What is online reputation management?

Your online reputation is how others see you when they look for you online. 

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Google yourself. What do you see? Are you represented fairly?

Everyone has an online reputation. The only question is do you have a say in yours?

Online reputation management (ORM) means taking control of the online conversation. Its techniques and strategies ensure that people find the right materials when they look for you on the Internet.

The purpose of online reputation management is to create balance, counteract misleading trends, and allow you to put your best foot forward.

ORM involves a variety of tactics, from content curation to building relationships with key influencers.

To begin, you must first understand what your online presence looks like and create a plan of action. This allows you to identify the areas where your reputation needs improvement and helps determine the best approach for addressing these issues.

Need assistance? We can help.

Free, confidential, and without obligation.

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Two cycles of online reputation

Vicious Cycle: Ignore your online reputation and you risk falling victim to a vicious cycle of misinformation and rumors.

Virtuous Cycle: Take care of your online reputation and you create a virtuous cycle of positive, quality materials that reflect well on you.

Vicious Virtuous
Vicious Cycle
1 2 3 4 5
  • vicious reputation lifecycle step 1
    1 Poor-quality, outdated, misleading, or malicious content ranks highly online
  • vicious reputation lifecycle step 2
    2 People naturally click on results that seem shocking or scandalous
  • vicious reputation lifecycle step 3
    3 Search engines see that users like these links and continue to promote them
  • vicious reputation lifecycle step 4
    4 Social media amplifies the reach and effect of reputation-harming items
  • vicious reputation lifecycle step 5
    5 Follow-up content, commentary, and online gossip create more links and traffic that validate the negative materials
Virtuous Cycle
1 2 3 4 5
  • reputation lifecycle step 1
    1 Good-quality, current, accurate, and balanced content ranks highly online
  • reputation lifecycle step 2
    2 People naturally click on results that seem likely to provide the information they were looking for
  • reputation lifecycle step 3
    3 Search engines see that users like these informative links and continue to promote them
  • reputation lifecycle step 4
    4 Social media amplifies the reach and effect of engaging, high-quality items
  • reputation lifecycle step 5
    5 Follow-up content, media coverage, and positive new developments create more links and traffic that validate the positive materials

Harnessing reputation management services is more than just a strategy to reduce the damage from negative reviews and social media blunders—it’s a necessity in today’s online-centric world.

Are you ready to dive deep into how to amplify your brand’s voice?

If “yes,” let’s lay out the blueprint you need to truly resonate with your audience and fortify your online image.

Why you should care about your online reputation

Online reputation is becoming so pervasive, it’s almost time to drop the word “online.”

Your reputation speaks volumes about who you are, not just as an individual or a business.

It plays a critical role in shaping the public’s perception and online image of you and your brand.

The Internet is our first stop for everything

Your online reputation can make or break potential career or business opportunities and affect customer loyalty, trustworthiness, and overall success.

When people search for your name or company online, they form an opinion based on your content creation, social channels, customer reviews, and more.

Not only do people view the internet as their first source of information, but they also trust what it tells them. More importantly, they make decisions based on what they find online.

The Internet is our first stop for everything

  • 59% of people trust search engines the most when researching a business. (Edelman Trust Barometer)
  • About 90% of employers look at potential employees’ social media profiles, and 79% have rejected a candidate based on what they found. (The Manifest)
  • 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. (BrightLocal)
  • 86% of risk managers and executives believe that reputational risks could result in potentially crippling business outcomes, such as loss of income. (Willis Towers Watson)

Looking at statistics like these, it’s clear that what happens online affects your entire life.

Other people are creating your reputation for you

While it’s comforting to think you have significant sway over what others think of you, very little of your online reputation is under your control. In fact, your reputation is mostly determined by what strangers on the internet think and say about you when they find you online.

However, there is a wide range of things you can do to influence how people feel about you or your business, including:

  • Review monitoring
  • Content marketing
  • Being active on review sites
  • Responding to customer feedback
  • Paying attention to your social media management

These digital marketing efforts can improve retention and generate happy customers if done with a holistic approach that naturally improves your online reputation.

Be advised: These efforts do take time (if you take the DIY approach) and money (if you hire reputation management experts to manage your reputation for you), but being able to steer the discussion about your name is worth it.

That’s because a carefully curated online presence can greatly enhance your job opportunities, sales for your business, and long-term growth for future ventures.

Online searches will work for you—rather than against you—if you have access to reputation analysis tools, controlled search engine results, and the know-how of reputation experts.

These are just a few of the best things about online reputation monitoring and trusting in reputation management experts and tools for online reputation repair.

The worst thing you can do is to leave your reputation up to the whims of the internet. This is because harmful content can destroy everything you worked for, trample your positive brand image, and suffocate your chance with potential clients before you ever engage with them.

Online and offline are blending

Online and offline are blending

With each passing day, the online world becomes more and more enmeshed with the rest of our activities. From smartphones to smart TVs, from the “Internet of things” to the self-driving cars of the future—you are living each day increasingly online, even if you never touch a computer.

That means there are more and more ways for you to leave an online mark, positive or negative.

It used to be having an offline reputation was all that mattered.

Now, you might not think that people are searching for you, but chances are they are. Common reasons include:

  • Employers doing pre-interview research
  • Landlords looking into prospective renters
  • Children searching for details of their parents’ “real lives”
  • Curious significant others, past and present
  • Former colleagues looking to share professional opportunities
  • College admissions departments evaluating prospective students
  • Insurance companies doing risk assessments

No matter how “under the radar” or “low-tech” your lifestyle is, there is a good quantity of information about you online—and people are seeing it and making decisions about you based on it—even if you think the content in question doesn’t warrant a bad reputation. We all know the internet doesn’t work that way.

