Do Online Reputation Management Companies Over Promise?

When talking about online reputation management companies, It might be a bit aggressive here to throw out the word “scam” in my description. Perhaps rephrasing this as “poor service” or “over promising without guarantee” would be more fitting.

The online reputation management game is starting to get more and more popular — and rightfully so. Online defamation is at an all time high with an increase of 20% in online removal requests being sent to Google in the last year alone from courts and government agencies.

Using an online defamation lawyer is useful and can be very effective if the case is strong. However, on many occasions an online defamation lawyer will pass you onto a reputation firm to resolve links which would incur immense legal costs or have a low % of success anticipated.

If you are considering the need for hiring a Reputation Management firm or an SEO company to clean up some negative postings on the internet, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is: What do you want this reputation management firm to do for you?

You should ask yourself that question before you get on the phone and talk to anyone and certainly before you let a Sales Rep sell you a “package”.

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Reputation Management Guarantee

Many Online Reputation Management companies have earned a bad reputation for themselves because they have taken a client’s money but didn’t deliver what the client wanted. Yet more often than not, the client didn’t even read the contract or didn’t delineate clearly what his expectations were.

Then, after spending a lot of money and all sorts of “results” are supposedly gotten, the client is still in a bind because the pressing need he wanted addressed wasn’t cared for. Instead all manner of other things were done that were not affecting his bottom line but looked good to a Reputation Management Company.

Real online reputation management is not about removing or “pushing down” any and all negative content about you on the internet. True online reputation management is finding out what keywords people are searching for that drive potential clients to what exact negative postings about you instead of to your website.

There could be 100 negative posts about you on the internet. Yet only two or three might be costing you business. Perhaps just a handful are being found when Googling your name, your product or brand. Deal with those as a priority as that is what is hurting your business right now. If you have success with that, then you can determine if there are other, perhaps lesser ones, that you want to deal with next.

 The “Digital Assets” Promise

Some online reputation management firms, when asked what their “guarantee” is will tell you that they promise, within 90 days, to have at least 10 or 12 positive “digital assets” on the first 2 pages of Google. To translate that into English, what they are saying is that the first 2 pages of Google will have a minimum of 12 out of 20 positive listings, within 90 days, for one specific keyword phrase. In other words 60% of the first 20 listings will be positive and 40% might still be negative.

reputation management scams

Well whoopee-doo is what I say to that. A rotten tomato is still a rotten tomato, even if the second half is ok. And who on God’s green earth gives a hoot how many “positive digital assets” are on the first 2 pages of Google if just one singular negative digital ass (spelling error intentional) is on or near the top of Google page 1!  And if that one negative piece of dog doo-doo is costing you thousands if not tens of thousands every month who cares how many other positive ones there are.

Your problem is the negative content that is detracting would be customers or visitors to your site.

Watch out for this “digital assets” baloney. An amateur SEO company should be able to accomplish that feat for most.

The Acid Test

No Guarantee

Once you’ve decided for yourself what you want to accomplish, discuss that issue with your online reputation management firm. Get their feedback, find out what they intend to do, ask questions. Don’t let your lack of understanding of this subject get in the way of your sound judgment. Let them educate you.

I must admit, I doubt any company can guarantee removal of everything negative about you. Unless of course they have a team of hackers on board and if so, you certainly don’t want to muddy yourself with those folks as down the line you will have ramifications.

But you should be able to get a guarantee you’re satisfied with. There should be something tangible you can agree on. Use that as a benchmark to gauge their results and if they proved their worth, then they’re worth their weight in Gold!

If you pay 5 thousand or 100 thousand, you would expect a definite, tangible result right? Anything less would be a scam.

Assess Where The Damage Comes From

Reputation Damages

As a business owner with online defamation or a reputation problem with your own name, you will be the first person who can tell an online reputation company where the majority damage is coming from. This could be reputation damage resulting in loss of clients, vendors and relationships, or it could be monetary damage.

So, before discussing “packages” and digital assets, better social exposure etc, the first things which should be determined are:

  1. Is the damage coming from search results which rank high? or,
  2. Is the damage coming from defamation on a forum, website or review site which doesn’t rank high but used to be a major source of conversions.

Then you will have the target of your reputation management strategy.

Nadia Zimmatore

About Nadia Zimmatore

7 Comments

  • Rand says:

    Nadia,

    You have a good overall look at how things are viewed online and obviously spoke with reputation changer about their faux “Guarantee” there are firms that offer 100% guarantee of a clean first page. Most companies want to target their brand name and their autocomplete suggestions. I was interviewed for the business week story and he refused to write us up because we had nothing negative online about us. You also have to remember that reputation firms are attacked by skilled competitors at a greater rate than those who are not. For example anybody could go ahead and post either yourself or Massive.Pr on complaint sites and barrage it to death until you would have to take serious corrective actions, change your business name, or spend more $$$ than you would want to solve the issue. ORM is not cheap for a quality job and thats where most people get lost in translation.

    I feel that I must ask: How many ORM campaigns have you undertaken?

  • Hi Rand, yes I am aware that there are firms who offer a guarantee, however, at what cost and how uncertain is this? I would say that I am speaking for many of the clients who have walked through our doors scathed by this sales system of ORM companies. “we guarantee it..” is usually followed by, “Our services need to be done and monitored for at least (lengthy time here) and you need to pay monthly till that is done”.

    Massive works on a different approach – most projects are taken on with a small deposit and payment on result.

  • Rand says:

    How many campaigns has Massive taken on that were severe? As you should know if you have done a lot of work in the industry that it wouldn’t be cheap and easy to do no matter what way you try to slice that tomato above. Whats a small deposit? $10,000 10% of the total cost of the job? Sorry to poke so many flaws but the reputation.coms of the world that give the industry a bad name I am seeing are almost as clueless as a lot of the editors and writers that try to generate content on the industry.

  • Hi Rand, I am with you on this. The industry has been contaminated with over-priced, under-delivered services and in just a matter of years of becoming widely popular you do get big firms offering cookie-cutter (generic) solutions for extremely high prices with no real guarantee. To answer you question on our clients, yes, some ORM services can be in the 50-100k range for severe situations. They can also just be a few thousand. The difference with us is, if we don’t clean it up, then you won’t pay for it. That applies to almost every one of our ORM services. Our cyber forensics services are different and are charged per hour.

  • Sammy D. says:

    It seems someone is getting defensive here… This is a well known point. The reputation industry has many parts of corruption and dishonesty creep into it. What was once offered as a righteous service has now changed to extortion and even blackmail. I had a company call me to address our firm’s reputation issues. They asked for unbelievable amounts of money and then when I turned them down found that NEW, very fake, cheap negative content was being published on blogger and wordpress.com websites. I then got a call a few weeks later saying that they had been “monitoring” us and “found” these new links.

    Online reputation services are needed – i dont doubt that. But, work with those who have a physical address, give guarantees and don’t charge hundreds of thousands.

  • SEOZohan says:

    You brought a realistic insights…I would like to add a point to analyze the ways to take advantage of negative comments …understand the clients business very well and with one positive neutralize every thing. Remember, there is always a better way to, and keep innovating

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