01. March 2016 · Comments Off on How to Best Work with Your Online Reputation Management Firm · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM · Tags: , , ,

Your company has hired an online reputation management firm (or consultant) to help you solve your negative reputation be it negative reviews; unfavorable mentions in the local media or a harsh complaint in the Ripoff Report website.

~ Wikimedia Commons

Problem solved right?

Not quite.

When you engage with an ORM firm, you should expect:

  • a project assessment.
  • a strategy on how they plan to fix your problem.
  • a project update each week.

Behind the scenes, any reputable reputation management firm is:

  • Creating new websites; blogs; social networking accounts; photography sites and more for your business or for you as an individual (if you have an individual reputation problem).
  • Writing and publishing tons of unique content on your behalf.
  • Building “white hat” links pointing to positive URLs about you and/or your company.

Reputation repair is SEO on steroids and, depending on the severity of the problem, you shouldn’t expect your reputation problem to be repaired in one hour, one day or one week. Remember: while it takes years to build a good reputation and five minutes to destroy it, it could also take months (and sometimes longer) to repair your reputation.

Businesses and individuals should support and help their online reputation management firm by:

  • Sharing pictures and videos via Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. suitable for republication.
  • Finding in their files professional white papers, how-to guides, old press releases, term papers, resumes, positive publications they have authored that could be converted into shiny, new digital content.
  • Writing and refreshing stale company blogs.
  • Increasing social media efforts in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others.

Yes, we understand that your online reputation problem can be viewed as extremely important to your bottom line or for making your next career move. However, contrary to what you might think, your situation is probably not unique and online reputation firms have usually seen your specific type of reputation problem many, many times over. Excessively emotional correspondence or a bombardment of telephone calls; e-mails and virtual meeting requests can equate into more billable hours for you and your company – none of which is helping to repair your reputation problem.  Make sure to treat your reputation project like a military strategist. Keep your hurt feelings in check, stay focused, and help your ORM firm generate an artillery barrage of positive content. It will help you win your battle quickly.

* * *

Mountain Woods Media, LLC specializes in online reputation management and repair for companies and business professionals. Contact us for more information or visit our Training page to see our online reputation courses.

 

11. February 2016 · Comments Off on Online Reputation Repair: Beating Ripoff Report · Categories: ORM, SEO · Tags: , , , , ,

Beating Ripoff ReportThe Ripoff Report (http://ripoffreport.com) is an ugly and unforgiving complaint website that allows anyone to file a report against you and/or your business. The website doesn’t ask for proof and “reviewers” can remain anonymous all in the name of harming your online reputation.

What makes matters worse, is that Google and other search engines continue to rank Ripoff Report prominently. Unfortunately, if there isn’t an online reputation management plan in place, you’ll quickly find Ripoff Report is ranked in the Top 3 of the Google search results on your personal name or business name.

In addition, if the harmed party (you or your business or an employee in your business) responds to a claim, you’re actually helping that report to earn even higher rankings in search engines because you’re adding more content to the post. More content equals more keywords; your name; your company’s name and a likely published response from the original complainer.

Several years ago, a client was mentioned in Ripoff Report. Not only was the business name published many times in the back-and-forth “discussions” but specific employee names were also published which caused this particular Ripoff Report claim to move up in search engine rankings on individual names. When the dust was settled and the complaint was resolved, many employees mentioned were now harmed by Ripoff Report.  The original complainer, though somewhat satisfied, could not even remove their original report.  The content remains forever.

What an absolute mess.

The Ripoff Report website suggests not hiring an online reputation management firm in order to fix the problem and they practically challenge anyone to file a lawsuit against them. In addition, you are offered the opportunity to file a “counterclaim” and have Ripoff Report review your matter for a $$$ fee, but there are no guarantees that the negative claim against you or your business will ever be removed.

So, how does one beat Ripoff Report?

