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It used to be a time, when issues concerning bad, online reputations were practically nonexistent. But, thanks to social media, blogs, reviews, and media coverage, your company, brand, or name must be routinely monitored and adjusted accordingly to ensure your company, brand, and name are maintained positively.

Even small businesses can be negatively affected- it’s not just celebrities, doctors, lawyers, and other public figures.

Unfortunately, there are some who will report negative things online about a brand or company, rather if the report is true or false. In some cases, this information may not pose much impact. However, there are many times when the brand or company can be severely damaged, even to the point of irreparable damage. Now, if the negative reports are true, then those reports will tend to reoccur repeatedly, no matter what technique is used to remove those negative reports. And with that said, that is part of karma, because no matter how companies/brands scheme to extinguish those reports, Google algorithms would normally cause those reports to reappear repeatedly. This is done by Google redoing their algorithms periodically, to ensure the best results.

There are two sides of the online reputation game: the white hats and the black hats. The legitimate, reputation management services are called the white hats. These companies work hard to improve the company, brand, or person’s search engine results with the use of true and tried marketing techniques, that don’t violate any rules.

The black hats’ firms are associated with the dark side of the industry that break rules; would border on blackmail sometimes; and even sometimes break laws. Some, who have gotten caught breaking laws, were forced to pay hefty fines. Their aim is like the white hats, which is to make their clients have higher search engine results of positive information, and lowering the rank of the negative information for them. However, their means are downright scandalous many times.
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The bottom line is this: To have a good reputation online, your company or brand must be maintaining a good reputation offline. By performing unsavory actions, you are bound to gain an unsavory result and reputation. Karma is what it is. Nevertheless, there will still be some who will still post negative things, and must be addressed accordingly. The following steps are things that should be adhered to, in order to fight for and maintain a great online reputation:

    1. Become well respected– Just supplying great product and services, and maintaining trust among your customers, you will earn and maintain people’s respect.

    2. Be radically transparent– Being transparent can be risky, however, not being transparent can be riskier. This way, customers would and can see that they is nothing to hide, which in turn, can promote trust for your company or brand. One way to be transparent is to provide a blog on your site, and interact with customers, which are great tools in maintaining great CRM, and in potentially increasing your customer base.

    3. Monitor what is said about you– As with social media monitoring: This is a good tool to use to regularly monitor your online reputation. People tweet/share information all the time, and when something unfavorable comes up, it can be handled almost immediately. Google Alert, is a great example, of alerting you concerning anything said, positive or negative, about you and your company on blogs, tweets, reviews, etc. This service is also free.

    4. React quickly and professionally– if a customer complains via Twitter, for instance, a prompt and simple response, such as we are aware of the problem, we are working on it, and we will get back to you as soon as possible is much better than responding late with additional information. And if a customer on your blog, has a problem, and it is handled immediately with great customer satisfaction- this action alone will encourage customers and potential customers to trust more in your brand.

    5. Google page 1 should be treated like a business card– the saying that first impressions count is definitely true. So, words such as rip off or scam shouldn’t be associated with your business.

    6. Attack the illegitimate attackers– Negative reviews, hate sites, and negative media coverage can all pose great threats to your company or brand. Sites, like Pissed Consumer and Ripoff Report, are excellent platforms for these types of negative content. With sites that go beyond negative reviews called hate sites, they would express their opinions that address public figures and companies with false information and insults. Some of them may also contain illegal content. Also, the saying that there is no thing as bad publicity isn’t true many times. Negative media coverage can wreck detrimental havoc on a lot of companies and brands.

    If any of these situations happen, it must be addressed accordingly. Especially if the information is defamatory, reports falsely, and is aimed to damage the brand or company’s reputation, certain actions are in order. For one, using aggressive SEO methods can greatly eliminate this adverse action, by having the positive and promotional content on the first two pages of the search engines. Secondly, Legal liaison and speed of reaction can possibly remove negative reviews that are great threats to your reputation. And lastly, online investigations can be used for serious attacks on your image, that are difficult to resolve. Online analysts would investigate by data cross-indexing, email tracing, and through other collection of information techniques.

    7. Learn from your mistakes– you can save face, or at least salvage, and regrow your brand or company, if you admit to your mistakes, and not do it again. Sony, for instance, is a good example, when they were not upfront about a mistake in 2005, and as a result they lost millions in a class action lawsuit when they stonewalled the criticism.