Being Nice: The Best Reputation Management Strategy

Thanks to the increasing rapidity and availability of communication online, brands and customers are coming closer together. 2011 has seen the largest rise in social media users and social media use since social media was invented, and today customers don’t simply expect to buy a product from a brand, they expect be able to follow their favorite brands online and to be able to easily access them and communicate with them.

That means that companies can no longer afford to keep their customers at arm’s length. Gone are the days when managers and executives could ignore customer complaints and comments. Today, if your company keeps its customers at arm’s length and ignores them, you can expect not only to receive bad reviews online, but a barrage of bad comments on social media sites where people share and give recommendations. And those reviews and comments are now showing up in search results that can hurt your company’s image and bottom line.

That’s why one of the best ways to build customer loyalty and bring in new customers is to be nice. This is what I mean:

1. Respond

Before the social media revolution (back when information was slower and only a handful of people used the internet) companies didn’t have to respond to criticism on an individual basis. But today, not responding to bad information about your company online can be fatal. Bad reviews and ugly blog rants can prevent new customers from coming to your website. So you need to do the nice thing and respond.

Reach out to those that criticize you online and ask if you can help. Be sincere in your apology for the bad service or product they received and offer to make it up to them. If your online critics feel that you care about them, you’ll have a shot at turning negative reviews positive and taking down negative content.

This goes for social media as well. Monitor social media for mentions of your company and brand names, and reach out to those that ask questions and criticize you. Not only will you help turn those critics into loyal fans, but you’ll be changing the way they talk about their experience with your company to their friends and family, improving your reputation all around.

2. Give stuff away

This is not to say you need to give your products away for free. Rather, give away useful, cool stuff on your website. For example, make your product manuals available online for free. Give away pictures of your products for free. Give away widgets and blog badges. These things cost very little to make, but giving them away will encourage your customers to see you as an engaged and generous resource. As such, they’ll talk about you highly on social networks and they’ll link to you from their websites, improving your search rankings and your level of reputation management protection.

3. Provide useful content

Most companies that are web savvy nowadays know that a company blog is one way to boost your search engine rankings. But another way to show how nice your company is, is to create compelling and interesting content all over your website. Make your blog interesting and useful—something web users will want to link to. And make your website information rich and interactive. When you create a pleasant website experience for your customers, you’re telling them subtly that you care about them and want them to come back. What is your current website telling your customers?

4. Don’t be evil

The founding principle of Google is “do no evil.” That’s a great way to think about your company’s reputation online. Don’t implement practices at your company that you wouldn’t want implemented at a company you bought from or want to use. Your customers are not your enemies; they are your friends. And when you starting treating them like friends, they will be loyal to you and your brands. They’ll continue to buy from you and link to you—which means you’ll only increase your positive reputation online.

Being Nice

It’s cliché to say that corporations are people, but in terms of reputation management, the more you treat your customers like people—instead of numbers—the more they will respect you online and the better reputation you’ll begin building.

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Online Reputation Management

2012 is here and it’s time to start implementing the resolutions and new business goals you’ve created for the coming year. You’ve probably already set personal goals, financial goals, business goals, marketing goals, and others. But have you thought about reputation management goals for the next 12 months?

Whether you’ve had problems with your online reputation in the past or you’ve never faced an online attack against your company, SEO experts and reputation management gurus are predicting that there are a lot of changes coming for search in the coming year. So right now is the time to get ready, set your plan, and focus on a strategy that will get you to your goal by the end of 2012. To start, here are some good resolutions to make for the coming year.

1) Start using social media

Just about everyone in the search industry has been predicting that social media will play an increasingly larger role in the SERPs and page rank in the coming months. And we’re already starting to see that social shares and profiles are having an effect on search results. In fact, right now Google is making a big play to turn Google+ into the most prominent social network on the web. In fact, right now, Google+ profiles are generally outranking Twitter and Facebook profiles for all types of searches. And as Google continues to diversify their search results, they’ll keep boosting social elements to the first page of search results.

Now is the time to get your social profiles in order and make them more prominent. They are great neutral results for a company name SERP, and having multiple profiles can help kick a lot of bad info down further in the results.

