Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is the process of controlling what people see when they search for information about your company. There are a number of ways you can do reputation management, from using social networking sites to using variations on your company domain name. The truth is that everybody should do reputation management as soon as they can, even if they start with something simple and free like social networking. If you start early and build up a good reputation right away, it will be harder for someone to damage it later. Anything that you create you will be able to have control of, which means that the things people see about you are what you want to tell them and nothing else.

Putting your name out there online in a way that you can control is important because people don’t ask friends anymore what they think of a company. If they want to know something about a company they look it up online. If you are doing reputation management, what they will see right off the bat is your sites and what you have to say about your company. This will give them a better feeling and make them want to work with you more.

Online Reputation Management – Part 1 Transcript

Before You Begin

  • Does your organization have integrity?
  • Does your organization have good intent?
  • Does your organization live up to its promises?
  • Does your organization get results?
  • Does your organization provide excellent customer service?

If the answer to any of these questions is “NO” then start there before a reputation management program is put in place.

What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management is the process of ensuring that when someone searches for your brand in a search engine that the results that appear allow you to control the perception of your brand with results that are actually under your control.

Who should have an online reputation management campaign?

Everybody. Anybody who is even bricks and mortar that aren’t necessary online. Again, personally, before I go to a store or a branch of a company I go online and I check and I do my research. If you have nothing there, well, that’s better than negative information, but if you have positive information, great resource for your customers, for the people who are searching, they are more likely to buy from you or work with your business.

When should you start managing your online reputation?

Right from the start. Whether you are online or bricks and mortar, it is very important that right from the get go you buy all variations of you name. The .nets, the .coms, the .org, the .tv. You should own all of those if you are a small company and you are starting out and you want make sure that there is always a good perception of your brand. They will do their research. There are many things you can do very very cost effectively, such as bringing up a blog. You can also do social media profiles: so your Twitter, your Facebook, your LinkedIn, your YouTube. And if you do that right from the start,  before there is anything else about you, there is a very good chance that those will appear in the top ten. Right there, very cost effectively, you are starting to control the perception of your brand and your online reputation because all of those social media profiles are under your control.

Why should you manage your online reputation?

It’s very important that brands and companies realize how important this actually is. People don’t actually go to their friends anymore and say “what do you think of such and such a company?” They go online and they do research on a company before they choose to buy from that company or before they choose to work with them. It’s very important that brands understand that the decisions are being made in the online space; and if what appears about your brand or your product is negative, that will certainly affect people’s decision to work with your company or purchase from you.

The first thing you want to do when launching an online reputation management campaign is to do some research and analysis of what shows up when someone searches for your brand or for keywords related to your brand. Particularly the top 30 are the things that should be looked at in all of the major search engines. You will want to identify which ones you don’t want there and which ones are good to have in those top spots. Once you know this, it is possible to form a plan to start developing sites and links to promote those sites into the top spots. The more positive information you have out there on the web in the top spots, the more likely you are to be able to combat negative information that is put out there by an angry client.

As much as we would like to and as hard as we all try to, it is impossible to make every client happy all the time, and these days you never know who is tech savvy and who isn’t. Many older people know as much about the internet as some of the younger people. One person who is a regular blogger writes a post about you and it could easily rise into the top ten. This is why it is important to always have an online reputation management campaign going. If you are already working in the internet and promoting yourself regularly, it is easy to push negative information down by just continuing to do what you have been doing all this time.

Online Reputation Management – Part 2 Transcript

What are the online reputation management campaign strategies and tactics?
The first thing we do is an analysis. Some research and analysis of where your brand is at in the top, particularly the top 30 we look at, in major search engines. We look at what other results are in the top ten particularly that you may not want to have there. We put together a strategy that turns into a project plan, where we will put tasks together to start that entire process of building out a campaign where you start to control the top ten by releasing sites and digital information onto the web and then we start to link to that. So that you promote everything.

What are the rewards or risks of having or not having an online reputation management campaign?

The risks are enormous. People spend millions and millions of dollars building their brand and can be destroyed overnight by one malicious blogger. Let’s face it, if you are in the business of customer service it is unrealistic to expect that every single customer every single time will always be happy. Let’s say that that one customer who decides that they really don’t like you no matter what you do is very internet savvy. They are a blogger, is a comment blogger, or they really know how to work the internet. That can be devastating because even that one individual can do a lot of damage to your brand just by publishing what they think.

