How others perceive us can significantly impact our lives, whether in the work environment, with our families, or in relationships. Our online reputation is no different, especially as we now conduct so much of our day-to-day life via the internet and social media. It’s time to take control of your internet reputation management.
Online reputation management utilizes a number of strategies, including marketing, public relations, and search engine optimization (SEO), to promote and protect your own reputation and that of any businesses you may be involved with.
What Does Online Reputation Mean?
When we talk about an online reputation, it refers to the impression that others have of you or your company or mentions of your brand based on information accessible through the internet. The content found includes results provided by search engines such as Google, which could be images, videos, or reviews, along with mentions on social networks, so that’s platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
What Influences Your Online Reputation?
There are two sides to the influences on your online reputation. Firstly, every post and interaction that you make online will contribute to how others perceive you. Whether that’s a sarcastic reply, a helpful post, or a risque joke, others’ impressions of you will have been affected. Then there’s what others say about you, your business, and your brand. This could be from business reviews, comments posted on social media, and content on websites which can then be found and presented within search engine results. You must consider both angles when considering your approach internet reputation management.
The visibility of that positive, negative, and neutral content will be the factors that help others to form their understanding of your online reputation. If we consider how we research services and products, the chances are that we carried out a Google search. If we’re encouraged by the information, found then we move forward to contacting the company. If we don’t, then we continue with our search; with the speed of access to information that the internet provides, that’s easy to do…
However, in the midst of all this, it’s entirely possible that information that you come across may not be factually accurate. It may be posted maliciously with the intent of damaging someone’s online reputation. Perhaps those reviews were not entirely truthful, or maybe it’s a competitor trying to cause damage. On a personal level, grudges from former partners, work associates, and friends can lead to information being posted which has severe repercussions for an individual. We often call this defamatory content and this malicious content needs to be considered as part of your Internet reputation management strategy.
Just as negative reviews and content can influence your online reputation, it can also be controlled through the presence of positive information. This might include social media posts, website content, and blog posts. Ensuring that this is presented to the internet user before any negative content requires a proactive online reputation
management strategy (ORM).
How Does Internet Reputation Management Work?
Effective management of personal or business reputations requires a multi-faceted approach. So that means that internet reputation management shouldn’t be relying on just one element, such as social media or customer reviews.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Have you ever wondered just how Google decides which internet sites it will show on page 1 of the search results? Well, the search engine works on the basis of an algorithm to make those decisions. Both the content’s authority and the number of other high-quality sites that link back to it can be key factors in the search result presented to the user.
That means that there are SEO strategies that internet reputation management services can put into place to control the information that Google presents. So that applies both when someone searches for a keyword or phrase associated with a business or for someone’s name when reputation management services assist an individual with their online reputation.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is also about how a website is designed, and the information is presented. A website can be thrown together in minutes, but when it forms part of a reputation management strategy, design elements need to be in place that encourages the search engines to present it as one of the first sites within the search results. SEO is absolutely crucial to internet reputation management.
The release of new information on the internet takes place at an unimaginable speed. Every day millions of posts, comments, and websites are updated. This means that there needs to be a continual process in place for assessing how the individual, brand, or company is being depicted for effective online reputation management.
That might mean assessing just how many positive online comments have been made compared to negative content during the week and how that corresponds to the previous week. You’ll also want to consider what the latest review says and whether it needs to be responded to. For a brand, it will be essential to know how often it’s mentioned and whether people are sharing positive content.
Professionally Written Content
Have you ever been to a website and been immediately put off by spelling mistakes or poor grammar? Now, in theory, someone’s ability to produce good content may not be a reflection of how they run their business or operate in the work environment. But, if you consider it to be an indication of their professionalism or attention to detail, then it can have a negative impact on their online reputation.
The solution to this aspect of internet reputation management can be as simple as taking on the services of a professional writer. They will ensure that the website content provides a positive impression and is conducive to developing a positive online reputation.
Development of Social Media Presence
Social media has an essential role within reputation management, and this is through having an online presence on several different platforms. However, like all tools, when used effectively, it can bring hugely positive benefits, but when someone doesn’t take care in considering how their comments may affect their online reputation, then the results can be disastrous. Here are our four top tips for developing a successful social media online reputation.
1. Analyze competitor’s social media presence
They do say that imitation is the best form of flattery and but exact replication is probably not a good idea. However, when your competitor or someone you admire has a successful social media strategy and online reputation, then a good starting point can be to consider how much you can learn from their approach.
