FAQ for Defamation Attorneys Clients
Common Questions from Lawyers Whose Clients Need Reputation Management
ReputationManagement.co has provided reputation management services to clients, PR agencies, and lawyers for years. We specialize in finding and fixing negative press on the internet. This list of frequently asked questions is aimed at lawyers and law firms with clients who need help with their reputation management needs. It’s impossible for such an FAQ to be comprehensive, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Please contact us with any questions you might have that aren’t answered on this page. It’s our hope that the answers to these questions will help inform your answers to your firm’s clients’ questions about reputation management.
What Is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is the process used by public relations (PR) and digital marketing agencies to manage the brand identity of a business or individual on the internet. When someone searches for something related to you or your business, what do they find?
Good reputation management helps them find the message you want.
You have a limited amount of control over what the search engines say about you, and the first goal of any reputation management campaign is to ensure that you’re WORTHY of a good reputation online.
From a practical perspective, reputation management consultants try to ensure that brand-friendly results rank higher in the search engines than brand-hostile results. When possible, they also try to get brand-hostile and inaccurate results removed from the internet.
Any reputation management consultant worth his salt has a wide variety of tactics at his disposal for this kind of influence.
How Important Is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is more important than most businesses and people realize. From the perspective of a corporation, ineffective reputation management can be the death of a company. From the perspective of an individual, ineffective reputation management can be the death of a career.
Huge corporations like Enron were destroyed by their inability to manage their reputation. Some companies survive reputation problems, but they paid a dear price.
The internet has caused the importance of a good reputation and a good experience to level up. Twenty years ago, if you had a bad experience with a company, you might mention it to a dozen friends if you were feeling especially angry.
Now, the average person can publish a negative review to a website like Yelp and have their review seen by thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of good customer service and integrity when managing your brand online.
But even when you’re doing everything right, a simple misunderstanding or an unreasonable customer can ruin your business.
And not everyone has honorable intentions. Slander on the internet is also a possibility.
Luckily, you and your clients don’t have to fight negative press alone.
How Can You Improve Your Reputation Online?
You can take lots of practical steps to improve your reputation online. Your clients can also take some of these steps. Not all of them are appropriate to be done in-house, but some of them are. Serious reputation management problems are often better left to a company (like ours) that has a lot of experience with such matters.
The first step in any effort to improve your reputation online is to become aware of what people are saying about you or your brand on the internet. This means identifying which search queries people use to research you, your clients, and/or your company.
Once you’ve done that, you can decide to try to get more positive press that will outrank negative press. An easy way to do this is to encourage your satisfied customers to write positive reviews on third-party review sites like Yelp.
Another option is to make sure you and/or your clients have more of an internet presence. If your client wants to control the message about his company, he should have a Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter presence.
If the search engine shows 10 results for your client’s or his company’s name, those should take up three of those spots – which means that they’re controlling that much of the internet real estate.
These are only a few of the tactics you can use to improve your reputation (or your clients’ reputation) online.
How Do You Get Positive Reviews on the Internet?
The first step in getting positive reviews on the internet is to provide an excellent product or service at an appropriate price.
The next step is to ask your satisfied customers to help you by publishing positive reviews on third-party websites. Some businesses incentivize such reviews with discounts, although that might run counter to the terms and conditions of some sites.
An unethical approach to this problem would be to hire shills to create fake positive reviews on such sites. We don’t recommend that approach, although it’s not uncommon.
You can also turn dissatisfied customers into satisfied customers if you provide them with excellent customer service. When you do so, asking them to update or remove their negative review should be a standard practice.
Finally, when you do get positive reviews and testimonials, feature these prominently on your website and across your social media accounts.
What Are the Ethics Involved in Reputation Management?
The standard rules of right and wrong apply to reputation management. Our goal answering this question is to provide examples of ethical and unethical tactics in the field.
Before we proceed with the specifics, consider this:
Hiring an unethical reputation management consultant or engaging in unethical reputation management practices can do more harm than good.
Ethical reputation management firms often need to clean up unethical reputation management messes.
