Online reputation management (ORM) utilizes an array of strategies to monitor and strengthen your online presence so you and your business can attract more customers and quality employees. ORM also can suppress negative content so that you put your best digital footprint forward in internet search results. While some ORM tactics can be done yourself (for free), professional online reputation management comes at a cost – and costs vary widely.
The factors which influence the cost of online reputation management include:
- Which (and how many) services are included in your ORM package,
- The size of your business and your industry,
- The scope of work required,
- The reputation and domain authority of your competitors,
- Whether you need negative content removed, and
- The number of negative reviews your business currently has.
At Minc Law, we help individuals and businesses track, strengthen, and restore their online reputations through a variety of complementary reputation management and monitoring services. We offer digital risk protection services to monitor and identify online threats. We have also removed over 50,000 pieces of negative and unwanted content to help our clients protect their online reputations.
In this article, we will explain how online reputation management works and why it is important for businesses and individuals alike. Then we will dive into the costs associated with ORM services and how those costs may vary.
How an Online Reputation Management Service Works
Online reputation management, or ORM, is a method of monitoring and improving how your business (or personal brand) is viewed online. ORM services analyze what appears in your search results to ensure your online reputation matches the image you wish to convey. This includes the results that appear after searching for your name, as well as:
- Reviews, and
- Social media mentions.
Once you determine what information is out there, you can also craft a strategy for improving and maintaining your online image.
Why is Online Reputation Management Important?
When you are thinking of buying a product, do you read online reviews first? Before dining out, do you look up the restaurant online to see their menu, hours, or Yelp reviews? For most of us, the answer is yes to both.
In today’s world, we do not just shop online, we review a business’s online presence before we decide to buy their product or work with them. We even look up our colleagues, potential dates, job applicants, and acquaintances online. And there are good reasons for doing so. The importance of online reviews has become far more powerful than word of mouth in today’s digital landscape.
A person or business’s online presence can tell us a lot – and help us make an informed decision about whether we want to work with them, hire them, date them, or buy their products. Often, we judge others on what appears in their first few search results.
When I look up a restaurant, if I see an article about health code violations on Google’s first page, I am bound to find a cleaner alternative. Chances are, I will not even click on the article, the headline alone will be enough to scare me away from the restaurant. Likewise, a business that has no online presence at all often throws up red flags. The absence of an online presence makes me wonder if they have been in business long or if they are legit.
For better or worse, I am not the only person that thinks this way. Around 97% of consumers research products and services online and 94% avoided a business after reading a single negative review.
Even if you do not have a business, there is still a good chance people are searching for you online. Employers, friends, potential dates, and colleagues frequently conduct online searches on others. In fact, 77% of people say they have researched a potential date, and 98% of employers conduct online research on job applicants.
In a nutshell, your online reputation matters. A lot.
What is a Reputation Management Plan?
One way to exert control over your online presence is with a reputation management plan. A reputation management plan combines marketing, public relations, and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to protect and defend your online image.
These plans are both proactive and reactive – meaning they can help shape your online reputation and respond to potential threats. For instance, a plan might bolster your reputation by seeking customer feedback. If you have ever purchased anything online, there is a good chance you received a follow-up email asking for a review. This is one simple way businesses attempt to influence their online image – requesting feedback. They may also ask you to follow them on social media or offer discounts for referring friends. Each of these tactics evidence a reputation management plan in action.
Reputation management plans also involve continuous monitoring of what is posted online. If, for example, a customer posts a negative review about a business, an alert is received. This way the business can respond and potentially resolve the issue before the reputational damage gets out of hand. If the problem cannot be resolved, or damage control is necessary, a solid reputation management plan might involve suppression.
Suppressing negative search results is just a process of creating so much positive content that the negative content does not appear on the first page of results. More often than not, moving negative search results off of the first page effectively hides them from the general public. Very few people read past the first two search results (roughly 25%), let alone venture to the second page of Google results (only 7% view the second page).
Reputation management plans use a variety of proven tactics to bolster and protect one’s online image.
What Should Be Included in the Cost of Online Reputation Management
As with everything in life, you get what you pay for when it comes to ORM services. Pricing ranges anywhere from $500/month to $50,000/month, and there are significant differences in service offerings. Of course, the more services included in your plan, the greater the price tag.
