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Difference between online reviews and online reputation with Jason Mudd | On Top of PR podcast

By On Top of PR

On Top of PR podcast: The difference between online reviews and online reputation with host Jason Mudd episode graphicLearn how to improve your company’s online reputation with our host, Jason Mudd. Jason is the managing partner of Axia Public Relations.









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Five things you’ll learn from this episode:

  1. How online reviews compare to your online reputation  

  2. Steps to auditing your company’s online reputation 

  3. The importance of domain authority 

  4. What you can do offline to improve your online reputation 

  5. How to find the right agency to help improve your company’s online reputation


  • “The idea of online reputation management is making sure you have that positive first impression when someone is ‘window shopping’ your brand on the internet.” — @jasonmudd9

  • “Make sure you’re investing in optimizing pages that will rank higher more organically and naturally because of their domain authority.” — @jasonmudd9

  • “By improving the offline part of a business, we’re able to help improve the online portion of a company’s reputation.” — @jasonmudd9

  • “You didn’t earn a bad reputation instantly or overnight, so don’t expect a positive reputation to develop overnight.” — @jasonmudd9

If you enjoyed this episode, would you please share it with others and leave us a review?


About Jason Mudd:

Jason Mudd, APR, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia in July 2002.


Clients love Jason’s passion, innovation, candor, commitment, and award-winning team. In an increasingly tech-forward world, Jason’s grasp of technological demands on companies provides his clients in multiple sectors a unique advantage toward reaching their top audiences. After teaching himself HTML in 1994, Jason helped pioneer internet marketing strategies as an early adopter of e-commerce, SEO, and social media, inspiring tech giants like Yahoo.

At Axia, Jason attracts, develops, retains, innovates, and leads top PR talent and clients. He oversees strategic communications for the firm’s national clients and provides high-level consultations to client leadership teams at billion-dollar global brands, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer, including spokesperson training, crisis communications management, analytics, social media, online reputation management, and more. He also speaks frequently to corporations and industry groups and writes about public relations trends and best practices for American City Business Journals and other national businesses.


Guest’s contact info and resources:

Additional Resources:

Sponsored by:

  • On Top of PR is produced by Axia Public Relations, named by Forbes as one of America’s Best PR Agencies. Axia is an expert PR firm for national brands.

  • On Top of PR is sponsored by ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving, and promoting online customer reviews.

  • We are thrilled to have Burrelles sponsor our solocast episodes. Thanks to Burrelles for its support. Burrelles has a special offer exclusively for On Top of PR fans. Check it out at burrelles.com/ontopofpr.

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Jason Mudd's image

About your host Jason Mudd

On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.



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- Welcome to another episode of On Top of PR. I'm your host, Jason Mudd. And today, we're talking about what's the difference between online reviews and online reputations? I'm so glad you joined us, and this is gonna be a great episode. So tune in, and if you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe and get notified when we have new episodes.


- [Announcer] Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.


