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Follow our Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management
In the age of the internet, where an online presence is as commonplace as a ballpoint pen, most people will own one or several online accounts to suit their objectives. These online accounts include platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Linkedin, Websites, Blogs, Email, and a range of other social networks where Google is what they say you are.
That is unless you work with a reputation management service that can help you replace those unwanted Google search results with something positive that accurately reflects who you are and how you want to be portrayed to the outsdie world.
As a high-profile individual, it is important to monitor and manage the information that is available about you on the accounts you own online, as the online sites you’ve created, or have been created on your behalf, bear the stamp of who you are, including your personality, your character, your profession and sometimes your day-to-day interests and pursuits. This service is part of our data privacy protection services where we ensure that you own the social media profiles and web pages that have content posted about you. If you have negative press posted on another website then there are online reputation management services that can either delete and remove the content or suppress it so that it doesn’t appear as prominently in the search results.
The other issue is that the internet is written in permanent ink. Once something goes live whether it’s a misplaced tweet or a news article it will live on forever. Services like Archive.org showcase the history of the internet and Google provides Caches of previously seen content that it has indexed.
All of these search results that appear when you are Googled come together to create your online persona – a picture of who you are in your profession, and sometimes your personal life – and all of them are ultimately assessed by your online contacts and clients to form what is referred to as your online reputation. This reputation is closely linked to your overall success in your field, and, as such, close attention should be paid to protecting it. That’s the role of a reputation defender.
If you are a high-profile, public figure you will already know the importance of keeping your name ‘clean’. It is dependent on how you are perceived and respected inside your circles and within the wider community, and it is important to the continued success of your business or professional position. Online Reputation Management, also known as ORM, is an online service which helps protect the integrity of individuals or brands that are at high risk of encountering reputation assassination. Knowing how to properly manage, remove, and handle negative press is the cornerstone to a good ORM campaign.
IS THE CONCEPT OF REPUTATION MANAGEMENT SOMETHING NEW?
The modern version of Reputation Management has existed for decades, developing alongside the advancements in business and politics, and the increasing popularity of sports, television and telecommunications. Its functions has to do with the proactive creation or building of an exemplary reputation for a new business, keeping or maintaining a favorable image or reputation of a business or regaining a positive image of a business in which the public has lost confidence.
Who benefits from Reputation Management?
With its start long before the age of the internet, Reputation Management was primarily applicable to big businesses and corporations, and to politicians and other notable world figures.
With the arrival of the internet, the shape of Reputation Management changed, as the age of information allowed almost anyone the opportunity to become a figure of note in the global space, introducing a need to provide online reputation management for a great number of individuals and businesses who now had to navigate their perception in a new frontier. As the internet and search has changed so has the need for reputation management services.
WHAT IS ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT?
Online Reputation Management creates the opportunity for individuals and businesses to define who they are in their virtual, online spaces. It is at its core a proactive and continuous approach to protecting a person’s or business’ reputation, and can also be used to mitigate the negative effects of an attack on a person’s or individual’s online personality. It utilizes a specific set of online tools, strategies and tactics to correct an unfavorable image or perception.
ORM is regarded as a necessary tool in the imaging arsenal of most of today’s astute publicists and Public Relations firms, as the online space is both an opportunity and a potential liability for public figures and brands. Building reputation capital is more important today than ever in the age of information powered by the internet engine. The Internet’s capabilities have created opportunities for people and enterprises to cast a broader net when sharing with their publicist and targets, and it is also this net that must be handled and mended with care to ensure that online marketers and sharers remain with their reputable images intact.
A good ORM practitioner or firm will find or create the solutions to ensure their clients obtain and maintain an online presence that is admirable and commendable.
HOW BAD CAN A NEGATIVE ONLINE REPUTATION REALLY BE?
A bad online review or a destructive news story run online has the potential to ruin a person’s future if ORM is not in place. If you have a defamation issue it’s important to understand the online defamation laws and how the poster may or may not be protected.
