Although many businesses see online reputation management as an essential part of risk management for their company, many members of the public can take reputation management practices out of context and misinterpret it as “covering up” bad or critical reviews and articles about them on the web. But this isn’t really the case. Online reputation management is simply a way for businesses to improve their search engine rankings and give a truthful and honest portrait of their company when a member of the public does a Google search for their company’s name.
Inherently, the practice of online reputation management is good and ethical; however, some businesses can go outside the bounds of honesty and employ shady or ethically questionable behavior when seeking to improve their online reputation.
Two Ways to Look at Online Reputation Management
Basically, there are two ways of looking at online reputation management: As a cover up or as a legitimate way to identify and correct online reputation issues with the company. Those who seek solely to cover up bad information about themselves have no intention of improving themselves or their company. On the other hand, companies who want long-term positive online reputations, use reputation management services to identify, isolate, and improve negative reputation issues.
Seeking solely to cover up bad reviews or negative news about a company will only work in the short term. Generally, companies who do not take full advantage of the information that reputation management services provide will find themselves facing the same issues over and over again. Instead of using reputation management as an investigative tool, they will keep making the same mistakes and facing the same problems because they do not fix the source of the problem, they are only interested in putting a band aid on the symptom.
Fixing Problems for the Long Term
However, online reputation management can be extremely valuable for companies who are actively seeking to change their online reputation for the long-term. Instead of simply covering up bad reviews and negative information, they use the negative online information to evaluate their own business practices and products. If they uncover the same negative comments from a multitude of sources, they take a look at the underlying problem and set plans into motion to rectify the situation so that the negative criticism does not continue.
In the same vein, they can use reputation management as a way to identify where negative information is coming from and fix the problem for good. For example, if a negative company or product review appears on a blog or website. Through reputation management, a company can reach out to the site owner or review writer and offer to fix the problem to the reviewer’s satisfaction. Although this may not work in all cases, it can turn negative reviews into positive experiences for both the reviewer and the company.
It be honest, there are times when untruthful or malicious information may be spread through the internet about a company. These lies and rumors are bound to pop up from time to time, especially if you are a large company. And although a company may seek to remedy the situation, there may be no way to deal with the situation other than to simply promote more positive information to the top of a Google search.
Improving Reputation Online and Off
Online reputation management—at its core—is a useful tool for helping companies deal with false and misleading information about them online as well as to correct problems in its management and products that are causing a negative reputation online. At times companies may seek simply to cover up negative information about themselves, but that solution is only temporary. Truly using online reputation management services to their fullest means fixing problems so that they do not continue to be problems, thus improving company reputation online—and off—for the long-term.