Most ORM service packages include a combination of:
- Online review management – to monitor and respond to online reviews.
- Suppression services – to push negative results off of the first page of search results by creating positive, curated content.
- Wikipedia page creation and management – to further bolster your online presence with content that represents the image you wish to convey.
- Reputation monitoring – to alert you to online content that mentions your (or your business’s) name so you can respond to suppress the content as needed.
- Public Relations services – like speech writing, press releases, social media content, media relations, and event planning.
- Website design and creation – so that your top search results point to your personal or business website rather than external content.
- SEO and content marketing – to make your content rank higher in search results, so that people can find you for the right reasons!
Depending on the type of business you are in, you may also be interested in keyword research, web asset audits, crisis management, and the identification of reputational vulnerabilities. Costs will ultimately revolve around the scope of work you request and the size of your business. Large corporations like McDonald’s, Amazon, and Wal-Mart deploy robust (and expensive) reputation management plans.
If your competitors have an established website with hundreds of links, you will need to create more high-quality links to compete with their search ranking. Reputation management companies can help with this process by suggesting (or even creating) relevant content that fits well within Google’s algorithm.
That being said, it is imperative to do your research before working with an ORM service. Some providers advertise unrealistically low prices and promise the impossible.
For instance, if you find a service that promises to delete links from sites like RipoffReport: buyer beware. RipoffReport is one site that will not delete links, no matter which ORM provider you decide to work with.
Anyone that promises otherwise is setting you up for disappointment. Another red flag is an overly optimistic timeframe. It often takes months to see results from ORM, so a provider that promises results in a matter of days or weeks is likely deceiving you.
What Will Cutting Online Reputation Management Spending Cost Your Business?
At the end of the day, deciding on an ORM provider will necessitate a look at your budget and goals. If you are dealing with unfavorable search results, it is costing your business whether you realize it or not. Negative search results can cost a business and positive search results can enhance profitability.
More specifically, 22% of customers will avoid a business if they discover a single negative review. This number jumps to nearly 60% if potential customers find three or more negative reviews. Whether your business is large or small, a 22-60% reduction in customers will have a significant effect on revenue.
On the other hand, positive reviews have the potential to add a significant amount to your business’s bottom line. Businesses that have positive customer reviews on their website increase conversion up to 270% and can lead to a customer spending 31% more on the business’s products. In light of this, a successful reputation management plan can pay for itself over time by increasing conversion rates and average spending.
Aside from influencing potential customers, a business’s online presence can affect hiring. A study performed by Harvard Business Review found that employers with a poor online presence spend an average of 10% more per hire. Considering the average American worker has an annual salary of $48,672, even small businesses will lose tens of thousands of dollars in additional wages just for having a bad online presence. For a corporation with say, 10,000 employees, a negative online reputation could cost $8 million a year in additional wages.
Why is Online Reputation Management Considered Part of Marketing?
Marketing is a way of promoting your business and attracting your ideal customers. Before most consumers had smartphones (and online shopping boomed) most marketing involved billboards, direct mail, and print media. Now, most marketing has shifted online – and for good reason: a 2019 Wharton School of Business article found that digital marketing is easier to measure and provides a better return on investment than traditional methods. It is also the best way to reach American consumers who now spend an average of six hours a day online.
Since ORM influences a business’s online image, it stands to reason that ORM has become a key component of digital marketing. Reputation management involves looking at what a potential customer, reporter, or partner will discover about your brand when they perform a Google search. Once you know what is out there, you can also take steps to control what appears on the first page of your search results. And what appears on your first page of results will influence whether consumers want to work with or buy from your business.
What Tools Can You Use for Online Reputation Management?
Most ORM is a manual process, requiring human input and decision-making. For instance, “domain authority” is a score for a website that is used to predict how likely a page is to rank high in search results. There are many factors that go into domain authority, like the number of inbound and outbound links, as well as the quality of those links. Determining link quality is very much a human process.
Yet, there are still some tools you can use to make the ORM process quicker and easier. You can track your keyword rankings over time with keyword.com. This will help you determine how your site ranks against competitors and find ways to stand out. Ahrefs.com is another “all-in-one SEO toolset” that can help you optimize your website, find out what your customers are searching for, and learn from top-performing content in your industry.
