Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get a different answer to the question: “How do I deal with online defamation.” The answer is not a simple one, but we will do our best to lay it our for you here.
Online Reputation Management Companies will generally tell you that your best and least expensive bet is to hire them and they will fill the web with quality content that will rank high in the search engines resulting in page 1 and 2 of Google search being filled with positive content about you, your brand and your business.
Sounds too good to be true! If this were so simple these companies should be in clover with the world beating a path to their doors.
You have to start somewhere
We recently covered this subject in our article How to bury negative Google results. This is fine, and very workable, if you’re facing a minor defamation attack, consisting perhaps of one or two negative reviews on low or medium quality sites. A good Online Reputation Management Company could help in many ways on this front. These kind of firms are in abundance, and if they know what they are doing, they would have to start with standard services such as:
Building your website if you have none or optimizing an existing site.
Creating social media profiles across different platforms, not just limited to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter but many more.
Ensuring the interaction on social accounts with a good strategy (social accounts lose strength when not used – it’s included in the Google Algorithm)
Creating and maintaining a blog or multiple blogs.
Posting in applicable forums using your name or company name.
Joining business discussion or networking sites and interacting with a strong profile.
Consider launching a campaign with loyal followers or clients (if a business) to leave good reviews for services or products rendered. Google loves reviews.
If you are facing an online defamation attack of any scale, whether small or large, these steps must, must, must be taken to get even the slightest chance of resolving the negative content. You have to fill any vacuum of favorable information about you with positive and factual information about you and your brand.
If it was so easy, we wouldn’t be here
Having said that, it is certainly not true that this alone will handle the problem. Negative postings on high-ranking sites are not that easy to “push down”.
A classic example of this is the website “RipOffReport.com”. Many business, many individuals, have been the unfortunate targets of defamation through websites such as Rip-Off Report. To make matters worse, some of these sites are regarded highly by Google and are not that easy to optimize against.
It is typical for an Online Reputation Management Company to poo-poo any solution other than their immediate services. Of course, why should they advise anything but their own services they as they’d be making less money.
In stark contrast, RipOffReport.com, say the exact opposite to Online Reputation Management Companies. Their claim is, don’t waste your money with SEO or online reputation management because it won’t work, instead pay us and we’ll “arbitrate” the matter for you.
They have the same agenda as most Reputation Management firms. More money in their own pockets! And their results can be even worse!
Another method of handling Online Defamation is hiring an attorney and following the course of justice. If you have a good attorney, and you have a sound claim, that can be effective, but it can also be very costly, very time consuming and you may or may not make it through.
If you speak to an attorney about your problem, he’ll more than likely tell you that SEO companies and Reputation Management Companies cannot fully handle the problem as they never get to the source of the attack and so the only effective solution is filing a lawsuit.
So what do you do?
The answer is pretty simple really. Too simple. You see, there is no cookie-cutter solution. There is no one size fits all here. One must take a look at your specific defamation issues and work out a strategy tailored for you, based on your unique and individual issues. There is not a single person or business who is facing an identical online defamation attack to another.
There might be a lot of defamatory content about you on the web, but only one or two search terms bring forth anything negative on the first few pages of Google search. And so, the urgency may only be to get those specific keyword phrases cleaned up.
Alternately, a few competitors might be working tirelessly to take some of your market share and their postings are costing you thousands if not tens of thousands or more per month. The defamation may be pretty pervasive and a broad handling could be needed.
Create a strategy with a reputation management company
In the end it all comes down to working out a good strategy. And a good strategy begins with a sound evaluation of what defamation issues you are facing, identifying the source of the attack and coming up with an effective solution for your issues. A combination of tools may be used:
- Search Engine Optimization to optimize your existing website and Social Media profiles.
- Public Relations that gets positive and favorable content about you generated and posted on high-ranking sites and Social Platforms.
- Cyber Investigation to isolate the source of the attack.
- An effective defamation lawyer that may need to do no more than a Cease and Desist letter or might go so far as filing a major lawsuit for damages.
The point is, you are not the same as the guy next door. Get a sound evaluation of the issues you are facing and determine the effort needed to combat the issue and put your business on top.