Choosing the Right Reputation Management Consultant for Your Online Reputation
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If you are working to establish and maintain a positive online reputation, a reputation management consultant can greatly help convey to the world an online image that matches who you are in real life.
A reputation management consultant is a professional who can help you build, maintain, and repair your online reputation. They use a range of strategies, including search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, content removal, and social media engagement, to ensure their clients have (and keep) a positive online presence.
When choosing a reputation management consultant, there are several steps to take and important factors to consider, including:
- Conduct research and due diligence,
- Read reviews and testimonials on third-party review sites and consumer marketplaces,
- Meet face-to-face (or via Zoom) with the potential consultant,
- Ensure they offer a realistic scope of work,
- Ensure they use “white-hat” reputation management methods,
- Ensure they are licensed or regulated, and
- Know the payment methods they offer.
The attorneys at Minc Law have extensive experience dealing with online reputation management issues, having helped numerous clients overcome the negative impact of harmful online content. With a proven track record of removing over 50,000 negative pieces of online content, our team has a deep understanding of the challenges involved in managing online reputations.
In this article, we will delve into the key considerations to keep in mind when selecting a reputation management consultant to ensure that you find a professional who can help you achieve your desired goals.
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What Are Reputation Management Consultants & What Do They Do?
In today’s digital age, having a positive online reputation has become increasingly important for individuals and businesses alike. However, managing your online reputation can be a complex and time-consuming task.
This is where reputation management consultants come in, offering their expertise to help clients build, maintain, and repair their online reputations.
What is the Definition of Reputation Management?
Reputation management refers to the ongoing process of monitoring and actively managing an individual or business’s reputation with the aim of improving or protecting it. This includes monitoring search engine results, responding to negative feedback, and promoting positive content.
Online reputation management (ORM) is a key component of reputation management that focuses specifically on an individual or business’s online presence. With the majority of modern interactions taking place on the internet, ORM has become an essential part of reputation management.
What Do Reputation Management Consultants Do?
Reputation management consultants offer a range of services to help clients build, maintain, and repair their online reputation. These services can be categorized as proactive or reactive, depending on the nature of the situation.
Proactive Reputation Management
Proactive reputation management is the practice of taking preemptive measures to build and maintain a positive reputation. This approach is preferable to reactive reputation management, as it can help you establish a positive reputation or maintain one that already exists.
Some examples of proactive strategies include:
- Creation of positive personal or branded content,
- Utilizing best SEO practices to curate a positive SERP presence, and
- Running targeted advertisements and PR campaigns.
By taking a proactive approach to reputation management, individuals and businesses can better control the impression they make on the public and build a strong and positive reputation over time.
Reactive Reputation Management
Reactive reputation management focuses on addressing negative information that has already surfaced in order to minimize the damage it can cause. These strategies often include tactics such as public apologies or content removal.
While no one wants to find themselves needing reactive reputation management, it is an important aspect of managing your general reputation. Once a reputation-harming incident occurs, responding in the wrong manner can often make a bad situation worse.
Reputation management consultants can help you navigate these types of situations and ensure that your response serves to restore and improve your reputation rather than making matters worse.
Common Services Provided By Reputation Management Consultants
Reputation management consultants typically offer various services to help clients maintain a positive online image. These services can be grouped into several categories.
One important area of focus is online review management. This involves monitoring and responding to online reviews posted on sites like Google and Yelp. Reputation management professionals can help you stay on top of these reviews and address any negative feedback promptly and professionally.
Another key area of focus is suppression services. These services suppress negative search results using techniques like content marketing or SEO. By creating positive content that ranks higher in search results, consultants can help push down negative content that may be harming your reputation.
Content and branded page creation is another common service provided by ORM professionals. This helps you create and manage positive content like social media profiles, blog posts, and even websites. This type of high-quality content can showcase your expertise and positive attributes, boosting your online presence and enhancing your reputation.
For businesses in particular, ORM tactics may include the creation of branded social media content. This may include SEO and content marketing services to help improve your website’s visibility and drive more traffic to your site.
Reputation monitoring is also an important part of ORM. Consultants can monitor mentions of your name or brand online and alert you of any harmful content so you can take action.
In the case of a reputational crisis, an ORM consultant or agency may help you remove fake reviews, respond to intellectual property infringement and other reputational attacks, and identify and eliminate digital threats in real time.
