How much does online reputation management cost?
Let’s have a serious discussion about online reputation management pricing. If you’ve been shopping around and comparing packages, you probably noticed that reputation management costs more than you thought. You might have also figured out that packages range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars each month.
In this post, I’ll help you sort the wheat from the chaff and explain the math behind reputation management pricing.
A primer on quality
If you’re familiar with public relations and SEO, then you’ll know that costs vary significantly from one company to another. On the low end, you have sole-proprietor consultants and DIY software. Then, in the middle, you find small regional firms with fewer than 20 employees. At the upper echelon, you have agencies and specialized businesses that provide services to large companies, enterprise brands, and CEOs.
Reputation management pricing works the same way. Just like those disciplines, experience and quality are vital to success.
Ultimately, enterprise-level reputation management cost is largely driven by the scope of SEO as well as a much deeper integration with customer teams, including marketing, PR, HR, product, engineering, legal, and customer service.
That level of integration is crucial if you’re a Fortune 500 CEO or you run a billion dollar corporation. When the stakes are high, it’s critical to work with a company that operates with integrity, discretion, and complete transparency.
So, how much does reputation management cost?
The average reputation management cost falls somewhere between $0 and $100,000 per month.
Obviously, that’s too broad to be useful. So, let’s look at why there’s so much variation. Then, we’ll dig into a few common pricing models. Finally, we’ll walk through what goes into a typical contract for our customers. In the end, you’ll have the tools you need to make the right decision for your situation.
Why does reputation management pricing vary so much?
I’d be willing to bet that you’ve paid for roof repairs before. When you got the quotes, some estimates were probably 5 times more expensive than others. That’s because cheap companies use less materials, inferior products, and they often employ inexperienced workers. As a result, the roof will start leaking again before long, damaging the interior of your home.
Online reputation repair is the same as fixing a roof. You get exactly what you pay for.
On the surface, costs are driven by three main components: the number and makeup of FTEs assigned to a project, the number of hours required to do the work, and the expertise of the workforce.
As you can imagine, reducing any one of those elements will decrease the cost of the service. More automation through technology, for instance, decreases hours. Eliminating oversight reduces the need for managers. Cutting quality or outsourcing to inexperienced individuals reduces the cost of labor. Trimming all of these costs will, in fact, dramatically reduce the cost of reputation management services.
But those savings aren’t worth the risk.
Inexperienced and unsupervised teams can make dangerous errors, amplified by unchecked automation. Low-quality work is glaringly obvious. And, barebones budgets forgo vital safeguards that ensure compliance and reduce risk.
Let’s look at some specific examples.
High-risk reputation management packages
Take one look at these reputation management statistics and you’ll understand why negative Google search results are devastating. Unfortunately, there are plenty of ORM companies that operate recklessly. They either use high-risk tactics that don’t comply with Google’s guidelines, or, they severely cut corners on quality. Let’s look at some examples.
54% of executives believe reducing unfavorable search results would drive revenue growth
Learn more about how to remove search results from Google.
Smoke screen tactics
Smoke screens are one of the most common tactics to reduce reputation management cost. Firms create dozens of fake social media profiles and other content that use your name. As a result, these digital doppelgangers confuse search engines and temporarily push down negative search results.
There are several downsides to this tactic. First, it’s not sustainable. When search engines realize those accounts are inactive, they won’t rank anymore. Second, if you flood your search results with fake versions of yourself, you will dilute your true online identity. And third, search engines understand entities. So, if you’re a highly-visible person, those profiles may not outrank authentic content about you — including the information you want to bury.
It’s essential to build the type of online profile that Google will be most inclined to reward.
Low-quality outsourced projects
Content: High-quality content is vital to successful ORM. That’s because what people write about you online influences public perception. But, great content is very expensive. Most firms can’t meet content demands in-house, so they outsource projects to foreign or domestic content farms that don’t really understand your brand. As a result, they sacrifice quality, which perpetuates brand image issues when users ultimately find inaccurate, thin, poorly-written copy about you or your company online.