If you are a company that does provide bad service and has products that are inferior or services, then you need to fix that because no amount of online reputation management will fix a bad company. So that’s the first thing you have to do. Certainly, the risks are enormous, If you don’t control that space it’s very likely that somebody else may get information in there that could be very damaging.

How long should an online reputation management campaign be in place?
My honest answer is that you should never stop doing online reputation management. It’s really where the new PR is taking place. Iit’s where you should be focusing your public relations efforts because that’s where people are really looking and making decisions. You often hear today from celebrities and we just heard it recently, unfortunately for Tiger Woods, how fast the digital space takes over the news and starts to control the entire story. Back in the old days celebrities could mess up and it would go into maybe a newspaper or a magazine and it would go away. Now days it never goes away. That’s the thing with digital space, once the information gets out there it never goes away. All you can do is try to control it and replace it with something more positive.

If you have decided that you need an online reputation management campaign, the likelihood is that there has been some kind of attack on your reputation already. If this is the case and you go with a company that can’t produce the results they make claim to being able to produce, it is a waste of your money and time. This can give those who are attacking you more time to attack you and make it easier for them to get into the top ten. Unfortunately, there are those companies that will try to trick you, the customer, into believing they are better than they are. The best way to not be taken in by them is to check their references carefully before going into business with them.

You should know, however, that if you deserve the things that are being said about you, a truly good SEO company will not help you out. If there is a trend that you regularly deserve your bad reputation, and they will find out if there is, you may not be able to get good service. This is because until you have improved your business practices all the SEO company is doing is putting out fires as they are created. It is likely that if you have good business practices then the SEO company can put out the one fire and build up your defenses enough that there won’t be any more major issues.

Online Reputation Management – Part 3 Transcript

How do you choose the right company to manage your online reputation management campaign?

A company that can show you the results you have produced in the past. It’s just like organic SEO, there’s a lot of companies out there who know that it’s very devastating to have a Rip Off Report that is number two in Google for your name and they tend to get very passionate about what they can and cannot do for you. You should always pick up references, and not only pick up the references but then check the results for the company that you have spoken to and see if what you are seeing is what this company is telling you that they can do.

We’ve had instances in the past where people thought we were very expensive and they went with another company who promised them control of the top ten and removal of the Rip Off Report for example and then they came back to us six months, twelve months later with a story that nothing had happened and all the money they had paid had been wasted and there is no question that they can’t afford to do this over. If you go six, twelve months with a company that isn’t getting you results that is six, twelve month’s wasted and that’s another six, twelve months where negative results could be popping further into the top ten. So it’s very important to check that the company you are working with has a track record at this because it’s not easy, and when you hear sometimes the pricing of a reputation management campaign it’s because you need really skilled people and there’s a lot of work to be done to do the job properly.

Have you ever turned away any Online Reputation Management requests?

Yes. Yes, we have. Remember this is brand management, brand reputation management, It is really important that companies do it. When we have had people approach us where they say that “We’ve got a really bad reputation in Google,” one of the first things we do when we receive one of those type of calls is we do our own research, and we are very good at research — we need to be to do our jobs properly. And if there is a consistent pattern across the board, if it’s not just one blog or if it’s not just one customer or two customers or three or so on, if there is a true pattern that this company is up to no good, that they deserve that reputation, then we won’t work with them. I have said to people “Are you prepared to change the way you do business? Because it appears from what I’m seeing that the way you do business, that this reputation that you have is deserved.” They usually go away very quickly.

We will not help people to do unethical things. We will not help people to scam people. I have walked away from many reputation management clients and a lot of money because it is important to remember at the end of the day we are an SEO company and what we do we do ethically, responsibly, and reputation management is not about covering up bad business practices. In fact, I have a slide show on SlideShare and it’s also on our website and that’s one of the first things I ask, “Is this really a problem with your company and what are you prepared to do about it?” Because no amount of online reputation management will fix bad service. Unless they are prepared to fix that, then all you are doing is firefighting. So yes, we have had to turn down many.

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