- Hi, this is Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations. You are listening to or watching, depending on what you're doing, On Top of PR, where today we're having a solo cast. That's just you and me. And we're talking about a topic I think that is relevant to you. And so, today we're talking about company reputations, and specifically, what's the difference between online reviews and online reputation? So let's break it down. So we're all familiar with Yelp and leaving online reviews on Facebook and other platforms. And so, to be very candid and simplify it, when you're worried about online reviews, those are actually your reviews and this number of stars that you get, or the number of reviews that you have on your social media or on some kind of website that is looking for reviews. Now, this might include Glassdoor or Indeed, where you have employee reviews, or again, it might be customer facing or client facing reviews, such as Healthgrades or Yelp or Facebook, even for your products on Amazon and other places. So those are online reviews, pretty straightforward, where somebody actually giving you a score or rating, a number of stars or whatever. And there are hundreds, hundreds of websites that accept customer reviews, employee reviews, and client reviews. So if you can think of a website that takes reviews, you probably wanna start managing it and monitoring whether it's unique to your industry or unique to any general consumers. There are tools to monitor and manage your online reviews. Our podcast and our organization is associated with ReviewMaxer, ReviewMaxer is one of the sponsors of this podcast. Axia Public Relations created ReviewMaxer years ago to help out a client in the financial services space who was having a challenge with their online reviews. And then we since were able to deploy that to our clients all over the U.S. and even the world for that matter. Interestingly, about ReviewMaxer, is that it works with any review platform that's out there, it works in multiple countries, and it's just a great and powerful tool to have in your arsenal to, again, monitor and manage and improve your online reviews. Where things get a little more complicated is online reputation management and managing your reputation. And so I was just talking to a contact of mine immediately before this recording. And she was telling me about how her company has run into an issue because they have a similar name to a company in a completely different industry and in a completely different geography who is currently involved in a lawsuit or litigation. And so, when one of her clients is searching up that company name, they're seeing this lawsuit and their concern that they are doing business with a company who's being sued. And that would be a perfect example of the difference between an online review and online reputation. In this particular case, you've got a reputational issue where there's search results on Google or some other search engine that are unfavorable. And you wish that that would either go away or there was some clarity separating between you and this other company. And so the idea of online reputation management is making sure you have that first, that positive first impression when someone is "window shopping" your brand on the internet. And so obviously Google currently is the most popular search engine. And so companies are obviously concerned about their online reputation and what people see on the first page of Google. And more importantly, the first half of the first page, and then the second page, third page. And then after that, I don't know who's digging that deep because the search engines are that good that you don't really have to go that far to usually find what you're looking for. Certainly, there's Yahoo and Bing and other search engines out there that are important, but most people are concerned about Google because of the amount of market share that Google gets to enjoy. As I'm guiding clients through this process, there are several steps we recommend. One is to kind of do an audit to see what are the first 10 results on Google when you're searching for your company's brand name? What of those 10 do you like? Which of those 10s are you neutral on? And of those 10, which ones do you consider to be negative? And then I'd start assigning percentage. So let's say there are three positive things, four neutral things, and three negative things. Then, I would put those into columns or a list. And I would sort that list by the ones you think are, again, positive, neutral, and negative. And I would work to replace those negatives with content that you think is either positive or neutral. Now, you might say, Jason, why would you say positive or neutral instead of just positive? Well, the answer is domain authority. So how likely is it that a positive or neutral content is gonna outrank the negative content? And so, you wanna make sure that you're investing in optimizing pages that are gonna rank higher more organically and naturally because of their domain authority. Domain authority means how much clout does this domain have according to independent third party? So obviously Google has a lot of clout, CNN has a lot of clout, sites that are getting a lot of traffic and that are producing content that people wanna consume and that aren't, don't have a reputation for producing poor content or reputation for stealing content, or maybe even violations for being a domain that spams. So domain authority and domain score is important. And so obviously you want to invest in the sites that are gonna out perform. So for example, we recently had a client who didn't like something that was being said about them on complaintsboard.com or maybe in your business it's Ripoff Report or pissedcustomer.com. Well, those are pretty popular sites, but Facebook, for example, would be more popular. And so might Wikipedia and Instagram or Twitter or something like that. So you might wannna invest resources in trying to optimize those pages that are kind of shared pages and optimize the pages that are owned pages. So let me clarify, if you're watching the video, you'll see in the bottom right, I think it's you're right, 'cause it's my right. So maybe your left. But the news, social, and web at the bottom. So if you think of news, news is like earned media where you earn the media attention through either pitching it or doing good things, or maybe you earned it by doing bad things, but it's called earned media because you're in the news. And then social is obviously, social media also known as shared media. And then web media is kind of also known as a owned media, meaning that it's content that you actually own. So if you think about it, news is something you earn, social media is shared where there's a give and take between the community. It might be your Facebook page, but it's owned by Facebook, not you, and others can jump in and leave comments. They can leave negative reviews, that would be shared media. And then web media is your own website that you have, for the most part, complete control over. And then to that end, so like Wikipedia would be considered a social media site or shared media, I mean, site, as would the different Yelp and other channels to leave reviews. And so, anyways, I was saying, what you want to do is try to identify the negative content. And when you're identifying the negative content, go ahead and copy and paste into your file the URL for this negative content. And then go ahead and get screenshots, whether it's a PDF or other way to capture the screen, that's what I would do. And then I would stop visiting those websites and instruct people that work at your organization to stop visiting those websites. Because the more traffic those websites get, the more likely they are to increase their authority, increase their status and relevancy because Google is watching to see what sites are popular, what sites get the most traffic, and the sites to get the least amount of traffic move down in the search engine optimization or the page rankings. And so you want to make sure that your content is moving down on those page rankings that you don't wanna have appear, and that the content you wanna have a peer is moving up on those rankings by getting more traffic and more engagement.