2) Cleanup backlink profiles

Google is getting more aggressive about going after spammy sites that use questionable linkbuilding practices to get their sites to rank better. Before you receive a warning from Google, or they de-index the sites you’ve been working to get ranked on the first page of a company SERP, do a backlink analysis and gauge whether you’re getting the kind of links that Google likes to see. Also, make sure your profile has a nice natural curve too it—not too heavy on either the high- or low-end page ranked sites.

Once you’ve done the analysis, make an effort to convert bad links to good ones, and get out of bad linking neighborhoods so that your backlink profile will appear cleaner and more natural. When you can clean up your link profiles, your sites will do better in terms of online reputation management and you’ll make a much stronger play for page-one domination for your company-branded SERP.

3) Monitor the web

If you haven’t been paying attention to the way people are using your company name online (and the way they are linking to your reputation management targeted sites), now is the time to start. With the steady rise of mobile internet use, more people are creating reviews on the fly—right after they visit your store, eat at your restaurant, or try on your clothes. This increase in user-generated content means you need to be vigilant about what people are saying about you online. Not only is Google increasing visibility of online reviews in the SERPS, but word of mouth is a killer for business.

Your online reputation is much more at risk today than it was even just a year ago, so now is the time to monitor how people are talking about your company online on a daily basis. And when you find negative information about your company, reach out to those users to correct the problem. If you find compliments, thank people for their kind words. Not only will this help people write nicer things about you online (cleaning up your company SERP), but you’ll build a better reputation offline as well.

2012 and Beyond

Although no one knows exactly what 2012 will bring for search and reputation management, virtually everyone agrees that Google is getting better at what they do and focusing much more on increasing the quality of their search results. If you can do the things that make your company sites look good online, you’ll be off to a good start and a stronger online reputation management strategy.

Reputation Management Should Be the #1 Priority for Public Relations Professionals

In order to get the job you currently have, chances are you applied, went through an interview process, received an offer, and then chose to accept it. But why did you get the job? Was it your background, experience, and impressive resume? Probably. But it also had a lot to do with the interview itself. In an interview you had to look nice, present yourself well, and talk about yourself in a way that made you seem like you knew what you were talking about.

In fact, talking about yourself in an expressive way is key to having a great interview. Someone once gave me this piece of advice for interviewing: “If you don’t talk about yourself, who will?” And the same holds true for reputation management. If you’re an in-house PR professional for a good company, it’s your job to talk about your company; because if you don’t, who will? As such, reputation management should be one of your highest priorities—if not your number one priority. So here are four reasons reputation management should be at the top of your list.

1. Press releases are meaningless

This is not to say that press releases don’t have their place, but there is so much noise in the news media today that another press release is just more white noise. More likely than not, if you send out a nationwide press release, you’ll be lucky if one reporter reads it and decides to write a story about it.

In other words, press releases do no good unless people read them. That’s why, instead of hoping that a reporter will pick up your story, put your press releases to work by optimizing them for reputation management purposes. When you can get your press releases to rank for searches for your company name, not only will more people see and read them, but you’ll be improving your online reputation at the same time.

2. Ads do nothing if you have a bad reputation

Advertising is only useful to your company if you can prove to potential customers that you have a good reputation. If your advertisements are driving searches for your company name, but those customers are seeing “scam reports” and negative reviews in the results. They are much less likely to click through to your website. And all your ad money goes down the toilet. If you can focus on reputation management, you’ll clean the company image, increase traffic, and improve sales conversion all at the same time.

3. No one’s going to toot your horn

Remember, if you don’t show the public what a great company you are, no one else is going to do it for you. When you do community service, give money to non-profits, start a college scholarship, and more, make sure you talk to bloggers and local news outlets, so they’ll write about your company. Once those positive news stories hit the web, promote them and push them as hard as you can, so that they’ll appear in the search results for your company name. When people search for your company online, and they see the positive work your company is doing, they’ll be more than happy to visit your site and buy from you. And that’s what reputation management is all about.

4. Blogs aren’t useful unless people read them

Why is your company blog hidden away in a back corner of your website? Again, no one will know what’s going on at your company unless you show them. For example, you could move your blog to a subdomain, so it will rank separately from your main website. Or push your company news to other websites, so they will publish the wonderful things your company is doing. After you’ve done that, reputation management is about getting those blogs and stories to rank well, so you can build a positive image for your company.

