• How to Repair Your Online Reputation

    A Damaged Online Reputation Means Lost Business; Repairing it Can Help.

    Your online reputation IS your reputation, and having a poor one means lost business.  A reputation can be damaged in many ways today, and can occur almost immediately.  An errant or poorly worded Tweet sent by an assistant, an anonymous blog post by a competitor, an entry to a complaint site by an ex-employee, or a news article with a name similar to yours can all tarnish or severely ruin your online reputation.

    How To Repair Your Online Reputation?

    Remain Calm.  Don’t do anything, for the moment.  Rushing a response might be the first impulse but it could easily cause more harm than good.  In fact, who ever posted the item wants you to respond, and doing so only makes the item become more prominent.  Remember: the more clicks on an article or post, the more Google thinks it is an important site that others should know about.

    See Related Article: Each Negative Link or Review Loses Thirty Customers or $30,000

    Assess the Online Damage

    Review the issue and see its current impact.  The first thing to review is where the problem is showing up now when doing a search for your company or name.  If it’s off the first page, breathe a sigh of relief.  Also see what is the source of the link.  If it’s a newspaper or respected site, it could be hard to remove as opposed to a lesser known or personal blog.  Note that it could quickly move to the first page if nothing is done.

    However, if it is already showing up on the first page of a Google search, repairing your online reputation might be necessary.  Are you seeing repercussions, such as lost business or mentions from other clients?  If you have many positive reviews in your professional practice, potential clients might overlook the one negative review or may pause to interpret the item.  But many prospective clients probably will just go on and call your competitor.

    Don’t Take It Personally

    If someone writes something negative about your practice or professional firm, its easy to get emotional and feel very angry.  Try to remain calm and professional throughout the process.

    Online Reputation Repair Takes Time

    If you have a problem, it might take time to repair, so get ready for the long haul.  Several months of active work might be necessary and in extreme cases it might take six months and many hours of work.   If you decide to try it on you own, it might take 40 to 80 hours per month or more for six months.

    Have Realistic Repair Goals

    What do you really need to have done?  If a negative review by a lone blogger is showing up on page ten of a Google search results, maybe your dont have to do anything.  If an Associate Press article slams a recent business transaction and this shows up on the first page, then act now to push it off the first page.  How far off?  Set some realistic goals and note that 95% of all clicks occur on the first page of a search result, meaning that very few people make it to the second page.  So, if an item is pushed to the third page, for all intensive purposes, it’s “invisible.”

    How To Repair Your Online Reputation Yourself

    If you have the time, here are a few tips that you can do yourself to repair your online reputation:

    • Write blogs very frequently with good, fresh, and pertinent information.  For example, if you are an accountant, write articles that your clients want to know, such as recent tax changes that might impact them.
    • Create or optimize your LinkedIn account, and get very active in Groups and post relevant items frequently.
    • If possible, create or add your information to a Wikipedia article.
    • Lawyers or doctors, sign up for Avvo.com or Lawyers.com or related sites.
    • Create a Manta site.
    • Review the offending site’s posting requirements and attempt to have the post removed if its in violation
    • Contact the poster offline politely and remain professional and engage in a dialogue.  Then request to have the item removed.

    See Related Article: “25 Free Online Reputation Management Tips and Tools

    How NOT To Repair Your Online Reputation Yourself

    Here a few tips NOT to do, and could make things worse:

    • DON’T write your own reviews, even under a different name.
    • DON’T engage in a flame war or respond to a blog comment, especially using harsh or unprofessional language.
    • DON’T defame or write critical posts about them.
    • DON’T ask an intern, your nephew or friends to help with social media responses unless they are professionals or are very experienced.
    • DON’T use shortcuts such as “link farms.”

    Hire An Online Reputation Management Firm

    If the thought of spending hours each day on this seems daunting, consider hiring an online reputation management firm.  However, beware that some companies could cause problems themselves.  Avoid online reputation management firms that write reviews, since this is often illegal or ones that have a large staff overseas.  Each problem is unique and requires a unique solution.

    While recovering a damaged reputation is long process, it can save your practice or business from lost clients. You CAN repair your online reputation, either by doing it yourself or by hiring a professional firm to help.

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