For further reading, please see our comprehensive resource explaining what reputation crisis management is and how to prepare for a reputation crisis.
Importance of Reputation Management For Individuals & Businesses
In the modern era, managing one’s reputation has become even more critical as information spreads quickly and widely online. Negative content can damage a reputation, and it can be challenging to undo the harm.
A positive reputation can lead to both new personal and professional opportunities, while a less-than-stellar reputation can make it difficult to get a foot in the door. A positive reputation can help build trust and respect with your peers, colleagues, or your community, while a negative reputation can lead to avoidance or even social exclusion.
Likewise, a business’s reputation can directly impact its longevity. Stakeholders and potential customers make decisions based on their perception of a particular company. With the right reputation, you can attract more business and inspire loyalty among customers and employees. On the other hand, a poor reputation can lead to potentially significant financial losses and even having to shut one’s doors for good.
For further reading, please see our articles explaining why a positive reputation is important in business and the importance of brand reputation to stakeholders.
Benefits of Working with a Reputation Management Consultant
Managing your own reputation can be complex and time-consuming (and riddled with room for error). With the way information spreads online, negative feedback can harm your reputation and have lasting consequences.
By working with a reputation management consultant, you can gain access to the expertise and support needed to protect, enhance, and even repair your online reputation.
When Should I Consider Using a Reputation Management Consultant?
While it is possible to manage your own reputation online, there are several instances where working with a professional consultant may be beneficial. Consultants often have years of experience and access to technological solutions to help you take control of your image.
For businesses or individuals in the public spotlight, the work involved in reputation management may be too overwhelming for one person to handle. Similarly, you may not have the necessary skills or time to consistently create SEO content or social media posts or respond to reputational threats as they appear.
Moreover, if you are experiencing a targeted attack on your reputation, you may need the assistance of professionals.
Ultimately, if you do not know where to start or are struggling to manage your reputation on your own, it is advisable to seek the help of a reputation management consultant. Working with a professional ORM consultant or agency can provide you with the expertise, support, and resources needed to protect and enhance your online reputation.
What Are the Advantages of Working With a Reputation Management Consultant?
Working with a reputation management consultant can provide individuals and businesses with several advantages, including:
- Building trust and reinforcing your brand: with brand-centric content, you can establish trust with stakeholders and contribute to a positive reputation.
- Attracting new customers and increasing profitability: by improving your online presence, you can attract new customers and ultimately increase profitability.
- Increasing retention: Retain your current customers and employees by promptly addressing any negative comments, improving customer service, and bolstering your reputation.
- Improving search rankings and online visibility: Optimizing your online presence and creating positive content can improve search rankings and make it easier for the right audience to find you.
- Setting you apart from competitors: a reputation professional can help you differentiate from competitors by developing a unique brand image and highlighting your strengths and unique selling points.
- Gaining control over your online narrative: Consultants can help you take control of your image by monitoring negative content and promoting content that highlights your strengths and accomplishments.
What Are the Risks of Working With an Unskilled or Unethical Reputation Management Consultant?
Working with an unskilled or unethical reputation management consultant can be detrimental to your online image and brand reputation and can lead to more issues to remedy than before.
Common risks of working with an unskilled or unethical reputation management consultant include:
You May Encounter Legal Issues
The lack of regulatory agencies and professional licensing in the ORM industry means that there is no oversight, making it difficult to hold unskilled or unethical consultants accountable. This could result in legal issues, and you could be left with a damaged online reputation without any recourse.
Greater Damage Done to Your Reputation
Another risk of working with an unprofessional consultant is that they may end up causing even greater damage to your reputation. Some inexperienced ORM consultants resort to unethical practices, such as anonymously creating negative content about their clients to generate more work for themselves.
Additionally, they may then take credit for removing the negative content, even though they were the ones who created it in the first place.
Inability to Control the Scope of Work
Unethical reputation management consultants may do things that harm your brand or reputation without your permission. This can lead to you losing control over your online narrative.
Holding Domain Names Hostage
Unethical consultants may take advantage of their clients by gaining access to their domain name for SEO purposes. In some cases, they might lock their clients out of their websites and demand an extra fee, essentially holding the domain name hostage until the payment is made.