The most obvious example of an unethical tactic is the creation of fake reviews.
Why this is unethical should be obvious:
It’s an intentional attempt to deceive.
It’s also unnecessary.
In fact, not only are fake reviews unethical, they’re also illegal. Just ask the FTC.
In fact, any kind of outright lie used in a reputation management campaign is unethical. The more blatant the lie is, the more unethical the tactic becomes.
Another common technique is a variety of spam called “black hat search engine optimization.”
This is when a company or webmaster uses unethical tactics to artificially influence the rankings of certain pages in the search results.
This is also often called “web spam.”
Here’s an example:
Google places value on how many websites link to a page when deciding how high to rank that page in the results. A common spam practice is to create multiple fake blogs with the sole intent of linking to pages to make them rank higher.
How Do Clients Use the internet to Research Lawyers these Days?
Twenty years ago, the average client might find a lawyer through a referral from a trusted family friend. Failing that, they might look in the Yellow Pages or (God forbid) call an attorney they saw a television ad for.
Obviously, most clients now find their attorney on the internet. They don’t just use the internet to find a lawyer, though. They also use the internet to research previous clients’ opinions about the law firm.
It’s more important now than ever for a lawyer to have a website and a managed online presence. Negative reviews on the internet can have a drastic effect on the number of potential clients a lawyer might be able to represent.
Keep this in mind when deciding how to treat your clients, of course, but also keep in mind that even when everything’s handled perfectly, some clients leave negative reviews.
The answer to this is to present your own story aggressively and effectively on the internet.
That’s the strategy behind reputation management for lawyers.
How Do You Handle Reputation Attacks on Social Media Outlets?
The best way to handle reputation attacks on social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter is to avoid them.
Unfortunately, if you’ve spent much time on social media, you’ve probably already realized that it’s impossible to avoid some attacks on social media.
You have multiple tactics you can use to handle these attacks.
One of these is to control and manage all your social media activities personally. This can be expensive in terms of opportunity cost. It’s also stressful and time intensive.
Another tactic is to hire a professional to manage your social media accounts. A diplomatic and persuasive social media manager can work miracles when trying to negotiate with attackers on these outlets.
Of course, if the attack is slanderous and untrue, legal action might be necessary. An experience reputation management consultant can petition social media outlets to remove slanderous or libelous content from attackers, making further legal action unnecessary.
Nothing beats good practices for maintaining a positive online reputation, but sometimes more is needed than just great customer service. Not every customer is reasonable.
What Is SEO and How Does It Relate to Online Reputation Management?
SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization.” That’s just a fancy way of describing a set of strategies that are meant to increase how much traffic your website gets from the organic search results (as opposed to paid search results or advertising).
SEO encompasses multiple tactics. Keyword and topic research is one aspect of SEO – deciding what to write about to rank for multiple keyword phrases that apply to your target audience.
Content creation is another aspect of SEO. You can’t rank pages in the search engine results if you don’t put content on those pages in the first place. As Bing and Google get more sophisticated, the quality of this content becomes more important.
Link acquisition strategies are also important to SEO and Search Engine Reputation Management. All major, modern search engines use link popularity as a major ranking factor. Designing content that’s specifically meant to attract links is part of this strategy but publicizing your content to publishers who are likely to link to it is just as important.
The SEO implications related to online reputation management are probably obvious. If someone else publishes a negative page about you, your client, or one of your businesses, you would prefer that your own message rank higher in the organic results.
SEO is how you do that.
How Does Local SEO Relate to Reputation Management?
Local SEO is just SEO aimed at local searches rather than general information searches. When someone attaches a location-based keyword to a query, it changes how the search engine returns results.
An example of a general information search query in the attorney space might be “how do I hire an attorney.”
An example of a local search query in the same space might be “best criminal lawyer Dallas, Texas.”
Of course, you could think of a nearly infinite number of examples of both local search queries.
Some of the most common results in local searches are reviews of local businesses. Ensuring that the message you prefer outranks negative reviews on third-party sites is one of the goals of a local search campaign.
