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As Google shifts toward no action, negative online reputations are harder to repair

By Wendy Bulawa Agudelo

30751840_s.jpg4 ways to protect your company’s online image

If negative or unfounded reviews or comments from consumers or former employees have marred your company’s reputation, the uphill battle of refuting them is both costly and time-consuming, with little hope of remedy. Hiring defamation lawyers or public relations professionals to repair damaged credibility takes time, and on the internet, information can still remain, especially when review sites or search engine behemoths don’t agree to removal.

In the last few months, Google has made changes to its algorithms and the steps it takes to deal with court-ordered removal requests. Where Google once thoughtfully complied with court orders to remove content fitting strict criteria (identity at risk, copyright infringement/Digital Millennium Copyright Act or libel/defamation issues), the company is now less likely to act. Search engines, by law, aren’t liable for defamation/libel and are therefore not required to remove negative content from results. Google has occasionally provided options for those who have successfully earned a judge’s ruling in their favor. However, as the new year begins, and thanks to numerous bogus lawsuits, Google is becoming less supportive and, given legal protection, is no longer feeling as altruistic.

Without a legal safety net, what can you do to manage your company’s online reputation?

1. Build and maintain a positive and active online presence.

Simply stated, in this era of digital everything, the best defense is a proper offense. Invest in your brand online and across social media platforms. Deliver useful content, respond to customers quickly and share your success stories regularly and broadly. Research shows that if the top Google results for your business are positive, it builds consumer confidence in your company. But, the converse is also clear: Should those top results be negative, things become bleaker.

2. Suppress negativity with positivity.

Even with the best of intentions, there will be occasions where negative comments appear. The very nature of business and relationships reveals that it’s nearly impossible to make every single person absolutely happy. Suppress negative results with positive, relative content, such as case studies, happy customers, testimonials, etc., to bolster the good news and bury the less positive.

3. Invest in reputation management software.

Accomplish No. 1 and No. 2 easily with reputation management software. Online reputation management software, like ReviewMaxer, is an affordable way to quickly gain popularity online and manage your company’s reputation – and it's extremely easy to use. ReviewMaxer efficiently monitors, collects and promotes your online reviews from a central dashboard. Improve your SEO and gain more positive reviews by proactively reaching out to your employees for their feedback. 

4. Hire a PR firm to manage your reputation for you.

PR professionals are experts at messaging and content creation and understand the importance of reputation and brand management across traditional and evolving forms of media. Properly constructed campaigns also incorporate data metrics, analytics and tools to ensure that every word about your company can be instantly managed. Meet the team members who will support your business; ask for references and case studies. Inquire about backgrounds and specific areas of expertise, and most importantly, request a direct line of communication so that you stay abreast of the details.  

Given Google’s recent shift when it comes to search results removal, any business that promises they can get negative content removed may be selling you a bill of goods. If your situation doesn’t fit the strict criteria for removal, no lawyer, judge or PR professional can help. Therefore, plan ahead by aggressively monitoring and managing your online reputation. To learn more, contact us or visit our ReviewMaxer website today.New Call-to-action

Wendy-color.jpgWendy Bulawa Agudelo has nearly 20 years of experience in technology, business, consumer and nonprofit public relations. She serves on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress PR Task Force and is a culinary enthusiast and champion for the special needs community. Wendy has worked for Axia Public Relations since September 2014. Learn more about Wendy Bulawa Agudelo. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.






Featured image credit:123rf.com

Topics: public relations, online reputation management

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