When it comes to advertising and building a brand online, reputation is everything. Though it may take years and several happy clients for you to establish yourself as a trusting brand and service, there is always the potential for negative feedback and people out there just making it their mission to tarnish your name. Just as quickly as you can build your reputation online, someone can come along and bring it down even faster… even if the information they are posting isn’t true.
Warren Buffet actually says it best…
Think about it for a second… is there anyone from your past, maybe a client, friend or even someone who is jealous of your success, that could potentially damage your name or brand online? In the end, all it really takes it a few high end and well established web sites to start posting negative reviews and content, that can rank really high in the search results and do some damage.
So what can you do?
That’s where reputation management comes in.
With the usage and power of the internet growing larger and larger every day, it’s more important for every day small businesses and even Fortune 500 companies, to make sure they have a great reputation online. Through the use of reputation management services, anyone can help improve their reputation online, and lower any fake or negative comments/articles out there about their company.
How does reputation management work?
If you understand how SEO works, then you will have no problem grasping how top online reputation management (ORM) companies use content generation and positive press to try and own the main page of the search results for anyone’s individual name, brand or business.
Also, the stigma of ORM is that it’s a dirty business and only tries to protect people and brands with shady pasts is actually incorrect. For instance, let’s say you own a local restaurant and have thousands of happy customers who love and praise your business. Then one day someone comes into your location that is already having a bad day and they decide their their dish wasn’t up to their liking. The customer then complains to the waiter and tells the manager, who then comes over to apologize and give them the meal for free.
Long story short… the customer made a big fuss over nothing and ended up getting their meal for free. A few days pass and the restaurant owner decides to check their reviews and ratings online. To their surprise they see a 1 star rating with a big complaint! Even though the customer was taken care of at the location and wasn’t charged for their food, they still took the time to place an anonymous negative review online.
Now how many times does this happen on a daily basis to thousands of businesses around the world? A lot!
This is just one example of how reputation management services can come into play for businesses and brands of all sizes.
How Individuals Might Need Reputation Management as Well
Have you ever Google’d yourself? Of course your have!
In most cases there was probably nothing too crazy showing up on the main page for your name. If there was, then you know how badly you felt about everyone else seeing the same thing when they happen to search for your name online.
For individuals, especially those who are in the process of job hunting, what appears in the search results means everything.
The Modesto Bee wrote a piece on how job hunters are now sitting on the edge of their seat because of what might be ranking for their names online. In short, anything out there that might be a negative, could cost you from landing that next big paying job. While some people will say there is nothing you could do about, Todd Williams gives another alternative.
Not so, according to Todd William, founder and CEO of New York’s Reputation Rhino LLC. “He might do a WHOIS search … to find a contact form, then contact the website administrator or site owner privately and explain the situation,” William says. “If that didn’t work, he could check Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to get to the contact. Unless you’re running for office or a Hollywood actress, most bloggers aren’t interested in ruining anyone’s career. Ask to change or replace the name with a pseudonym or use initials.”
Do Reputation Management Services Work?
Now that you have an idea how reputation management services can improve how personal and business brands look online, the best question to ask is “Do reputation management services really work?“. As you can see from the examples mentioned above, they clearly do work, as the average person is most likely going to look through the first page of results to make a quick decision on whether or not they want to use a recommended service or company.
The business of reputation management is growing daily, and even Business Week has written a full article on the topic. In the article, a few interesting points mentioned where that there has been an explosive increase in reputation management over the past couple of years due to social media and the amplified voices of individual internet users. It was also mentioned that typical costs for a small online company, can range from $1,000 to several thousands of dollars a month for search engine related reputation management.
The best way to protect your first impression online is to be proactive and continually monitoring what is already out there. If you feel that you are in need of an online reputation management company, be sure to take the time to look at the different options out there.