Let’s first assume that you didn’t have an online reputation management program in place to help you avoid such trouble. Oh, someone could still file a Ripoff Report against you or your business, but a solid ORM program would likely keep these – and other false claims – from moving up in Google or other search engines.

Therefore, if you wake up tomorrow morning and see such a claim against you or your company, you need to get busy and get busy fast. This would include:

  • Investigate the Ripoff Report claim against you. Do not respond to the claim.
  • Where is it ranked in Google and other search engines on targeted keywords such as the name of your business or your name, etc.?
  • For any websites that are currently ranked lower (beneath) the Ripoff Report, you’ll need to update those websites (if you have login credentials) in order to help them move up in search results. Basically, your goal is to optimize the “good” stuff about you and your business so they’ll move up in search results and suppress Ripoff Report.
  • Write articles and blogs using the targeted keyword(s).
  • Take pictures of your company, staff, products etc. and get them published.
  • Create and publish YouTube videos and much, much more.

I would also consider talking to your company attorney for legal advice. If you don’t have time to battle Ripoff Report claims against you or your company, you should definitely consider hiring a professional online reputation management firm (with search engine optimization experience) to help you create more positive spin on your company and personal name in order to suppress negative news.

27. January 2016 · Comments Off on Negative Reputation – You Can Run But You Can’t Hide · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , ,

This is an online reputation example of a business who thought they could take the easy way out and run from their negative reviews; customer complaints and media coverage.

Zombieland Zombie chase via FanPop Wallpaper

Before we get into the mud, the business discussed here will remain anonymous as there’s no reason for us to make their online reputation matters worse. In addition, for the record, this isn’t a client of ours nor have we ever been retained to consult with or help improve their online reputation.

Here’s what happened:

The company, which we will refer to as “The ABC Company” is a retail establishment with a single store location on the East coast.

When searching for the company’s name in Google, the first two results are secured by The ABC Company’s domain name. From there, however, it gets worse.

50 reviews in Yelp averaging two (out of five) stars.

Two negative blogs

A complaint filed with the Ripoff Report

All on the first page of Google search results.

So, rather than try to clean up its reputation, The ABC Company opted to purchase a different domain and changed their business name slightly to “The ABCD Company.”

Guess what? That strategy never works.

You see, your negative reputation will always follow you. If you (as an individual) or your business didn’t get it right the first time, then chances are good you’re going to fail the second time.

The “new” business continued to earn poor reviews; negative complaints; media coverage as well as an onslaught of comments informing everyone that “The ABCD Company” is the same as “The ABC Company,” etc.

The “new” business has secured the top two results in Google with their new domain name, but a fresh batch of negative posts follow, including:

Back-to-back negative news stories.

Those same 50 bad Yelp reviews (reviewers helped Yelp connect the new company with the old company).

A negative blog.

A legal matter.

Two more negative blogs and a negative Facebook Page attacking the new company round out the Top 10 search results.

Overall, the reputation for the “new” firm is worse than the original company.

Where do you start?

Well, besides shuttering your doors and never going into business again, this is an online reputation problem from a very dark place. It would require the following:

  • There’s obviously more here than just an upset customer or two, so other problems exist within the company itself. Processes, products, services and staff need to be corrected; modified and re-trained internally first.
  • Develop and implement a strong public relations campaign. Only new and fresh online media coverage (print and video) can outrank old negative URLs appearing in search results.
  • Blog every day. Maybe twice a day. Work on your company and brand name.
  • Share a ton of positive photographs in social media (Twitter; Flickr; Facebook, etc.).
  • Film and share your own positive videos on YouTube and in other social networks.

This online reputation problem can be fixed, but it will have to start internally and then publicly.

 

07. January 2016 · Comments Off on How One Post Ruined Holly Jones’ Online Reputation · Categories: ORM, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , , ,

No one plans on ruining their online reputation.

However, in this case, Holly Jones of Indianapolis didn’t think before she posted her New Year’s Eve restaurant complaint on the establishment’s Facebook page.