Take the situation of one person who in 1998 was a young government intern. In a TEDX presentation a few years ago, the person cited that her questionable conduct in her position at her job was not only outed in the traditional media, but it was also greatly affected by the relatively recent arrival of the new media called the internet, that had become more widely available and popular around that time. Before that, publicists and Public Relations firms operated in a somewhat controlled environment where news outlets operated under the constraints of rigid printing press times and scheduled times for television and radio programs. Publicists could more or less operate in a capsule that kept the word only within certain parameters – countries, states, towns, or districts. Only people in those locales were able to have an opinion of the situation, which was shared mostly in person by means of regular conversation. There was also the opportunity to buy time via a journalistic embargo, to start fixing a negative situation, either arranging for a delay in the sharing of a story, or barring it from being shared at all.
But the internet changed the way this high-profile intern’s story was received and treated. People anywhere in the world with internet access and an opinion, had the opportunity to, and did, weigh in on the matter with their thoughts, and vitriol, in many instances. At that point, the capability of traditional reputation management was no longer enough. Publicists now had to contend with the global-village response created by the world wide web.
Notwithstanding wrongdoing, a person’s past positive contributions to society and to shaping the face of business, can be erased through negative online opinion, almost instantaneously. In her TEDX talk, the woman shared that the negative reputation of that time still follows her today. Online Reputation Management was not available back in the ’90s. How much different could her story be if ORM was available to help her deal with the backlash of her wrong choices, help salvage her reputation by balancing the negative news with highlights of her remorse, and show the positive sides of her character and contributions?
The good news is that today, where the word spreads like wildfire on the internet even more than in 1998, public figures are now safer than ever before online, when they have a solid ORM strategy in place.
YOU ARE LEAVING PERMANENT TRACKS BEHIND
It should be clear that the information you post to social media and other online applications such as email, remain as a permanent footprint of all the information, good or bad, that you have ever shared online. It is important to keep this longevity of your online updates and posts in mind when deciding what to share on your accounts in the future, and to take steps where you can to minimize any damage to your reputation that could occur.
MONITORING YOUR ONLINE INFORMATION IS IMPORTANT
Keeping abreast with an online reputation is a necessary part of professional or business activity that happens online. Like it or not, everything that is posted to an individual’s or brand’s online accounts has the potential to be turned into a negative. Even seemingly harmless personal data such as date of birth, address and occupation, that’s posted on a social media site with friends and family, holds the possibility of being misused to harm the reputation of the post’s owner. However, this is no reason to become afraid of making use of the benefits of online platforms. The effort to maintain a positive online reputation is no more challenging than it is to maintain a reputation in the traditional sense; it simply means that the additional, and most necessary, asset of using social media as a profiling and marketing tool requires new knowledge and insight to efficiently target the new realities of sharing information.
Use these 3 Online Reputation Management insights to help you start targeting what to monitor and help ensure a positive online reputation
– Tracking Unknown Listings
It’s a reality of the internet that anyone can generate an online listing for any business — even one that is not theirs. There is the possibility that your business name can be listed on a review site and your business is being reviewed unknown to you. Online Reputation Management can help you locate these listings and remove your business’ information if you choose. The process of ORM can also work to prevent or clean up any negative reviews about your business, and can set up a system so you can keep monitoring such sites for information related to your business.
– Seeing if your identity is being used online by someone other than you
Your name — both literally and figuratively — is the cornerstone of your character and reputation online. Someone using your name or the business name connected to you can pose several problems to your online reputation. One possible problem is the confusion as to what you actually do or represent if a searcher comes across a second person or business entity with your name. While this might be temporary and in some instances can be cleared up with an explanation, a negative image of sloppiness might have already been formed of you and your business, which can result in lower levels of trust and consequently, lower sales. Another possible problem that can already be present, is if the person or business using your name appears to be involved in unlawful or immoral practictices, or is deliberately posting content that is damaging to you. ORM’s insights and tools can put you on track to reclaiming your name online and preventing this and other negative online occurrences that have the potential to damage your reputation.
