Online Reputation Management: How To Get Started For Success


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online reputation management guide
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If you are a personal brand or an established business, there’s a good chance that over the years, someone was not happy with your brand and wrote something bad about you online.

As social media, small local news sites, and online videos get more and more popular, so do the unfavored opinions and reviews people can create about your brand and business.

There is good news, however.

With the right content and brand marketing strategy, you can combat bad publicity and build some positivity back for your business and brand image.

It takes a bit of effort to get started, but once you are up and running with an effective online reputation management campaign, it gets easier and easier to get control back over the search results and your brand image.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through step by step how to get an Online Reputation Management Campaign Started, from my perspective of doing brand and public relations work for the last 10 years.

So with that said, let’s get started, shall we?

Table of Contents

First Things First, What Exactly Is Online Reputation Management

Online Reputation Management can be referred to as ORM and Internet or Web Reputation Management.

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is an online public relations and online marketing campaign that strategizes showing more positive news about an individual or brand, which in return will help suppress older news that might be unfavorable.

Some types of negatives that can be suppressed are negative reviews, unfavorable opinions, mentions of a lawsuit, etc. The list goes on and on!

Below, I’m going to break down the moving parts of an Online Reputation Management Campaign and explain more about how you can benefit from each one.

What Online Reputation Management Is Not

Sometimes people get confused about what Online Reputation Management (ORM) actually is, below I’m going to list a few things ORM is not:

  • ORM is not a traditional SEO Campaign, while many best practices are the same between SEO and ORM, the strategy is completely different.
  • ORM is not 100% Guaranteed, because no one can directly control what a search engine like Google or Bing will display. You can however implement some best practices for content marketing and public relations, which will help suppress negative content from ranking high.
  • ORM is not a cheap low cost service, prices typically start at $1500 per month or higher.
  • ORM is not an easy marketing strategy to implement, it requires a team of content strategists, editors, publishers, and outreach specialists.
  • ORM is not something everyone can do successfully, so make sure you carefully research the risks vs. rewards before hiring someone to run your campaign.

NOTE: It’s not advised to do things on your own, unless you get specific instructions from an ORM Professional!

Who is Online Reputation Management (ORM) For?

Online Reputation Management is for Individuals, Small Business Professionals, Doctors, Hotels, Lawyers, Dentists, Restaurants, Construction Contractors, Realtors, Mortgage Brokers, Car Dealers, and other Small Businesses.

ORM is for anyone or any business that is having negative news about their mistakes and they need to manage the PR disaster that is costing them money.

Why Is Online Reputation Management Important For Individuals, Brands, and Businesses?

Your online reputation on the World Wide Web (Internet) is important because it will influence how other people and companies interact with you.

Online Reputation Management is Important For an Individual

For example, if you are an individual looking for a new job, many companies and recruiting agencies will search for your name on Google. If they find something questionable about you, they may just skip over your resume and application for the job, and then interview the next person instead.

You’ll never have any knowledge that this happened, until maybe you notice a pattern of bad luck where you are not ever getting a response for a job you applied for.

If you Google your name and find something bad on the first page, there’s a really good chance that is the reason why you are getting skipped over and getting ghosted by hiring managers and recruiting agencies!

Online Reputation Management is Important For a Brand or Business

Having a bad result on the first page of Google can also be the reason why a client no longer wants to do business with your brand and business.

A bad result also prevents you from acquiring new clients or customers, regardless of how good your product or service is.

By having an Online Reputation Management campaign in place for your brand and business, it will create a shield of positivity so that you can help prevent negative items from ranking on the top of search results pages.

A favorable first page for your business will show your new clients (and existing customers) that you care about your public image, and allow you to keep generating more money for your business without the threat of losing customers, etc.

Which ORM Strategy is best for you?

One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that there is not one type of online reputation management strategy that will be the same for each client.