You Can Make or Break Your Online Reputation

 As a PR professional, it’s your job to obtain exposure and coverage for your company. But if no one can see what you are doing (or they’re only seeing negative results when they search your company name), any work you are doing will have virtually no effect. That’s why you need a reputation management strategy that will help improve your image and not undo the work you’ve put into building your brand. Talk about yourself and toot your own horn, or you’ll be leaving the talking to anyone with an internet connection.

3 Ways to Build Your Brand Through Reputation Management

Brand building is a term thrown around at a lot of marketing firms and internet startups. But when was the last time you actually heard someone define “brand building” in a real, tangible way? What does it really mean?

Let’s start with the meaning of “brand.” Your brand is the way that people relate to your products, services, and company as a whole. Essentially your brand is a set of images, stories, and emotions that people associate with your company. Thus, your customers define your brand through what they say, think, and feel about your company. And you can guide the public perception of your company through any number of avenues, like advertising, social media, word-of-mouth, charity work, and more: in other words—brand building. And when it comes down to it, reputation management should go hand in hand with brand building because they’re part of the same strategy to influence people’s perception of your company for the better.

In fact, they’re so closely related that when you are doing one, you should be doing the other at the same time. Take at a look at the ways that both brand building and reputation management share the same goals.

1. It’s about communication

Bad brand building is about campaigns. Good brand building is about fostering a relationship with your customers. And that goes the same for reputation management. The most successful brands build a simple and consistent image for themselves over many years; they don’t simply change every time a new fad comes along. The same is true for good reputation management. You have to stick with it and be consistent, or negative information and bad reviews will creep into your search results. But if you are consistent with your reputation management, you’ll be communicating a positive message to potential customers anytime they search for your band online.

2. Tell a story

Great bands have great stories. And I’m not just talking about a great founding story, but a story people feel every time they think about your brand. For example, when you think about Nike, you think about winning. Winning is a story. The same should go for your reputation management. When you optimize the search results for your company name, keep in mind that you can’t fill the page with all positive information about how great your company is. Instead, you have to build a story around your company by focusing on a variety of messages and platforms. Positive information, neutral information, press releases, news stories, videos, social media profiles, and more—when a potential customer searches your company online, they should see a variety of materials that tell each bit of your company story. When they see a variety of information and links, they’ll feel more confident about trusting you, and you’ll be getting your messaging to them and building your brand at the same time.

3. Stay consistent

Unsuccessful companies change their brand messaging every quarter. This confuses customers who don’t know what to think about the brand and its every-changing personality. On the other hand, successful companies stick with their brand image for a long time. Again, look at Nike. How long has their slogan been, “Just Do It”? Probably for as long as you can remember. That’s the kind of consistency you should be building with your reputation management strategy as well. Make sure that the positive and neutral information you are filling your search result page with are in-line with your company brand. When customers search for your company online, they should have the same experience they’ve had through your advertisements—even if they haven’t clicked through to your website yet.

Reputation management IS building your brand. When customers search your company name online, they will begin to form opinions about your brand according to what they see in the search results. Remember, it’s the perception that your customers have of you that defines your brand, not necessarily your marketing efforts. So get out ahead of the pack by creating a reputation management strategy that connects with your customers. Because if you don’t define your reputation, someone else will.

How Reputation Management Helps Strengthen Corporate Communication

Sometimes it feels like running a successful business is an intricate orchestra of cogs and wheels, belts and springs—kind of like the inner workings of a watch. And those parts have to be perfectly aligned and moving in the right ways in order for your business to run well and succeed. But just like the intricate machinery of a watch, if your business takes too big of a jolt it could throw everything off.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to all the little things that, if not taken care of, could throw your business off track. For example, not having an effective reputation management strategy in place can adversely affect your corporate communication. As a business, your corporate communication should reflect dependability, credibility, stability, and overall coherence. Without these qualities, your shareholders, investors, customers, and employees can get nervous about your business and may be less likely to invest their time and money in your company.

