In today’s age where anyone can become a trending Google search, Online Reputation Management (ORM) has never been more important and in turn quite accessible. The implications of a besmirched online identity can impact an individual’s character and nose dive the reputation of a multi-million dollar organization. With an astonishing number of people relying on the internet and its search engines to get information, vet out people and companies and rate and review, a simple google search can make or break a first impression and the integrity of a brand.

Even more striking is that the internet is considered as the first resource for trustworthy information, even though there is no governance on the content available on the internet.

That means that anyone for just or unjust reasons can put something out there online and it’s there forever. There are exceptions, but that requires long, drawn out legal processes and an absurd amount of money. Large companies can afford to take the aforementioned route. But what about the rest of us?

The Numbers:

In Canada, Google’s search engine market share is a whopping 90.95%. Meaning that 90.95% of the population in Canada is using Google and performing all their searches through it. With more than half of these online consumers admitting that they trust the information Google is generating when doing research on a business or an individual, it provides keen insight into just how indispensable the online presence of a company or a person is. Now to take it up a notch, when typing something into the Google search engine the autocomplete application kicks in and can open a whole new can of proverbial worms. Google refers to this autocomplete application as a “suggestion” and not a “prediction” which means Google is guessing what your search is based on what you’re writing in the search bar and compares that to the trending and popular searches that are happening in real time across the entire Google platform.

The Dark Side of Online Reputation:

What does all this mean? Firstly almost all of internet searches in Canada are performed on Google, which means that if you’re going to invest time and money in Reputation Management through a reputable company, Google is your best bet. With a target audience of 90+% Google will give you the most bang for your buck and reach out to the largest audience. Secondly, with the autocomplete application in the Google search bar, if someone is searching for information about a company of individual, additional alternatives of that search pop-up, and if there is something negative or unbecoming, it will show up. And the more it pops up the higher it will rank. The higher it ranks the harder it is to get rid of it. And because nothing can be erased on the internet the only way to remedy a bad review, negative media coverage and blemished online reputation is to push it down so far in ranking that people simply won’t see it.

Current Search Engine Optimization (SEO) stats state that 75% of clicks go to the first page with the remaining 25% reflecting the second and third search pages. Of the 75% of clicks on the first page, the first ranking gets 33% of those clicks, the second gets 15% and the third ranking gets 9%. If a company or an individual is ranking on the first page of a Google search with bad reviews or negative media coverage that means 100% of people have access to it. Even if said people are looking for something on the second or third search page, they still have to go through the first page. Online Reputation Management can push that hypothetical bad review or negative media coverage to the eighth page where the potential of people seeing it dramatically decreases. Most people, unless they’re on the hunt for something or someone specific won’t go past the first 3-5 pages of a Google search. As the old adage states “Out of sight, Out of mind” is the way it works when it comes to Reputation Management and in particular Online Reputation Management (ORM).

Examples of Ways to Improve Online Reputation Management:

  • Blog Frequently: Blogging is great for building your online reputation and sharing your expertise. It also creates trust and increases your likability factor which is imperative in Online Reputation Management. And if people like your blogs it means that they will return to them. That amounts to positive clicks which equals positive rankings on Google.
  • Divide and Conquer across all social media platforms: In a nutshell create a social media presence on as many platforms as you can. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter aren’t enough, you’ll need to post on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo as well.
  • Develop an Audience: Creating accounts on social media platforms isn’t enough. You’ll need to develop an audience and engage with them. It is through interacting with the online audience that your ranking position will change and the positive will eventually outweigh the negative.
  • Invest in Online Reputation Management: As with most things in life, prevention is key. Most companies and people don’t inquire or invest in Online Reputation Management until something has happened and by then it’s too late, it’s out there for people to see. Working with experts who specialize in Online Reputation Management can significantly improve your changes or turning the negative into a positive with a quicker turnaround then you would be able to do yourself.

 There is an art and science to Online Reputation Management that requires time, knowledge and patience. It takes time to drop a negative ranking and replace it with a positive ranking, consistency in posting and engagement is key, and maintaining that flow to drown out the negative is crucial for successful and positive Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

 

 

 

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