On the surface, 80% of businesses and individuals will end up using the same tactics such as press release articles, blog articles, and reverse SEO backlinking strategies.

But, everyone will still need a different (unique) strategy to drive the moving parts on the backend, which includes a lot of analysis of the SERPs and looking at tedious keyword reports that will show how to pivot the campaign in a new direction when results are favorable or unfavorable.

The Answer to Which ORM Strategy is Best For You is The Following:

It depends on several factors such as:

  1. Are the negative items social media posts, news articles, blog articles, or forum posts?
  2. How recent is the date of the negative item that was posted online?
  3. Is the negative item posted by someone you personally know or a stranger?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help an ORM professional craft the perfect strategy for you. Keep in mind however, there are also a lot of other factors that an ORM professional will need to know about, so don’t be surprised if they ask you many, many more questions!

What Causes a Bad Reputation Online?

There is a whole assortment of items that can cause someone or a business to have a bad reputation online.

Lots of times it’s a personal attack or a disgruntled customer. Sometimes it’s an ex in a romantic relationship. Other times, it’s a lurking news report from a bad experience you had in the past that was on public record, like a lawsuit for your business.

Believe me when I tell you, there is no shortage of reasons, and each and every case has its own unique story behind it. So regardless of how embarrassed you might be about sharing the details, it’s required if you hire an ORM professional to assist you. So make sure you only work with a reputable ORM company that will keep everything you share private.

Some Interesting Online Reputation Management Statistics

There are hundreds of online reputation management statistics out on the internet. For the everyday person or business, do these statistics really even matter?

Probably not, unless you already know you have a reputation problem. I mean, let’s be real here, if you are not having a reputation problem, are you sitting at your computer Googling “Online Reputation Statistics”?

Secondly, if you are not currently having a reputation problem, you probably never even heard of the term reputation management.

With that said, there are some interesting online reputation management statistics relating to the search engine behavior of your everyday consumer, let’s highlight some of them below:

  1. Over time, internet search is still the number one source for finding information online (and though this link from Pew Research is from over 10 years ago, it still holds true today.) Pew Research: Search Engine Use Statistics Over Time
  1. Major Search Statistics really have not changed in the last 10 years. But, I’ve read on Forbes that Gen Z is using Social Media Platforms like TikTok as a search engine. This trend of TikTok could change the trend of how people use search going forward.
  1. Reddit is also becoming a popular search engine for finding information, because many users have recently said that search engines are not delivering the quality results they once did.
  1. There is one statistic that still does stand out, Google is still the number one search engine for a majority of the market. And that is not going to change anytime soon, unless Gen Z proves us wrong by utilizing Social Media to find information. However, I’m not sure how viable search is on Social Media, except for YouTube search, where you can actually see some pretty decent organic results.

So overall, in my opinion, the hundreds of online reputation management statistics out there do not really matter, all that matters is that you know where your customers are searching for you.

If Google is the main resource being used to do research on your name or business, like the majority, then optimize for that.

If it’s Reddit or Social Media, optimize for those search platforms as well.

In the end, it’s all related to someone searching for your brand name to see what they can discover about you. That’s the only real statistic you should care about!

Online Reputation Management Examples

There are many PR disasters out there for big companies in industries like Airlines, Finance Firms, and Travel and Leisure Agencies.

To show you an example of what I’m talking about: I just typed in the word “Lawsuit” on Google News and found the following stories:

If you want to view the results yourself and get the latest headlines, check out this link here, it’s from my search query on Google News for the term “Lawsuit”.

https://news.google.com/search?q=law%20suits&hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen

Every day there is a new lawsuit for a company, so this search query is always flooded with new companies getting their reputation destroyed.

The links I just posted above talk about lawsuits for companies like Open AI, Brazil Airlines, and Stanley. There’s one common course of action all these brands will take, they are going to have their content marketing and public relations teams begin a campaign of positive news to show how they are going to deal with the lawsuit. Then, show more favorable positive news about the future of their business, to help the media, Google, and eventually customers, that this old news doesn’t matter anymore!

