Learn how to restore online reputation issues for your personal image or your brand’s online presence.
Today, what people see online is how they’ll perceive you or your business. When negative content is easier to find than positive content, that’s what will make a first impression. And it’s difficult to change that once the damage has already been done.
What Is an Online Reputation?
An online reputation is the overall public opinion about you or your company. In terms of your business’ online reputation, it could be the opinion about your brand and/or your products or services.
Your online reputation is what affects how the market, including your employees, investors and partners, perceive your brand. Or, in the case of individual online reputation, it’s how your peers and potential employers perceive you.
What Is a Damaged Online Reputation?
When your online reputation is damaged, others find negative information about you when searching online. That may be defamatory or unflattering content, and it may be either true or untrue. Negative content ranges from bad customer reviews to purposely defamatory social media posts or news articles.
What Contributes to a Damaged Online Reputation?
There are a number of factors that contribute to a bad reputation, including:
- Bad publicity
- Negative content
- Poor reviews
- Unprofessional responses to reviews
- Brand mentions
- Ineffective customer support
- Management troubles
- Past behavior
Let’s get into these some more.
There are several reasons why a PR crisis may occur and result in bad publicity:
- Your company runs a controversial marketing campaign.
- Someone with authority at your company gets into personal or legal trouble.
- There’s a data leak, and customers’ personal information becomes public.
- Employees publicly express that they’ve been mistreated.
- Someone related to your brand commits a crime.
Bad publicity can be on the more severe end of why your business has a poor reputation. It can take years to rebuild your online reputation after a PR crisis, and it’s advised that you hire an ORM company to help.
Negative Articles and Other Content
Whether it’s on a reputable news website or someone’s personal blog, negative content can have direct effects in terms of your online reputation. With so many people turning to the internet to research people or businesses before they decide to trust them, having your name pop up in a negative article — regardless of the source or whether or not the info is true — can mean you lose that connection before you had a chance to forge it.
Poor Reviews (and Responses)
Consumers prefer to go with brands and products/services that are highly rated. If you consistently receive scores lower than 4 stars, that could be impacting your ability to gain new customers and earn more money. You may think that negative online reviews are no big deal, but before long, you could be so buried by them that it’s impossible to get out from under the mess.
Companies that encourage reviews from customers are able to balance negative reviews with positive ones. But if you’re not asking customers for reviews, it’s possible that a majority of the reviews available online are negative ones. People are more likely to leave a review when they have something bad to say and want to air their grievances than when they’re satisfied with your company.
Your Responses to Reviews Also Matter
Moreover, the way you respond to those reviews matters. If you meet a difficult or upset customer with defensiveness and blame, they’re only going to get more upset. On top of that, you show anyone else who finds the review that you don’t care about the customer experience. Your responses to customer reviews are as important as the reviews themselves.
Ineffective Website User Experience
While it may not seem as severe as the other causes of a poor online reputation, your website experience could have a negative impact on how people perceive you or your business. Poor web design can make it seem like you’re not credible. And if your website is the primary way that customers interact with your business, having it not work can mean the difference between gaining customers and losing them.
Brand Mentions By Those With a Bad Reputation
The more popular you or your business get, the more others will talk about you — and it won’t all be helpful. When a person or a brand that doesn’t have a good reputation shines the spotlight on you, even if they’re saying something positive, it can reflect poorly on you. Whether or not you’re actually affiliated with the person won’t matter to your audience, who will judge you based on the association.
Low Ratings for Customer Support
Even if you have a lot of customers now, it’ll be impossible to retain them, let alone get new ones, if your customer support is known to be subpar. Plus, when a customer has an unhelpful exchange with a support agent and leaves the conversation without their problem being solved, they’re likely to leave you a bad review for others to see. On top of that, negative word-of-mouth marketing means that the people they know will also hear about the poor customer service experience.
In addition to caring about what your customers have to say, you should also be aware of how your employees perceive the company. If an ex-employee had a negative experience that they’re still upset about, they could take to the internet to discuss what happened in detail. This can turn off customers, investors or potential employees from ever coming into contact with your brand.
History of Untrustworthy Behavior
Brands that have a history of making promises they don’t end up keeping leave a track record of untrustworthiness behind them. Nobody wants to deal with an individual, business owner or brand that doesn’t follow through on promises. This is one of the more insidious types of reputation killers because it’s hard to reverse a long history of the same disappointments.
Is Repairing Your Online Reputation Worth It?
Yes! As online reputation management experts, we always believe that repairing your online reputation and maintaining a positive online presence is worth it.
Even if you think that your online reputation situation is manageable, it can quickly snowball out of hand if you leave it unattended. Not only will you miss out on the benefits of a positive online reputation, but you’ll suffer the consequences of a negative reputation.
Consequences of a Bad Online Reputation
There are so many downsides to having negative publicity and negative web content out there about you or your business. Those include:
- Losing customers
- Not making enough money
- Trouble hiring new employees
- Failing to get a job you want
- Struggling with anxiety
Let’s talk about these in more detail.