Tools like those found at Mention.com can also help you monitor mentions of your or your business’s name across the internet. Mention also helps uncover trends across social media, so you can see exactly what leads to comments about your brand. For instance, you might find that most social media posts reference a particular product or service – helping you identify your most popular offerings. You can also use their service to pre-schedule posts across various social media channels.
Birdeye.com is another comprehensive ORM service that can help you collect reviews, text customers, and get referrals. If you are looking to boost your reputation or engage with more customers, Birdeye offers a host of tools to help. In general, their service focuses more on driving growth as opposed to dealing with negative online content.
Minc Law Content Removal Tip: If you discover unwanted search results on Google, there are ways you can remove the search results. One of the best things you can do for your online reputation is to adjust your personal social media profiles’ privacy settings. This way, you can use personal social media to communicate with family, but it should not link back to your business.
Average Cost of Hiring an Online Reputation Management Company
Like legal services, the cost of online reputation management is subject to many variables. Is there damaging or negative content already online about your business? If so, how much damaging content is out there and on what types of websites? How much positive content are you looking to create? Do you already have authoritative content that you would like to improve upon? Or are you starting from scratch? The answer to each of these questions will influence the total cost of an ORM campaign.
The cost of an ORM campaign will depend on the expertise of your service provider, the time involved, and the number of people working on your campaign.
At the lower end of the price range, you will likely be dealing with an overseas company and there is little chance of accomplishing the results you are looking for. Most experienced ORM companies charge $2,000–$10,000 per month for their average ORM campaign. However, it is important to note that all ORM service quotes should be customized to your business and goals.
If an ORM service lists prices on their website without understanding your project, that should raise a red flag. It is impossible to quote a single, flat fee without fully understanding a business’s needs and goals.
Since ORM is a catch-all term encompassing a variety of services, it is best to break down the average costs by the type of service. Below, we take a closer look at costs associated with the most common reputation management services.
Online Review Management
Online review monitoring services generally cost between $500 and $1,500 per month. The price of monitoring services will depend on the size of your business (the larger the business, the greater the cost) and the number of reviews you typically generate. If your business has multiple locations that will all require monitoring, this will also add to the cost. If you also need ORM professionals to respond to positive and negative reviews, you will see additional review management fees.
Quality content suppression services often cost $3,000–$5,000 per month and require a 3–6 month minimum commitment. While it is possible to find suppression services for less money, you will likely sacrifice quality. For instance, providers that charge a one-time fee without a monthly commitment will probably not perform continuous services. In this case, any results you see (if you see any results at all) will likely be short-lived.
Wikipedia Page Creation & Management
It is possible to find a provider willing to create a Wikipedia page for a one-time fee of $250 to $3,000. Like most other ORM services, the cost will vary based on the size of your business as well as the length of time needed to create your page.
Before you can create a Wikipedia page, your brand must be sufficiently noteable to comply with Wikipedia’s guidelines. Some companies will help establish the requisite notability for a Wikipedia page, but this increases the cost of service.
Once you have met Wikipedia’s requirements and created your own page, you may opt to hire a professional to manage and maintain your page. This often includes adding updated information, images, additional sections – and correcting inaccurate information. As you might imagine, ongoing page management will add to your expenses.
Reputation Monitoring Services
Reputation monitoring varies from roughly $500 per month (at the low end of the spectrum) to $3,000 per month and up. The cost of reputation monitoring naturally varies based on the quality of service and time spent. Costs increase based on the size of a business, number of locations, and the number of keywords monitored (among other things).
As a small business or brand, you may get away with monitoring a few keywords related to your brand – like your company’s name and your most popular products and services. But the devil is in the details. The larger you get, the more things you will need to monitor, adding costs to your monitoring service.
Public relations, while a part of online reputation management, is a broad enough service to have many sub-categories of its own. Most public relations (PR) firms charge monthly retainers comparable to a lawyer.
At the lower end of the price spectrum, PR firms charge between $2,000 and $5,000 per month. But larger entities may see monthly costs in excess of $20,000 for the greater scope of work they require.
