More businesses see the value of having an online presence, which could include social media channels, websites, and review pages. In fact, most business owners have a least a Yelp page, which shows customer reviews regarding their services or products. They should also find ways to motivate satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on their Yelp page, as 45% of consumers check a business’s Yelp page before buying that business’s products or services. Therefore, Yelp is second to only Google regarding online review search volume and businesses can use online reputation management services to ensure that they have mainly positive online reviews.
What can reputation management companies do for businesses?
Reputation management services help businesses improve their reputation online, whether it’s responding to angry customers on websites like TrustPilot, Yelp, or Google. One common misconception about these companies is that they can completely remove negative feedback in most cases, which is easier said than done. However, they use a process called reverse SEO to push negative content about a business to the 3rd and 5th pages of Google. This makes the content practically invisible as most users don’t look below the first 5 entries of the first page of Search engine results page or SERP. The one exception to this is that they can remove slander or libel, which are legal terms for unjust negative reviews. Despite this, it can be difficult to erase slander as it usually involves consulting attorneys which can be expensive and time-consuming.
Some other exceptions that these companies can use to get rid of poor reviews on behalf of their clients is to appeal to the review sites. For example, reputation management companies can state that certain poor reviews were against the terms of service of either Google, Yelp or other review firms. If any of these businesses feel that the original poor reviews were unjust, then they will acquiesce to the reputation management firm and delete the poor feedback.
Monitor social media
It’s no secret that social media has greatly changed and that many businesses are on at least three platforms. Thus, it can be tough to constantly monitor social media comments, unlikes, unfollows and more. It’s also prudent for any reputation management strategy to include tools to manage a company’s social media accounts. This will prevent negative feedback and it often uses social media analytics tools to accomplish this task. For instance, analytics can give them insight into how customers are finding the business’s pages and when comments are being posted.
Content filter and creation
Reputation management firms also filter and create content like social media posts, blog posts, press releases and white papers about the business. They also ensure that each piece of content is appropriate and wouldn’t offend any viewers. These companies know the importance of good content and how to avoid easily offending people. For example, they research the latest trends regarding each industry and what not to post in order to avoid negative feedback.
Related to this, these companies also create content like infographics, blog posts, and social media content. They use this content to not only promote a company but also as part of the reverse SEO strategy to hide negative content about the business. Reputation management firms use a process called SEO or Search Engine Optimization to rank positive content to the top of search engines, which is the opposite of reverse SEO.
Respond to customers
Reputation management service firms can be seen as a mix between Public Relations (PR) and Customer Service. This service falls under the customer service category and they respond to customers on the various review and social media websites. They know what to say and how to appease dissatisfied customers. Some business owners wouldn’t know how to properly respond to negative feedback, which could make the situation worse. Therefore, it’s prudent to delegate this task to professionals that are well versed in customer service. Also, some successful reputation management representatives have helped fix customers’ problems, which in turn, prompts them to change negative reviews to positive ones.
Check out The Small Business Guide to SEO
Pros and cons of using an online reputation management company
- Save Time: Running a business is no easy task, and staying constantly updated with social media can be overwhelming. Also, SEO is very complex and it changes on a regular basis. Therefore, a superb reputation management firm can lessen small business owners’ workloads. It can also prevent them from doing repetitive tasks like constantly communicating with clients on these various platforms.
- Expert Knowledge: Social media and digital marketing might seem easy and that it just requires posting funny images. However, there is a lot more to these disciplines as these platforms are influenced by complex algorithms. Also, each social media channel has different rules and best practices. Thus, a professional can help business owners avoid common social media and SEO mistakes to grow their brand. SEO is even more intricate than social media and has changed significantly in 10 years. For example, it was much easier to rank mediocre, keyword-stuffed content on the first page of Google over a decade ago. Currently, there are stricter standards for content, backlinks, and other SEO techniques.