– Helping you respond to customer concerns in a timely, beneficial manner
It’s crucial to business success that you pay attention to what your customers are saying to you. Even when they are not speaking directly to you on your platforms, it’s imperative that you find these thoughts wherever your name is mentioned.
The correct response to a negative review can stop a bad review from spreading or turning into something bigger with more damaging results. ORM monitoring can assist you in finding customer reviews that are not immediately apparent to you and guide in how best to communicate a positive response to all opinions about your business and having the negative review removed, if possible.
WHAT’S THE INTERNET SAYING ABOUT YOU?
As you traverse the internet you should be leaving a positive imprint of your personal online interactions as well as your professional plans, business roles and accomplishments. Upholding these ideals will go a long way in doing what you can do personally to keep your reputation and image intact. Sometimes, though, there are circumstances outside of your control that might lead to a negative opinion about you or your business.
Periodically checking your online reputation can help you keep a safe, balanced online presence. These are key things to look for.
Positive Online Reputation Indicators:
– Your offline information matches your online information
On paper your professionalism shines through and is impressive to potential employers and business partners, and professional organisations you are hoping to join. But is your online reputation just as impressive? Do your photos online reflect the decorum of your professional shots? Does your online language have the same propriety as your printed resume? Today, more than 70% of employers in the United States, go online to search for information on job applicants they are hoping to hire, and more and more colleges are using online platforms to glean information on college applicants,to make their final acceptance decision.
It’s therefore important to ensure that your online information does not negate your offline information. Remember, even though you share information online within certain spaces (even in closed groups and chatrooms), your online information is not entirely private. The internet is not a secret that you can keep from everyone, and you especially do not want negative information known by those who you need to impress.
– Your information accurately depicts who you are
People use Google Search every day to find individuals or businesses they know or are hoping to learn about. In your online reputation search, look to ensure that when you google your name, that results come back with it being associated with the other correct elements of your profile, and not associated with another person or entity. Having your name wrongly associated with someone or something else can lead to confusion, lack or credibility or distrust.
– Positive articles, status updates, posts and reviews
Once you’re on the internet, there’s information on there that you have shared with people in your online circles. It stands to reason then that someone who is not within your online circles who is searching your name or brand, is either out to find good content or damaging information on you. A positive online standing would reveal positive content across all your online platforms and in search engine results.
– You are actively participating and sharing online
To develop an online reputation you must be actively participating in your online accounts. Particularly if you are a public figure, people will be hoping to hear from you on your wealth of knowledge and experience on a range of topics or current issues. Contributing to the discourse and giving insights where possible is a great opportunity to grow as a thought leader and build credibility.
Negative Online Reputation Indicators:
– No online information generated by you
Did you know though, that to not have an online presence at all can work against you? Having no online presence in the internet age, especially as a notable figure, can be seen as you having something to hide. Worse yet, is not generating any positive information abut you or your brand, then having someone create negative content about you which you might not even know about.
– Potentially damaging information
It is very disconcerting, to say the least, to have unsavory things said about you or your business online. In many instances, these types of content have the potential to severely affect a person’s online reputation. It can come from almost anywhere and anyone – a dissatisfied customer, an ex employee, a jealous associate, a discreet situation that the media has shared, or even a mischievous stranger. Your positive online reputation can be gone in an instant.
– Inappropriate photos, statements, opinions and language
Would you say that the photos you place online are appropriate for public consumption? What do you think a potential employer or business partner might think of them? Placing an inappropriate photo that you like can be a complete turn-off to someone measuring the reputation you are bringing to their establishment.