Website Design & Creation
Web design has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few decades, with providers of nearly every shape and size. If you are looking for quality, professional website design services, expect to pay anywhere from $1,000–$100,000. Yes, that is quite a broad range!
In general, the cost of your website will depend on the number of pages created, how complicated your design is, and whether you will also need someone to write the copy for each page. Also, will you need a mobile-friendly design? What about an online store? These services require extra time and will subsequently raise the cost of your website.
SEO & Content Marketing
A starter-level content marketing service will run around $1,200 per month. By starter level, I mean a start-up or one-person business or brand producing a minimal amount of content (typically articles and videos).
Most professionals recommend a combination of quality and quantity when it comes to search engine optimized content. If you only produce 1 high-quality piece of content per month or you produce 10 low-quality pieces of content, your efforts will not yield ideal results. In a word, the more SEO benefits you want to see, the greater the cost you will incur for content marketing services.
How Much Do Online Reputation Management Services Cost a Minc Law?
In general, our reputation management services cost between $1,500 and $8,000 per month, but every case is unique. Typically, we recommend six months to a year of service at an average cost of $3,000–5,000 per month for quality, lasting results.
At Minc Law, our ORM costs generally depend on the following factors:
- Whether you need negative content removed (and how much negative content exists),
- How large and visible your brand/business is (large, popular corporations require more time and effort),
- The number of services you need as part of your ORM package,
- Whether you need crisis management,
- The number of high-quality links you already have and whether you need additional link-building, and
- Your existing domain authority.
At Minc Law, we offer custom packages for ongoing online reputation management and monitoring services, so that individuals and clients at every price point can protect their digital footprints. If you would like more specific information, advice, or a custom quote for your online reputation management issue, you will need to first speak directly with a Minc Law attorney or paralegal.
Minc Law Media Relations Tip: As a business owner or CEO, you will likely speak to the media over time. To ensure you are putting your best foot forward it is wise to ask for their questions ahead of time, if possible. Also try to have a statement prepared and practice before you actually speak with the journalist or news anchor. Avoid saying “no comment,” and steer clear of technical jargon and acronyms. Finally, tell the truth and do not say anything that could leave you legally vulnerable.
Which Online Reputation Management Services Are Best for Your Business?
Most businesses, regardless of size, need some type of online reputation management. If you have a small business or a single store, it is best to focus on generating and managing online reviews.
If your business operates online or you have multiple locations, you will need a more robust ORM plan. You will want to bolster your online reputation and continuously monitor for any negative content. Your plan will also need to respond to any negative results or reviews as they appear. As you might imagine, this type of ORM package will cost more than a bare-bones package for a small business.
What Degree of Online Reputation Management Do Small Businesses Require?
Online reputation management can be tricky for small businesses. Small businesses often have modest budgets to devote to ORM but need roughly the same amount of help as a mid-size business. The best way to strike a budget-appropriate balance is by prioritizing ORM tactics.
Focusing on reviews, first, tends to lead to the greatest return on investment. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Indeed, and other review sites provide customers the opportunity to leave reviews – and your customers will use these services.
Unfortunately, a single bad review could be enough to hurt a small business’s profitability. Small businesses should proactively counter bad reviews by asking customers for reviews. The more reviews you can get for your business, the less negative reviews will stand out.
Video: 3 Effective Strategies to Remove Fake & Negative Yelp Reviews
As a small business owner, you will likely get to know some of your frequent patrons by name. This is something you can use to your advantage! Make sure you ask enthusiastic customers and frequent fliers for online feedback – their review could go a long way toward boosting your reputation.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Hiring an Online Reputation Management Service
Before you commit to any online reputation management services, there are some useful questions to consider.
When you meet with a service provider, ask them:
- What type of content will they create, and will it be original?
- How many months will the campaign take?
- Who, exactly, is doing the work (is anything outsourced)?
- Is a social media campaign included?
- Is all their work customized or do they use templates?
- Do they constantly update their strategies to keep up with Google algorithm changes?
Not only will the answers to these questions influence the cost of the service, but they will also help you determine if the ORM provider is the right fit for your needs.
