Hi, my name is Don Sorensen. You probably found my website through a Google search, and you're dealing with reputation issues that are causing your business to lose money or degrading your personal reputation. Be assured that if you do nothing, these problems will NOT go away.

I am a recognized online reputation management and brand building authority whose expertise and insights have been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, HuffingtonPost, CNN Money, Forbes and other publications.

I have worked with many companies and individuals plagued with online reputation issues, and in each case I have helped them improve their Google results, no matter what country they're doing business in.

I can fix your online reputation issues:

  • I only accept a handful of clients, ensuring your project will get my full attention
  • I work with both companies and individuals
  • I've run a successful business for over 15 years
  • I can share "before and after" results from other projects
  • I have improved Google results in many countries
  • I'm happy to work with the client's PR agency or law firm

My team has developed unique and innovative methods for helping websites with positive content move up in the search results, in order to push negative websites off the first page of Google.

Call me directly: 801-592-3396

Email: don@bigbluerobot.com

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I. What is Online Reputation Management?

When customers perform a search for your company, what do they see in the first page of the search engine results? Chances are, if you’ve been around for a while, a Google search will include websites with negative comments, reviews or blogs.

The Most Effective Way to Boost Your Online Reputation

The most effective Online Reputation Management strategy is to get positive websites about your company to rank high, which pushes everyone else down in the rankings -- ideally out of the top 20 search engine results. Easier said than done, of course. But this strategy has three distinct advantages: 1) You don’t have to confront the owners of the negative sites, who may or may not be cooperative in removing the comments or forum posts. 2) You are in control of your efforts to rank the positive sites, and are no longer at the whims of complainers, critics, or disapproving reviewers who post their opinions online. 3) It’s completely fair. You’re not forcing anyone to change their content, whether through begging, arm-twisting or legal threats. You’re simply helping those who search on you to see the good side of your company. Imagine the effect on your online reputation when an online search produces a page full of websites containing only positive reviews, complimentary articles and glowing testimonials. You’ll project a much better image to everyone who finds you through Google. The way to make sure the positive sites rank higher with the search engines is to perform search engine optimization (SEO). Today, Search Engine Optimization is a combination of including relevant content on your web pages and getting other websites to link to those pages. You see, Google and other search engines gauge the relevance of a web page based on how many other websites link to it. The more “backlinks” you have to your website, the more likely it is that your website deserves to be ranked higher. So far, so good. But we still need to push all those negative sites out of the higher rankings, which means we need other sites to take their places. To accomplish this, we find or create websites that contain positive or neutral information about your company and perform SEO to get them to rank higher. And once the top ten spots of a search are wiped clean of any negative sites, we go to work on the next ten spots. The goal is to eventually give you two search results pages of positive sites. This is a necessary cushion, because a negative site’s ranking could move up or down by a few spots over time. By “owning” the first two pages, you make it more likely that a negative site can’t suddenly pop up on Page 1 of a search.

Online Reputation Management vs. Traditional Public Relations

How does Online Reputation Management fit into your overall PR strategy? In short, it’s part of PR, and a very crucial one in today’s online world. Much of public relations concerns managing your reputation, whether it’s publicizing good news about your company or responding to criticism. No doubt you’d prefer that the public only heard positive comments and was not exposed to anything critical about you. That’s what we aim for with Online Reputation Management, only we focus on what people see about you when performing an online search. And since that’s the way more and more potential customers, sales people, and journalists learn about you these days, managing your image on the search engine results pages becomes a very important part of PR.

The Bottom Line

Negative websites, articles, forum posts and other comments are hurting your brand and costing your company money in terms of lost sales and revenue. You can either let your reputation and sales suffer, or you can manage your online reputation just as you manage everything else in your company -- taking steps to get the results you want and keep your company on track for success. Online Reputation Management is the key to making that happen.

