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What are Online Reputation Management’s Main Tools?

The four main tools of ORM include content, platforms, search engine optimization (SEO) and strategy.

Content. The most effective content begins with information-rich text that is not duplicated elsewhere online. It is helpful, relevant and well written. It can be augmented with video, photographs, podcasts and most anything else that can be placed online. SEO, platforms and strategy can only take you so far without continuously updated, quality content. That is why the best ORM campaigns have  a content plan at their center.

Platforms. Platforms are the online sites where content is placed: websites, blogs, micro blogs, forums, directories, news sites, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and hundreds of other outlets.

Search engine optimization. SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines using frequently-searched-for words, inbound links (links to the site from other sites), effective meta tags and other techniques, including the way a website is structured. Google’s Webmaster Tools is an invaluable resource with extensive (and free) best-practices guidelines to SEO.

There are two types of SEO used in ORM: “white hat” and “black hat”. White hat methods conform to search engine guidelines and do not involve deception. Black hat techniques attempt to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by search engines. If search engines discover sites using black hat methods, they often penalize them by removing them from search results or by dropping their search-engine ranking so low they are effectively invisible.

SEO tips and techniques fill volumes of Internet pages – far too many to share here. Most pertain to Google’s algorithm, which is constantly changing. Between 2012 and the present, Google made the most sweeping changes in its algorithm ever. Creating high-quality content that attracts visitors has long been the most important aspect of SEO. It is only getting more important as search engine algorithms evolve to better identify the best sites.

Strategy. Every online reputation is different. Managing them requires a goal, strategic plan and timetable. It is well worth the effort.

What Do I Do When the Negative Online Information About Me is True?

What to do when negative online information is accurate, or just appears to be so?

The first impulse of anyone who is the subject of negative online commentary is to get rid of it – especially if it is true. But even after multiple attempts to resolve the situation you may see it persist for months or years.

We find a content strategy is the best solution to counter significant negative information online about you or your company. Together with the right technology, SEO strategies and social media platforms, new content is the most effective tool in substantially diminishing the placement of negative online content.

But a content strategy does not alter the facts.

A content strategy very effectively counters disinformation. But it does not alter the facts. If the negative online information is true, the best approach may be to own it. To “own” a fact is to acknowledge it. Doing so makes clear that you accept responsibility and are not trying to hide the truth. It also restores your ability to participate in the argument and ultimately influence perception of those facts. If appropriate, you might indicate the steps you have taken to address the issue in a positive way or ensure it does not reoccur. How this will be done depends on of the strength and character of the online presence you have built. There are a variety of options for turning what was negative into something positive.

Case in point: this You Online blog post highlights how a 2007 FTC investigation revealed that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey anonymously attacked a competitor in online financial forums prior to making an offer to buy the company. “That led to a realization, Mackey told Paumgarten: ‘If I wanted to continue to do Whole Foods, there couldn’t be any part of my life that was secretive or hidden or that I’d be embarrassed [about] if people found out about it.’” He made transparency part of his image and continues to be CEO.

In many cases it may be advisable to create a new or updated online image that authentically integrates these new facts with the achievements and the goals in your professional (and personal) life. This can be expressed in many ways, on multiple platforms, to provide a balanced view…even if you don’t reference the negative issue in your new content.

If the negative material does not disappear altogether, this new online image will present audiences a far more accurate and comprehensive image of you. Without this tactic, you leave the shaping of your image to your detractors.

Keep in mind that if you are preparing to raise capital, cultivate new business partners or join a new organization in a senior role, you may be the subject of a due diligence investigation that will turn up such issues. How you have handled it may influence how you are perceived by your potential colleagues or employers.