This is a prime example of how quickly one’s reputation can be severely damaged (almost to the point of zero chance of recovery) and how a business’ posse quickly came to the rescue and defended its actions.

In a blink of an eye, the story when viral.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened:

Jones and her party were enjoying their New Year’s Eve dinner at Kilroy’s Bar and Grill in downtown Indianapolis. During the evening, a 70-year-old woman suffered a heart attack. Paramedics arrived; took the patient to the hospital, where she is recovering.

Rather than showing a little civility, mercy and care, Jones felt the need to post a message on Kilroy’s Facebook Page and blasted the restaurant; management; the suffering woman (who Jones said suffered from an overdose) and complained about her $700 bill.

Now, since the post was published on Kilroy’s Facebook page, the restaurant could have simply deleted her post. However, Kilroy’s Managing Partner Chris Burton blasted back….big time:

“This poor lady, who was celebrating New Year’s Eve with her husband and son, had to be placed on the floor of a completely packed bar and have her shirt removed in front of everyone so the paramedics could work on her. But I can completely understand why you think being intoxicated a******s that didn’t understand your bill should take priority over human life. I especially appreciate you making your server (who doesn’t curse) cry as well. I’m sure she really enjoyed working on New Year’s Eve just to deal with people such as yourself.”

Burton went on and told Jones that she was “cold hearted and nasty” and that he wouldn’t lose a second of sleep over her pledge never to return to Kilroy’s.

However, the fire storm was just getting started.

Enter local media, Twitter and here you go. Even at 2 a.m., the story was trending (#HollyJones). Holly Jones was getting blasted by those who never knew her; never met her; never had been to Kilroy’s; never had been to Indianapolis or, even been to the United States for that matter. Other Facebook users with the name “Holly Jones” were getting hate mail and anonymous threatening phone calls.

Jones took down her Facebook Page (claiming it had been hacked) and it appears she also lost her job as a hair stylist. Burton and his fans donated $14,000 in funds for medical bills of the heart attack victim

Did Holly Jones deserve it? Did she pick a fight with Kilroy’s and is now paying a huge price for her public post?  Did the restaurant manager go too far? Are the tables finally turning on restaurant review trolls?

Holly Jones

Some of the ongoing reviews and conversations on Kilroy’s Facebook Page from January 5, 2016

 

18. November 2015 · Comments Off on Creating an Online Reputation Management Plan · Categories: ORM, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , ,

online reputation management planningToo often, businesses and individuals only react when something bad has happened.

A flat tire, for example, may have been prevented by replacing your bald, worn tires a week ago. The snow blower can’t start because the spark plug is old, etc.

The same is true with your online reputation. A negative review; news story or legal matter pops up and, before you know it, Google is ranking the “bad” news before the good stuff. Only then, do you kick it into high gear; high a freelancer who owns a magic wand who can sprinkle fairy dust on your reputation problem and make everything better again.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as emergency online reputation management. Just like search engine optimization, ORM takes time. Repairs aren’t going to be easy. It won’t be fast and it probably won’t be cheap.

Therefore, the best way to prevent negative information from creeping up in search engines is to have a strong online reputation management program in place. This way, the “good” stuff will already be in place; will be indexed by Google and other search engines and you’ll have a better chance of keeping negative items pushed down in search results.

Your online reputation management plan should include the following steps. However, remember: ORM is like search engine optimization. It never ends. You should always be working to make improvements and updates to make sure your reputation is up-to-date; fresh and solid. Old news and stale content won’t work when it comes to online reputation management (or SEO for that matter).