II. How a Few Complaints Can Hurt Your Online Reputation

Nearly every business is going to have an unhappy customer from time to time. Often, it’s a complaint that’s easily fixed with a quick refund, a replacement item, or better customer service. Still, you can’t please everyone. And nowadays it’s too easy for a dissatisfied person -- or a competitor -- to post complaints and accuse your company of being a scam or worse. Trouble is, for every ten thousand happy customers who don’t post positive comments about you, there’s one unhappy customer who posts negative comments. So when your potential customers do an online search, all they may see will be those negative postings. It only takes a few complaints to start showing up on the search engine results pages for your online reputation to suffer. Now, wouldn’t it be great if every happy customer posted a postive comment or compliment about you online? Sure. And that will happen when pigs fly, hell freezes over, and we all live together in peace and harmony. In other words, don’t hold your breath. Satisfied customers have no need or little incentive to spend time posting good reviews or comments about you. And you may feel it’s beneath your dignity to actually suggest they do this. But it often doesn’t hurt to ask, and your loyal customers may be happy to spend the time online recounting their pleasant experiences with your company. Try to identify those customers who have nothing to complain about and who have been with you a while. Then politely suggest that, if they are happy with your products or services, they go to such-and-such website or forum and mention their positive experience with you. The more you can do this, the better your online reputation will be. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, I understand. It’s not easy asking for compliments outright. This is why I make sure good reviews get posted about my clients, which is a key strategy in reputation management. We just don’t want to let those few complainers overshadow all the good things about your company.

III. Online Reputation Management for Businesses

Here’s something that comes up in executive meetings all the time: “Why are people saying bad things about us on the Internet, and what can we do about it?” This can be especially troubling to the CEO who founded the company and who has spent long years working hard to build the brand. He wakes up one day and finds defamatory remarks online about his company—not constructive criticism, but outrageous accusations and almost slanderous comments. Worse, the negative reviews are on websites that rank high on search engine results pages, so that anyone doing a search on the company will see them. And it’s not just one negative review website, but several, causing the company’s online reputation to suffer. As an executive, you need to be aware of your online reputation and know that you can take steps to manage it. You shouldn’t just leave it up to fate, or simply hope that people won’t post negative comments about your company. Your online reputation can have a dramatic effect on not only your brand perception, but also your company’s revenues. A couple of years ago I met with a company that had a severe online reputation problem. When potential customers searched their company name, seven out of the top 10 Google rankings were negative. After a careful review of their rankings, and prior-year revenues, I determined that they were probably losing more than $1.5 million a year in sales due to negative search engine results. The company confirmed the fact that my estimates were indeed accurate—but low. All companies face a unique challenge in protecting their online reputation. And because your success or failure depends on how potential customers perceive you, I want to cover the basics of managing and improving your online reputation.

1) What we mean by “online reputation”

Your online reputation is determined by the top Google rankings a prospect sees when they do a search on your company name. A prospect can quickly glance down the page of results and look for anything of interest that pops out at them. If a lot of those websites have negative reviews and complaints about your company, it will automatically diminish your reputation in their eyes. But if they see a list of websites with positive comments and testimonials, they’re more likely to sign up without further hesitation. Because most people rarely look past the first page or two of search engine results, your online reputation is determined by the top 10 or 20 search results.

2) Where negative postings come from

Some websites specialize in letting anyone post a complaint. That makes it extremely easy for a dissatisfied customer to go online and share his or her experience with the world. And the complaint will still appear years later, even if it was a customer service issue that was quickly handled. Websites like scam.com, ripoffreport.com and complaintsboard.com will pretty much accept postings from anyone. However, they rarely check for accuracy and are not likely to remove a posting if you request it. These websites also tend to rank high in the search engines, so if your company is named in a complaint on one of these websites, expect it to show up on a search about you.

3) How a few complaints can hurt your online reputation

You might think that if you have thousands of happy customers and distributors, a few online complaints shouldn’t matter. But the math doesn’t work out that way. Consider that a Google search returns 10 results on the first page. If just three of those are websites with complaints or criticisms, it means nearly a third of the search results are for negative websites. They may still be in the minority, but when a curious prospect sees a link that promises to reveal the “dirt” on a company, it’s hard to resist clicking through. After all, isn’t that what you’d do? Even one review on a website like scam.com can have an impact if it shows up near the top of the page. Sometimes a single complaint, valid or not, is enough to scare away a prospect. I know this sounds dire, but basic human psychology is at work here. All it takes is one negative review to give them a reason to say no to the opportunity.

4) What it takes to have a good online reputation

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to manage your online reputation so you are not at the mercy of your company’s critics. Start out right by following these three steps:

Step No. 1: Accept the fact of online reviews.

