The Cost Of Online Reputation Management
In an increasingly online world, with the pandemic only emphasizing the trend, individuals’ and companies’ online reputations are becoming vital signals of their integrity and trustworthiness. A recent survey of online reputation management statistics for 2021 showed that 75% of consumers trust a company more if it has positive reviews, while 60% of customers said that negative reviews meant they would not buy from a business. Furthermore, 85% of customers stated that they trusted online reviews as much as they would from a personal recommendation.
How Bad Content Online Stops You From Jobs
For individuals, their online reputation can be a factor in whether they get a job, with 95% of businesses using social media posting as part of their recruiting process. Quite aside from employment, the destruction of an individual’s reputation through material posted online can lead to significant impacts on their business and personal lives and sometimes has tragic consequences. The problem with the internet is that none of the information that is posted there is necessarily vetted, neither on the large social media sites, specific review sites, nor on a one-page site that someone has created for their purposes. Negative information, whether true or not, is returned by search engines high in their results while they claim that it is not their role to decide on the provenance of the information.
There are, however, techniques that can be used to improve an individual’s or company’s image. These involve creating information that contradicts the false information someone has posted and often relies on creating more content than the original poster to rebut the claims. It also involves search engine optimization (SEO) that refers to techniques used (such as link-building to positive information, among many others) to ensure that positive information appears higher in search engine results.
Depending on how much negative material is out there, online reputation management services can be relatively expensive; relative because what price does one put on one’s reputation? An ad on the internet can charge as little as a few hundred dollars up to $100,000 a month for a full service PR blast. The cheap ads for one-off $200 services tend to be a scam so should be avoided. A year long package for reputation repair typically will be used by a high profile individual or a small to medium sized company and typically is a $10,000 (per month) for ongoing management.
What Do Reputation Management Consultants Charge?
Reputation management consultants advise you on what you can do to create headlines and will make introductions but they do not do any of the online content work. These consultants typically charge a flat fee that totals $10,000 for their work. It is difficult to know before hand if they will be providing any value and whether they will be able to produce the results required.
Some, naturally choose the least expensive option but then discover that the results produced are wholly inadequate and have even made the problem worse. When faced with an issue requiring reputation management, perhaps the best yardstick to use is to consider how much negative information is out there, what websites have posted the content, how it’s optimized, the age of the content, how often they update the articles, and from there you can determine how much time and resources will be needed to be dedicated to your ORM campaign. This campaign will entail blog posts, editorials, press releases, video creation, and potentially press interviews and charitable donations. This is all part of the strategy needed in order to counter it; that many more reviews, websites, comments and Wikipedia entries – depending on the circumstances. This all takes time and effort and must be done without cheaping out on the costs otherwise, the results will not be forthcoming.
The average costs for a reputation management campaign can be defined as the effort taken to complete a campaign which usually takes at least several months unless it’s a one off deletion of something like a court record from Law360.com & Docketbird or mugshot from an arrest website. Most solutions will require between 50 and 200 hours to implement successfully and in dollar terms range from $5k to $20k in overall costs. This represents about 20 hours billable per month, 5 hours per week, and 1 hour per day for an effective and reputable company. These prices will depend, once again, on how much negative information is out there and how high it appears in search results.
Some disreputable reputation management providers might look at a company and decide that they will charge as much as the client will bear and will play on their desperation to squeeze as much as they can from them. The other side of this coin is unrealistically low prices. It needs to be kept in mind that these services need to counter potentially hundreds of negative reviews of websites and this means that equivalent positive material needs to be created. Anyone offering to do this on a shoestring cannot hope to achieve results.
Another issue is service providers offering to repair a reputation in an impossible time frame. Search engines give precedence to sites that have been in existence longer, so when countering negative sites a reputation management firm is already at a disadvantage if their strategy relies on creating new domains and websites as opposed to creating new “news” articles to suppress the negatives; it takes time to properly age a site and for it to gain traction in search engine results.
A reputable service provider will be honest and transparent about the steps they intend to take and how much it will cost. Any proposal should include the client’s goals, detailed solutions and the way they will be achieved; this should include a breakdown of the hours required to complete each step of the repair process.
There is no standard approach to pricing but, generally, it will depend on how severe and widespread the problem is, where negative links have been created and how many negative comments or reviews are out there. In basic terms, the cost will be based on the effort needed. In very general terms, this will take between 50 and 200 hours of concerted effort, including content creation, development of online platforms, and countering negative information on other sites. It is neither easy nor quick but done well it can move negative results from the first-page search results.
Remember only 5% of users look further.