The evolution of reputation management goes hand-in-hand with the growth of the internet as a serious part of people’s lives. 15+ years ago, the internet was available mainly through a dialup connection. Only a small percentage of the world’s population was “wired”. And even a slimmer percentage took news online seriously.
Today, all of this has changed and changed tremendously. Millions upon millions of people get their news from the internet. Billions of dollars in revenue are generated per year through internet commerce. Communications online has been altered radically thanks to the arrival of social media. The impact of mobile internet ensures people can surf online from virtually ally location.
Hiding bad news online is really hard. Too many eyes have to potential to see all that negativity that ends up being published online. Anyone who thinks content that ruins an online reputation will either disappear or have no effect in the first place is deluded. The online landscape is too vast right now.
Small business owners have to be aware there are scores of sites out there that are designed to promote reviews. A number of those venues do not push the review to publish pro or con content. Negative reviews may appear and, when they do, they will cause problems.
What can be even more confounded to small businesses are those websites and communities solely designed to promote bad reviews. On the surface, sites that try to warn others of scams seem to be serving a good purpose. In a lot of ways, they are. The trouble with these websites is no editorial oversight exists. No fact checking is performed to determine the whole story or, for that matter, if part of the story is true.
So, small business owners have to do what they can to respond. In the old days, the way to do this was to comment on the page. Most review sites allow for rebuttals. Those whose reputations have been harmed on message boards follow the same steps. They opt to join the discussion and get into heated debates trying to make the public see things their way.
These steps are okay, but they reflect an older model of dealing with a harmed reputation. Making a response could have impact if done right, but a much better, more comprehensive approach designed to effect the search engines could lead to a more preferable outcome. Instead of responding to commentary, it may be wise to just push the commentary down the search engine rankings.