How to Choose the Right Reputation Management Consultant For You or Your Business
ORM consultants generally fall into two categories: SEO experts who optimize branded content for better search rankings and content removal experts who focus on removing unwanted content from the internet and search engine results.
However, not all ORM consultants are created equal, and it is important to choose the right one to avoid falling prey to reputation management scams.
Red Flags to Look Out For With ORM Consultants
When selecting a reputation management consultant, it is vital to be aware of red flags that may indicate unskilled or unethical practices. By recognizing these red flags, you can avoid wasting time and money on ineffective services that could further harm your online reputation.
Lack of Information About Owners and Employees
One potential red flag to watch out for when choosing an ORM consultant is a lack of transparency regarding the company’s ownership and employees. If a company does not provide information about its staff or their experience, it may be difficult to assess their qualifications or credibility.
Additionally, if an ORM service provider is vague about the specifics of their services or claims to use confidential methods, it may be a sign that they are not being entirely forthcoming. Be sure to look for clear contact information so you can easily reach out to the company if you encounter any issues.
It is essential to be wary of a company’s website that does not end in “.com.”
Do not be misled by awards or “As Seen On” citations. Research when and where the consultant received an award, so fake credentials do not lure you into thinking you are working with a trustworthy professional.
Use of Stock Photos For Employee Bios or Customer Reviews
Another red flag to watch out for is the use of stock photos for employees or customer reviews on the consultant’s website. This can be a sign that the company is not transparent about its team and may not have actual clients who are willing to vouch for its services.
It is important to do further research to ensure the consultant has a proven track record of success.
A Cheap Initial Package That Turns Expensive Quickly
Starting with a basic package can be a good way to test the waters with an ORM consultant, but be wary of those that immediately try to upsell you to more expensive services.
Some may offer a low-priced package with minimal services, only to inform you later that you need to pay more for additional services you assumed were already included.
Services That Contradict Website Removal Terms of Service
Some reputation management companies offer content removal services that directly contradict the terms of service (ToS) policies of the websites where the negative content is hosted. This puts you at risk of being removed or banned from the site and legal action against you or your business.
It is crucial to ensure that the ORM professional you choose adheres to the policies of the websites where they will be working on your behalf.
Little Work, All Monitoring
ORM is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and proactive measures. However, some ORM consultants may only put in work at the beginning of the contract but then become less proactive over time. They may simply monitor your reputation without taking meaningful actions to address issues or prevent further damage.
It is important to approach with caution any consultant that claims to offer a guaranteed solution to your online reputation issues. The truth is that no reputable reputation management service can guarantee results, as many factors that affect your reputation are beyond their control.
Any ORM service provider that claims they can guarantee results is not being truthful and should be avoided.
However, a reliable ORM team should have enough confidence in their abilities that they offer a refund if they fail to meet your objectives.
No Registered Office Address
If an ORM professional does not have a physical address listed on their website, it should be considered a red flag. This lack of transparency can indicate that the consultant is not legitimate or that they may not have a physical location at all.
Likewise, if the company has multiple office locations, mostly overseas, it may be difficult to contact them in case of a problem or get a quick response.
Tips For Choosing the Right ORM Consultant For You or Your Business’s Online Reputation
Choosing the right ORM consultant is crucial for those looking to improve their online image. With so many ORM companies out there, it can be challenging to determine which one is right for you.
In the sections that follow, we will outline some tips to help you choose an ORM consultant that will deliver the results you need.
Conduct Your Own Research & Due Diligence
First, we recommend starting with a simple Google search of the company’s name to browse the first few pages of search results. This will provide you with a sound idea of the company’s reputation.
Several popular websites and resources that we recommend to verify a reputation consultant’s legitimacy include:
- Better Business Bureau (BBB): a great resource for researching a company. Simply search the company name to find their rating, customer reviews, and any complaints filed against them.
- Check Their EIN Status: You can check a company’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) status on the IRS website. Simply enter the company’s information, and you will see if the EIN is valid and if the company is in good standing with the IRS.
- Free Business Name Search: You can conduct a free business name search on the Secretary of State website of your state or the state where the company is registered. Simply enter the business name to see if it is registered and in good standing.