- Expensive: While these services can save a company time; they can also charge a pretty penny for their services. For example, basic reputation monitoring services generally start around $500/mo. and can even increase to $3,000/mo. Therefore, it’s wise to consider if a business really needs this service. For instance, a business that has a robust customer service and one to two online pages might be able to take care of their tasks without one of these companies. Luckily, some add on services like monitoring Google Alerts only cost $100/mo., but many business owners can do this by themselves. Setting up Google Alerts is relatively simple and doesn’t require complex SEO or internet marketing knowledge.
- Unethical: It’s wise to look out for reputation management and SEO firms that use unethical or black hat tactics. For instance, these firms can charge hefty fees and promise the world without delivering a return for the business owner. They claim that the search engine rankings are improving, but don’t have the analytics to back it up. Also, many of these firms charge long term, expensive retainer fees claiming that “SEO is a long term process.” SEO is a long term strategy, but be sure to ask about cancellation policies along with short term or even month to month contract options.
- Lastly, be on the lookout for common black hat SEO tactics like creating keyword-stuffed content, duplicate content, hiding or cloaking links, sneaky redirects, and buying poor quality backlinks. Never work with a company that does any of these tactics as it can not only hurt your online reputation but get your site banned from Google.
Go Fish Digital
Go Fish Digital also assists small business owners with a plethora of services like reputation management, SEO, web development, and content marketing. However, it differentiates itself by also offering conversion rate optimization or CRO services. CRO simply means that this company improves areas of the website like landing pages, email opt-in forms and the like to increase the number of visitors who either sign up for an email newsletter or purchase a product or service. This company constantly tests small details to help increase quality conversions.
Their reputation management department focuses on building reputations and preventing bad reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, and Bing. It especially focuses on Yelp as 90% of Yelp viewers state that positive reviews impact buying choices. They truly emphasize trying to delete 1 and 2-star Yelp reviews by making appeals to them on behalf of their clients. Go Fish also prevents 5-star reviews from being filtered by Yelp and instead works with them to skyrocket these neglected, positive reviews to the top of the page.
This firm doesn’t have pricing available on its website, but it has various pricing options like hourly rates and monthly retainers. As with most services, packages vary based on the types of services offered, complexity, among others. Yet, businesses can expect to pay between $1,000 -$1,500 per month if they choose to add all of the reputation management packages like Yelp, Public Affairs, Reputation Monitoring, Bing Cleanup, and Search Engine Improvement. Luckily, Go Fish lets clients mix and match services to fit their custom needs. They also negotiate contracts and have flexible, transparent terms. These monthly fees can increase beyond this point to as much as $5,000 per mo. if the business owner wants to add SEO, web development, web monitoring, and other packages.
Luckily, Go Fish has hourly rate options for one-off projects, which range between $100-$150. These hourly rates can be applied by using them for SEO consultations along with reputation management pieces of training. Also, this company mainly works remotely, so these visits will be conducted via video conference.
Go Fish is a relatively young firm as it was founded in 2005 and doesn’t have a ton of online reviews as a result. However, it does have a Facebook page with three 5 star reviews. These customers stated that the company was professional, ethical and innovative. Unfortunately, many SEO and reputation management firms have a poor reputation for using cookie-cutter solutions and barely putting in effort for a high fee. Conversely, Go Fish is an innovative firm that is constantly testing new ideas like discovering ways to improve the removal rate of 1-star Yelp reviews.
Per Credo, it’s also earned many awards like being dubbed the Best Search Agency of the Year and Best Large SEO Agency in 2018 by Interactive Marketing Awards and US Search Awards, respectively. Also, some positive reviews on this site mentioned that they are very metric-driven, meaning that they use real-time, legitimate data to back up any claims they make.
WebiMax is a reputation management service that also provides SEO services to various businesses. It’s one of the fastest growing online companies and also offers related services like lead generation, web design, reputation repair, and PPC or pay per click management. Businesses that want to have all these services under one place could benefit from using WebiMax as a “one-stop-shop”. Besides this, it also has significant social proof as it’s worked with large firms like Berkshire Hathaway and Carrier.