Their customers will forget, forgive, and move on with doing business with them.

Now, depending on the disaster, some customers may never come back, but most will and so will a new generation of customers.

Old News Is Not Interesting To Customers or The Media Anymore

90% of the time, people forget about old news, and then move on with their lives, so a big enough company can normally make a comeback.

Small Businesses Might Not Have Such an Easy Time Though

With small businesses, this might not be so easy, however. But in most cases, even small businesses and individuals can bounce back, they just need to implement the same types of online marketing and public relations strategies the big companies use.

That’s why an Online Reputation Management Service can help you, it gives you access to a big content marketing and public relations team, for an affordable price.

Types of Online Reputation Management Channels

There are many types of online management strategies you can implement. I’m going to describe each one below, starting with the most popular options.

ORM Specific SEO Backlink Content Strategy

Building out an SEO backlink strategy with your content will help rank your positive content over the negative content. To make this a success, an SEO Brand audit with an SEO Tool such as Ahrefs or SemRush will help you. You can also analyze your Google search results carefully. 

With the right SEO marketing expertise and experience, you can strategically build a backlink strategy within your content marketing which will be beneficial and help you rank positive content assets over negative ones.

Aggressive Brand Content Marketing Campaign

Next, you need to have an aggressive content marketing campaign for your brand. Positioning your brand name as an expert on various pieces of content for guest posts, news articles, and your own blog can greatly increase the chances that your positive piece of content will rank in the search results. Again, to eventually outrank anything that might be negative.

Social Media Engagement

Social Media Engagement is another strategy that will help you rank in Google as well as search from within the social media platform itself. More and more people are searching on YouTube, Facebook, and YouTube for reviews and news about a brand, etc.

So the more you engage your brand on social media platforms, the higher the chances you rank in the algorithm for your brand’s keywords. In the meantime, you’ll help suppress any negative content associated with your brand name from less credible content sources being made to damage your reputation.

You’ll also index your social media into Google which is a big help for suppressing bad content in the search engine.

Online Review Management

Online review management with software like Bright Local is a great strategy for preventing negative reviews from happening.

You can use Bright Local to survey your customer’s experience via email. If the survey results are positive, you can then prompt them to leave a review because you know their experience was positive ahead of time.

If their survey results were negative, you prompt your client to not leave a review, but instead talk to you directly to make things right.

If it’s already too late and you have a bad review left for you already, on a platform like Yelp, make sure you check out my article for: Removing Bad Yelp Reviews

DMCA Copyright Laws and Attorneys

What is DMCA and how can it help you with your online reputation? Check out this Wikipedia article to learn the ins and outs of DMCA Laws.

Wikipedia: Digital Millennium Copyright Act

To briefly summarize, DMCA is a set of laws around copyright and people infringing on copyrighted materials online. It’s very complex and subjective. So it’s best to have an actual attorney explain the ins and outs to you.

However, if someone includes your brand name or any of your copyrighted brand materials in a piece of content that is unfavorable about you, you might have a case for getting it removed, if a DMCA attorney can find grounds for taking legal action.

Be warned though! It can be a lengthy and expensive process, then after the removal, there’s no guarantee that the bad content might not come up somewhere else. So it’s a double-edged sword for expenses and time.

Clear Cases of Libel, Slander, and Defamation

For clear libel and defamation cases, you can hire a lawyer and have them work your case. To understand more about what exactly libel and defamation is, check out this resource here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation

Essentially, Libel, Slander, and Defamation laws can be enforced with an ORM Campaign when someone says or writes something bad about your brand that is not true.

Here’s a general breakdown of the terms Defamation, Libel, and Slander:

Defamation: Is the action of damaging someone’s reputation, through either Libel or Slander.

Libel: This is a form of defamation that is expressed through forms of communication that are written, images, videos, or even messages over video or radio.