The Effects of Bad Reputation Management

Effective reputation management can project a fantastic image for your company, but without a reputation management strategy in place, small cracks in your watch crystal can seem out of proportion and cause nervousness and loss of confidence from all parties. And this loss of confidence can affect your entire business:

Shareholders: When your top executives and investment companies see that your online rankings are filled with so-called “scam reports” and negative information—even if they are complete fabrications—the people who have a large stake in your company’s success can begin to lose faith in its leadership. And that’s when people start making rash decisions and second guessing each other to the detriment of the company.

Investors: The same goes for individual investors. If they begin to see negative online search results for your company, they’ll begin to sell shares and stop investing, causing your overall business value to decrease. Then also make sure that you have certified for ISO 2230 as this covers the threats to your business and means that your business is much safer going forward.

Customers: Negative search results will turn away potential customers and make current customers rethink their loyalty to your brand.

Employees:  When employees see that the company they work for has a bad online reputation, they begin to lose confidence in the company, care less about their job performance, and may begin to look for work elsewhere. No one wants to work for a company with a bad reputation.

The Positive Effects of Successful Reputation Management

However, building a positive and strong reputation management strategy can reverse the negative affects of bad search results, pushing negative information down and pulling positive information up.

Shareholders: Positive online search results give shareholders confidence and a positive outlook for your business, and major investment groups will be more hands-off with their approach to your company.

Investors: With no negative search results apparent, investors feel secure in continuing their investment in your company and will trust you to increase their profits.

Customers: Negative search results can drive customers away, but a positive search results page for your company can build confidence in your company and bring in more customers and referrals.

Employees: It’s been proven time and time again that employees who feel their company is run well and is improving the lives of the people it deals with are happier in their jobs and less likely to leave—even for a higher paying position. This decreases turnover and boosts employee morale, creating a happier, more motivated workforce.

Broken Windows Theory

There’s a theory in law enforcement called the “Broken Windows Theory.” It states that the more broken windows you see in a neighborhood, the more crime will happen there. However, if you fix the broken windows, crime will decrease, because criminals will see it’s a neighborhood where people take care of their houses and property, so criminals will be less likely to target it. This theory was one of the main factors in cleaning up New York City in the late 80s and early 90s, making New York one of the safest cities in the US.

In a way, reputation management is like taking care of the broken windows in your search results. If you can clean up the neighborhood of your search results, you‘ll build confidence in everyone who is involved in your business and at every level. Overall, Reputation management will strengthen your corporate communications and make your business thrive.

4 Ways Your Company’s Online Reputation Affects Your Sales

As a sales professional, it’s your job to get your customers to buy your company’s products and services. And your job is easier if customers come to you with a positive view of your company and your products. You are the face and the voice of the company and your customers will buy from you based on how well you treat them and how much they trust you.

But when customers come to you with a negative view of your company and its products—or have preconceived notions about how you’ll try and scam them into buying your products—you’ll have a much harder time doing your job. That’s one of the reasons reputation management should be a vital concern for all sales professionals.

Today, it’s easy for anyone with internet access to look up your company, find reviews, and read both positive and negative information about your company. And as a sales person, you should be concerned about the way your company is portrayed online. In fact, here are 4 ways a negative online reputation can affect your sales.

1) It scares away customers

First and foremost, if you have a negative online reputation (due to bad reviews, so-called “scam” reports, or negative online rants), the number of people who want to buy from you will decrease rapidly. Simply put: you’ll have less people coming to your store, visiting your website, or calling you on the phone.

2) It creates bad word-of-mouth

Negative information about your company online doesn’t just affect those who are searching for you. It affects the family and friends of people who have searched your company name online. If potential customers have already formed an opinion about your company based on search results, they are likely to pass that negative opinion on to others. Your online reputation isn’t just about protecting yourself from online attacks, it’s about strengthening your reputation online and off.

3) Customers are less willing to buy

Sales is a hard job to begin with, but when all your customers are coming to you with doubts about you and your company, it’s even harder. Even if they are still willing to buy from you after reading negative reviews, they will be more skeptical of your sales tactics and will want more assurances that they can trust you and your company’s products. All in all, with a negative view of your company, customers are much harder to sell to.

