You’ll establish yourself as an expert when you answer industry questions. But you can also network with other experts and build a professional profile.

Hootsuite– You’ll need to network on social media to build your reputation. Hootsuite helps you build your audience, promote your brand, and even connect with customers.

Hire an online reputation repair service

A damaged reputation is stressful and costly. It impacts hiring, retention, sales, customer perception, investor trust and strategic partnerships. In fact, negative search results can cost a business tens of millions of dollars each month.

Unlike value-priced services, we don’t use shady tactics to temporarily fix a bad reputation. We craft your ideal narrative by doing things the right way, which can take a little time.

Contact us today to start repairing your online reputation.

Reputation repair FAQs

How long does it take to repair an online reputation?

Generally, it takes about twelve months to fix most online reputation issues with noticeable results after a few months. However, as you can see from our client case studies, each scenario is unique.

How much does internet reputation repair cost?

Pricing ranges from $2,500 – $80,000 per month, and costs are directly related to the resources needed to fix reputation issues. If you’re a Fortune 500 CEO, you probably wouldn’t hire a low budget PR firm to handle a global crisis. You should view reputation repair through the same lens. Contact us for a custom quote.

How do I choose the best online reputation repair service?

Choosing the best online reputation repair service comes down to three things: people, strategy and execution. It’s critical to choose a company with an expertly trained in-house team and experience handling large-scale problems.

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