It’s almost impossible to be online and not engage in discussion. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and chat forums are the perfect online spaces to share your opinions, beliefs and thoughts on topics of common interest. Some of these forums allow for strangers from across the world to interact with each other, and being aware of tolerance, respect and discipline could serve well when dealing with people of different backgrounds and experiences. Failure to exercise restraint in your online interactions where there are differences in opinion, can help ruin your online reputation.
– Hauntings from the past
Information on negative occurrences in a person’s past can also show up in internet searches. While someone might have reformed their life form their past behavior, or situations, the records of their past troubles could be accessible in a simple online search of their name.
WHO SHOULD USE ORM SERVICES?
Anyone with an online presence should pay attention to keeping their online reputation favorable by watching what information, including photos, they are putting out, and to search for information on themselves that might be posted by others.
Parents can also ensure that their children who are online do not inadvertently create a bad reputation for themselves by what they share, which can haunt them in the future when job hunting or applying for acceptance into college. Parents can use vigilance to monitor what their children post, educate them on the pitfalls of long-lasting information on the internet, as well as use available tools to get a broader idea of their kids’ online image.
Professional Online Reputation Management services would be most useful for:
– Executives and other professionals
If there’s a reputation to uphold by an individual, then Online Reputation Management is a good service to hire. People in the professions of medicine, law, politics, sports, and other high-profile positions, are good candidates for ORM. A positive perception of someone in these professions is intricately tied to their success, and conversely, a negative perception can contribute to their failure, even without just cause.
Businesses are constantly in the public’s eye and are being assessed by a range of criteria, whether just or unjust, by both customers and non-customers. Since most businesses have an online presence – even traditional ‘brick and mortar’ stores have a Facebook account, website or blog these days. A good defense against irate customers posting their dissatisfaction with poor service or bad blog reviews and their negative blows to the business’ reputation, can be managed by a reputable and knowledgeable ORM firm. The firm can also work with the business to prevent such bad feedback in the first place.
– Employee hopefuls and college applicants
It is a growing practice for colleges and universities to take an applicant’s online reputation into consideration before offering them matriculation. You can read more about this new practice here: http://www.adweek.com/digital/report-facebook-profiles-are-now-part-of-80-colleges-admissions-decisions/
Resumes and references are also no longer stand-alone details that go toward someone getting a job. It’s reported that in the US, more than 70% of employees are now going online to check out the accounts of job applicants, and using what is there to help them make their decision to hire or not. Rosemary Haefner, Human Resources Officer at CareerBuilder, shared that over 50% of employees will not hire someone who does not have an online presence. She also noted the significance of having and growing a positive online reputation which can help increase job seekers’ chances with employers. More information on these statistics are available here on the CareerBuilder website.
With guidance and a set of tailored strategies over time, an online reputation management firm can diminish the consequences of injurious information, which can give qualified individuals more opportunities to be hired.
HOW ORM CAN BE AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF MARKETING
The reputations of politicians, lawyers, judges, public officials, CEOs, high-profile media personnel, and business owners and brands, are all subject to public and popular opinion. Online Reputation Management can work to create, maintain or salvage the reputation of notable figures and business brands.
Where possible, an ORM firm will first work with the client to lay the foundation for its online reputation by creating content that highlights its attributes and relevant objectives. This is done, so that from the onset, the client has set the benchmark for his online presence, and is in charge of its online persona.
This strategy is an integral tool in helping establish the client’s marketing efforts. Content that profiles the strengths, credibility, transparency and trustworthiness of the client, can go towards creating a welcoming and trusting atmosphere online.
TOOLS FOR MONITORING YOUR ONLINE FOOTPRINT
Keeping up with your reputation online can seem like a daunting task. And according to how many online platforms you own or frequent, it might pose a challenge if help was not available. Luckily, there are a wide range of tracking tools that can help with monitoring someone’s known online presence and acquiring online information that the individual might not know exists.