Similar to other competitors, it uses reverse SEO to push content beyond the first few pages of Google, meaning that it won’t be seen. It also helps small business owners create new, engaging content like blogs and social media posts. One way that WebiMax differentiates itself from the rest is by offering crisis management. So, if a business were to receive a flood of negative feedback; Webimax will create a plan to properly manage this. The crisis plan also includes responding to angry clients and turning negative reviews into positive ones.
Since this company has many services and works with various companies, it doesn’t post pricing directly on the website. Instead, users must contact sales via phone or email to obtain a custom quote. However, new businesses that want to start building a positive reputation with a fundamental package can expect to pay around $500/mo. with this company. A basic package would include Google Alerts monitoring, review management, and some reverse SEO.
Fortunately, this firm doesn’t lock clients into long term contracts and works on a month to month basis. Not having these contracts provide businesses with flexibility and the opportunity to sample different services. Also, reverse SEO and content creation pricing can fluctuate based on the number of posts and this company could give bulk discounts to those that purchase large volumes of content.
Per G2 crowd, WebiMax has mostly positive reviews as can be seen by its 4.8-star rating. Clients have mentioned that customer service was very responsive and ethical without hidden terms nor upsells. It also received positive feedback for having flexible terms and various methods of contacting support. For instance, users can choose to email, call or live chat with customer service.
WebiMax isn’t perfect and has received complaints about not having the best writing services. Some reviewers stated the writing sounded very mechanical and was only meant to rank higher in Google. It also has a dashboard that can help users see the analytics behind the reviews on their social media platforms. While this is helpful, some clients wished that this social media management tool was more robust and easier to read.
Reputation.com is different from the rest on this list as it purely focuses on reputation management services, instead of SEO, web design, web development or other marketing agency services. It chooses to be a master in this niche and not spread itself too thin. Also, it offers solutions that are tailored to numerous industries ranging from retail, finance, automotive and healthcare. One of its main advantages is that it helps companies in highly regulated industries like healthcare and finance gain positive reviews without breaking compliance rules. In fact, it uses a comprehensive dashboard to monitor social media accounts and post HIPPA approved content for its healthcare clients.
Also, businesses can have general listings on many sites beyond Yelp and Google. Due to this, Reputation.com helps them ensure that the listing information is accurate and easy to follow. They can do this by constantly monitoring listings to prevent errors like 404 links and other items that would cause a poor user experience.
This reputation management service doesn’t provide pricing on its website, so viewers have to contact sales for a custom quote. Also, users can navigate to the bright orange button on the website to book a demo, which will guide them through the various services. Fortunately, this company doesn’t have long term contracts and can create packages tailored for each client’s needs.
While it doesn’t have explicit pricing on the website, clients can expect to pay approximately $700 per month for services like managing business listings and online reviews. Some services like surveys can be either purchased on a per survey or monthly basis. Surveys can cost between $10-$20 each and monthly deals can usually save the business owner more than if he or she bought the surveys individually.
Per Trustpilot, Reputation.com has a 4-star review out of 22 total reviews. Keep in mind that this company has acquired many smaller firms, which explains why other companies like SIM and Optimoz IT were mentioned. Many positive reviews highlighted the seamless communication they had with their account representative. They mentioned that it was very easy to reach the same representative quickly.
Also, they were happy with the various automated procedures like SMS that even tripled one business’s reviews. While they have mostly positive reviews, they’ve received negative feedback for billing errors, like double charging accounts. However, a company representative answered most negative reviews and offered to help correct any mistakes on their end.
Gadook is another premier reputation management service, but it differentiates itself by helping individuals and companies repair online images. Images are extremely important to a business’s success as viewers process an image 60,000 times faster than text. Some businesses that don’t have a physical presence make the mistake of having a general warehouse or other unappealing building as their photo on review sites. Gadook helps these businesses create optimal photos as well as remove damaging images.
This firm is a very metrics based firm as it conducts tests like keyword research to see where a business ranks in the search engines. It uses this research along with analytics to constantly monitor searches that might damage a business’s reputation. Related to this, it creates useful content like long-form blog posts to rank above any negative piece. Long-form blog posts are especially helpful as they rank higher in the search engines and brand the business owner as an expert in his or her niche.
