Online reputation sways us all in one way or another, but many people realize this only when they are affected by a negative review by losing a customer, or a personal relationship suffers because of something read about another person online.
The ostrich strategy of burying your head in the sand when it comes to your reputation simply doesn’t work in 2018. Reputation management issues need to be addressed head-on and with the understanding that building and repairing an online reputation takes patience and time.
As the industry’s premier digital reputation management firm, Status Labs offers a Free Consultation should you need additional assistance with any reputation management issues or opportunities.
Now that you’ve decided to take the first step in controlling your reputation, here are a few of our most frequently asked questions from our sales team.
Q: What is ORM, or online reputation management?
A: Online reputation management – commonly called ORM – is the management and maintenance of your online reputation. The process involves creating new, high-quality content pertaining to the person or business to begin shaping their reputation on Google. Often, this is done in response to negative items appearing in the search results, but it can also be executed proactively.
New content created by online reputation management firms attempt to push the old content off the front page of Google, while boosting the new positive content. Because most searchers rarely look past the first page of results (let alone the second), pushing negative items down is a particularly effective method of reputation management. On occasion, ORM can also involve contacting webmasters for direct content removal, launching legal investigations or accessing outdated accounts to delete information or photos permanently.
For businesses, online reputation management also involves review management and customer communication. Reviews make up a large part of a business’s online reputation – 90% of consumers check reviews before making a purchase – and maintaining them is critical for success in most cases.
Q: How do I assess my online reputation?
A: Every photo, comment, social media post, blog post, review and other piece of data that mentions your name is part of your reputation. Your online reputation is the sum of every piece of data about you on the internet.
Half of all American adults are unhappy with their online reputations. You can assess your reputation by googling your name, your business’s name and any other search terms someone might use to look you up. Open every relevant link from the front page of results and from the image results. Save these links in a bookmark folder as a quick reference for your standing online reputation.
Identify the links that do not represent you well. These are the negative items that need to be addressed. From mugshots to drunken college photos, each one should be marked for consideration and removal.
Q: How is my online reputation used?
A: Online reputation is the new business card, the new CV, the new website and all around the new way of learning about someone online. Most of today’s employers – over 70% — use social media to screen their candidates, and 75% of human resources departments are mandated to look online for information about an applicant.
Personal online reputations are used by anyone who has your name and wants information about you. A business associate can look you up on their phone when they excuse themselves to the bathroom, a first date can look you up before meeting to get the dirt on you beforehand, your boss can look you up while determining who’s going to get a promotion. Furthermore, friends and family can get curious and search for your name, only to be shocked by what they find. The hard truth is that anyone who looks you up online uses your reputation to judge you.
For businesses, your online reputation is used by discerning customers who are researching businesses before spending their hard-earned money. It’s also used by potential talent looking for the best companies to work for, so much so that a bad reputation costs a business 10% more per hire, on average.
Q: How can I fix my online reputation?
A: The first step in fixing your online reputation – much like your credit score or retirement plans – is understanding it. Once you know where your reputation is at, you can begin to repair it by positively branding yourself, establishing yourself as an expert in the field, creating quality content, claiming web domains and executing an SEO strategy.
In the meantime, you’ll also want to be careful how you present yourself online going forward. Refrain from making comments or social medial posts that represent you poorly and do not add fuel to the fire. Once you do something online, it’s immortalized. Consider this before you click the submit button.
Some people choose to fix their online reputation on their own – which can require upwards of 20 hours per week – while others choose to work with a team of trained experts to get results. The former option requires extensive self-education and the building of new skills, in addition to hours of work per week, while the latter requires minimal involvement but does, of course, entail paying for expert services.
Q: Can’t I just stay off the internet and avoid this whole thing?
A: It’s a common misconception that you can avoid the internet, so you don’t have to worry about your online reputation. Business owners might talk about removing their companies from review sites, professionals might delete their social media accounts in hopes of making everything go away, but this doesn’t work.