4) Customers are more likely to be dissatisfied with their purchase

Once a red flag has been raised in the customer’s mind, they will be more critical of the products they buy from you and are more likely to be dissatisfied with their purchase. Although you may think that returns are not your problem, each return results in a loss of profit and another dissatisfied customer who will share their opinion with their friends and family.

Reputation management is about more than simply optimizing a Google search for your name so you can get positive results It’s about building a positive image for your company—a trustworthy and positive image that instills confidence in your potential customers about the kind of service they will receive and the quality of the products you sell. Reputation management isn’t just the concern of the company executives; it affects everyone at your company. If you’ve been having a harder time selling, or you’ve had fewer customers than usual, do a search for your company online. You may be in need of some positive reputation management.

3 Reasons Marketing Professionals Should Be Aware of Their Company’s Online Reputation

Although the sales team may close each sale, they owe a large part of each sale to the creativity and hard work of the marketing team. And today, marketing is both easier and harder than ever. Thanks to the rise of the internet and the high number of people online, marketers have tools and avenues open to them for contacting and interacting with customers that they never have before. Using strategies like search marketing with SEO firm in Melbourne and tools like social media, marketing professionals can decrease their budgets and increase their customer base at the same time. Marketing a unique business, why? Marketing is everything an organization does to build a relationship between the company and consumer. Marketing attracts prospects, prospects become buyers, and buyers provide profit. But marketing is more than just putting your business name out into the world.

However, there is also a downside. It is now easier than ever for individual customers to access negative information about your company online. And it is also easier for any dissatisfied customer to write an untruthful or damaging review of your company’s products or services and persuade other customers to shy away without even getting to know your business.

This ease of access to negative information about your company is the main reason your marketing department should be concerned about your company’s online reputation. But more than that, here are three reasons the marketing department should get involved in reputation management.

1. Customers don’t have to dig deep

As mentioned before, thanks to the ease of access to information in today’s society, customers don’t have to look very far to find out about your company’s reputation or be misled by an angry review on a former customer’s blog. In many cases, if a potential customer searches for your company name online and they see one or two negative results, they may never even visit your website—where you’ve put all marketing messages, ready to convert them. But by paying attention to your online reputation and employing a solid reputation management strategy, you can get as many people to your website as possible.

2. Customers read reviews

Did you know that when a potential customer searches for your company name online and they see negative reviews in the results, they are more likely to click and read the negative reviews first, before visiting your official website? Customers read reviews—especially bad ones. And they tend to believe them. If you have negative reviews showing up on the first page of a Google search for your company name, may help your business, being one reason why you should consider promoting your roofing business on google. So now is the time to look into effective reputation management strategies and push those negative reviews down.

3. Customers purchase on trust

If a customer doesn’t trust your company, they won’t buy from you—even if you have the lowest price. That’s why it is vitally important for you to remove any obstacle out of your customers’ way. When your customers are searching or you online and seeing negative content, the seed is planted in their mind that your company may not be trustworthy. But the truth is, you are. You just need to co a little clean up so your customers don’t get the wrong impression before they even learn more about you. We’re the best lead generation company servicing the lehigh valley.

As a marketer, you are not just making sure your customers know your name, you are also building a brand as well as emotions and values associated with that brand. You don’t want a few negative reviews to destroy the image you’ve worked so hard to create. Take a look at your online reputation today and, if you need to, start thinking about reputation management strategies you can employ to safeguard your company’s reputation from all kinds of online attacks.

3 Reputation Management Tips for Network Marketing Companies

Although some network marketing companies have earned a bad rap with the public, many companies, like Mary Kay, Avon, Tupperware, and more, have provided wonderful opportunities for people to earn a great income doing something that they love and learning valuable business and marketing skills along the way. But this type of business opportunity isn’t for everyone, and there are (inevitably) people who start network marketing for the wrong reasons and end up not doing very well at it.

Companies like black swan media co offer GoHighlevel which is a new-age marketing tool that attempts to consolidate the most useful marketing tools under a single umbrella.

From time to time a few of those who feel that it was the company’s fault that their business wasn’t successful will go online and post rants and negative reviews. Unfortunately, that means those negative reviews and rants can show up in a Google search for your network marketing company’s name, dissuading potential independent marketers from starting a business that could help them supplement their income and live more comfortably.