Link building: Another way to reduce reputation management cost is to outsource link building to save money. They often trample Google’s guidelines and purchase links or use black hat private blog networks to manipulate PageRank without considering the impact those placements could have on your image.
Websites: Personal websites are also a commonly outsourced reputation management project due to cost savings. Unfortunately, this leads to an overreliance on free themes and templates which look shoddy at best, and spammy at worst. They are also typically filled with spelling and grammar errors, and leave an easily traceable footprint.
Easy-to-spot fake customer reviews
Some review sites will remove demonstrably false negative comments if you provide proof, although it can be a tedious process. They almost never delete legitimate bad reviews. And websites that do remove complaints in exchange for payment expose you to even greater risk once they know you’re willing to pay. Don’t be surprised if the same negative reviews pop up on sister websites they operate as soon as your check clears.
Because negative online reviews are so difficult to remove, black hat firms don’t even attempt to delete them. Instead, they buy hundreds of fake positive reviews in order to offset the bad ones. That tactic is often explicitly in violation of review website policies and it’s usually blatantly obvious to the end user. Fake reviews put the company at risk, damage brand reputation, and turn of the end user.
Value of risk reduction
Online reputation management cost is directly correlated with risk. Cheap firms don’t take the proper precautions or operate with discretion. As a result, their activities are exposed, introducing unnecessary risk and amplifying reputation issues for their clients.
Furthermore, small firms that cut corners aren’t able to navigate compliance with federal regulators, including the FDA, SEC and others. If your business operates in the health and finance space, it’s vital to work with a firm that understands how these agencies work. Contact us for a quote.
Reputation management pricing explained
First and foremost, if an ORM firm quotes pricing on their website without understanding your project, that should be an immediate red flag. Think back to our roofing example. Do contractors have a flat-rate roof price regardless of the size of your home? Or do mechanics fix your car for $500 no matter what’s wrong? Of course not.
To help answer the question of how much does reputation management cost, let’s look at what drives contract values and explore some common pricing models.
First of all, enterprise-level services like us build a balanced, holistic online presence to reposition search results for their customers. Conversely, disreputable firms deploy strategies that spam Google with low-grade content for temporary quick wins. Obviously, quality costs more.
It’s also worth noting that highly-visible individuals and brands require substantially more firepower to influence their online narratives. For instance, it’s completely different to bury an arrest record for your neighbor who has no online presence than it is to remove negative articles or negative links about Bill Gates from the first page of Google.
Let’s look at the most common models for reputation management services pricing so you have a primer when you’re comparing ORM companies.
DIY software pricing
This is a basic SAAS model where you pay a subscription fee to use reputation management software. It’s the cheapest option because you need to do all the work yourself. However, ORM software is primarily used for reputation monitoring or reporting rather than actively suppressing negative results. Pricing for DIY software usually begins around $100 per year, and it might be more suitable for an individual or small business with little online visibility.
À la carte reputation management pricing
This model puts price tags on specific issues, and it also sits at the value end of the ORM spectrum. While it may seem like you’re getting a personalized solution tailored to your needs, it’s actually just a marketing ploy designed to target customer pain points. In reality, online reputation management companies that use this pricing model cut a lot of corners and use black hat tactics to deliver a bare-bones service that almost never lasts. These firms typically charge $3,000 – $5,000 per incident, but the quality is embarrassingly low.
Tiered reputation management packages
These packages have names like “Basic, Plus, Premium, Elite, VIP, and so on. Most packages exclude more than they include, and they provide almost no transparency into the work they do. The most expensive offering, often called “custom pricing” or “enterprise” is the only package that contains anything that resembles a holistic strategy.
Only the most comprehensive packages are capable of building a sustainable online presence for highly-visible individuals and brands. These solutions marry full-scale search engine optimization with professional content writing and the combined efforts of customer PR, HR, marketing, product & engineering, legal and customer service teams to get results.
Packages at this level generally cost between $30,000 and $80,000 per month depending upon the resources required. Remember, contracts at this level are specifically designed at curating an online presence for Fortune 500 CEOs and large corporations.
Here’s a look at what goes into our partnerships.