The website Business 2 Community, lists five helpful tools for monitoring your online footprint. They are Brand24 — used to track name mentions, Naymz — which measures a brand’s social impact using information from your social media accounts and their online tactics, Go Fish Digital — is known for its popular negative complaint search platform, Review Trackers and SERP trackers like SerpWoo — used to do Google searches of multiple sites simultaneously and Reputology — which manages brand mentions on sites such as Yelp and Google.
Here’s a list of 34 Online Reputation Management tools you might want to check out https://www.ducttapemarketing.com/34-online-reputation-management-tools/
CAN I DO ORM ON MY OWN?
It is possible to eventually do a good enough job of dealing with some minor issues related to creating a positive online reputation. However, there might always be aspects of the service that are beyond your capabilities.
Online presence monitoring tools and applications are available to the novice who would like to take charge of some part their online reputation management. Using these tools to access the data you need to alter, is only one half of the equation to solving some levels of the problems you encounter. There are definitely situations and instances where you will be able to solve the problem by yourself if you dedicate the time and effort, but there will be other problems that will require the expertise and specialised tools of an expert online reputation manager.
For instance, one of the simpler problems that an untrained individual might be unable to solve is that of removing a Google autocomplete suggestion. A Google autocomplete suggestion is a tool created by Google to attempt to predict and help you select a serach result out of a drop down menu of the Google page, when you start a Google search. You might have encountered this feature many times without knowing its name.
At novice level, the autocomplete suggestions might seen like just plain old annoying, but these suggestions most times can create a negative image of your business due to Google’s algorithms that bring up popular recently-searched words. These recently-researched words appear right next to your name or business’ name in the drop down suggestion. For example, if a lot of people from all across the world were recently searching the term, ‘ugly ducking’ and you go online to monitor your business’ name, ‘Beauty Unlimited’ , what you can end up seeing at the top of the autocomplete suggestion dropdown is the search term ‘ Beauty Unlimited ugly ducklings’. Incidentally, this is what everyone searching your business name would also see. What if the popular search word was even more potentially damaging?
Removing this feature might appear quite simple — just find the right setting on the Google settings page and switch it off, right? Wrong! This is in fact quite an intricate and time-consuming task that requires a need to change the demand for a set of specific searches related to your company’s name and replacing the created demand void with new searches, for starters.
Another task that might not be immediately attainable by an untrained ORM expert is the process of correcting online defamation of character. Firstly, only a professional ORM practitioner can decide the magnitude of the defamation and if it can be solved via ORM services or if it might require the services of perhaps, a business attorney. If it can be handled by the ORM firm, then a knowledgeable online reputation management strategy will be created on the basis of the firm’s expertise.
TIPS ON HIRING AN ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT FIRM
The first step in hiring an Online Reputation Management firm is to do your research. There are excellent choices of ORM firms and practitioners that can professionally and successfully navigate you through the process of creating, maintaining or rebuilding your online reputation. However, there are also those offering ORM that are not necessarily adept at providing the results you need.
– Start with an online search
If you have no prior knowledge of ORM firms, a great place to start would be Google Search, of course. Conduct a generic search such as ‘Online Reputation Management Firms’ or ‘The best Online Reputation Management consultancies. When you have your list of results (hint: the best results will be the first few listings on page one, indicating they are popular sites). Go ahead and proceed to do a search for reviews on the firms of your choice. Take a good look to see what past and current clients have to say about the service. It’s also a good idea to ask for reviews in your online circles to see if anyone has used any of the firms and have an opinion to share with you.
– Check to see if the company is verified
A reputable ORM firm will be a member of a professional organisation that governs or monitors its activities, or will at least be registered with the Better Business Bureau. Check to ensure that they are associated with an organisation that enforces rules about business integrity and fairness.
– How big is the company?
This is an important question that relates to the magnitude of your need and perhaps to the turn-around time-frame you are expecting to start seeing some results on the project.
If you are a larger client in terms of business size and operations, you would want to match the firm you choose to work with, to the level of business atmosphere you are accustomed to having at business meetings or sessions, and so a medium-to-large size firm might suit your needs rather than a small firm, or a two-person or individual ORM service provider.