- [Announcer] You are listening to On Top of PR with your host Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted advisor to some of America's most admired and fastest growing brands. He is the Managing Partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social, and web strategies for national companies. And now, back to the show.


- P.S. As little quick tip. If you're using a Google Chrome, which I currently use and recommend, there is a Google Chrome extension called Go Full Page, and it's a full page screen capture extension on Google Chrome. And that's exactly what we use when we're capturing any negative content that might be out there for any of our clients. And we captured that PDF so we always have a copy of it. We grab a copy of that URL. So we always have a copy of it. but then we try not to encourage anybody. In fact, we strongly discourage anybody in our organization or at their organization to stop going to those pages. Don't go to them and read 'em again. Don't go to them and see if they've gotten new comments, just stay away from them so that they don't continue to get more traffic. Speaking of Google Chrome and other web browsers, highly recommend you use Incognito Mode when you're investigating those results, so search results. Incognito Mode takes away a lot of the bias that are in your existing search behavior, that are in your local geography and other data points and information that the search engine or the web browser has about you. And so therefore you're getting more of a fair and balanced independent view of what the rest of the world is probably seeing. Also, when you're searching your company name in the search bar, and there's the suggestion, here's where you're searching and there's a suggestion of other things that might also be relevant to that search, that's called Suggest or Google Suggest maybe. And I assume with Yahoo or Bing it's called Yahoo or Bing Suggest, but that just shows kind of what the search engine is seeing trending or what they are suggesting that you might be looking for on your own behavior. That's probably the hardest thing to clean up, to be very honest, of your online reputation. So if you're finding a lot of people are searching, and unfortunately, good guys like Clark Howard have trained consumers to search for a company name and the word fraud or scam or rip off or complaints, right? Or reviews right after their name. And so, when people start doing that in large volume, Google starts to see that as a trend and so they start to suggest that as a fix now. The good news is we know some techniques and ways to help you with that. And we've been this type of work since 2010. So 10 years now we've been working at it. That's the same time that we created ReviewMaxer. And anyway, I'm sharing that to say that you have a lot of opportunity to kind of create the narrative by controlling what that Google Suggest is and coming up with with good content there. So if you came to me and you said, you know, Jason Axia, we've got, and by the way, the record we've had is seven negative things on page one of Google, and yes, we were able to fix that. Yes, it took time and a lot of work, but we were able to fix that for them. In fact, we're proud to say the about three of them went away within the first 30 days. And then the other ones took, I'll be very candid with you, you know, 12 months or so to get rid of them. And then they kind of came back when the clients started its bad behavior again, and people started complaining again. So we had to jump back in and kind of fix some of their mistakes and remind them that, this is gonna be an ongoing thing if they continue to have ongoing business practices that irritate customers. And so, but you know, there's a lot, not only is there, speaking of that particular client, not only is there online activities you can take to improve your online reputation, but there's things you can do offline. And so, for example, we worked with this particular client in the financial services space to encourage them to be more helpful to their prospects. 'Cause it was really the prospects that were unhappy. It was never the customers that were unhappy. It was the way they were soliciting, marketing, specifically telemarketing, cold calling and hard selling. And so people were just turned off by that. And so we had to kind of coach them and guide them and help them with revise their scripts and their sales approach and their modeling. And that made a big difference. So that helped with the, you know, by improving the offline part of their business, we were able to help improve the online portion of those results. And so you really need to examine yourself the company. And it's one thing we've tried to do right away say, hey, if you can't change the way you're doing business, if you can't understand that you've made some mistakes in the past, but you need to repent and change the way you're doing business, then this is gonna be very costly and it's never probably gonna be a permanent solution. But if you're willing and able to adjust the way you do business today