Slander: This is when someone orally speaks bad statements that are not true, and that defame your brand’s image and reputation.

Defamation, Libel, and Slander laws are very complex and I can’t add much more detail on the subject in this article because I’m not a lawyer.

Do You Need a Libel / Slander / Defamation Lawyer, or an ORM Company?

The question of whether or not you need to be working with a Defamation lawyer or an ORM company comes up quite frequently.

In my personal experience, when speaking to businesses about their brand reputation needs, 95% of the time, you’ll be better off with a reputable ORM company, and not going directly to a defamation lawyer.

The time and need for the defamation lawyer are for when your cost of damages can easily justify the expenses that a lawyer will charge you for working on the case. Unfortunately for most, this will never add up and make hiring a lawyer worth it, I explain more below.

Defamation Lawsuits Don’t Always Work

Depending on who you are suing, or what site you are going after for the defamation article, you might get the offending piece of content removed, but then it can just reappear on another website, depending on if the person creating the bad content wants to keep publishing content that defames your business.

So you will end up in a cat-and-mouse game of defamation lawsuit notices and takedown demands that will never end.

Your costs and time trying to solve this problem will never make any sense, when compared to an ORM Campaign where you can invest in a positive content suppression strategy which will yield much higher returns in the long run.

To learn more about the pros and cons, I highly recommend you speak with an ORM company and a Defamation Lawyer, so you can make a decision on what might be best for your situation, if you are having a problem.

What Does Google and Other Search Engines Say About You?

Go Ahead and Google Yourself or Your Company Name, What Do You See?

To start down the road of understanding how your online reputation looks online, go ahead and type in your name or business in Google, Bing, or DuckDuck Go and see what types of search results come up.

If anything on the first page looks questionable, such as bad news or a bad review, there’s a strong likelihood you have an online reputation management problem.

The impact it has on you finding a new job or acquiring new customers can vary widely, so let’s discuss that more next. 

The Impact of Online Reputation

A lot of individuals and businesses Google their name daily, and then analyze the SERPs and search results. They wonder what the effect will be for their positive or negative results.

If you are positive, the impact overall will be positive and probably means you’ve got nothing to be concerned about.

If you are experiencing a negative search results page, the impact can be detrimental to your brand perception, customer trust, and overall success.

If you are an individual, negative results can affect whether or not you get a job, or even the ability to get a loan or rent an apartment in some cases.

If you want to discover any bad search results before anyone else, it’s best to monitor your online presence. Next, we are going to review how to set that up.

Monitoring Your Online Presence

To help protect your name online, it’s a best practice to monitor the search results to see what kind of news is released, relating to your personal or business (brand) name.

There is one free method to monitor your search results, it’s provided by Google and is called “Google Alerts”. Simply enter in your desired keyword and you’ll receive email alerts for when Google detects something new coming out in the media with your keyword in it.

To get started, check out Google Alerts for more information.

If you want a more comprehensive report, and monitoring for the ups and downs of your target keyword for search (your name or business name), I suggest you check out a paid SEO search tool such as SemRush or Ahrefs.

If you want professional help setting up monitoring and tracking, it’s best to consult with the professional help of an Online Reputation Management Agency, if you need a recommendation, contact me.

Online Reputation Management (ORM) vs. Normal Public Relations (PR)

A lot of businesses think that reputation management is just about publishing press releases and articles to promote positive news about your brand. The reality is, it’s not!

The reason for this is because you have to develop a deep understanding of what your strategy is going to be over a 6 to 12 month period. There’s reporting, search analysis, creative link building, and other suppression techniques that are proprietary to each ORM company that provides a service.

Below, I’ll expand more on this by describing a typical online reputation strategy to you.

A Typical Online Reputation Management Strategy

A typical online reputation management strategy will involve something called suppression. It’s when you use a combination of both SEO Content Marketing and Public Relations to start a content marketing campaign to promote positive news about your name or business name so you can overtake the bad news.