Not only are they missing out on a great opportunity, but those negative reviews are also chasing away your profits. So as a network marketing company, it’s important to put a reputation management strategy in place, so that you can continue to have a positive image with the public and keep people from being turned off by your company before they even sign up. And since your business is all about networking, you can leverage that network to help improve your online reputation. In fact, here are three ways that a network marketing company can use its network to improve and maintain a positive online reputation.

1) Start Social Networking Campaigns

Social networking through Facebook, Twitter, and more, have increased dramatically over the past 5 years, and you can leverage these networks on a company-wide scale to improve your online reputation. The point of lasik marketing is to use reputation management online to improve the results page for a Google search for your company name, and by creating official company social networking profiles, you are providing Google with another result to list in the top 10.

But in order for your social profiles to rank, they need to have a high number of fans/followers, and those followers need to be active. Since these profiles are easy to set up and maintain, it behooves any networking marketing company to maintain a strong social presence online with the use of SEO services. Ask all your networking marketers to follow you on your social profiles and provide them with interesting and informative links and content. When you can keep your followers engaged, your social profile will be more active and will more likely show up in a Google search for your company name.

2) Ask for reviews

You have thousands of independent marketers, and many of those have had great success selling your products and services. In addition, you have many more customers who like what you provide to them through independent marketers. All you have to do is start asking your most successful marketers and happy customers to review you online. They can review you through sites like Yelp and City Search, but you can also ask your independent marketers and customers to blog about their experience with your company and why they love what you do.

When you have an army of people giving you positive reviews online, those positive reviews will begin to show up in Google searches, pushing out more negative reviews about your company and improving your online reputation.

3) Provide incentives

Although you may have many enthusiastic marketers who want to write positive reviews for you, you can increase the number of people who are writing reviews and interacting on your social networks by providing incentives and contests. For example, hold a regular contests on your Facebook page and give away free merchandise for people who comment or share links the most. Or give away free credit or a gift card to any marketer who writes a positive review on their personal blog.

As a network marketing company, you have an entire organization you can mobilize to improve your online reputation. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, leverage the power of your organization to create and maintain a positive reputation and boost the power of your reputation management strategy.

Removing Negative Content: Tips for Contacting Site Owners and Improving Your Online Reputation

If you a run a company of any size that deals directly with members of the public, chances are you will eventually have a customer who—for some reason or another—will not like your service or products and decide to defame you online. In fact, you should count on it. And no matter if they decide to give you a bad review or write a lengthy rant on their personal blog, those negative comments can end up hurting your online reputation by showing up on a search results page for your business.

Although there is some content that you will never be able to remove from the internet because the site owners have made it impossibly hard to find any contact information for them. There are some instances where you have a chance at protecting your online reputation simply by contacting the customer, opening a dialogue, and asking for the comments to be removed (or changed).

If this has happened to you, and it is hurting your online reputation, here are a few tips to dealing with a person who has published negative comments about you online.

1. Be polite and apologize

It doesn’t matter if you were in the right and they were in the wrong. What matters is that they perceive that they have been mistreated or disrespected in some way. So, before you do anything else, apologize and be polite about the situation. Treating the customer with respect will go a long way to helping change their mind about your company. And when you are polite, you open a door toward communication, which will help you change their mind about your company and recant their comments.

2. Don’t argue

Although it may be tempting, don’t argue with the customer. They already feel powerless, or they wouldn’t have written negative comments about you in the first place instead of contacting you directly to resolve their issue. So don’t make them feel like you are trying to win an argument. That attitude will only add fuel to the fire, and you’ll never be able to remove the negative content.

3. Offer to fix the problem

Once you’ve been polite and created a dialogue with the customer—slowly rebuilding their trust in you and your company—offer to fix the problem. Depending on your business, you can offer to exchange their defective product, give them their money back, offer them extra goodies like free products or services, or offer to fix the problem in a way that only your company can.

4. Add value

If you really want to win over your dissatisfied customer and encourage them to remove their negative comments, go above and beyond fixing their problem. If they don’t like the product you sold them, offer to replace the one they have with a better model and give them another on top of it. The more you can do to go out of your way to make this customer feel like you are genuinely sorry and willing to do whatever it takes to make them happy, the more inclined they will be to help you.

