The Myths and Realities of Online Reputation

November-December 2021
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During ICON 2021 on Oct. 12, frequent Strategies & Tactics contributor Jon Goldberg of Reputation Architects shared insights on building and protecting online reputation. 

Here are four points to keep in mind.

1. Be wary of those offering fast fixes.

Building a solid reputation, and repairing reputation when it’s damaged, take time. Steer clear of self-proclaimed online reputation repair experts claiming to have special technology, legal skills or access to specific websites that can make unsavory search results vanish as quickly as they appear. They often rely on dubious, and in some cases illegal, techniques that can create an even bigger online mess for the client and expose it to legal liability, extortion and other risks. 

2. Keep emotions in check.

When people or organizations feel maligned or threatened online, the resulting stress can cloud judgment and instill a dangerous sense of urgency to act. Overreacting is the quickest way to draw attention to content that people would otherwise never see. 

3. Understand what’s possible—and what’s not.

If the blemishes to an organization’s online reputation involve legitimate news such as past legal problems, trying to suppress them using search-engine optimization (SEO) techniques will likely have little or no effect.

The same goes for content on websites whose domain names end with .gov, .edu or .mil, which stubbornly resist efforts to influence how their content appears in internet searches.

4. Focus on nourishing Google.

Flooding the web with low-quality, keyword-laden content in hopes of making negative content less visible — a frequent tactic of online reputation repair companies—may appear successful in the short term. But such results are fleeting and come at the expense of long-term negative consequences for online reputation and SEO efforts.  

Rather than trying to “game” Google, focus on nourishing online reputation with a steady diet of relevant, high-quality owned content that stakeholders are actively seeking and search algorithms value, and then amplify it using smart earned, shared and paid media strategies. 

As an added benefit, packing the first page of search results with content that stakeholders want and value makes it much harder for negative information to gain a foothold, in effect inoculating the organization against future online reputation damage. 

Return to Current Issue Building a Reimagined Future | November-December 2021
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