Your online reputation is forever

If someone writes something negative about you online, it can put you at a serious disadvantage over the long term—especially if you’re not aware of it. You might never know why you didn’t get that apartment you wanted, or why a job offer never materialized after that phenomenal interview.

Your online reputation is forever

It’s important to keep tabs on what people are saying about you online and then take steps to correct any inaccuracies. (Here are some tips to help you get started.)

For the same reasons, you also need to monitor things that you post yourself. Thanks to social media, even posts from decades earlier can come back to harm you. Consider the following examples, all vastly different:

Passanger airplane flying above clouds in evening.

Case Study: United Airlines

One company that understands this better than most is United Airlines, which is still trying to find its footing after being deemed “evil” on social media. In 2017, video of United Airlines security personnel violently dragging a passenger off of an overbooked flight went viral, generating over 1 million mentions a day on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in the immediate aftermath. This social media storm ignited national outrage and caused United’s stock to quickly lose more than $1 billion in market value. While the stock has since recovered, the company’s reputation remains tarnished and continues to serve as fodder for late-night comedians.

Why do we need online reputation management?

Given how advanced information technologies have become, shouldn’t these issues go away on their own?

Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen. Online reputation mismatches are not technology problems, they’re human problems.

Google’s algorithms can only give us what we ask for. So if we ask for juicy gossip, conspiracy stories, and negative reviews, that’s what gets associated with our search terms.

Search algorithms prioritize popularity

Search algorithms prioritize popularity

No algorithm can tell whether information accurately reflects you or not, so popularity becomes the main measuring stick of what makes a good search result.

That’s why embarrassing party photos, frivolous lawsuits dismissed years ago, and other kinds of irrelevant but intriguing “clickbait” often dominate online reputations.

Online reputation management prioritizes balance

Online reputation management prioritizes balance

Online reputation management counteracts that human bias for gossip, ensuring that the materials that actually matter aren’t overwhelmed by the rumors.

Do you trust your reputation to be accurately represented by an algorithm that doesn’t know the difference between what’s tantalizing and what’s truthful? If not, then you need to develop an online reputation management strategy to protect your interests.

This need will always exist.

In fact, it’s probably going to get more and more important to manage our online reputations as search engines and other online algorithms become a bigger part of everything we do.

Need assistance? We can help.

Free, confidential, and without obligation.

Call 877-492-8250 or

Is online reputation management the same as SEO?

There are similarities between online reputation management and search engine optimization (SEO) but there are also important differences.

SEO is about promoting a specific website or page to the top of the search results. Online reputation management is about controlling the collection of websites that appear in your search results. That means the tactics and measures of success are different.

Search Engine Optimization vs. Online Reputation Management

1 2 3 4
SEO Goal ORM Goal
  • ORM vs SEO, SEO diagram 1
    Rank your website #1 in search
    ORM vs SEO, ORM diagram 1
    Fill search page 1 with positive content
  • ORM vs SEO, SEO diagram 2
    Move your website up in search
    ORM vs SEO, ORM diagram 2
    Displace misleading websites in search
  • ORM vs SEO, SEO diagram 3
    Go viral
    ORM vs SEO, ORM diagram 3
    Avoid going viral
  • ORM vs SEO, SEO diagram 4
    Rank for many related search terms
    ORM vs SEO, ORM diagram 4
    Dominate a few specific search terms

SEO goal

  1. Rank your website number one in search
  2. Move your website up in search
  3. Go viral
  4. Rank for many related search terms

Online reputation management (ORM) goal

  1. Fill the first page of Google with positive content
  2. Displace misleading websites in search
  3. Avoid going viral
  4. Dominate a few specific search terms

As you can see, there’s a big difference between SEO and ORM goals. But there are some overlapping factors, like positive and negative online reviews, that affect both strategies.

Online reputation management companies focus on improving your review database to elevate your online presence as a business or individual.

Online reputation management first steps

Not sure how to get started in managing your online reputation? Check out our collection of guides and best practices.

You can also grab your free reputation report card.

It’s like using a magnifying glass for your online reputation. It lets you see exactly how others view you online and helps you prioritize which areas you need to focus on right now.

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The definitive guide to online reputation management

Our in-depth guide to how online reputation management works, the major tactics involved, and how to build a strategy that works for you. The ultimate resource for anyone looking to roll up their sleeves and put together their own plan.

social media danger sign

How social media can ruin your reputation

Using real-world examples, we show how social media missteps have harmed people’s reputations. We then provide advice on how to avoid a similar fate, including simple steps you can take to protect yourself on social media.

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How to remove negative reviews from the Internet

Businesses often ask if there’s a way to delete misleading, negative reviews. In this guide, we go over the situations where removal might be possible, and we provide advice on how to solve the problem in cases when it’s not.

worried woman looks at computer screen

How to protect your online reputation

Not sure where to start with online reputation management? In this guide, we provide a handful of easy-to-implement tips that will put your online reputation on a much surer footing. We also explain strategies that don’t work and are best avoided.

woman looks at computer

Online review management: the complete guide

If you run a business and aren’t sure how best to use customer reviews to build your online reputation, this guide is for you. We go over the do’s and don’ts of online review management, how to get more positive reviews, and how to avoid getting negative ones.

Questions or concerns?

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