Questions about online reputation management answered.
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“What is online reputation management?” and, “How do you do it?” are common questions. But there are many more, ranging from how long does it take, what can be removed, and a bunch of others. Here are the top 14 questions-and answers about online reputation management that I frequently hear from clients.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management is everything about you or your business that shows up online. This includes websites, blog posts, social media, and images.
But in practical terms, it’s anything about you that appears in Google search results. If negative links show up, it is important to push them off the first page. A good reputation shows you are an expert in your field, and this translates into getting more business–resulting in more site traffic and more sales. A bad link could mean the loss of clients and prospects.
How do you fix a damaged reputation?
The best way is to use English (or whatever your native language is): write good information. Inundating the web with great and original content works best, and will eventually push the negative links off the first page of Google searches.
While it might be possible to remove negative links, images and content (see below), usually the best approach is to create targeted, effective and well formulated content, including blog posts, images, and video.
But the key is developing a strategy, which includes researching and creating the best content, and most importantly, knowing which platforms to share it on.
Why is having a good online reputation necessary at all?
Because the Internet is the new first impression, and people don’t ask for references, they just head to Google. Probably the first thing people do, even when speaking to you on the phone or just after meeting you, is conduct a Google search. Something negative out there can damage your life and business quickly. Nearly as important, having no reputation drives clients to competitors.
What are ways a reputation can be damaged?
There are a bunch of ways. Someone can write something negative about you in a blog post, which is fairly common, unfortunately.
There are complaint sites where people can anonymously post comments for a business or a person, such as RipOffReports, and these are very powerful.
Also, there are some inventive ways used to damage a reputation. A disgruntled ex-client or fired employee sometimes takes over or really hijacks a domain name to post bad things about them, such as, “JohnSmithIsACrook.com”–and this shows up very quickly on the first page of Google.
One last thing: what if you have the same name as someone with a bad reputation or something in the news? This could inadvertently impact you even though you did nothing wrong.
What can happen if someone writes something negative?
Frankly, it could be extremely damaging, if it shows up on the first page of Google. I’ve spoken to lawyers, small business owners, photographers–whoever–who just could not continue, and lost their business.
I had one client who was a charity, but because one negative article was written about him and lumped him in with unscrupulous businesses, he lost everything, including his house.
Who does this?
An ex-employee, angry at being fired can write something; a disgruntled client, unhappy at the results, or anyone that had a bad day and just wants to retaliate.
But remember, what someone writes could be valid–if that’s the case, listen and work to correct the issue.
What should you do if something negative shows up?
You probably will be angry, upset, and want to retaliate by writing something negative yourself. Don’t: it will make things worse.
Instead, come up with a strategy.
Start by asking this question: Is the issue warranted? If so, address it, and professionally write back to the author–perhaps, but it could just fan the flames even more.
Most importantly, work on writing good content, and be very active on social media. These will all eventually push the negative information down off the first page of Google.
Should you be preemptive, and how?
Make sure you have your claimed your domain name and have a website, but just starting with a simple blog will do.
Also, create social media presences on sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and connect with other leaders and get them to share your Tweets. This will act as a buffer in case anything bad shows up on the first page of Google searches.
What are practical ways someone can improve their reputation?
The best thing to do is to create a blog and start writing. Spread the word by writing information that your clients or readers want to know about, such as recent developments in your industry, developments at conferences, frequently asked questions, etc..
Also, get active on social media. Beef up and post frequently on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest–a great site based on images–and maybe others, specific to your industry. Add your name to Wikipedia or college sites, if you can as well.
Once something is online, is it there forever?
Basically, yes. It is usually impossible to remove once it’s on the web–but always try. Because about 92% of people don’t go beyond the first page, however, pushing the negative information off the first, second or third page effectively makes it disappear.
Some people are afraid of having a bad reputation or getting reviews, so they stay offline. Is this a good idea?
Hiding from the web won’t work. Having no online presence just makes you vulnerable to attacks or problems. If something negative shows up, it will go right to the top of a Google search, which is not good.
For example, I had a financial consulting business as a client who had little or no online presence, and because they did not show up on the first page of Google search, they were losing business to a competitor.
The benefits include protecting your name and brand, controlling your business identity, and providing the best image of your company. There are no shortcuts–just hard work, and well crafted content.
How long does it take?
This usually is a long term process, taking an average about six months. Google constantly is changing their algorithms, and there is no magic button–it’s just hard work.
How much does it cost?
The investment can easily cost a few thousand dollars a month or more, so you have to determine if its worth it to save your business. Most people understand that it’s better to repair their reputation rather than close up shop.
How did you start in this business?
I like helping people. I’m a small business and I know what it’s like when you are your brand. I was doing social media and search engine optimization but frankly, it was hard to prove results. Online reputation management is clear. If those negative links are on the first page, that’s bad; if it’s cleared up, that’s good. And it’s very satisfying to know that I can make a difference and to see those bad links move down month by month.
If you’ve any questions, feel free to reach out to me, Steven W. Giovinco at Recover Reputation. Share this article if you found it helpful.
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