  • Make sure you have claimed; confirmed, and optimized your online business profile with online review websites. These include sites such as Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and many others. We offer a complete list of the “Top 25” review websites in our courses “Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews” (URL) and “Online Reputation Management: Earning Positive Reviews” (URL).
  • Write and publish a blog and keep it fresh with two or three blog posts per week. Great content usually beats any online reputation management problem.
  • Write and publish press releases on your website. This can be a blog post or you can publish your press release on a “media” page.
  • Participate daily in social media, including LinkedIn (business and person); Facebook; Twitter and many others.
  • Take pictures of everything and publish photos on your website and in your blog. Share them in your social media networks; on Flickr; Google Photos, etc.
  • Videos are big and they are getting bigger. Try to do at least one (1) video per week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Information and advice offered in the video is far more important than the graphics and flashy backgrounds. Publish your videos on your YouTube Channel and share them via your social media networks. Also, give consideration to Vimeo for video publication.

Your company’s reputation is extremely important to potential customers. They want to feel good about who they are buying from and doing business with on a regular basis. It is a valuable business asset and should be treated with care.

15. October 2015 · Comments Off on Online Reputation: A Basic Glossary · Categories: ORM · Tags: , ,

Every person, place or thing has an online reputation. However, the term “reputation” can mean different things depending on the situation.

Here’s a glossary of various meanings when it comes to “online reputation.”

Online Reputation

Your online reputation (speaking of you personally and/or your business; healthcare ORM A Basic Glossary of Termspractice, etc.), is determined by what ranks high in search engine results. Do the results reveal positive or negative information? This includes online reviews; media coverage; legal matters; blogs and more.

For example, a positive online reputation can include:

  • Consistently earning 4- and 5-star reviews.
  • Local media articles and videos that share good things about you and your company.
  • Flattering photographs in Flickr, Google Images, etc.
  • A steady stream of company-produced and published videos in YouTube and Vimeo.
  • An updated blog with a minimum of one or two helpful blog posts per week.
  • Active social media accounts and participating in online conversations in Twitter, Facebook, etc.

These all add up to creating a maintaining a positive online reputation for both individuals and companies.

Of course, a negative online reputation is quite the opposite:

  • Negative reviews left by customers with little to no attempt by the business owner or manager to communicate with unhappy customers in trying to solve a problem.
  • Media coverage that may reflect your business in a negative way to current and future customers (complaints about your company; lawsuits; investigations and other legal matters, etc.).
  • Employee complaints on GlassDoor and other employment review websites.
  • Stale and outdated information on your company website or blog (if you have a blog).
  • Lack of activity and active conversations in social media accounts.

Emergency Online Reputation

While a negative online reputation can be corrected with the right strategy – and time – an instance could arise with any business or professional which may require immediate attention.

If something more severe occurs, such as a legal matter; product recall; several negative reviews, etc., your online reputation will most likely change as well. When this happens, you may need to take quick steps to prevent your reputation from going down the drain in a matter of days.

This action is referred to as “emergency online reputation.”

Typically, websites that contain large amounts of content usually earn higher rankings in Google and other search engines. These include digital newspapers, television and radio outlets; online review sites; courts and other legal websites (including arrest reports and mugshots). Therefore, if your “bad” news falls into one or more of these categories, it could quickly move to the Top 10 in search results almost overnight.

This means you’ll need to do everything you should have been doing all along, but you’ll need to pick up the pace; generate positive content; get it published online and increase your social networking activity.

Emergency online reputation can turn things around, but it can take up to three months (or more) to bury the negative posts appearing in search results. It all depends on the severity of your negative reputation.

On an individual level, emergency steps are required when an arrest report and mugshot photos appear in the Top 10 positions in search results, as well as lawsuits; ugly divorce proceedings; bankruptcy and other legal matters. White collar crimes such as embezzlement, fraud and insider trading troubles typically will also earn high rankings in Google. These kinds of problems make future employment difficult.

Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is the process by which you are constantly creating a positive online presence to improve and solidify your company’s reputation or your reputation as an individual.

It’s like going to the bank and getting a loan: the best time to get a loan is when you don’t need one. The best time to shop for a new car is when you don’t need one.

Online reputation management is the same thing.