- Other Websites & Resources: It can also be useful to search the company through Dun & Bradstreet, and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Read Reviews & Testimonials
Check out websites that offer company reviews and testimonials from real people including current and former employees. But remember, these reviews may not always be accurate, as they are based on individual experiences. Reviews can serve as a valuable tool to gather more information about the company.
Company Review Sites
Glassdoor and Vault are excellent resources to research ORM companies and agencies. Both websites offer company reviews, ratings, and salary information to help you make an informed decision about who you do business with.
Glassdoor also provides CEO approval ratings and competitor analysis, while Vault offers overviews of over 10,000 companies for free and more detailed information for a fee.
Ask to Meet or Speak to Them Face to Face
When choosing an ORM consultant, ensure that you have the option to meet them either in person or over video chat. It is important that they are located in your home country to make reporting them or filing a lawsuit easier if needed.
At Minc Law, for instance, we provide our contact information on our website, making it easy to locate and speak with us should any issues arise.
Ensure That They Provide a Realistic Scope of Work
Be wary of ORM consultants that promise quick and easy fixes for your reputation issues. A reputable ORM team will take the necessary time to provide effective solutions and they will not rush into making a decision.
Understand if They Use White Hat or Black-Hat ORM Tactics
Legitimate ORM professionals use white hat tactics that are ethical and legal, and follow industry best practices, whereas disreputable consultants may employ black-hat techniques that could harm your reputation and violate laws.
Common black-hat ORM tactics that some unethical agencies and consultants use include:
- Paying for backlinks on authoritative websites or buying social media followers,
- Posting fake or negative reviews on competitors’ websites,
- Plagiarizing content,
- Spamming comments on forums and other user-generated content platforms, and
- Creating private blog networks (PBN) to build links and pass authority to manipulate the SERPs.
Ability to Hold Them Accountable
Before signing any service agreement with a consultant, make sure to carefully review and understand the scope of services and costs outlined in the contract.
Also, professional consultants should be licensed and transparent about their regulatory and ethical oversight, and be able to explain their accountability to clients throughout the duration of the relationship.
For further reading, please see our guide explaining why you should consider hiring an attorney as your online reputation expert.
Look For Payment Methods With Consumer Protection
Look for companies that offer payment options through escrow accounts for added protection and security (instead of those that ask for non-refundable payments like direct deposits.
We recommend reading our comprehensive resource ‘How to Choose an Effective & Ethical Online Reputation Management Company’ for a complete breakdown of what you need to know about hiring and working with ORM companies.
How to Get Started With Hiring a Reputation Management Consultant
To get started, research potential online reputation management consultants and companies online, read client reviews and testimonials, and check their accreditation with the Better Business Bureau.
Next, reach out to the consultant and schedule a meeting to discuss your needs and their services.
Recommended Questions to Ask an ORM Consultant
When meeting with an ORM consultant face to face or via Zoom, here are some suggested questions to ask them:
- What specific strategies and tactics do you use to improve someone’s online reputation?
- Can you provide examples of successful ORM campaigns you have executed in the past?
- What is your approach to monitoring and addressing negative reviews or comments?
- How do you measure the success of your ORM services?
- Do you offer refunds or guarantees if your services do not yield results?
- How do you ensure the confidentiality and security of my information?
- What are your fees and payment structure?
How Much Do Online Reputation Management Consultants Cost?
The cost of online reputation management services can vary depending on the services included, the size of your business, and the scope of work required. Service costs can range anywhere from $500 to $50,000 per month.
Other factors that may affect the total cost include the industry your business is in, the reputation of competitors, the need for negative content removal, and the number of negative reviews.
Remember, quality services come at a price, so it is essential to choose a consultant that fits your budget and provides effective solutions.
How Minc Law Can Help You Bolster & Repair Your Online Reputation
At Minc Law, we understand the serious impact negative online content can have on individuals and businesses, and we have a proven track record of working with hundreds of clients to establish and bolster their online reputations. We also have removed over 50,000 damaging pieces of content from the internet for clients.
Video: Minc Law’s Online Reputation Management Services Explained
“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.”
July 22, 2021
If you are interested in exploring a custom online reputation management package, reach out to schedule your initial, no-obligation consultation by calling us at (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat representative, or filling out our online contact form.
We also offer digital risk protection services to actively monitor and address any threats to your online reputation.