What our reputation management packages typically include
We could easily sell shoddy services to tens of thousands of customers at a fraction of the cost of our packages. Our pricing isn’t high because we’re bad a business. It’s high because we refuse to compromise on quality.
Here’s just a glimpse of what our partnerships include:
Search landscape mapping
For branded projects, we analyze hundreds (if not thousands) of search results and individual websites to understand the full scope of a problem as well as what’s driving the issue and what will be required to fix it.
Topical density analysis
Content ranks in Google for many reasons, including authority, relevance, timeliness and more. If your search landscape is dominated by content around a singular negative event, that will influence your Google results as well as search suggestions and autocomplete features. We analyze the density of these topics to establish a baseline for your strategy.
Identification of opportunities and vulnerabilities
Negative content is like an iceberg: If you see one result, there’s often a lot more lurking beneath the surface. We analyze your complete landscape to spot weaknesses or gaps in your online presence. Our team also surfaces existing preferred web content submerged deep in your landscape or build out new content and narratives to round out your footprint and secure upper search real estate.
Some unfavorable content only surfaces for specific searches, so we execute exhaustive keyword research to uncover all of the branded terms that control your online narrative.
Priority web asset audit and analysis
Think of your online reputation like a digital fortress to hold back insurgents. The walls and moat of your castle are your personal or company website, blogs, social media accounts, Wikipedia, and review websites. We take inventory of all your assets and then audit their strengths and weaknesses from an SEO perspective.
Reputation & crisis management strategy development
After we wrap up our tactical analysis, we develop your strategy and create a project plan based on your business goals. During this time, we staff your team with SEO specialists and content writers as well as project and account managers.
Once our partnership is finalized, we rally the troops and depoy the strategy. This phase includes:
- Technical recommendations and optimization
- Ongoing content creation and amplification
- Strategic outreach for link building
- Authorship development
- Claiming ownership of relevant web assets and web content
- Personal website or blog design & development
- Real-time search landscape monitoring and threat assessment
- Strategic planning in line with federal regulations or requirements
- Best practice primers for video optimization, review management, etc.
- Around-the-clock communication with account executives regarding priority improvements & imminent threats
- Regular performance reporting
Even though each situation is unique, our customers generally have similar outcomes in mind when they seek our help.
- Overcome adverse activity through crisis management and reputation recovery
- Strategically position preferred web assets & content such as preferred company info, media coverage, reviews & endorsements
- Fortify personal legacy and accomplishments
- Accelerate online performance by improving reach, traffic, and brand sentiment
See our case studies for examples of our results
What drives reputation management cost
Our process stems from our company’s core values: Integrity, Sustainable Value, Rapid Response, Invention, and Entrepreneurship. We don’t offer stripped-down reputation management pricing just to sign more deals. We believe in hiring the best people, building the smartest strategies, and executing at the highest level. To that end, reputation management cost is largely driven by the scope and scale of the project.
Our customers include Fortune 500 CEOs and global brands where the stakes are high and the walls of your digital fortress must be nearly impenetrable.
If you’d rather compromise on quality and outcomes to save money, we aren’t the online reputation management firm for you. But, if you believe in doing things the right way, and you believe your reputation is too important to risk with an untested agency, then contact us for a custom quote.
Reputation management pricing varies from $0 to $100,000 per month or more depending upon the specific situation and quality of execution.
Generally, low-end online reputation management services cost about $2,500 per month, mid-tier services average around $10,000 per month, and enterprise solutions start at $30,000 per month.
Reputation management services are priced depending on the scope of the project, the level of customer integration, and the severity of the issue. Most packages include a mix of SEO, content marketing, website design, strategic outreach, monitoring and reporting.
Unfavorable search results impact sales, marketing, recruiting, retention, investor relations, business partnerships, employability and much more. If a company earns hundreds of millions of dollars per year, an unfavorable reputation can cost tens of millions of dollars each month.
Reputation Management Resources
10 Questions to Ask Your ORM Firm
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How to Push Down Negative Search Results
Find out how to bury negative search results in Google
Reputation Management Pricing Guide
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