Short of outright slander or libel by the reviewers online, you really don’t have much legal recourse to make the negative postings go away. People have a right to complain, and these days it’s all too easy for unhappy customers to vent their frustrations and share their opinions with the whole world. When you see a negative review about your company the instinctive reaction is to post a response to set the record straight. I understand the human need to respond, but you have to consider Google’s point of view. Here’s why. Search engines rank various websites high for a few reasons, one of which is relevant content, especially when that content is updated on a regular basis. When you post a comment on a website, you are in effect giving it new content. And if you get into a back-and-forth discussion with someone on a review website about your company, Google thinks “Ah, there’s a lot about this company here, so we’ll rank this website high for searches on their company name.” Now when someone does a search on your company, they are even more likely to see the negative review. You want to avoid that. In fact, you want the websites with negative comments to slip further down the Google rankings so they don’t appear on the first page or two of a search. The next two steps help you with that.

Step No. 2: Focus on getting positive content.

A major part of online reputation management involves pushing the negative websites off of the first page or two of a Google search. How? By posting positive content and getting those pages to rank higher than the negative websites. You need to direct your marketing or PR department to make online reputation management part of their regular duties. That means they should always be looking for, gathering or creating positive content that can be used to continually update your websites. Don’t put everything onto one corporate website. Instead, set up different websites for different purposes. For example, you can have a website for new distributors, a website about your charitable giving, a website about conferences and meetings, a website for photos and perhaps individual product line websites. This gives you a nice stable of websites that you have control over.

Step No. 3: Push positive websites higher.

In the online world, your reputation is all about who owns the top-ranking results in a search for your company name. You want that space to belong to you—or at least be shared only with websites that have good things to say about you. If you can do that, then the negative websites will be pushed off the first page of a Google search. And since very few people look past the first page of a search, those negative websites may as well not exist. The best way to accomplish this is by performing search engine optimization on the positive websites to make them rank higher. Carefully review your websites’ content and the meta title tags to be sure they contain your company name. And most important, you’ll need to create plenty of back links to your positive websites so they are seen as more popular by Google. The magic of ranking higher in Google is relevant content and gathering a substantial number of links from other websites that point to your websites. These links are anchored by your company name. The goal of getting all the positive websites to rank higher than the negative websites can be a hard one to reach. But considering how important your online reputation is, achieving this goal is well worth the effort. This is not always easy, and it can take many months of steady effort to achieve. Still, consider that the alternative is to let the complaints and negative reviews dominate the search results and trash your online reputation. Of course, there are even more details to managing your online reputation, but the above steps give you the basic outline of what needs to be done. Just keep in mind that these days your company’s online reputation is one of the most important factors in determining its success.

IV. Top 12 things CEOs can do to Boost Corporate Reputation

As the face of the company, CEOs embody and express the company’s reputation, so it’s important they play an active role in defining and maintaining it. Following are the top 12 things CEOs can do to boost corporate reputation. 1. Be very visible and vocal. As the topmost representative of the business, a CEO’s name often becomes synonymous with the company’s. Being visible and vocal reinforces the connection and builds leadership. 2. Use social media. There are several positive results from CEOs’ using social media use, including improved corporate reputation and increased employee engagement. It also helps with online reputation management and builds relationships with employees, partners, prospects, media, and others. 3. Become an industry leader. “Publish or perish” applies to executive and corporate reputations as much as academic ones. Regularly publishing high-quality content about your industry, like innovations, research, and predictions, builds both the CEO’s and the company’s thought leadership and authority. 4. Be friendly and approachable. CEOs are the human side of the business. The more open and friendly you are, the more approachable the company as a whole seems. It also helps you attract better talent and publicity. 5. Maintain a strong executive reputation. Because the CEO’s reputation is tied so closely to the company’s, keeping a strong executive reputation is a must. Your good name and the business’s good name build and reinforce each other. 6. Encourage transparency and integrity. Openness and honesty are two critical factors influencing how your company is perceived. They especially affect your reputation as a trustworthy, credible business. 7. Champion the company values and vision. As the highest executive officer of the company, a big part of the CEO’s job is promoting and communicating the company values and vision. Embracing them is the most effective way to show what the business stands for. 8. Foster improved communication. Better communication all around contributes to many benefits. Increased customer exposure to your messaging is important, while improving internal communications is how you build a strong, loyal team. 9. Ask for feedback. The company’s direction should be constantly evaluated and adjusted to make sure it delivers the most benefit. Asking for and acting on feedback helps you maintain a good corporate image and executive reputation. 10. Turn employees into brand ambassadors. The CEO can only do so much to communicate the company’s values and boost the corporate reputation. Helping employees embrace the vision can substantially improve the business’s reputation and its bottom line. 11. Promote good governance and leadership. Actions speak louder than words, especially when they come from the highest level. Avoid unethical behaviors and strive to be the kind of leader you want your executive team, directors, and managers to be. Your example and the resulting trickle-down effect will work wonders for everyone’s reputation and satisfaction. 12. Always be innovating and generating ideas. CEOs who get too comfortable and who don’t keep up with changing times tend to have the shortest tenures. By always thinking ahead and being willing to adapt, you keep your job and build a robust company reputation.