It can be a lengthy process, however, usually involving a time frame of 6 months to 12 months.

The monthly costs will vary, but it’s not unusual to invest at least $1500 to $7,000 dollars per month depending on the severity of the situation and how popular your keyword is on search.

Depending on how severe your case is, the content strategy and SEO techniques used for your particular ORM campaign can be pretty straightforward or extremely complex.

The less typical ORM strategies include doing content removal and defamation lawsuits. Because to hire a lawyer and get them involved is going to cost you some major legal fees. And, as I stated before, there is no guarantee that the person posting the bad things about you won’t just do it someplace else after the takedown succeeds.

The Role of SEO in ORM

Although traditional SEO is much different and won’t work for an ORM strategy, it does have some similarities. For example, you’ll want to create high-quality content and promote it online through a blog, news sites, and guest posting sites. You’ll also want to publish press releases that talk about your brand in a positive light.

You’ll also want to utilize your Social Media and mention your brand name so that the search engine can pick it up and share it with your search audience.

The more mentions you can do for your brand in a positive light, the better chances you will have at showing a favorable brand image in the search results.

But, publishing positive content on blogs and social media is just the basics. You’ll need more advanced strategies depending on how bad your search results look.

Professional ORM companies have advanced techniques and highly trained SEO experts who specialize in reverse SEO campaigns that can be very powerful for suppressing bad search results. Between a solid content strategy and monitoring of your search results, they can help you out in a way that will achieve much more successful results than you can do on your own.

Main Benefits of Using an ORM Company

There’s no shortage of Online Reputation Management books out there, such as this ORM For Dummies Book on Amazon.

The problem with a book like this is that the ORM industry is always changing with new strategies that will actually work in an ever-changing world where Google updates its search engine hundreds of times per year or more.

Some of the ORM strategies that worked last year will not work this year, etc.

So the only way to remain on the cutting edge with having any chance of running a successful ORM campaign, is to work with a professional who is heavy in the trenches, seeing the various outcomes of various methods for suppressing negative results.

So do yourself a favor, avoid the book and self-help if you have the funds to do so, hire a pro to help instead.

Disadvantages and Advantages of Online Reputation Management

Like everything in life there are advantages and disadvantages, and doing Online Reputation Management is no different. Let’s cover a few pros and cons of ORM below.

PROS:

  1. For most ORM campaigns, it will pay off on the investment. Especially if you are able to think about it from a long-term approach.
  2. When you work with an ORM Professional you are not alone and have someone to explain your problem to, which helps relieve anxiety and stress, so you can clearly see a solution for a fix down the road.
  3. Sometimes ORM Campaigns go way ahead of schedule and finish themselves in a short amount of time.

CONS:

  1. A small percentage of ORM campaigns will be successful. This is just the reality of the Internet and search engines, when you simply cannot control the algorithms.
  2. Even if you have a successful campaign, you may need to keep investing in a maintenance ORM plan over time, to make sure the good positive results stay at the top. This is why big companies always have marketing and public relations teams doing work for them.
  3. The cost of doing ORM is not cheap, it does require an investment of money every month, so it’s not a solution for everyone.

One Last Warning: Be Careful Hiring Influencers to Speak About Your Business

Over the years, many people have asked me the question, should I hire an influencer to speak about my business, to help its reputation?

The answer to this question, 99% of the time, is NO.

The reasons include that most influencers will be as authentic as possible with their viewers. Which is a good thing! But, if they say anything negative, it will go to a wide audience and create lots of engagement around stirring up your bad search results. When you are trying to manage your reputation online, that is the last thing you want to have happen! 

So do yourself a favor, and only hire an influencer if you don’t have any existing reputation problems in your business.

