In an age when a simple Google search is all it takes to find detailed information about anyone and anything, online reputation management (ORM) is an absolute must. Unfortunately, not enough people understand how ORM works, or how it affects their daily lives.
Whether you’re a doctor trying to protect your practice from negative reviews, a parent trying to keep your children safe online or a job hunter trying to make a good impression with hiring managers, it’s important to consider protecting your online reputation. For many, that means turning to an expert consultant or a full-fledged ORM company.
Not all ORM firms, however, are created equal. As the need for ORM services has increased, so has the number of fly-by-night ORM “experts” more interested in emptying their customers’ pockets rather than helping them.
This article will discuss what to look for when contracting an ORM provider and how to avoid services that don’t work.
What types of services do ORM companies offer?
Before enlisting an ORM firm, make sure that it offers services that actually address your reputation management problem. For example, if you are concerned because someone else with your name is dominating your search engine results, you’ll require a different solution than if you wanted to push a negative business review past page one of Google.
Proactive reputation management isn’t always a one-size-fits-all process. Sometimes a standard plan of attack will work. Sometimes it won’t. Make sure the ORM company you choose can meet your specific requirements.
Is the company credible?
Has the ORM company that you’re considering been verified by a third party like the Better Business Bureau? Is its leadership team experienced in the Internet industry?
These questions can help you determine if an ORM company is credible — or if it is simply trying to cash in on the suddenly lucrative ORM market. Search for customer testimonials. Look for a social media presence on Twitter or Facebook. Credible ORM companies often answer questions and offer advice in public forums.
How do the company’s services work?
Find out exactly what you’re getting for your money. Part of gathering information should include asking how their products and services work. Because their solutions will involve the Internet, search engines, link strategies and more, some answers might be over your head, but that’s ok. You still have the right to ask, and if you don’t get a satisfactory answer, you might want to consider another ORM company.
It’s also important to determine if you can’t simply solve your online reputation problem yourself. Becoming educated will allow you to decide if you want to put in the time and effort yourself, or if the problem is big or complicated enough to make hiring an ORM company worthwhile.
What about pricing?
Look for a tiered pricing system that offers low-cost entry to the ORM company’s service. And make sure that the company is willing to work with you on pricing. ORM situations are unique, and the cost of solving a problem isn’t always reflected on a rate sheet.
If a quoted price is more than what you’re willing to pay for your reputation management problem, feel free to shop around. A high price, however, doesn’t always mean a company is being greedy; rather, it might be an accurate assessment of how much work it will take to manage your reputation problem.
Here’s where having educated yourself will pay off: If you determine that the price is fair given the amount of work that will go into your case, consider paying for the service. Many people underestimate how much time and effort go into a sustained reputation management campaign, only to let the problem become worse as they haggle over pricing.
Rob Frappier is a community manager for ReputationDefender LLC