It might be that their informative posts result in an engaged audience, or it could be that they freely provide valuable information, which is then widely shared. As a result, there is a growing number of followers on social media accounts with the potential to become customers.
2. Commit to a Posting Schedule
Starting off all enthusiastic with daily posts and then slowly grinding to a halt will be damaging to your online reputation. If it all goes quiet, people will wonder if you’re still around, and clients may assume that you’ve gone out of business. Being consistent is key to internet reputation management; consider what’s realistic for you, set a schedule for postings, and then make sure that you stick to it.
3. Commit To Social Customer Service
Social media provides a fantastic opportunity to engage with clients. It allows you to answer questions without delay and for others who may be following to experience your commitment to customer care. To be beneficial to the business’s online reputation, responses must be quick, helpful, and professional. Even complaints can be an opportunity for online reputation management when handled with honest apologies and quick resolutions.
4. Monitor Results
Finally, it’s essential to monitor your social media strategy’s success and its impact on your online reputation. You might measure this by considering if you have gained new followers and the level of engagement with your posts. Assess what people are saying about your interaction to guide the next post.
Don’t forget that it can help consider the day of week and time of day of your posts when evaluating what’s most successful. Reputation management services can be invaluable in collecting and analyzing this type of data for your business.
Promotion of Positive Reviews
Reviews can be hugely influential for your business or brand. While customers may be suspicious of your own marketing claims, they are more likely to believe and consider reviews from your customer base. At times, people will need some encouragement to motivate the publication of a customer review.
Getting in touch with clients to ask them to reach out if there any problems that could result in negative reviews or leave a positive review when everything went well can be an effective approach. It can also help provide a link to the review site and a note for clients of which products and services were purchased to ensure that there is accurate feedback. Do reach out to customers as soon as possible to ensure that they can recall all the pertinent information.
If you’re concerned about receiving negative reviews, then that’s a pretty good sign that there is work to be done behind the scenes in addition to that relating to your online reputation management.
You might think of press releases as being more associated with offline marketing and public relations rather than online reputation management, but they do have their role in your overall strategy. That’s because a press release can be quickly submitted and then released on several online agencies’ websites. This then means that they begin to appear in the search results of sites such as Google, and they usually provide a link back to your website.
The other advantage to online press releases is that they provide a long-term effect on SEO, unlike the paper versions of old, which were quickly relegated to the bin.
Do keep in mind that a press release should be informative rather than being a sales pitch. If you’re not familiar with the writing style needed to get a press release accepted and published, then utilizing a business offering reputation management services can be helpful.
Who Needs Reputation Management?
Without sounding too glib, pretty much everyone needs some degree of online reputation management. That’s because if you have an online presence, then you have a reputation even if you think you’re not online much. In fact, you might be surprised as to what information can be discovered about people with a bit of digging around!
Whether you’re looking for a job or promotion, applying to college or university, online dating, or looking for new clients or customers, your online reputation matters. Sadly many people don’t realize the significance of their online reputation until there is a crisis. Then there is the reality of how quickly negative information spreads and how devastating its impact can be.
From a business perspective, the internet’s visibility could be considered a double-edged sword. That’s because while it can be a fantastic way of sharing positive news, that ability equally applies to negative online content. Taking a proactive approach to your online reputation management reduces the likelihood of problems in the future.
Why Do You Need Internet Reputation Management?
When we need information, the first thing that most of us do is to turn to Google. We even now talk about ‘Googling’ something, so engrained has its use become in our everyday lives. To be honest, it’s hard even to imagine how we coped before search engines being around.
This also means that it’s incredibly easy to check someone out, see what others think of a particular brand name, or allow potential customers to read others’ reviews before dealing with a new business. A Google search is incredibly powerful in swaying our opinions. In fact, we’re much more likely to believe someone else’s review than we are to be convinced by a slick marketing campaign, and that’s despite the potential for bad reviews to be a complete fabrication.
Your reputation is incredibly important. Its worth is too high to leave it to chance in the hope that your competitors, ex-partners, or people you’ve fallen out with will be honest and upstanding in their reviews and the information they share about you. Just speak to anyone working within reputation management services to understand what their clients have been through during a reputational crisis.
Managing on an Online Reputation Crisis
Sometimes a business or individual can experience an online reputation crisis. In this situation, time is of the absolute essence to limit the damage being done and then repair the affected reputation. In these situations, securing the use of an online reputation management company can be essential. Their experience and knowledge, which come from dealing with precisely these issues on a daily basis, meaning that they can quickly get started on providing help.