In other words, it’s an aspect of an online reputation management campaign that you can’t afford to ignore.
Should You Use Client Satisfaction Surveys?
We don’t offer client satisfaction surveys as a service, but we encourage our clients to put such practices into place. The reason for this is simple enough:
If you have satisfied clients, you’ll have fewer reputation management problems to solve in the first place.
And one of the most effective ways to achieve customer satisfaction is to find out how you’re doing and adjust accordingly.
Since more than 90% of dissatisfied customers don’t bother to complain, it’s almost impossible to tell how well you’re doing in this area without a specific, measurable tool to do so.
On the other hand, many customers are suffering from client satisfaction survey fatigue. These surveys have become such a predominant tactic that almost every company of any size is begging their customers to complete surveys.
We can’t buy a cup of coffee or a burger and fries combo meal without being asked to complete a survey about our experience. We can’t talk to any company over the phone without having the same experience.
With that in mind, it might make sense for a specific company to forego customer satisfaction surveys.
But if you’re consistently running into problems with negative feedback published on the web about your business, it might be time to do some measurement and management.
How Can You Use Reputation Management to Grow Your Business?
Online reputation management isn’t just a set of tactics to get rid of negative results in the search engines. It’s also a set of strategies for growing your business by managing your brand message.
Most of the major review sites allow you to claim and manage your business’s presence on their platforms. These sites include Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, and Facebook. One of the first tasks on your reputation management to-do list should be to claim those spots.
Each of those listings and pages is an opportunity to prove to your potential clients or employers that you’re worth doing business with.
Some of this is the “God in the details” stuff that every effective business should pay attention to. For example, your address and phone number should be consistent throughout all these sites. That’s an easy way to make sure your customers have accurate information about your business.
Being active on social media also affects your online reputation. Customers are more attracted to companies which proactively solve problems for their customers in public.
Everything you do online is an opportunity to grow your business.
What Is an "Online Presence," and Why Does It Matter?
Your online presence is just one way of describing what kind of online identity you, your clients, and your businesses have. Any page or site that you control that comes in any kind of search related to you or your business is part of your online presence.
Also, anything someone else publishes about you on the internet that can be found on a search engine is also part of your online presence.
Your online presence matters because a huge majority of customers research major purchases on the internet before spending any money.
If you’re not actively improving your online presence and your message, you’re losing customers – or, in the case of individuals, potential employers.
Being active on the internet isn’t everyone’s preferred activity. Luckily, this kind of business process is often best outsourced to experts anyway.
Do You Need Full-Service Reputation Management? What Are the Alternatives?
You and your clients might or might not need full-service reputation management. If you have big problems that you want cleaned up completely, a full-service solution might be exactly what you need.
But you do have alternatives to a full-service solution. If you scroll to the end of the page, you can see a list of services we offer. Ordering all of these might be considered a full-service solution but picking and choosing the appropriate solutions for your situation would be less than full-service and possibly just as effective.
Some aspects of reputation management might even be better handled in-house. An individual might be the most appropriate person to add content to his blog and social media accounts on a regular basis, depending on his available time and energy.
Large corporations, on the other hand, might be well-served by focusing on their core competencies and letting a full-service solution provider (like us) handle these tasks for them.
The ultimate self-service solution might involve just paying for a monitoring service and dashboard (like PULSE and RepCheck) to keep abreast of your online reputation and act accordingly.
In many cases, temporary reputation management solutions can also be effective, but even then, you should follow up with a forward-thinking strategy and internal practices designed to protect your online reputation.
Consulting with an expert with integrity can provide a clearer answer about the level of service you need. Contact us with your issues, and we’ll discuss potential options (full-service and otherwise) for your reputation management needs.
What Benefits Does Reputation Management Offer?
The benefits of reputation management – especially if it’s done well – are clear and obvious.
The first of these is having negative information about your brand, client, or company removed or demoted in the organic search results. This will enable anyone to get a better job, find more clients, and charge more for their products and services.
The other big benefit is a clearer awareness of how the public perceives you. Sometimes the appropriate solution is to change the way you do business.