Losing Customers to Competitors
Odds are that you aren’t the only business that provides the types of products and services you do. If you turn off your audience with a bad brand reputation, it won’t be long before they go to your competitors and give them business instead.
Many customers care more about the experience they have than choosing the absolute best products or services. Even if you could compete otherwise, your audience is looking for a positive, well-rounded experience. If you don’t provide that, they’ll find another company that will.
Also, if your competitors notice that the public is no longer favoring your company, they could swoop in with marketing campaigns to purposely direct those customers away from you.
Often, the biggest loss for a business struggling with online reputation repair is financial loss. Negative reviews could mean lost sales and, in turn, lost revenue. In more dire cases, the reputation of a business’ CEO could mean that stock prices plummet. Even one piece of negative online content could have a disastrous effect if it goes viral or is the top result in Google Search results.
Difficulty Hiring and Keeping Employees
In addition to ruining your online reputation with your customers, negative search results about you or your company can also damage your reputation with employees and potential candidates. A lot of people won’t even bother applying to a company that’s received negative news coverage, no matter how much they wanted to work for that brand before.
When a company can’t attract or retain quality employees, even more negative content can result, like poor reviews. Plus, it costs companies a lot of money to hire and then lose employees, so turnover can become quite expensive.
Inability to Find Employment
In the case of your personal online reputation, having negative online content out there can make it impossible to get hired. Your online image matters a lot when you apply for a job, and if there’s some type of online reputation issue — like mugshots or a criminal record that shows up when someone Googles your name — the employer may never give you a chance.
If you’re currently employed, an online smear campaign or other types of negative posted content can cause you to lose your job.
Mental Health Issues
When there are negative comments online about you or your business, you may suffer from anxiety, stress or other mental health issues. Constantly worrying about how your personal reputation or brand reputation is impacted can affect your health and mental state. Everything from insomnia to high blood pressure and other physical symptoms can result.
What Does It Take To Repair Your Online Reputation?
Whether you have a minimal online reputation that you want to build and reinforce or you’re looking to restore your online reputation after it’s suffered damage, there are a lot of options available to you. Strategies will differ based on whether you’re working on your personal reputation or creating a positive brand reputation.
Online Reputation Repair for Individuals vs. Businesses
While there’s some crossover in the tactics you’ll use for online reputation repair, let’s discuss the different approaches for working on your personal online reputation or your brand reputation.
Online Reputation Management for Individuals
- If you are responsible for any inappropriate behavior, publicly apologize for it.
- Monitor the internet for mentions of your name. You can use a free service like Google Alerts for this.
- Create positive, constructive online content for your blog and social media accounts.
- Get rid of any damaging content you can, whether you have to ask others to take it down or you can remove it yourself.
- Contact an ORM company to help you create a good online reputation.
Online Reputation Management for Businesses
- Claim any online business profiles you can.
- Respond to as many customer reviews as possible, both positive reviews and negative reviews.
- Use SEO to improve the visibility of the existing content you own.
- Ask customers and clients to leave reviews. (This should result in more positive reviews being posted online.)
- Create on-brand, optimized content to amplify your positive brand message.
- Work with an ORM company to create a brand reputation management plan.
7 Steps To Restore Your Online Reputation
Now that we’ve discussed the different paths for fixing a company’s online reputation versus an individual’s online reputation, let’s get into some of the basic tactics for developing a positive online presence.
Figure Out the Cause of Your Negative Online Reputation
Your negative online reviews, articles or content came from somewhere. Figure out why there are negative search results about you or your business. This gives you a starting point to repair your online reputation.
Here are a few examples of what could lead to negative search results about your brand:
- One of your main products is defective, but you’ve never fixed the issue or responded to feedback.
- Your marketing team sends out several spammy emails each week, and it’s upsetting subscribers.
- Customers have a difficult time getting in touch with customer support, even during times when it’s supposed to be available.
Knowing the root cause (or causes) of a negative online reputation may be difficult to uncover and unpleasant to learn about, but it does put you in the driver’s seat of taking online reputation repair into your own hands.
Repair the Negative Online Sentiment About Yourself or Your Business
Taking ownership of what you’ve done wrong is one way that you can begin to repair the online sentiment about you or your business. Or, if the negative reviews are false, addressing this by explaining that the comments are fake or unfounded may help.
Either way, the goal is to reassure the customer, your employees, your personal connections, etc., that you (1) see what’s being said and (2) aren’t afraid to address it in whatever way is appropriate.
In the event that the negative content is valid, explain what you’ve done and will do to fix the issue. For example, have you replaced a problematic manager? Have you fixed a faulty product? Have you changed processes so that they run more smoothly? Be transparent with your audience.
Remove the Negative Content That’s Causing Harm
The first type of negative online content you should remove is the content you own. For example:
- A blog post that was written by a manager who faced legal trouble and has since been let go.
- Culturally insensitive social media posts that people took offense to.
- Areas of your website that don’t function as they should and are hurting the user experience.
Since you own these content types, you can simply remove anything that’s causing a problem.