Ironically, this company has a pricing page which details their services, but they don’t have price quotes next to each one. However, they encourage viewers to schedule a call or email sales. Some prices for minor services like link building are visible and it costs $4 per link or citation built. Link building is an umbrella term that includes guest blogging and it also consists of reaching out to other websites in a related niche to get a link pointing back to the business owner’s site. Having several quality links pointing back to a website will greatly improve its rankings.
Go Fish also states that the signup fee is waived for this week only, but this could be a sales strategy with a nonexistent setup fee. More importantly, it doesn’t force users into long contracts but uses a month to month arrangement.
Per their Google reviews profile, they have a 5-star rating out of 6 aggregate reviews. These past clients stated that the website service was very streamlined that created high-quality sites. They also mentioned that the customer service team took the time to educate their employees every step of the process. Besides this, this firm has gone above and beyond for its clients by not rushing through processes as well as ensuring customers truly understand their online marketing situation.
While Gadook has great reviews, it could improve the user experience for potential customers by having more comprehensive self-help resources like FAQ sections and social media content. They could also add an online chat function to help answer questions in real-time.
Like WebiMax, Netmark also offers reputation management services along with assistance regarding SEO, content marketing, UX (user experience) design, and web design. It also works with a business’s in-house team to improve procedures. In fact, it sends a dedicated representative to each business location, which helps build trust and expectations in the future. In addition, it employs representatives that are well versed in various social media best practices like what to do to increase followers vs. engagement. Besides this, it promptly responds to visitors that have questions regarding a business’s products or services. It also encourages customers to write positive reviews via automated email campaigns and other methods.
While it does assist with reverse SEO and review monitoring, it only does ethical practices and avoids sketchy methods like “click farming.” Click farming occurs when a company manages a concentrated campaign of existing sites to manipulate likes which in turn tricks Google‘s auto-suggest results. Some reputation management services conduct this practice, but it’s not advised as it’s frowned upon by Google and can result in serious SEO consequences.
Unfortunately, this reputation management service doesn’t show direct prices on its website. However, it’s been noted that they generally start businesses with a four-month contract. In the first few months, they cover basic strategies like how to improve SEO, set up review monitoring, and teach clients how to use analytics software. They would educate the business on fundamental best practices and how to streamline their reputation management processes.
During the final month, they would spend more hands-on time working with the staff to ensure they can conduct some processes by themselves. Sadly, they don’t offer month to month contracts, which locks in businesses. Yet, the contract is only 4 months long and this is beneficial considering other firms have minimums of at least 6 months to a year. It’s also great that they work with the client at his or her location as many reputation management services companies don’t send personnel to conduct face to face workshops.
Netmark has both positive and negative reviews per its 3-star review on Yelp. Some positive feedback mentioned that the reps were very easy to contact and were always transparent. They also stated that they were very proactive and didn’t let large issues escalate further. Other positive feedback highlighted the diverse services, especially web design which greatly improved a user’s website functionality.
For a company that provides its customers with onsite service, it has many poor reviews and even a few rip-off report ratings. Unfortunately, some customers pointed out that they charged high monthly fees on a contract basis without working on services like PPC or SEO. Other negative reviews stated that the services couldn’t justify the high costs and that certain apps did a better job for a minimal price. For example, one reviewer found an app for only $20/mo. that greatly improved SEO by adding items like appropriate meta tags to web pages and posts. This same review also pointed out that Netmark made several mistakes, which shows they lacked attention to detail.
It’s imperative for businesses to have several online presences with glowing customer reviews. Those that have mediocre online platforms and poor reviews can be negatively impacted by customers choosing to do business with competitors that have good reviews. Thus, it could be wise to hire a quality reputation management firm to highlight positive feedback and monitor negative reviews. That way, business owners can be constantly aware of customer feedback, which will help them enhance their online reputations.