and seek constant improvement and seek to do a better job in the areas that people are complaining about, that is gonna really help you. Now, I'm sure there are people who are listening to this, and they're saying, man, we've got this one negative that is completely not ours, we did not deserve it. We don't know who this person is. They never did business with us. And so that reminds me of the example I gave earlier of a colleague who has a company with a similar name of another company. And so, unfortunately, you can't even really approach these websites and say, I know Sally Smith has all these things she's saying are negative about working with us. But if you search our customer record, we've never done business with Sally Smith, and our financial services clients case. So and look, we have to keep our records for a very long time and any customer that has bought from us, we have to register them as somebody that we've done business with. And in their particular case, it actually ends up becoming kind of public record. And so, they were able to document, hey, this Sally Smith has never done business with us, but you know, at the end of the day, these sites are designed to generate revenue from memberships and from ad revenue and otherwise, they're not really paid, they're not really designed to manage and arbitrate or mediate differences between customers and companies. So you're really on your own in many ways, although we have had some success outside of the court system and inside the court system, getting things removed from sites, if you approach it reasonably and responsibly, and probably a little bit of persistency, but it's a tough line of work. One thing that I think is really unique about working with a PR firm and maybe even specifically our PR firm to do this. So a lot of companies will go out and hire a search engine optimization firm to help them with reputation management, and many search engine optimization firms they think of this as kind of, I've heard it called reverse search engine optimization, but the truth is that this is more complicated than your standard searching optimization engagement, because you kind of are doing reverse searching optimization, you're trying to elevate some pages. And then finding ethical ways or red hat, or white hat ways to do to kind of encourage the other sites to go away. One way to do that is, like I said, just as simple as try to not go to those sites on your own and encourage, and discourage your people from getting traffic there. We've worked with companies that have thousands of employees, and those employees are looking at this negative posts on a regular basis. And so that's driving thousands of people to a site that you arguably had control to stop the traffic going to. And so I've even seen some clients, their IT people just block that from being seen, they make it available on their intranet or in other ways that people are free to can consume it. They're not trying to hide it. They're just trying to prevent it from getting extra traffic that it doesn't really need to see. And so, yes, there are ways that you can ask to have content removed, although it's somewhat rare, it can be done, and we've had success doing that. More than likely, you just need to get out there and really optimize. What I would do is I would look at the 10 sites on the first engine. Again, you've identified what's positive, neutral, and negative. And then I would look at your neutral and positive domains on page one and two, and I'd say, which of these do I think naturally gets more traffic to their site than what's currently ranking? And how might we optimize that page out of best practices to drive more traffic to it? And then I would ask, okay, and then are there other domains that I could create more content, whether again, it's news, social or web content, that would probably be on a domain that would rank higher and even higher than the negatives that I have? And then I would work to earn that content. I would work to optimize that content. I would work to promote that content and drive traffic to it. So one thing that I know people ask too is, hey, shouldn't I go and create a Wikipedia page about my company? Because I know that will outrank, Wikipedia tends to rank high. And yes, it does tend to rank high. You have to think about this just a little bit deeper though. One, it's frowned upon and maybe even forbidden by the terms of use for a company to go in and create their own page on their own article on Wikipedia. That's supposed to be done voluntarily and organically through the Wikipedia community and through editors. And I do think it's a good solution under the right conditions. So let me give you an example. If your company already has litigation and you're trying to, for lack of better word, cover up or mask or demote that litigation content, because you know, you've repented and you've changed your ways and it'll never happen again. The problem is that a litigation and high profile lawsuits are obviously a great way too, are great content for Wikipedia. And so I've seen some companies