By consistently writing and publishing good content about your company; its products, services and its employees, you’ll easily fight off any minor negative burp that appears on the radar.

Individuals – including high school and college students – need to always be improving their online reputation as scholarship reviews and employment opportunities are on the horizon. Clean up your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts. Remove unsavory photos and personal tags. Foul language in Twitter and blog posts also creates a bad online reputation for individuals.

An online reputation management (also called “ORM”) plan can be created within a day but the process of implementing a plan never ends. Always be on the lookout for positive content, photograph and video opportunities in improving and solidifying your reputation.

12. October 2015 · Comments Off on Yes, You Can Also Review Jails and Prisons in Yelp · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , , ,

reviewing jails on YelpRestaurants; beauty salons; chiropractors and many others can all receive good and bad reviews via customers on Yelp.com.

And so can prisons.

Lawyers, inmates and visitors have left reviews for prisons worldwide rating everything from the quality of food; power-hungry prison guards; lack of personal grooming supplies (i.e., toilet paper) to dress code policies for family members during visitation days.

Yelp allows anything or anyone to be reviewed as long as it has a physical address and the reviewer followed the site’s terms of service.

While you would almost expect every prison and most reviews to be negative, there are a few jails that regularly receive good reviews (see our video on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/byPwKWgOfOE). For example:

  • The West Hollywood Jail has three reviews (as of this blog post) with an average of 4.5 stars (out of five). Reviewer Jim A. “highly recommended this place,” while D.W. says “the exclusive West Hollywood Jail provides far better accommodations than what you might expect.”
  • The jail in Santa Monica has one five-star review as the reviewer says he spent “one relaxing night there last month.”
  • The Atlanta City Detention Center has earned 3.5 stars from three reviews. Unfortunately, the reviewer offering five stars gave a simple explanation unsuitable for printing here.

Most prisons and jail profiles on Yelp have been properly claimed and include directions; public transportation opportunities; visiting hours. Some have added a few photos.

Yelp doesn’t offer any statistics about correctional facilities in terms of how many profiles exist or how many total reviews are currently published (Yelp is currently available in 13 countries), however the “review-a-prison” idea is gaining a little bit of steam.

Prisons aside, if you want to learn more about your business and Yelp, check out our Udemy course “Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales By Mastering Yelp” at http://www.udemy.com/mastering-yelp.

07. October 2015 · Comments Off on Online Reputation Lab: Protecting Your Business Image · Categories: ORM, Training Courses · Tags: ,

online reputation labWhether you realize it or not, your business (and you as an individual) has an online reputation.

Hopefully, it’s a positive one backed up by good customer reviews; positive news and media stories; blog posts; articles; photographs; videos and more.

However, for some, bad or impulsive decisions can almost immediately equate into a negative online reputation which may take months or years to repair.

At the same time, every individual has an online reputation, which can also be formed by social media; legal troubles; unsavory photographs, etc.

This is why we have created – and released – a new Udemy course “Online Reputation Lab: Protecting Your Business Image.”

In this 12-lecture, 90-minute course, we’ll cover:

  • Understanding the basics of online reputation for a business.
  • Understanding the basics of online reputation for an individual.
  • How to recognize online reputation problems.
  • How to strategize and create opportunities to improve a negative online reputation.
  • Creating a strong and positive online reputation management program for a business or an individual.

“In this course, we take an in-depth look at five case studies of businesses and individuals suffering through a negative online reputation problem,” says Steve Phillips, Vice President at Mountain Woods Media, LLC.

“We review a worldwide corporation; a college and three individuals. In every case, we review the problems and then we try to offer some solutions on how they can start the road to repairing their reputation,” he adds.

Currently, students can preview two course lectures for free.

The full course and more information is available at https://www.udemy.com/online-reputation-lab and retails for $99.

* * *

Mountain Woods Media, LLC is an Internet consulting and content development firm specializing in training and consulting; Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Online Reputation Management (ORM) and App Search Optimization (ASO).