5. Ask their advice

As mentioned before, many people post rants online because they feel powerless in some respect and think that they best way to vent their anger is online. Many times these people simply want you to listen to them and understand what they are going through. In all cases, seek the customer’s advice, so you can be sure to avoid these problems in the future. When you do that, you give your customers the chance to be part of making your company better. And this may be the most powerful tool you have in turning an enemy into an ally.

Reputation Management Strategies

Most bloggers will post contact information or a contact form on their website so you can get in touch with them easily. And many review sites will let reviewers send messages to each other. But in many cases you will not be able to contact the person who wrote the comments directly, and may have no way to contact them at all. Or they may not want to respond to your request to fix the problem for their own reasons.

In extreme cases when someone has published slanderous information about you or your company online, you can take legal recourse and eventually remove the page from the Google index. But this is very hard to do, and Google won’t remove any web pages considered slanderous unless they are directed to do so under court order.

This is why reputation management is so important. Although contacting site owners and reviewers directly should be part of your online reputation management strategy, you should also implement other reputation management tactics to push negative content down and bring positive and neutral information about your company up in the search engine results pages. But whenever possible, contacting dissatisfied customers directly should be a first step in resolving reputation management issues.

Reputation Management Options for Dealing with So-called “Scam” and “Rip-off” Websites

It happens all the time. When you search for a company to find out more about them, often times you’ll see a “scam” report or a “rip-off” alert with a link to a website that purports to give consumers and former employees a way to rant about their bad experience with a company. Often, these scam sites rank well in the search results, and if you are the company in question, your company reputation can be damaged by the rants and outright lies that a site like this spreads. So how do these sites work, and how can you deal with the problems they create? Let’s take a look.

Scams and Lies

First off all, it’s important to understand that although these sites offer a way for disgruntled employees and unsatisfied customers to talk about their experience with a particular company, the site itself benefits from the negative reviews that are published. Therefore they have no reason to verify or censor any of the user-submitted content on their site. In fact, the policy of many of these sites is to NEVER remove a bad review—even at the request of the person who wrote it.

And it has been alleged in numerous court cases that these sites will often fabricate bad reviews or edit user reviews to appear more damaging to the company they profess to review. However these are only allegations, and nothing has ever been proved in court. The reason that sites like these do not want to remove false information and benefit from inflammatory reviews is that their sites are paid for with advertising. Therefore, the more site traffic they get, the more money they make. And the more inflammatory a bad review, the more traffic it will get—especially if it is for a popular or well-known company.

Arbitration Options

Although many of these sites will refuse to remove any content from their site—even if it contains outright lies about a company—some offer an arbitration service. These arbitration services cost $2000 or more and claim to let independent reviews look at the “scam report” and verify whether or not erroneous claims have been made. If false statements are found, they will redact portions of the review that are found to be inaccurate. But the hefty fee does not guarantee removal of any false information. And even a few sentences are removed from an offending review, the bulk of the review will stay online.


It’s hard to sue scam and rip-off alert websites. This is because all the content on the sites is supposedly user-generated and not created by the site owners or their employees. And one cannot sue a website for statements made by a third party on that site. (For example, no one can sue you for an inflammatory comment on your blog made by one of your readers—which is a good thing.) Many companies and individuals have filed lawsuits against these websites, but few have succeeded in winning a court settlement. And when you consider that a lawsuit against a website like this may cost you a hundred thousand dollars or more to resolve, it hardly seems worth it for a case you have little chance of winning.

Reputation Management

But this is where good reputation management comes in. No matter how unethical these scam and rip-off alert sites can be, you have just as good a chance of beating them at their own game. Scam sites optimize their reviews for the web so that they will show up when a user searches for a company name, but by using a solid reputation management strategy, you can make sure those reviews never show up in a Google search.

Reputation management is much cheaper than fighting the scam website in court and may actually yield better results. Even if you are able to get defamatory items removed from a review, the review will still stay on the web with all its negative accusations against your company. Reputation management can bury that review so deep that most casual searchers will never see any of it.

Scam and Rip-off sites are a pain and a nuisance, and rarely give any useful information to consumers. But with an effective, positive reputation management strategy, you can win every time.


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