We’ve all seen how user comments can have a detrimental effect on a firm’s reputation. Now, several online reputation management companies are helping clients fight back.
Adweek recently spoke with some of these entrepreneurs, including Andy Beal, CEO of Trackur and author of Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online, who said there’s been “a proliferation of these companies” over the last few years.
According to Adweek, there are at least 74 of these companies (the reporter stopped counting when he reached 74).
The problem with these companies is that there’s no science to cleaning up a brand’s reputation online. As Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land told Adweek, “None of these firms can guarantee that they can do anything for you.”
Beal also admitted:
“You’re looking at [spending] thousands of dollars a month in resources, and even then your success rate is going to be in the 20 percent to 40 percent range. Depending on your needs and on how bad your reputation really is, [the firms] will either be very successful or not make a dent.”
This practice doesn’t necessarily get rid of potentially damaging content, but rather buries it with positive content about your brand in a process called “suppression.” Because users tend not to go past the first page of search results, suppression focuses on the first page—specifically the first few impressions.
Adweek points out that this practice—flooding the Web with positive content to bury the negative sentiments—can be reversed, as it was with Sen. Rick Santorum. Santorum’s anti-gay statements prompted one writer to coin an unflattering neologism for his name, which stands as his top Google search result.