With more at stake as a bigger business with a online reputation hanging in the balance, the size of the firm is significant in terms of the number of capable people available that can work on your account simultaneously to help speed up the process of salvaging your online reputation.
Good information to seek in this case is the number of people who can work at once on your case, if the expedited service would cost more than the listed price and by how much more. How soon the project will be started, and how soon will might the first set of results be seen.
– Do they offer what you need?
Look for evidence that the companies you’re researching have the capability to meet your specific needs. Not all ORM firms offer a full suite of services, so ensure to look for signs that they can handle your issue.
– What are the processes and strategies that will meet your needs?
After the online search you can now reach out to your short-listed choices by telephone or email for a detailed understanding of the strategies and process your issue will need. Request an idea of the time-frame from start to finish, what strategies would be used and how easy or challenging they might be. Ask as well about the number of sessions that will be required, how long the sessions will be, and where and how they will be conducted. If you are sent an email with further information, be sure to ask for further clarification if you need it.
– What are their prices?
Is their pricing affordable enough for your budget? Do they have tier-pricing so you can have the benefits of discounts? Can you purchase only the service you need or is it a part of a package deal with other services you might not need? Is the firm willing to talk about tailored pricing and payment options? Seek the best pricing for your budget, keeping in mind that the cost of some services reflect the magnitude of the job explained.
CONTINUE TO BE VIGILANT
As a thought-leader, stock investor, government official, teacher, your reputation is continually the linchpin that holds your career, and your life, together.
Even when your online reputation has been cleared up, you should still continue to monitor the effects of your online presence. A good report today doesn’t mean you should become complacent about your habits when using your online platforms. Like your offline reputation, your online reputation is an ongoing work in progress.
Remember it is always best to think before you post anything online. Questions you can ask are: Is this post beneficial to anyone? Can someone, somewhere in the world be offended by this post? Am I being truthful about the capabilities of this product? Can this photo look unacceptable to a future romantic prospect or even a future business partner? Do I really have to add my opinion to this controversial topic? Can I be fired for what I’m about to say?
It’s also a great idea to shy away from using swear words online (or even in an offline location, in the vicinity of someone who can videotape you and share it online afterwards). And a general rule of thumb is ‘not everything has to be shared online’.
Follow these tips on vigilance and use the suggested tools, as applicable, to help ensure you create and maintain a positive online reputation.
As a worldwide leader in Reputation Management services. Our team is here to advise on the best practices and methods to repair your online reputation. With many years of experience working with highly respected professionals assures us that the negative reviews online are not often an accurate depiction of you and your company or businesses practice.
However these negative reviews are what a vast majority of your potential new clients and patients are seeing. Statistics show that EVERYDAY these reviews are available you are losing clients and revenue that you will NEVER recapture.
Completely Removing Search Results – We can have the offending review removed completely from Google’s search index and the website that it is hosted on. When the removal process is complete, the link will no longer be found on a Google search or on the website and we are the only company that offers this service at scale. We have developed over the years a proprietary method and relationship for this service which is some cases requires attorneys to complete the removals and takes anywhere from 24 hours to months to complete depending on your case.
Brand Management: Our Brand Management packages are all customized to promote your brand and to insulate you from any future negative reviews. This is accomplished through a network of over 1,000 different blogs and websites such as business.com, yahoo finance, and inc magazine that we are able to feature our clients on. In addition we create branded videos and press releases, creating a solid positive link regarding your company.
20% of Fortune 500 companies use our reputation and brand management services.
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Individuals and business owners just like you have suffered from anonymous attackers online. Thankfully your voice can be heard and you can fight back. We can remove negative results and replace them with good positive results.
Small Business Owner case study
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We can remove from over 200 different websites and many of those sites appear right at the top of the search results for your company or brand. We are here to help you when you need it most and are praised by our clients for showcasing results where others have failed.