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How to Counteract a Negative Online Reputation

When was the last time you took a moment to Google your own blog or your company name?  It may sound a bit narcissistic, but if you’ve ever done it and became unpleasantly surprised by what popped up at the top of the page – you probably have a different perspective.

What if you Googled your blog or the name of your company and the first thing that came up was something extremely negative?

What if one unsatisfied customer took it upon his or herself to post negative comments all over the web – spreading a negative image of you or your company regardless of whether or not you handled them fairly?

What would you do?

For most bloggers, it might not be that serious – in fact, the negative publicity might even bring in extra traffic and positively affect ranking.

But what if the negative comments could potentially cost you thousands of dollars?

Have you thought about what you would do or how you would get the negative posts or comments removed?  Or at least get them off of the first page of the search results?

I had a friend who experienced an unfortunate incident just like this – but in his industry, where his reputation could make or break five figure deals – his credibility was everything.  Even one less than stellar report online could cause him to lose future clients.

Whether or not we can admit it or not, when we are conducting research about a company or product online, negative comments – whether they are true or not tend to send us running in the opposite direction.  In my friend’s case, it caused a lot of potential clients to doubt him and every day that negative post sat on the first page of Google cost him more and more money.

But instead of sitting around boo-hooing about the lost, he took action.

Here’s what he did:

He Contacted the Site Owner

The comment was posted on a very high-ranking forum.  So he contacted the owner and explained what really happened with the client and asked that the comment be removed – or at least that his company’s name be removed.

The site owner agreed to remove his company’s name.  It took a couple of more days for the change to be reflected in the search engine results, but soon after it completed disappeared from the results.

He Responded to Negative Comments and Questions

On another occasion when removal wasn’t possible, he responded to the negative comment and clarified misconceptions that the person was spreading. His response opened up a dialogue that eventually revealed that the person was just misinformed.

Other times, when there were questions about his company that showed up, he made sure to answer them.  It’s not a good idea to leave questions about “scams” or “schemes” open for speculation – so he made sure to answer them and provide additional information whenever it was possible.

He Gathered Positive Feedback

Whenever he received positive feedback from satisfied clients, he took the time to publish their testimonials on his site.  He also solicited recommendations on his LinkedIn profile.  He built an impressive list of reputable people that potential clients could contact if they had questions.

He Updated His Website and Social Media Profiles

He realized that posting new and useful information on his site and also on his social media profiles about his business, often pushed those negative comments down in the search results faster – until they were no longer on the first page.

These are just a few of the things he did that helped.  Fortunately, he had enough insight into the web to do these things, but not all bloggers or business owners are this savvy.  Those who aren’t might want to consider hiring a corporate reputation management professional.  A professional will have even more insight into what to do and how to implement an effective corrective campaign.

The good news is that, a negative comment or posting doesn’t have to be the end.   So what about you?  Have your Googled yourself today?