V. How Social Media Affects Online Reputation Management

Social media plays a huge role in online reputation management. The many platforms available, their popularity in search results, and how quickly and easily they can spread information all make social media powerful tool in your reputation management arsenal.

There are 4 major ways social media can affect your reputation management online, and the consequences can be either positive or negative. That’s why it’s crucial to have a strong, sound strategy in place for what types of content you’ll post, when you’ll be active, and how you will respond and interact with followers.

Build, Change, or Solidify Your Reputation

Everything you say and do on social media--including the major social platforms as well as blogs, forums, review sites, and other interactive media online--has the power to build a new reputation, adapt an existing image, and solidify your current profile. What you like, what you share, the comments you make, the content you create, the causes you support, the information you give--all of these affect how followers perceive you.

This is where a sound strategy is so important. Without a plan to follow, a seemingly innocuous comment or a small mistake can snowball into a big reputation problem.

Social media has such a powerful effect on your reputation management because your actions happen in real time. Where press releases and traditional management tactics may take days or weeks to make a difference, what you say or do online can go viral in a matter of hours.

In addition to creating a good strategy, use social media to your reputation’s advantage with these best practices:

  • Claim your name on all the major social platforms

  • Use the social media most relevant to you and your target audience

  • Be consistently active

  • Use a variety of social channels, such as forums, blogs, multimedia platforms, and the big 4 (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)

Control How You Appear in Search

On top of affecting your reputation itself, social media is an important component of managing your reputation because it tends to appear high in search results. When your social profiles and content appear on the first page of a search, less desirable content gets pushed down, meaning your audience is less likely to see bad reviews, detractors’ comments, and other negative content.

So not only does your social strategy build or change your reputation, it also affects how much of the first page of Google you own.

The good news is, following the best practices listed above is a pretty easy way to get more real estate in search engine results. The bad news is, any negative consequences of your actions on social media will also appear highly in search results.

Rule of thumb: if you don’t want it to appear on search, don’t put it online at all.

Monitor What Others Say About You

Although there are too many social channels to effectively keep track of everything everyone thinks about you, the real-time publishing nature of social media helps you see a fairly accurate representation of how others perceive you at any given time. And knowing what people think of you is the first step to managing your online reputation.

How do you know what people are saying and thinking about you?

  • Set up Google Alerts for your name, your company name, and important keywords

  • Use Technorati to discover what bloggers are posting about you

  • Sign up for tools like TweetDeck, SocialMention, or Trackur to find and save keyword searches, hashtag searches, multimedia, and social conversations

Respond to What Others Say About You

With monitoring how others perceive you comes the opportunity to respond. Strategy is important here, too, because responding to a detractor’s comment or bad review in the heat of the moment is often worse than letting the negative content sit for a few days.

At the same time, staying abreast of your followers’ and customers’ real-time perceptions and comments can help you avoid crises, take advantage of newsjacking, provide exceptional support, and continue building your reputation.

Responding to positive mentions of your brand--such as retweets of your content, good reviews, and thank yous--is always a good move. It shows you listen to and value your audience.

Done right, responding to negative brand mentions can help you resolve problems, improve your offering, and correct misinformation. When you respond calmly and professionally, even negative social mentions can support your reputation for listening to and valuing your audience.

It’s impossible to ignore how much social media affects your online reputation and how you manage it. The trick is to craft and follow an effective social strategy.