get a Wikipedia article, they're really happy with it. It survives the screen and the filtering and the reviews that Wikipedia does, and it stays live 'cause it's done right. But then eventually a community contributor says, oh, wait a minute. Wasn't this company involved in a high profile litigation? Let's add that to their account or their listing. And so that's what they do. They add it in there. And the next thing you know, you've got a negative within something that you once thought or wanted to be a positive or a neutral. And that's just the reality of doing business. And that's the thing on search engines is they're there to tell the truth, they're there to deliver the best results, and encouraging different behavior is probably within your means and your rights, but it takes time. And another thing is be careful of quick results. 'Cause if you get quick results in a quick change, it can very quickly change right back. And so I've seen that happen to a lot of companies where they're thrilled with their results, it was quick, it was instant and overnight, but truth is, it wasn't the right solution for them long term. The other thing I want you to be thinking about when you look to hire a company to help you with, make sure you're hiring a company who can demonstrate that they've done this before. So many times, I've seen companies who are in the equation, in the conversation about helping a company, yet they've never done it, they can't show any case studies, they can't show any before and afters. I would stay away from those companies. You do not want to learn on their dime because what if they mess up and they cause your domain or the domains you're optimizing to get penalized 'cause they were using black hat techniques? Also, often companies who don't know what they're doing are often not quoting very accurate pricing or timelines or techniques or strategies for doing this work. And you will be their guinea pig. And I guarantee you it's gonna burn. In addition, like I said, be cautious of instant results. Be cautious of companies that are not qualified. Be cautious of putting too much pressure to rush into it. You want it to happen, you didn't earn a bad reputation or you didn't get bad content instantly or overnight, so don't expect the same thing to happen. Just like if you're trying to lose weight and you know, you didn't put on the pounds overnight and you're certainly not gonna lose the pounds overnight either. So it's definitely a process. I would say, go into it with eyes wide open, but be willing to make the investment in the long haul. Remember what it's worth to you and your organization. It's very valuable to make sure you have a good, really good reputation that you can maintain. Another word of caution, and I'm gonna end on this, and I think it's really important. There's a lot of well-known brands out there who are heavy advertisers in this space who really promote what they do, but you wanna kinda ask them and you wanna have a conversation with them upfront before you hire them, or at least before you hire them to start taking action, maybe you pay 'em a consultation fee or something like that to get started. But you wanna know what success looks like to them and make sure it lines up with your expectations. The reason I bring that up is I've seen companies try this and it doesn't work very well. And I wanna explain that to you. So what I've seen these companies do is they go out and create clutter on the internet and they create clutter and it causes confusion. So they'll go out and create a whole bunch of, let's just say, WordPress websites that contain your name and the domain, that contain your company name and the optimized website, copy and content, but it's not your website. And the consumer might click on some of these trying to find you. And instead, they're finding like random cluttered websites that are, have what's called keyword stuffing, where your opted, the branded keywords that you're trying to improve your reputation for are just all over the page, all over the place. And it creates a lot of clutter and confusion, because that customer is like, is this the company I'm trying to find? It doesn't really look like a polished professional website. There's a lot of garbage, not a lot of good content here. Now that content is ranking high, so that's how they found you, but it's not the impression you wanna give somebody. So actually I think makes you, it makes it look worse. And I've seen several companies, even some companies with some, somewhat well-known brands, have this struggle, have this problem. And so you absolutely don't want that. What you want is to understand what does success look like? Can we control the content you're making? 