While the crisis is underway, it’s important to remember:
Don’t Bite Back
Whatever the provocation, biting back and getting into an argument with other people online is going to make the situation worse and deepen the damage to your online reputation. Negative information raises the profile of the problem, and it quickly gets shared. Before you know it, one heated conversation has been shared far and wide, especially when it’s taken place on social media.
The best option in this situation is to investigate the claims and then use that information to make sure that your response is reasoned and balanced.
Is there a valid point? Has this negative online situation come about due to a failure to manage the problem or be unable to meet a customer’s expectations? Understanding whether the crisis has a valid basis will help assess the next steps to be taken.
Implement Damage Control
Now consider the depth of the damage that’s been caused and plan how to move on. This may mean not immediately replying to comments until you make sure that there is a cohesive plan to manage the situation. Right now, the last thing you want to happen is for the use of negative online content to cause further damage to the online reputation of you, the brand, or your company.
Understand The People Involved
Who is the person who started the crisis? Do they have a legitimate issue, or could it be someone trying to cause trouble for you? Try searching for them on Google and finding their social media profiles. In the case of a business or brand, check review sites to see if they have left negative reviews. A little detective work will allow you to understand what you’re up against and guide the approach to resolution and saving your online reputation.
Take Responsibility When Things Have Gone Wrong
If the problem has been caused by a mistake on your part or your business, then take responsibility for the issue. Don’t be tempted to blame suppliers, couriers, or your team. Your internet reputation management is your responsibility! If there has been a mistake at your end that has caused the problem, you need to apologize. When you do this, it shows both the customer and other people who follow the situation see that your business is trustworthy enough to take responsibility. This will have a positive effect on your online reputation.
It will be appropriate to share what the issue was and how it will be put right in some situations. However, do consider the confidentiality of customers personal information before sharing any details
Now is the time to repair your online reputation and rebuild your customer’s trust. Do remember that this is a long-term strategy that can’t be forced to get quick results; the best outcome will be achieved by approaching the situation at a steady pace.
How Do You Repair Your Online Reputation?
Perhaps you’ve come out of a crisis, or there have been issues in the past which have damaged your online reputation. Maybe you find that you’re not getting positions you’ve applied for, or relationships seem to end abruptly. It’s entirely possible that it’s your online reputation that’s stalling your life from moving in the right direction. Likewise, if your business has slowed and you’re not getting the customer inquiries you should, then there could be something about your online reputation that’s preventing that from happening.
There are several things that you can do to identify if it is your reputation that’s causing the problem and to then get started in its reestablishment. If this is a new area for you to consider, we strongly recommend checking out reputation management services. Just as it’s dangerous to decide to rewire your house, it can also be disastrous if you manage your own online reputation without the knowledge and skills to do so. Internet reputation management needs to be taken seriously!
Understanding how to remove negative articles from search results is relatively straightforward. However, it’s essential to be both patient and consistent. Attempting a quick fix is likely to create more problems for your reputation in the longterm. Do also consider that there can be a considerable advantage to an unbiased third party assessing the situation.
An online reputation management service will consider the following approaches within their strategy to help you repair your online reputation.
Managing Negative Reviews
While it is unrealistic to expect any business never to receive negative online reviews, when the content is malicious or excessive, help is needed to get it removed or edited. Very often, a reputation management company can get results much quicker than an individual. Their knowledge of getting a negative review removed and the best online practices to use can make a significant difference to the outcome of the situation.
If the author’s details are shown, then one way of handling this situation is to get in touch to request that the review is removed. This, however, needs to be done with great care, as if the author believes that you’re trying to manipulate the online reputation of your business or brand, then more damage can be done than good.
When you’re sure that the online reviews are malicious, then there is the option of speaking directly with the business owner for the review sites or web page. If there is still no success, then the next step is to get in touch with the hosting company.
Legal action is an option, but it’s generally only considered when it’s found impossible to get the content removed by other means due to the length of time it takes for a case to be heard. Where there has been, or there is the potential for immense damage to your business or brand, then you will need to consider the services of a reputation management company that will work alongside an experienced internet attorney to prepare the case.
While there are several levels of approach that can be taken, the speed of action is essential. All the time that negative online reviews are on the internet, they’re being seen and shared by others and damaging your reputation.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When you have negative content that is proving to be difficult to get removed from the internet, SEO strategies can be put into place to help make it less likely for people to see the negative information about you, your company, or your brand. One of the best ways to combat negative results is to suppress them with your own positive content.
