In a world in which 80% of companies Google job applicants before inviting them for interviews and 72% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends, your online reputation is important. That’s why so many people and businesses use reputation repair services.
Even if you’re not considering purchasing reputation repair services, you should think about how you look online. However, there are some important things you should know before paying someone to repair your reputation.
There is a lot of misconception and misinformation on all sides of this industry. For example, many people who need reputation repair services don’t hire them. There are also plenty of scams out there that take advantage of people who need reputation help.
We’ve been in the reputation repair service industry a while here at Reputation Enhancer. We’ve pooled our knowledge here to put together a few facts and a little advice for anyone seeking reputation repair services.
Before we dive into that, though, here’s a big question you need to answer:
Do You Need Reputation Repair Services?
If you’re reading this, you’re at the very least interested in hiring a reputation management service. However, you might not know 100% if you need help or not.
Deciding whether or not you need help from a reputation repair service is simple. You need to figure out two things:
- What you want people to see about you online
- What people actually see about you online.
If the difference between these two things is more than a very slight shift in details, you may need help. Here are a few specific steps to help you realize what you you want out there – and what is out there.
1. Think About the Image You Want and Need
The first thing you need to do is determine what kind of image you want to present to the world.
Obviously, it’s important to be realistic here. Don’t tell yourself you want people who Google you to think you’re a Nobel winner or rockstar.
However, ask yourself who you really are. If you’re a business owner, ask yourself what type of business you run, how you run it, what types of customers you want.
Ideally, you should strive for an honest representation of yourself and/or your business online. However, you also want one that looks good.
You don’t want to lie, and you need to remember to stay realistic, but in addition to thinking about what you are, think about what sells. If you’re a business owner, you know all about that. If you’re an individual, think of it this way: applying for a job is like working as your own salesperson.
Salespeople create an image, an image people want. To be your own salesperson, you need to think about what you can realistically make people perceive and want about you or your business.
This doesn’t mean making things up or being unrealistic. It means highlighting your good qualities and pushing your bad aside. In this way, it’s a lot like other everyday activities, such as dressing well or trying to improve yourself through learning or exercise.
2. Be Honest With Yourself About What Could Be Out There
Now that you’ve thought about your best self, it’s worth it to think about the other half.
This can be one of the most painful and difficult parts of the reputation assessment and reputation repair process. However, it’s also very important.
Be honest with yourself about what could be out there about you that you don’t want others to see. Common examples include:
- Negative aspects of employment history
- Bad reviews of your business (or your work at another person’s business)
- Relationship problems like a messy divorce
- Civil or criminal court cases (being sued or arrested)
None of these things make you a bad person. They don’t make you a bad business owner or employee. Some of them shouldn’t be judged negatively at all, and others are simply mistakes many people make.
However, when seen online, especially out of context, they can cause real trouble for you and/or your business.
Write down anything from your past or present that you don’t want the world to know about. These are the things you’ll have to look for in the next step.
3. Google Yourself
This is where you find out everything there is to know about yourself online. Think of this as being a detective – investigating yourself.
Start simple. Just enter your name into Google and see what pops up. Take notes on what you see and think about how it lives up to your expectations.
Don’t just look at the first page. Go through 3-5 pages of Google results and look closely at everything you see. Think about how each item might look to a customer or potential employer.
After that, you can get a bit more advanced. Instead of just searching your name, try Googling your name and some specific search terms that might turn up results important to your reputation.
If you’re a business, search your business name and the word “reviews.” If you’ve had trouble with the law, look for your name and “arrest records” or “court records.” Be specific here. Reference your list from the previous step.
Check other search engines as well, such as Yahoo and Bing. You’d be surprised how different results from different search engines can be for the same terms. Although Google is the most popular, people use all different search engines.
4. Analyze the Differences
Think about the person you want to be seen as again (or about how you want your business to be seen). Write a few characteristics or achievements down that you’d like others to see.
Compare this paper to the notes you made while Googling yourself. Are there major differences? If there are, you may be a candidate for reputation repair services.
A common misconception is that all reputation management companies do involves hiding bad information. This is a big part of our business, but so is creating positive information.
Even if there’s nothing “bad” about you online, you may still need help. Reputation repair services can boost your reputation online by highlighting your achievements and your personality. Remember, having no information about yourself online is almost as bad as having negative information.
5. Consider the Benefits of a Better Online Reputation
Reputation repair services can help you get the things you want and need. This is because reputation matters in our world.
Some benefits of having a better reputation for individuals include these and more:
- Better employment options
- Less awkwardness and worry in interpersonal relationships
- Peace of mind
There are also plenty of benefits for businesses, such as the following:
- More customers
- Extra time to focus on building and growing your business – instead of worrying about its reputation
- Increased opportunity to build and spread your brand.
Also, both businesses and individuals that improve their online reputations will earn greater credibility. If you want to be taken seriously, you must present yourself seriously first.
If you think you might be interested in hiring a reputation manager or working to fix your reputation yourself, read on for some important facts. Knowledge is everything in the reputation business.
The 5 Big Things You Need to Know Before Hiring Reputation Repair Services
1. Once the information is out there, it’s not coming down.
Yes, yes, it’s sad but true. Unless you can prove a company has used libel or slander against you – a complicated and expensive legal process – there’s no way to force them to take down something related to you.
