Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and even if you haven't made any mistakes at all, you could find your reputation online languishing far behind your competitors' reputations. An online reputation management service may be the answer you've been looking for. Online reputation management services work to clean up your online presence and make sure that clients are seeing the very best you possible whenever they do a web search for your brand. In this guide, we'll take a look at how an online reputation management service works and how one can work for your firm's marketing goals.
When Your Online Reputation Is a Mess
If you've never used online reputation management services before, you may be quite surprised at what they find. Your online reputation management service can show you reviews of your firm that you didn't even know existed, and help you understand exactly what people are saying and when they started saying it.
A messy online reputation is no joking matter. Online reputation management services know that negative reviews and bad publicity can sink a website's chances for converting clients. Especially when it comes to something like legal services, in which a lot is at stake and consumers are likely to do some web research before committing, an online reputation management service is a must have.
How Competitors Can Game Online Reputations
You may have noticed some strange things when your online reputation management services started identifying problematic pages online. For example, you notice that someone is calling you the worst law firm in history—among several other more creative epithets—and saying that no one should use your services because you're all “crooks.” But when you talk to your online reputation management service about it, you don't know how it got there—you don't even think you've had a client that disgruntled in years, and you're a little disturbed.
Online reputation management services will tell you the truth: that in many cases, those negative reviews may be placed there by your competitors. While it's a bad idea to be paranoid and assume all negativity comes from people who are biased, it's certainly possible for competitors to play dirty and make bad reviews for your website whenever possible.
If your online reputation management service finds evidence that one of your competitors is posting fake reviews, they can ask for the offending reviews to be removed. Reputable online reputation management services should never use any kind of retaliation for this other than takedown notices. If you get your hands dirty and make bad reviews for them as well, you'll be escalating the conflict instead of making your life easier.
Starting the Cleanup: Takedown Notices
One of the first ways that online reputation management services start to help law firms is by asking for anything untrue or misleading to be removed from the web. Depending on whether your competitors have been dedicated to destroying your reputation, and on how long you've let that continue, you may find that your online reputation management service spends most or all of its time on this task.
When takedown notices get no response from webmasters, your online reputation management services can talk to internet service providers and hosting providers to make sure that the defamation doesn't stay up. Because you're a lawyer, hosting providers and ISPs may assume that you're lawsuit-happy—which won't hurt your odds of having offensive content taken down.
Taking Positive Action: Making New Links and Reviews
Because not all negative reviews are defamatory, even by the most tortured definitions of the term, you won't always be able to make negativity go away with a simple takedown notice. If you screwed up and now you're paying the price because of negative reviews, there's only one thing for it: get more and better links that will be more trusted by people searching for your firm online.
Your online reputation management service can offer suggestions for creating new content. In some cases, online reputation management services will even create this content completely on their own to help your reputation online.
Damage Control: Responding to Negative Reviews
Another approach to take if you have been reviewed negatively is to see if there is any way to comment on reviews. It's a good idea for your online reputation management service to make comments on negative reviews, but you should keep some guidelines in mind. Online reputation management services should never, for instance, respond to a negative review in a way that seems unprofessional or disingenuous.
Instead, you should look at negative reviews as a chance to repair a damaged reputation—not just online for future clients, but also for this client who seems disgruntled. A sincere apology can go a long way, and if you're professional enough about your response to a negative review, people may actually start to see it as a net positive.
Press Releases and Media Coverage
Media coverage is another good way for your online reputation management service to make sure that you have the reputation you want. If you're not already creating press releases and trying to get noticed by the media, your online reputation management services may want to give it a try. By getting your name into media sources, you increase your number of inbound links.
It's not always to get media coverage, but your online reputation management service can make it easier by coming up with a pre-digested “hook” for the reporter to frame their story around. Without a good way to frame the story, it's much less likely that journalists will give you the coverage you desire.
Continuous Monitoring With Online Reputation Management Services
The single biggest advantage to hiring an online reputation management service is that it ensures someone is checking on your reputation consistently and frequently. If you're not using online reputation management services, it can be difficult to remember to check up on your reputation—and of course, you may have more critical things to do. Online reputation management services help you understand what's going on as soon as it starts, so that your reputation doesn't spiral out of your control.