What to look for in a Reputation Management Company
Have you ever surfed on the web just to find out that someone posted content about you or your company with entirely inaccurate information that could actually hurt your reputation?
With the growing popularity of digital media as well as social networks, and the masses of content that came with it over the last two decades, this has become a serious problem for many companies and individuals that are trying to protect their image both on- and offline.
Even though “www” stands world wide web, it may as well mean “wild wild west” as the Internet is still fairly unregulated. Anyone, if you like it or not, can post editorial, audio, or video content about you or your company online and end up damaging your reputation.
Reputation Management Companies are the Sheriff of the WWW
That’s where “reputation management companies” come in. What before the digital revolution was mainly the job of more traditional PR (public relations) agencies has now turned into a tedious task that involves things like search engine optimization (SEO) and supervising comments or customer feedback across the Internet.
The focus, often times, is on three distinct areas:
- 1) search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo),
- 2) review sites (e.g. Yelp, Angie’s List, Manta), and
- 3) social media (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+).
Needless to say, trying to stay on top of all this on your own could become time-consuming and overwhelming rather quickly. That’s why hiring a reputation management company might be a good idea; but who to hire?
Which Reputation Management Companies Can I Trust?
While there are a lot of great and trustworthy companies out there, one has to keep an eye out for the ones who might not fall on the right end of the ethical spectrum. In other words, some reputation management companies are just as bad as the people who posted something inaccurate and damaging about you in the first place.
That’s because they might turn to using unethical techniques that sophisticated search engines like Google will most likely detect at some point and as a result “penalize” you by lowering your search rankings, hence, making it harder for people to discover you or your business.
To help you avoid this scenario, let’s take a look at what a reputation management company should and should not do.
- Proactively respond to negative customer feedback by initiating friendly conversations rather than antagonizing difficult critics,
- address potentially damaging articles, podcasts, or videos by reaching out to content creators and kindly asking them to remove incorrect information or unfair portrayals of your business,
- publish original and positive content about you or your business on your website and social media channels (YouTube videos count, too!),
- enhance the tagging and SEO of content before it’s published; this will help push down negative content in the search rankings once it goes live,
- issue online press releases with reputable PR sites like “PR Newswire” to get picked up by authoritative websites (sites that are generally respected and rank highly in search engines); this will get your brand out there and establish the presence that you desire to further invalidate negative content,
- good management reputation companies should also be able to get you relevant mentions on third-party sites that rank highly in search engines without a press release; this might include offering them free products or some kind of cross-promotion to create a win-win scenario,
- in some cases, issue legal take-down requests if negative content becomes a liability and the creators of the same are not cooperating voluntarily.
- “Astroturf” review sites or other third-party websites; this technique focuses on creating fake user profiles illegitimately posing as a supporter of you or your business,
- censor or suppress all complaints, which after while could look suspicious (because it is!); you might get away with it for a while, but once potential customers find out, it causes more damage to your credibility and reputation than humbly addressing negative feedback in the first place,
- overuse certain keywords or key phrases as part of your SEO strategy to “game the system” of search engines and unfairly influence search results,
- sell products on sites like eBay at a discount only in exchange for positive feedback,
- use “spam bots” posting masses of fake comments to force sites with negative content about you off the web altogether.
Prevent, Don’t Regret!
While the Online Reputation Management Association has tried in recent years to establish ethical best practices by implementing a certification program, the list of do’s and don’ts above will help you weed out the bad from the good and get ahead of the game.
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