Also, make sure you have the option to unpublish their video if it turns out to be unfavorable for promoting your business. Whatever contract you sign with the influencer, make sure you run it by your defamation lawyer first, so you know if you have any legal recourse, etc. Especially, if the video turns out to be bad instead of good for your business.

Frequently Asked Online Reputation Management (ORM) Questions

How Long To See Results In an ORM Campaign?

Typically, you can expect to see positive results within the first 6 to 12 months. Keep in mind, there are no guaranteed outcomes, however. No company can offer a 100% success guarantee for SEO or an ORM Service. Companies can guarantee best practices for content marketing, SEO, and public relations strategies.

What Is Reputation Management vs. Review Management?

Reputation Management is an online content marketing and public relations strategy to help promote your brand name in a positive way online.

Review Management is where you focus on responding to online reviews for review sites like Google, Yelp, etc. And you can use a software like Bright Local to survey your customers to find out what their experience was like, if the experience was positive, you then encourage them to leave a positive review for you.

Can You Do ORM Yourself vs. Hiring a Professional?

You can do ORM yourself, but it’s not advisable. Simply because in order for you to have any chance of being successful, you’ll have to spend lots of time creating content and pivoting your overall marketing strategy. Now, you can help promote your social media, etc. if the ORM company thinks that will help your overall ORM campaign.

Sometimes, however, being too engaged on Social Media can do more harm than good, so make sure you discuss this with your ORM company beforehand.

How Much Does Online Reputation Management Cost?

There’s a pretty significant price range to doing an ORM campaign. While each case is uniquely different, the typical ranges I’ve seen so far average around $1500 to $7,000 dollars per month.

If you decide to do the online reputation management campaign yourself, you can invest in some books and spend the time to learn how to do it. I’m not a fan of this approach, so use caution before you decide to do a DIY approach.

When Does Social Media Marketing Come Into Play, Vs. Not Doing it at All?

Generally, promoting yourself on Social Media is harmless, but it can also hurt you in an ORM campaign. So be sure you discuss the pros and cons with whichever ORM professional helps you with your campaign.

How Do I Find a Trustworthy ORM Company?

A Google search is the best way to find information on a reputable ORM company. You can check out their websites, online reviews, and social media presence. After you find a few choices, call each one and see how knowledgeable they are on the phone regarding offering help for your situation. As you feel each ORM company out, go with whichever one feels the best and meets your budget.

Do SEMRush and Software Tools Work For Online Reputation Management?

Yes, software tools like SemRush and Ahrefs do work, but you’ll need a general SEO background and years of experience to really benefit from them.

SemRush, Ahrefs, and other SEO tools are full of advanced backlinking and keyword reports that contain information that is only beneficial for people with a deep understanding of SEO, Backlinks, and Content Marketing Strategy. For most people, information about backlinks, keywords, and URLs is useless.

Do I Need Ongoing ORM Services?

While not a requirement, sometimes you should consider ongoing ORM services, this way you can maintain control of keeping your brand name looking its best in the search engines. So that if an algorithm does change, your brand name will not be impacted as much.

How Do I Know To Let Things Be vs. Taking Action?

This is not an easy question to answer. Sometimes you are better off waiting for bad news about your brand to become old news, then, promote good positive news and redirect the attention in the news headlines and search engines. Strategizing the timing of this is crucial and best left to an ORM professional.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading my guide on getting started with online reputation management. Whether your current reputation is good or bad, it’s always a smart idea to research the options for managing your brand name’s online image.

For brands that already have a positive image online, they actively promote positive news and blog content so they can generate new leads for clients and rank digital assets (their website, social media accounts, etc.) in the search engines with platforms they control.

For individuals, you can promote your social media, and create blog content to rank into the search engines to proactively maintain a positive image in online search.

But, when things get bad and you have a PR emergency, whether it’s your brand, business, or personal name, you’ll need help from a team of professionals that can help you quickly take action and fix things to make the search results look good for you again.

If you need any help with your online reputation, comment below or send me a message, I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

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