online reputation management is easier than you think

protect your brand’s rep in one easy, magical step

Scour the web for information on online reputation management. Go ahead, scour… I’ll wait.

Chances are, most of what you find are lessons, tips, tricks, methods, and schemes to keep your digital nose clean and protect your online reputation. It’s all wrong. Most of what you’ll find are a range of approaches akin to business crisis management tactics: address immediately, suppress immediately, drown the crisis with misdirection, mask it with spin. It’s all wrong because these are all things you do after your Internet reputation takes a hit.

The best reputation management happens waaaay before the first poor review or the first snarky hit you take on Facebook. In other words, the most effective Internet reputation management strategy you have is the one that gathers dust on the shelf.

the real secret to protecting your online reputation is…

Don’t give the masses a reason to go after you in the first place. It’s not rocket science. Just because it’s the internet and people can anonymously trash you or your brand doesn’t mean the actual rules of commerce are inapplicable. If your company treats customers or clients (or even employees) like morons, your company deserves the crappiest of poor reputations. If you get stung on someone’s blog because your customer service rep actually did hang up on them, you deserve it. If your company just laid off 50 people the week before Christmas, you can’t be surprised when some of them clear their throat online.

Treat others well and word-of-mouth will travel in your favor. Common human decency is not suspended on the internet. Neither is karma.

differences between online reputation management + traditional PR

In reality, all businesses suffer at least a few bad reviews and knocks to their online reputation. And, as many as the parallels are between protecting your reputation management online and in real life, there are some major differences:

  • The speed at which bad PR spreads around the web — When it comes to digital, the internet was definitely built for speed, not for comfort. As fast as someone can post a scathing review on a highly-trafficked website, it can go viral in just hours.
  • The amount of time it can take to discover poor reviews (and deal with them)  Bad PR and reviews can start eating away at your internet reputation for months before you ever spot it. You can (and should) stay on top of your digital rep by monitoring your brand on social media (social listening), review sites, and paying close attention to search results for your keywords on a continuing basis. When you do spot one, it can take a lengthy effort to knock a high-ranking site down in the search engine results.
  • The ways you can counter it  This is where the worlds of online reputation management and traditional PR strategy diverge. In terms of SEO reputation management, protecting your rep means beating back negative sites in search engine results. SEO-based web reputation management works to influence search engines, while traditional PR strategies work to influence people.

good online reputation management: avoid it in the first place

Just because there are ways to stifle dissent and bad PR on the internet doesn’t mean companies or brands should tread less cautiously. At the same time, if you have one or two negative sites that keep popping up in search results, it doesn’t make you a bad business.  The best way to protect your internet reputation, though, is to prevent having to use it.

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