Almost everyone, whether they like it or not, has an online reputation. By avoiding the internet, you can ignore this fact, but no one else will. In a world where 84% of people trust the information they find online more than they trust what they hear in person, you don’t have a choice but to address your reputation online. Your coworkers, bosses, college professors, friends, family and romantic partners can all type your name into a Google search and check out the readily-available information, whether you like it or not.
You have two options – you can leave your online reputation in the hands of whoever cares to post about you, or you can take charge of it and guide your reputation in the direction you’d like to see it move in.
Q: How long does it take to fix my online reputation?
A: Online reputation management is not magic. It cannot fix your results overnight. It’s true that some shady reputation management companies might claim this is possible, but your online reputation requires constant attention. Any overnight fixes that these companies might provide are generally exploitations of Google’s current algorithms. When these exploitations are identified – and they always are – the results will snap back to how they were before, and your money will have been wasted.
The average online reputation management campaign is at least a one-year process. This is enough time to push down negative results, generate positive content and otherwise polish your personal brand. Some critical cases will take longer than twelve months and can take upward of twenty-four months.
In truth, though, the online reputation management process should be ongoing. Your reputation will require management for as long you care about your good name. Online reputation management will likely become more imperative in the coming years, as we progress deeper into the age of technology.
Q: Can I remove negative reviews from the internet?
A: Any business owner knows the sting of receiving a negative review. Whether the customer is being honest, or the review is falsified/exaggerated, negative reviews online tarnish your business’s image. Ideally, you’d be able to prove which reviews are falsified or exaggerated and have them removed, but this isn’t always the case.
Some reviews can be removed from the internet in select cases, but the better option is to begin collecting positive reviews and establishing steady customer communication. Review management systems, like those employed by our team, help you respond to reviews in a timely manner, turn negative reviews into positive reviews with good customer service and otherwise address the situation from within.
The most important factor with negative reviews is that you should never respond with emotion or defensiveness. If you cannot control your emotions regarding a review, do not respond to it until you have calmed down or leave it up to a neutral, professional party.
Q: Do I need to take legal action to fix my name?
A: If your first reaction to negative items about you online is legal action, you’re not alone. However, legal professionals who specialize in online disputes cannot offer guaranteed results, and they often cost far more than a reputation management firm, which can offer guaranteed results.
Save for specific situations, legal action is often a time waster when trying to fix your name online, and if you don’t have reputation management in place before you take it to court, you can make a bad situation worse. Mugshots, court records, personal opinions, rants and opinionated reviews are not against the law.
For those who are experiencing slander to the degree that your bank account information, social security number and other personal information is being shared, legal action might be a viable option when paired with sound online reputation management. Sexual images online are also often grounds for legal action.
Q: How do I protect against future reputation issues?
A: The best way to protect your online reputation from future issues is an ongoing reputation management campaign. Proactive reputation management is critical for anyone who wants to maintain their image and personal branding. This means regular content production and audience interaction, quality SEO strategy and damage control for inevitable issues.
By creating quality content, claiming web domains and following a sound reputation management strategy, you can build a protective barrier around your name that protects you. If Google places the domain name under your name, each of your social media accounts/professional networking accounts and positive press about you at the top of the results, new links must compete with this.
With reputation management comes keyword tracking, which will notify you whenever someone new containing your name hits the web. This allows for speedy response times that make damage control easier.
Q: What’s the easiest way to start ORM?
A: The easiest way to start managing your online reputation is contacting a reputation management firm. You can certainly learn about ORM, SEO and quality content creation from home and put in the hours, and if you have time to do this, great! However, most of our clients come to us with a distinct lack of free time.
Once you connect with your ORM team, you’ll create a strategy together and then all you need to do is review content, check in regularly and focus on what’s important in your life.
For more information visit StatusLabs.com or sign up for a Free Consultation.