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What is Internet Reputation Management All About?

Loveleena Rajeev
Rectify your negative image in the virtual world with Internet reputation management tools. Read on to know how.
"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it."
- Warren Buffett, American businessman and philanthropist.
The Internet is a great technological invention that aids a business to grow, expand, and communicate with its customers. But like all inventions, it has a flip side: it can provide anonymity and opportunity to anyone who wishes to malign its reputation.
A tarnished reputation not only costs a company its name and respect, but its business opportunities are also badly affected.

Problems Pertaining to Online Reputation

Reputation of any person or company is mostly hampered in three different ways:
  • A government regulatory body or a journalist has posted something negative about you or your company. This type of negative posting is generally done with no malice or intent to damage. They just post general information which is regularly updated.
  • A wronged person, who has been caused personal damage by a company's products or services. This category of people generally vent their anger and cause short-term damage.
  • A vengeful person, whose sole mission is to 'get at you' by attacking your reputation, causes the most damage, because it's fueled by anger and jealousy.

How is Negative Publicity Managed?

Negative reviews and inaccurate content generate adverse publicity, which in turn leads to negative listings of your company. To counter its proliferation, Internet reputation management, sometimes also known as search engine reputation management (SERM), has been developed.
A series of search engine optimization (SEO) tools have been designed to make the negative publicity generating websites fall in their search engine rankings. These sites are pushed back to distant search result pages, making them almost invisible.
On the other hand, websites that have positive content about the company are optimized to rise in the rankings.
New content like social networking sites, blogs, and web pages are also developed to counter negative publicity, and then these sites are made to appear relevant to the company's search terms and listings. This is done over a substantial period of time, until the negative listings drop out of the search rankings.

Tools Used

Tools and techniques used to restore a company's search listings include the ones given here:

Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM)

SERM uses two tools to dilute negative publicity, namely, search engine marketing and search engine optimization. Both these tools apply damage control techniques to restore corporate identities on the web.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The primary goal of this tool is to build and manage brands, website promotions, market or keyword research, generate client or brand specific content, and increase web traffic to generate business.

Online Identity Management (OIM)

This technique refers to online personal branding and is done through identity exposure using social networks and participation in websites such as Facebook, Orkut, Flickr, Twitter, etc.
The main objective of this is to get high search rankings for as many sites as possible, when someone searches for a particular person's name and his or her reference. This technique is specifically used to restore an individual's image and standing.

Social Media Marketing (SMM) / Social Media Optimization (SMO)

This tool employs the concept of showcasing a company's product or service and brand in front of the networking community, to improve its online business and reputation.

Online Reputation Management (ORM)

This service is meant for monitoring and protecting a brand, product, or business across the virtual space. ORM involves marketing and public relations along with search engine marketing, to raise awareness about the brand.
Internet reputation management tools are not only used for damage control, but also to position an individual or a company's product or service in higher search listings.
In this highly competitive age, your reputation can make or break you or your business. Therefore, a positive campaign to enhance the image of your business, will increase the visibility of your company on the Internet.