How to Manage Online Reputation Management ?

Find out what Online Reputation Management is, why it matters to you and how it can affect your business. Read the complete guide to ORM and familiarize yourself with the positive and negative effect

Yavin, Founder and Joint CEO of Exactive LTD (photo credit: YAVIN, FOUNDER AND JOINT CEO OF EXACTIVE LTD)
Yavin, Founder and Joint CEO of Exactive LTD
So, you are on the lookout for a new lawyer or maybe a dentist for your little one. Where would you start? Most probably, Google would be your first choice or for that matter any other search engine on the net right? But what if one of a co-worker of the above professionals decides to ruin their reputation online? These happen to be the first results that you will review in your search. So how do you manage to keep the search result pages clean from defamation and misrepresentation? 
For most of us, the Internet has transformed into the main source of information in more and more areas and we depend on the online information to form any opinion (be it positive or negative) about individuals: For example, if we are in need of a dentist, we probably will type the word "dentist" in Google or look up names of several dentists who are suitable for us. Similarly, when it comes to singers, actors, politicians and other public figures, the Internet greatly affects our perception and the light in which we view them. Hence, we can safely conclude that there is great importance for the first page search results on Google when we are looking for a specific individual. 
Consequently, in recent times the concept of “Online Reputation Management” has developed vastly; this service ensures that the manner in which an individual portrayed online is appropriate to what he believes in. It is a process that is developed naturally over a period of time. However, nowadays it is difficult to find an Organization, a Company or a Professional who is not assisted by their spokesman or PR Agency. Also, in certain cases they hire skilled and trained media consultants – whether it is during a crisis or downfall situation in the business or  for the launch of new products and services and so on. So, it is but natural for all those who find the Internet quintessential, to hire professional services for managing their online reputation and goodwill.
Who does the Online Reputation Management Service ideally cater to?

The Online Reputation Management Service - also known as ORM - renders to all those who value their online image, be it professionals, politicians, businessmen etc.
There are two situations in regards to as and when this service made use of, namely – Some prefer to use ORM in order to fend off negative publicity while some exercise it as an ongoing process.
It is imperative to note that the Internet is indeed a great and comprehensive source of information and in many cases, quite precise and thorough as well. However, it has its flaws as it lets anyone to   target a particular person with relative ease: For example, a person may advertise all over the net negative reviews about his co-worker only to improve his own situation. Whereas another example could be that of an individual losing a case and then wrongly blaming his lawyer instead (even if the lawyer performed his job professionally and to the best of his capabilities), as a consequence tarnishing the lawyer's reputation in various places on the Internet, for all those who shall look up  his name in the future.
So how is Online Reputation Management Service practically carried out?

In order to evict negative posts from Google's first page of the search  results (or from any other search engine), there is need to promote positive content regarding the individual for whom ORM service is being conducted. For carrying out this process, ORM professionals are left with two options: One being promotion of existing web pages with positive content in regards to the individual and the other being creation of new content which also requires perpetual  promotion. In any case, this is a complex process as it demands simultaneous promotion of web pages that possess positive content and references of the concerned individual.
In some cases, an individual who enjoys high public profile, may be asked to take positive steps himself so as to attract attention of the media which will consequently be reflected on the Internet.
There are several ways in which one can promote positive values of the concerned individual, the major ones being:
  • Using existing positive content.
  • Creating  new positive content.
  • Building fictitious profiles on leading Social Network Platforms (also simultaneously making use of existing profiles).
  • Endorsing appropriate keywords (primarily the name of the person and if he is the head of the Company then also the      Company's name) via promotion-enabled sites.
  • Establishing profile links to all of the above mentioned categories.
Positive Content 

Positive content is relatively proportional to Online Reputation Management. Greater the quantity of existing online positive content in regards to the individual, it is relatively easier to start the process of eradicating negative feedbacks and posts. However, in most cases there is need to create new complimentary content in addition to the existing information. Similarly, the Advertising Agency or the Online Marketing Company, who is conducting ORM, needs to endorse well-acclaimed and praiseworthy articles for Public Relations(PR) purposes. This will pave the pathway for future promotion and benefit the posts to be displayed as the primary search results on Google (or other search engines).
Social Networking Profiles
Generally, social networking profiles are listed on the first page of the search engines. Therefore, if one does not already possess such a profile then its imperative to create one for him, compatible to the beliefs and accomplishments that he may desire to highlight.
Endorsing Appropriate Keywords via Promotion-enabled Sites 

A key element in managing online reputation is to develop customized pre-programmed sites for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) including specific pages with a framework that (significantly) influence promotion on Google or other search engines.
Variety of Profile Links

All sites that are being built as well as the old existing ones (those having positive content in regards to the individual) should be promoted via a variety of profile links. The reason for this being that Google invests heavily in “War Promotion” and since the Penguin Update has come into effect, those sites that do not diversify links will have to suffer from adverse effects – All positive content-related sites will be pushed to the latter pages of the search results and thus in turn won't be able to influence and improve the online image of the individual.
Preventive Measures

Online Reputation Management, on an ongoing basis, can be extremely effective especially to prevent damage control in a crisis situation. Ongoing management involves two primary components namely: First being constant advertising of content that emphasizes the positive aspects of the individual reciprocating his appropriate beliefs, and the latter being monitoring negative content. In this way, even if negative references do crop up, they are dealt with immediately before it influences the public's opinion of the individual. In any case, due to the vast positive content being invariably managed, it will make it difficult for negative feedback to reach the front pages of the search engine thus minimizing potential damage to the individual.
The writer is the CO-CEO and Head of the Internet Advertising Agency – EXACTIVE.