How an Online Reputation Management Service Can Help You Grow Your Business
Nine out of ten consumers say that positive reviews influenced whether they purchased from a business. Simply put, positive online reviews can be the lifeblood of a business. In the service industry, those numbers jump even higher. 94% of diners look to reviews when picking a restaurant and 95% of travelers read reviews before booking a hotel.
For better or worse, it is not only customer service that matters to today’s consumers. A CEO’s reputation is directly related to their company’s image. In other words, if you are a c-suite executive, your reputation can affect your company’s bottom line. CEOs can bolster their online reputation with an active social media presence and a solid ORM strategy.
If for any reason, you (or your company) make a mistake, it is best to own up and show humility. Transparency, communication, and humility are all associated with greater perceived trust. And public trust translates to business growth. In fact, Forbes’ top 4 most reputable companies (Rolex, Disney, Google, and BMW) also have four of the most trusted CEOs. The correlation is no coincidence.
And online reputation management is the best way to build trust, bolster your reputation, and get the positive reviews you need to drive business growth. Other forms of marketing help but will not go far if you do not have a positive online reputation to align with your marketing efforts.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Online Reputation & Increase Your Business?
Improving your online reputation requires some understanding of Google’s search algorithm. While Google is constantly updating its ranking system, some things remain consistent over time. Here are some actionable tips to improve your online reputation:
- Respond to customer feedback professionally (thank customers for positive reviews!).
- Take constructive criticism seriously and try to improve your product or service.
- Ask for reviews and try to generate as many positive reviews as possible.
- Provide stellar customer service.
- Do NOT buy online reviews or submit fake positive reviews.
- Consider a digital risk monitoring solution.
Minc Law offers a digital risk monitoring service that operates like an online security system for your business. With Digital Risk Protection (DRP), we keep an eye out for attacks against your business’s reputation – including negative or threatening content. Together we can pursue the removal of content and provide legal remediations and takedown options through our digital risk protection service.
For further information on DRP services, please read our article answering the most frequently asked questions about digital risk protection.
What Steps Could You Take to Modify Your Online Presence & Improve Your Online Reputation?
If you do discover negative content, do not worry. There are things you can do to change and improve your online presence. The most important thing you can do is to consistently publish positive, relevant content about your company.
Negative content is only one small piece of the puzzle that is your business. Every business will experience the frustration of an unhappy customer – it is the price of doing business. But chances are, you have many more customers that have been satisfied with your products and services. You need to make an active effort to show the bigger picture.
As long as you are requesting feedback and getting positive reviews, your online reputation should improve. You will also want to set up a Google alert (at a minimum) to track mentions of your business. This way, you can quickly identify and respond to any negative content.
Is Online Reputation Management Worth It?
If you have a business your online reputation matters – because it can directly impact your profitability. Online reputation management will help you put your best digital footprint forward and inspire trust in your brand. It can also help you stay ahead of negative online content, which every business is bound to face.
While ORM requires an up-front commitment, it can lead to an exponential increase in revenue. Reputation management can help boost sales, employee recruitment, and improve investor relations. It is very possible to recover the cost of an ORM service with increased revenue and savings on wages.
If you are on the line about reputation management, think about the last time you searched for a business or product online. Have you ever bypassed a restaurant because their Yelp ratings were less than stellar? Did you change your mind about purchasing a product after reading negative reviews? Most of us have had these experiences. Sadly, for those businesses, they missed out on a customer who may have become a lifelong patron.
As a business owner are you willing to miss out on customers over a negative review or a drop in your business’s rating? Losing a single customer can be costly and detrimental, with losses adding up over time. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid this type of loss. Even better, a positive online presence can help you keep existing patrons and attract new customers.
Work With Us to Protect Your Online Reputation
If you would like to improve your online reputation (or take it to the next level), we can help with your ORM needs.
Together, we can boost your online reputation and help your business grow. For more information or to schedule an initial, no-obligation consultation, fill out our contact form or give us a call at (216) 373-7706. We look forward to helping you put your best digital footprint forward!
“Darcy was professional and patient with helping with a online reputation matter. She handled all my queries in a timely manner and she got the job done.”
Oliver W, July 7, 2021
If you are unsure of whether online reputation management or legal content removal services are best for you or your business, make sure to check out our article ‘Removing Content: Online Reputation Management vs. Legal Services‘.