'Cause a lot of these companies they'll just go out and start issuing content everywhere, and it's not what your brand is about and it will really backfire on you. And so, I've seen that happen, it can be ugly. And so make sure you have clear expectations of what are they gonna do? What does success look like? Am I gonna be able to approve this optimized content or not? And if you're gonna wanna approve it, you're gonna want to give the commitment of turning around that content timely and getting back to them timely, in addition to your normal duties and responsibilities. My closing point is this. And I mentioned a little bit earlier. The reason why I think PR firms are well qualified to do this, PR agency are well qualified to do this, if they have reputation management experience, is that like in boxing, they've kinda got a one-two punch. And so a lot of SEO companies and reputation management companies, they just have one punch, which is optimizing content, optimizing content, both on-page and off-page, both news, social and web content. But what they can't do that a good PR firm can do is create news and create earned media coverage. And they can also create a hopefully engaging social media content and engaging website content. Now, SEO, or firm, a search engine optimization firm or even a web firm, they might be able to create optimize social content for you and they might be able to create optimized web content for you, but I'm pretty sure a web design searching optimization and 80 to 99% of the reputation management companies I see out there, they don't create news. They don't know how to create news, but a good PR firm does. And that's how we've been successful over the years with online reputation is not only understanding how to do the SEO and how to do the technical side and the optimization side and the content side, but then we know how to pitch the media and media with domain authority, media with domain domains that rank high, we've been able to convince them or pitch them on doing a story about the business that then ranks higher than most everything else that they're trying to push down. And that is a unique thing that a PR agency can do and do well, and to be honest, they're a handful. And last time I checked, the top two companies, that at least advertise and/or on a revenue standpoint of reputation management, have reached out to our firm and they've seen the work we've been able to do for clients that they could not do. And they saw the difference was that we got earned media coverage. And so they've come to us with other clients and say, hey, we've got this client, we're striking out. We can't help them. We know they need positive content, news content that's out there. And by the way, you need good news content to even rank on Wikipedia or even have a Wikipedia article stand by the notability criteria and the relevancy criteria that they have, they base that on how much media coverage, news coverage you've had. And so that's one thing that our PR firm has really benefited from is some of these "competitors" in the online reputation space have actually contacted us and sought to hire us to help them with their most complicated online reputation issues. And then when I find out what they're charging the client, I just scratch my head and go, gosh, we could've done it sooner, quicker, more efficient, better, probably for the same or less money. And you know, either the reputation management company is cutting into their margins by hiring us or they're upselling their client to hire us. But if the client would've just known ahead of time to look for a PR agency who can earn media coverage, earn news coverage for them and has experience with online reputation, and that's good at both of those, which I'm gonna tell you is hard to find, and that would've been the right way to go. So whether it's us or someone else, reach out to a qualified company and get help with this, don't sit on it, because the sooner you start taking action, the better. And if we can help you with this, let us know. I'll include a link where you can learn more about our service there. We've got some off the shelf packages available that I think most companies can find themselves fitting into. But if not, let us know. We'd be happy to do like an initial paid consultation to walk you through our recommendations. And whether you use our action plan in-house and try to do it yourself or you hire us to do it, either way, we're here to help, we wanna help you succeed and we wanna share our expertise with you. Thank you for watching today. If you liked what you saw here, check out our other episodes, like, subscribe, hit the bell to get the notifications, whatever you need to do to communicate and stay in touch with us. But we're gonna work hard to provide content that you wanna hear on a regular basis. And by the way, this topic came up because of a request. Someone made a request. And you can make requests too through our social media channels and other ways to get ahold of us. We are Axia PR everywhere, A-X-I-A PR. Find us, connect with us, ask us your questions or your challenges or your issue at your company, we'll find a way to help you. Appreciate you watching today. And again, we look forward to hearing from you. Be well.


- [Announcer] This has been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.

Topics: media relations, On Top of PR, solocast

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