But if you’re not aware of where the problems with your online reputation are, you’re flying blind.
What Risks Does Reputation Management Involve?
If you hire a legitimate, reputable company to handle your reputation management, the risks are minimal.
If you hire someone sketchy to handle this process, you can do more harm than good.
Any company you hire to do reputation management with should detail exactly what work they’re going to do for you. If any of their practices are questionable in the eyes of the search engines, they should share with you exactly what those risks entail.
Under no circumstances should you pay a company to create fake personas on the web or write fake reviews of your company. Not only is that illegal and unethical, it’s unnecessary.
What Services Can You Get from ReputationManagement.Co
You can find a complete rundown of our services here at our reputation management services guide. We offer the following services to lawyers and their clients:
Remove Negative Content Online – We obviously have experience removing untrue information about you and your clients online.
Deleting that content requires experience and savvy. Sometimes you’ll find false, negative content on multiple websites. We can usually get a large amount of that content deleted within a month or less.
We also provide a Service Guarantee for this work.
Not every web publisher agrees to these deletions. We have other tactics for dealing with such content, like contacting Bing or Google directly about de-indexing or removing such content.
Business Brand Management Solutions – Public perception related to information on the internet plays a big role in your brand.
As the Leading Online Reputation Management Company we have extensive experience in this niche, and we’ve been featured multiple times in the press for our efforts on behalf of businesses and individuals.
What’s our strategy for brand management?
We have multiple resources throughout a wide variety of publishers who use legit journalists to write for them.
We work with you or your clients to plan these tactics, then we advise you both about where we are with the execution of those tactics.
We provide a complete list of media assets that we target for each campaign.
Pissed Consumer Removal – Because of the name and focus of the site, many of the reviews on Pissed Consumer are negative. They also often rank high in Google.
We can improve or replace those listings with new pages that are friendlier toward your client’s goals.
Pissed Consume specializes in publishing negative content about businesses. A few years ago, it was common to need a court order to get a situation resolved with them.
We have proprietary solutions for replacing those negative reviews with friendlier content on Pissed Consumer
Autocomplete Removals – One often overlooked aspect of reputation management is the management of negative autocomplete search engine results. Our proprietary software and solutions can replace unwanted suggestions with more positive suggestions.
For example, you might have a client with a business name where one of the autocomplete suggestions is “company name complaints” or “company name ripoff.”
Google uses over 200 different factors to come up with those suggestions. We know how to handle that situation and can guarantee and improvement in your autocomplete suggestions.
And we have solutions for multiple search engines besides just Google. The most prominent of those are Bing and YouTube.
The goal is simple enough. We create favorable suggestions that replace the unfavorable suggestions.
Our experience and tools enable us to do this affordably and quickly.
This work also affects the related searches on the results page for your brand name.
Autocomplete Marketing – Not everyone has negative autocomplete suggestions to deal with. Even so, you can improve your marketing message by creating positive autocomplete suggestions.
Managing Online Reviews – PULSE is our proprietary review management dashboard. You and your clients can use PULSE to manage your online reviews. It not only monitors new reviews, but it also provides you with lists of problems to solve.
PULSE works with the most important review sites, including Google and Yelp. Having all this information in a single location makes managing these reviews easier.
You can also take the lessons learned from monitoring these reviews to improve your customer service and proactively prevent future negative reviews.
RepCheck, Name Monitoring Services – RepCheck is a proprietary tool that monitors the most important sites on the internet for mentions of your brand.
The uses for this are many:
You can find out who’s saying negative or positive things about you.
You can also monitor your competitors’ brands for the same things.
You can even use RepCheck to build links to your site, which will increase traffic and rankings.
One ethical link building tactic that RepCheck is perfect for is to monitor mentions of your name or your company’s name. You can contact those publishers and ask them to link to your website from that mention.
More aggressive link builders use RepCheck to monitor mentions of product names to find other link building leads.
No ranking factor is more important in Google than the number and quality of links to your site.
RepCheck is one of the best tools on the internet for helping you build links.