Reputation Management vs. Reputation Damage Control

We frequently receive calls from panicked individuals that have just discovered negative information about their product, service, brand, or name on the Internet. Reviews are often left anonymously, with no evident recourse, or way to remove them. Websites that accept reviews are under no obligation to erase a post, even if the content or claim is untrue. Legal action is often ineffective, as web site owners hide behind The Communications Decency Act which states that, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” – 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1) Basically, the website owner can not be held liable for the content placed by an outside source.

Reputation Management

Negative Internet reviews that hold a prominent position in the search engines for your name or brand will have a destructive impact on your bottom line. A business or service provider can expect that at least 30% of their potential clients will search for them directly by name, brand, or business name.

It is important to understand the difference between Reputation Management and Reputation Damage Control campaigns. The goal is the same – to populate the search engine results with positive content when people search for you. The process, cost, and urgency are very different however. Potential clients that call us for Reputation Management services are in reality almost always looking for Damage Control.

Reputation Damage Control is reactive. You are reacting to negative press after it has already been published online. Think of this type of campaign as emergency surgery. It takes a massive effort to push the negative information from the front page of the search engines, and re-populate the search results with positive content for your name. Age and time (on the Internet) have an influential factor on the search results, so the negative information already has an advantage by the time you react.

Reputation Management is proactive. You are building your online reputation resources prior to the appearance (or discovery) of any negative press. Think of this type of campaign as preventative medicine for your reputation. A successful campaign will allow you to control multiple listings for your name or brand. You want to own the first page of Google! This type of campaign does not have the same urgency as a Damage Control project, making it much less costly. In addition to your website scoring #1 in the search engines for your brand and name, you will want to create positive marketing assets. These can be branded social media sites like FaceBook, company videos, articles, press releases, professional associations, your blog, and marketing websites you control.

Online Reputation Tips:

Start monitoring your name, brand, and website on the Internet. Google provides a free service called Google Alerts that can be configured to alert you the instant Google finds you or your professional name mentioned on the web.

Never respond to negative reviews immediately. Many sites that publish negative content offer a way for you to respond, but adding content can make the listing stronger in the search results.

Secure your name and brand on all of the major social networks – this includes sites like Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Even if you are not going to use them immediately, you can start the aging process. Check all social media networks for your brand with one click at

Register important versions of your primary domain such as .org .net .biz .info – this will block an aggressive squatter from owning a version of your domain name.

Claim your local page listings and profiles on the search engines, and in the major review websites such a Yelp.

Develop a highly visible dispute resolution process, and make your clients aware of it. The best defense is a good offense!

Resolve any reports that are listed in the Online BBB system. You want an “A” listing on the Better Business Bureau website.

Retain a professional Search Marketing company that offers Reputation Management services.

Online transparency is something we all have to live with. It is now part of the cost of doing business. Unfortunately, people feel most compelled to write a review when they are angry; Negative reviews are posted far more often than positive. In addition, the ability to post negative information anonymously is attractive to nasty competitors, ex-employees, and relationships that have soured. The good news is that most web searchers never make it past the first page of the search engine results. Own the first page of Google before it owns you.

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About David

David Tucker: Search Engine Optimization, Link Building Strategies, Off-Page SEO, Brand and Reputation Management Campaigns, Structural Analysis, and Analytics Consultant. Fighting the good fight against the search engines since InfoSeek and Alta Vista were the top Internet search portals. David has a strong background in technical, design, and hosting related issues. This provides RightNow clients with a layer of SEO that most organizations can not offer. In addition to SEO work, David has developed the RightNow online client reporting system, public website, email and auto-responder system, and the development + branding of the RightNow social media channels. When not working you can find David enjoying the outdoors in Maui, Hawaii


  1. Probably also worth noting that generally reputation damage control is much more expensive than reputation management, also.

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