Creating high-quality positive content which is effectively optimized makes it easier to be found by the search engines. That, in turn, will help to push the negative content further down the rankings.
Engage on Social Media
Regularly engaging on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter allow you to connect with others and build relationships. Social media is one of the best platforms for sharing information, and its effective use needs to be part of your approach to online reputation management.
Don’t forget that there are search facilities on the social network platforms that others might use as well as those on search engines. This then means that through the posting of high-quality information, you can create a network of relevant and accurate online content to be displayed should people search for your name.
We’ve already mentioned that encouraging positive reviews is a vital aspect of online reputation repair. As online reviews can come up in the Google search results, action must be taken when bad reviews are published.
This is when reputation management services can be a godsend for many businesses. That’s because online review sites need monitoring on a daily basis, and for many business owners who are already incredibly busy, it can be something that falls through the cracks.
When carefully managed, your reputation can be salvaged by requesting the removal of a malicious or fake review while promoting a positive review instead. It’s also important to understand when a negative review should be responded to and when it’s best to leave it alone; insensitive management can inflame the situation and cause further customer problems. This is one of those situations where a professional online reputation management consultant will be able to make the best judgment call for you.
Social Media Listening
Social media is a fantastic tool for online reputation management, but it needs careful monitoring. So, do you, for example, know how many likes your brand received last week? How about being able to state what the best online thread was that you started? When you understand what works on social media for you, your business, and your brand, you can develop an effective communications strategy.
Effective online reputation management needs data to be able to assess the success of the strategy being implemented. Without that information, you may first be wasting your time, and you might also be doing more damage than good.
How To Remove Google Content
When personal information, images, or video are shared online without your consent, it can create immense stress alongside damage to your reputation. Equally, when negative customer reviews and comments threaten the success of your business or brand, there comes a time when action is needed to get them removed.
You may have tried to get the offending online content removed by contacting the author, website owner, and ISP without success. The next step is to consider whether it falls within the remit for Google to remove the content from their search results.
Do understand, though, that Google presents links to third-party sites, and it’s this link that will be removed if successful in your request. The content itself will still exist on the website though it will now be much harder for people to find it.
Google has strict criteria around this process; it’s not just a case of asking them not to show a customer’s review because you think they’re unrepresentative of your products or services.
The type of information that they will consider for removal includes:
Content Under Copyright
If your creative work has been shared without your permission, then Google will investigate the situation. If they believe there has been infringement, then they will remove the link to the offending website. As already mentioned, this won’t remove the copyright infringed material from the website, but it does mean that the website owner is likely to receive very little traffic to their page.
When someone has shared pornographic images or videos of you without your permission, Google will help remove the offending site from their search results. Do be aware, though, that if you feel that damages are due because of the distress caused, this can only be awarded by filing a legal case against the person who published the material.
While Google works to detect child pornography proactively, it’s still possible that some material isn’t spotted. Google has set up a page to report this type of content so that they can act quickly on reports and also inform law enforcement agencies.
What About Defamatory Content?
So if you’ve looked down the list of what Google will remove from their search results, you’ll have seen that there is no category for defamatory content. Despite the damaging and negative impact it can have on a personal, business, and brand reputation, defamatory content will need a different approach to reporting it to the search engine.
What is Defamatory Content?
Before going any further, it’s probably helpful to clarify exactly what we mean by the term defamatory.
Defamation is a term used for any statement that damages a person’s reputation. When the defamation is written, it’s known as libel, and when it’s spoken, it’s classed as slander. While defamation is not a crime, it is classed as a ‘civil wrong,’ so if you have been defamed, you can sue the person who published the reputation-damaging content.
You may have seen headline defamation cases involving celebrities, politicians, and the media, and you’ll also know that cases don’t always go the way it was expected. That’s because defamation law attempts to balance the two perspectives: firstly, that people should not be able to damage someone’s reputation by telling lies about them. Secondly, people should share their thoughts and speak freely without having to worry about a legal case should there be a disagreement or a mistake.
It’s important to appreciate that defamation is a legal term. So while it may seem that comments made in customer reviews or when something is posted about your reputation is defamatory, it is best assessed by those who are qualified within this branch of the law.
That all said, there is little lost by reporting to Google what you believe to be defamatory to see they will assist in its removal.
Benefits of Proactive Online Reputation Management For Your Business
The best option is always to prevent a problem from happening to begin with, rather than dealing with a crisis; online reputation management is no different. Having a strategy in place to secure your business reputation and that of your brand, products, and services means having established procedures and protocols in place that can be implemented at the slightest hint of a problem.