In fact, most of the cases in which a company offers to take down a negative listing about you are scams. Many operate in this way:
- A fake news site, unscrupulous mug shot site, or something similar posts about you.
- A reputation site that secretly owns the other site contacts you or advertises to you.
- You pay the reputation site and they take down the post about you.
- They’re free to put it up and pressure you for money again any time.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t how most reputation sites work. However, it is a common fly-by-night scam.
A legitimate reputation repair service will never create negative content about you. Furthermore, they’ll never offer to “take down” any negative content. For that, you’ll need a lawyer and a lot of hard evidence you’ve been wronged.
However, there is a legitimate action reputation repair services can take to make bad content harder to find. This brings us to our second important fact of the day.
2. 75% of people won’t go beyond Page 1 of search engine results.
Also, you can think about it personally: when’s the last time you went past the first page of Google?
This is where people and businesses with reputation problems can pin all their hopes. It’s also the space where legitimate reputation repair services do their work.
Negative content on the internet related to you only causes problems if people see it. This means that pushing it off the first page of Google results – and better yet, even further down than the second page – can save your reputation big time.
This is what legitimate reputation repair services do. They practice a science called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
By creating positive or neutral content that is “optimized” to appear in search engine results for searches related to your name, we and other legitimate reputation management companies can push the bad results down where no one will find them.
3. You need to check your reputation deeply and frequently.
Remember the long process described in the above section “Google Yourself”?
You need to search that deeply that frequently, especially if you know your reputation has been tarnished in the past. Doing so helps you for multiple reasons:
- It helps you ensure that reputation repair services are doing their job.
- It gives you advance notice of any new or reappearing negative information about you.
A legitimate reputation repair service will provide you progress reports regularly. However, there’s never any harm in checking on those reports.
Also, it’s good to continue monitoring your reputation after you’ve finished working with a reputation manager. Since the bad content is still out there, it can resurface. Being forewarned is being forearmed – if you know bad content is moving up, you can take care of it before others see it.
On top of all these advantages, searching yourself deeply and frequently online will bring you peace of mind.
Also, searching regularly can actually be easier than your first search. Thanks to useful tools like Google Alerts, you can automate your reputation monitoring process.
4. There are people out there who want to capitalize on your misery.
Basically, there are two types of bad reputation management companies: scams and big profit-hungry companies. Here’s a bit about why each of these is bad – and some advice on how to avoid them.
Reputation Repair Scams
I mentioned scams earlier, and linked to a Forbes article about problems in this industry. No one likes to admit it about the field they work in, but there are as many crooks in reputation management as in any other service field.
That doesn’t say something bad about reputation repair services as a whole – but it does mean you should watch your back.
Assuming you’re a fairly internet savvy person, you know you can’t trust everyone out there. From fake news to massive fraud and dangerous predators, there are plenty of things online to look out for.
Because most reputation repair services operate online, there are plenty of these services to watch out for too.
Some of these scam sites look very professional. Some even are professional! In the Forbes article I linked to earlier, two major reputation management companies were mentioned (with names redacted).
Even the Better Business Bureau, a hugely well-respected consumer protection group, was recently embroiled in a huge scam scandal in which they gave an “A” rating to a nonexistent company named Hamas (after a group the United States government considers a terror organization).
Subpar Reputation Management Companies
In addition to scams, there are plenty of companies that won’t do a great job.
While these companies may not be doing anything illegal or unethical, false reputation repair services can still give you trouble.
Furthermore, in some cases, reputation managers’ prices are so high, their services may either be not worth it or totally unattainable for regular, everyday people – especially business owners or folks looking for a job.
With all these scams and profit-hungry corporations out there, it can feel very difficult to get the help you need. However, there are ways to tell the bad from the legitimate when it comes to reputation repair services. This brings us to our fifth and final tip.
5. Not all reputation repair services are created equal. You can ferret out the bad ones.
Whether you’re afraid of scams or just of not getting your money’s worth, you can beat bad reputation repair services with a few simple questions.
Once you’ve chosen a reputation repair service or two you might be interested in hiring, call or email them. Ask questions like the following:
- What’s your usual success rate with your customers?
- Do you offer any guarantees? Will I get my money back if you can’t fix my reputation?
- What’s your specific plan for fixing my reputation?
A scam artist likely won’t be able to answer these questions at all. Subpar reputation repair services will offer unsatisfactory answers. It’s amazing how far simply asking the right questions can get you.
Why Money-Back Guarantees Are So Important
The question about guarantees may even knock out a few established, legitimate reputation repair services. However, a money-back guarantee is important.
Reputation management is always an inexact science. Even experts can’t claim a 100% success rate forever.
A money-back guarantee puts you in charge and keeps you safe. Even if a company tries its hardest and fails you, at least you won’t lose cash over it.
Something else a money-back guarantee does is give you control. The company you’re working with will have to agree to deliver specific results. Specificity is key when it comes to reputation repair – make sure you get what you’re paying for.
If you’re interested in talking to a team member here at Reputation Enhancer about how our business works, please give us a call or fill out the form below.
Even if you’re not sure about hiring a reputation manager yet, we will be happy to answer any questions. We offer free no-commitment, no-hassle consultations to anyone interested in learning about our reputation repair services.
Getting to know you and the problems you are facing will allow us to give you a detailed plan and price quote. Also, we can answer any questions you might have about the process. Learning is the first and most important step to success – in reputation repair and in the rest of life.