When it comes to unowned content, it can be harder to have it removed. You can contact the owner of the content to ask them to remove it or submit a request to Google so the negative information no longer shows up in search results. You can also try suppression methods to bury the poor content and have positive content show up higher in search results.
All of this can take a lot of time, patience and expertise to handle. Online reputation management companies offer these services and more to help with online reputation repair.
Claim Your Online Company Profiles
By claiming your online business profiles, you can help people find relevant, trustworthy information about your business in online search results. Visit business review sites like Google and Yelp to claim and fill out your company profile. This also provides a place where customers can leave positive reviews about your business. Don’t forget to regularly visit your profiles to comment on your online reviews and engage with your audience.
You also want to make sure that any social media accounts you have are up-to-date. Visit each social media profile of yours to give it a refresh. Or, if you decide you don’t want a presence on that social platform, remove it. Don’t leave an inactive business profile anywhere online.
Manage Your Business Reviews
Practically every business has online reviews, both positive and negative. You don’t want to ignore either type — your response can go a long way in shaping the public perception of your business.
Here are a few best practices for managing business reviews:
- Ask your customers to leave a review. Make it easy for them by providing a link to an online business profile where they can write their review.
- Don’t specifically ask for a positive review. You don’t want to sway their opinion — you want them to have had a truly great experience.
- Identify the right moment to ask for a review. For example, sending an email one week after they receive your product gives them enough time to experience it. Or, you could ask for a review directly after a customer service connection to find out if they’re satisfied with the outcome.
- Look at your negative reviews to spot themes. If the same issue is repeated several times across multiple reviews, chances are it’s a real complaint and something you need to address.
Also, as you come across negative reviews, address them. Respond to the review professionally and resolve the problem, if possible. Or, if the review is fake or inaccurate, explain why — other people will see your response and the original negative review won’t have as much power over their decisions.
Create and Optimize Your Own Content
Having your own content means publishing new, fresh articles that are keyword-optimized and can take the top spot in Google Search results. Here are a few ways to create on-brand, positive content that can suppress negative articles and help fix online reputation issues:
- Set up business profiles.
- Create social media accounts on the platforms most relevant to your audience.
- Regularly post on social media and use keywords in your content.
- Write optimized blog posts for your website that share the same keywords as the negative articles.
- Market your blog posts to gain more views.
- Contribute guest posts to popular publications.
The more owned content you create, the more you’ll be able to control your brand narrative and positively influence the public perception of your company.
Monitor Your Mentions
A golden rule of online reputation management is monitoring the web for mentions of your name, company name or other personally identifiable information. Whether you use a simple tool like Google Alerts or a more advanced monitoring tool, you need to know what’s being said about you.
Even if you’re successful with online reputation repair, ORM is an ongoing process. Improving your personal or brand reputation now is great, but in order to keep it positive, you have to be listening to what others are saying. If you don’t, the situation can get bad again before you know it.
What Do ORM Companies Do To Restore an Online Reputation?
Online reputation management companies work with individuals, professionals and businesses to control what others see about them online. ORM specialists can help with tasks like removing unwanted content, responding to negative reviews, and eliminating digital threats that can harm your reputation, success, relationships, mental health, and more.
Online reputation management combines marketing, PR, SEO and legal strategies to create, repair and/or manage your online reputation.
ORM Services for Repairing a Damaged Reputation
There are a variety of online reputation management services that ORM experts use, including:
- Content creation
- SEO for existing and new content
- Social media management
- Limiting the personal content that’s available
- Review management
- Monitoring for mentions
The specific techniques that will be used for you depend on your most pressing ORM needs.
For example, if you’re in need of an online reputation repair service to deal with an onslaught of negative reviews, that’ll be the first issue the ORM company tackles. Or, if there are defamatory articles about you or your business, content removal may be the first strategy used.
Online Reputation Management FAQ
What’s the first thing I should do to restore my online reputation?
The first thing you should do to restore an online reputation is gather all instances of negative content, including negative press, negative reviews, unflattering articles, etc. Knowing exactly what you’re dealing with is a prerequisite for getting on top of your reputation management.
Can you recover from a bad online reputation?
Yes, you can recover from a bad online reputation. With time, dedication and the right tools, you can fix issues causing damage to your reputation, create content to push negative search results down, and engage with your audience in a positive way.
How long does it take to restore an online reputation?
How long it takes to restore an online reputation is relative to what’s causing the problem and how much work you put into fixing it. Serious issues, like a CEO who’s committed a crime or a faulty product that’s hurt people, can take longer to fix. Problems related to a few fake reviews or a less-than-flattering social media account can potentially be repaired faster.
Contact an ORM Specialist Today
The team at NetReputation follows a five-step process for online reputation management:
- Reputation analysis
- Web property development
- Content creation
- Content promotion
On top of that, we’ll discuss any specific concerns you have and create a customized plan for repairing your online reputation.
Contact us today at 844-461-3632 or by filling out the form below to speak with a consultant. We’re here to help.