Need further reasons for investing in proactive online reputation management?
1. Less time is spent in developing an excellent business reputation rather than defending a poor one. No-one wants to be knee-deep in negativity every day. When you engage in proactive reputation management for your company, you have the opportunity to focus on positive reviews and content rather than battling against reputation damaging information.
2. Working proactively will cost less in the long term. We’ve already mentioned the benefits of taking a slow but steady approach to internet reputation management. Online activity that incurs costs might include developing content about your brand, managing social media profiles, and applying SEO strategies. However, when you try to implement all this in the middle of a public relations crisis, then the task will be much more challenging and the resulting expense much higher.
3. When you’re in the middle of a reputation crisis, it can be tempting to do whatever you think will give you a quick fix to save your brand and business. However, when you force through high volumes of reputation management activities such as SEO in a short period of time, it may well reduce their effectiveness and even cause more damage than good. So, you might be able to quickly get positive content about your company on page 1. Still, if the SEO strategies used are against the search engine’s conditions of use, you may find that your business site completely disappears from the search results.
4. When customers have experienced poor service from your business and their online reviews are less than favorable, trying to turn their opinion around takes more time and effort than simply providing a positive online experience to begin with! The internet makes it so easy for customers to find an alternative company to do business with that there is no need for them to have to use one that doesn’t provide the very best experience for their customers.
This also applies to the brand. Despite your efforts in retrospective online reputation management, if a customer hasn’t had a positive experience with a brand, then it will be tough to get them to invest their time and money in providing it with a second chance.
Benefits of Proactive Online Reputation Management (ORM) For Individuals
Many people think about online reputation management as something that’s only for a business or for celebrities. However, our personal reputation is closely related to our professional reputation. Most of us have at some point Googled our name to see what comes up; well, the chances are that others who can make important decisions that affect our lives can do precisely the same.
When a comment is made on social media about the company you work for or about your boss, then that can often be accessible by others. That might include your business clients, the hiring manager when going for a new job, and also your existing boss, who is likely to then call you into their office to discuss your online activity!
This means that it’s essential to carefully consider the online reputation that you’re portraying and monitor conversations from others who might mention your name. That’s because while you may have adopted an online reputation management (ORM) philosophy to prevent problems, your friends and relatives may not be quite so proactive in their communications.
Here are our top tips to help you to develop your positive online reputation.
1. Position yourself as an expert within your field. Whether this is through career or personal interests, becoming known as someone who freely shares information, is knowledgeable and approachable will quickly develop your online reputation. After all, doesn’t this sound like someone who would be great to be connected with? Becoming a thought leader, who regularly shares valuable content with your audience, is a brilliant organic way to approach internet reputation management.
2. Consider the most relevant channels to focus on. There are now so many platforms and sites to use that attempting online reputation management on them all is an impossible task. So that might mean that if your focus is on your career, then a self-marketing site such as LinkedIn may be a more appropriate channel than Facebook. If your reputation management is more focused on a hobby or pastime, then relevant groups on Reddit may be a better direction to take.
Whichever channel you decide upon, take the time to understand their effective use, the important etiquette, and how others make the sites work for them. Internet reputation management needs to be strategic, not a shotgun approach.
3. Understand how SEO plays a role in your personal reputation. Many people associate SEO with the marketing of a company, but it can also play a large part in reputation management for individuals. This could mean the inclusion of relevant keywords within your profile to increase the likelihood of it being found within search results or making sure that your blog is written with SEO strategies in mind.
4. Seek out reviews and recommendations from others. Just the same as for a company, having positive online reviews can be a vital element of your approach to personal reputation management. After all, you are your own brand, and when you have other’s reviews to use on your blog, or the link to your profile, it becomes part of the marketing and SEO elements of your internet reputation management strategy.
While you may not have considered online reputation management (ORM), let alone reputation management services, it’s becoming a more powerful marketing feature for both a company and an individual. The growing use of the internet in our lives means that it’s essential to understand how we can effectively utilize its strengths while the risk of it causing immense damage to our reputation.
Do remember that even if you’re not using SEO or ORM to manage how others see you, it’s highly likely that your competitors are!
An experienced Digital PR and corporate communications professional, Benjamin leads PR strategy and delivery for Igniyte’s clients across multiple countries and sectors.
With over 5 years’ experience in marketing, communications, and PR, Benjamin consistently gains high-ranking positive coverage for our clients in national, international, and specialist online media – including The Times, The National, The I Paper, EuroNews, Forbes and PC Mag.