ORM 101:

What is Online Reputation Management (ORM) and why should I care?


Do potential customers, partners and employers type your name, brand, or product name into a search engine? What do they see? ORM can help you influence these results. Click on the arrow or scroll down for more…

What is Online Reputation Management (ORM), and what are its goals?
Online Reputation Management, or ORM, is simply the management of internet search engine results for a given set of keywords or search terms. Generally, this is accomplished by the generation and strategic publication of content considered “attractive” to search engines. Over time, this content is scored higher and higher due to its relevance, and eventually these results make it to page 1 of search engine results page, or SERP. Sometimes with additional efforts, it is also possible to gain the coveted #1 slot on the page 1 SERP. From an online reputation management perspective, control of the majority, if not all, of the top 10 results for given keywords is the goal.
Why is controlling page 1 of the search engine results page (SERP) important?
In general, most people doing internet searches only look at results on page 1 of the SERP. In fact, Google’s own goal with its search algorithm is to deliver the exact result the user desires at position #1! This is because the rate at which these users click on a link drops dramatically from position #1 to #10. According to a 2013 study by Chitika Online Advertising Network showed position #1 garnered 32.5% of traffic, #2 received 17.6%, #5 received 6.1% and #10 only received a measly 2.4% of traffic. Influencing which results show up in positions 1-10 for important keywords is extremely important to managing an individual’s, brand’s or company’s online reputation.
Who needs Online Reputation Management services? When should I start?
Companies, brands, and individuals dealing with the public can all benefit from implementing an ORM strategy. Impressions formed by customers, business partners, coworkers and employees are all influenced (positively or negatively) by results found from an internet search. It’s always a good idea to start early with a proactive strategy rather than respond to a crisis last minute.

Proactive strategies are fairly straightforward to implement and essentially populate all standard internet directories with standardized information so that squatters can’t intercede with their own messages. These strategies enable customers to control a good amount of internet channels and “box out” detractors. For example, without a BBB Online listing for your company, a detractor to your company could setup a rogue account and use it for malicious activity. By setting up an account ahead of time, these sorts of attacks can be minimized.

There is no time like the present. Start now.

What’s the difference between personal and corporate Online Reputation Management?
In many ways, personal and corporate ORM services are quite similar. This is because the goals and tools are the same – to influence the search results for given keywords with the strategic posting of valuable internet content. Where things differ is in the number of keywords and the amount of content that needs to be generated and posted to the internet. In general, companies, brands and VIPs (executives, politicians, etc.) will have more content about them on the internet that must be addressed in search results.
How does Online Reputation Management fit within my overall marketing and business strategy?
ORM is a natural extension and complement to any company’s marketing communications or PR team. As the marcom team devises and executes its strategy to increase revenue and market share, intelligent application of an online reputation management strategy can significantly improve business results. Revenue can be directly tied to results from occupying positions in the top 5 on page 1 SERP – in fact, position 1 claims 32.5% of traffic and the top 5 positions combined account for over 75% of user traffic! Any company replying on google and other search engines to reach their customers had better occupy at least one if not more than one of the top 5 results on the page 1 SERP. ORM services can be used to augment that of any company’s marketing and PR teams.
How does Online Reputation Management help fight counterfeits?
Many well known consumer brands like Nike, HP, Sony and others suffer from significant amounts of counterfeit products being sold online. Often, these companies will implement multi-million dollar anti-counterfeit activities with dramatic sting operations. They will also invest millions of dollars on hologram tags and other marks of authenticity.

Some smart brands have realized that most consumers search for products directly from google. They implement ORM strategies that target the same keywords that are used by consumers. By implementing this proactive strategy, they have been able to suppress listings by counterfeiters and other undesirable sites to page 2 and beyond. This significantly reduces losses to counterfeits by driving consumers to legitimate e-commerce sites, and it costs significantly less than traditional remedies.

How does Online Reputation Management fit within crisis management?
ORM is an essential element to dealing with any crisis. Those that plan ahead and build up a large inventory of positive content that is posted to valuable sites are somewhat inoculated to minor crises. This is because the newer, negative content from the crisis will be drowned out by the long established, highly valued, positive content from proactively implementing ORM.

For more serious crises there will be more work required. In these cases, ORM services can be used to complement the overall communications strategy and help influence general sentiment in a positive direction. For individuals, ORM companies can help formulate a strategy to address the issue directly with their clients. Most companies tend to have an idea of how they’d like to respond. In these cases, ORM services can be delivered as part of the overall outreach and communication efforts.

Who are the market leaders in Online Reputation Management?
The market for online reputation management services is large, growing and very fragmented. The market leader is also one of the market creators – ReputationDefender.com (also called reputation.com). ReputationDefender was founded in 2006 and has pioneered many of the early developments in the industry. Over the last 12 years, the company has raised and consumed more than $80 million in capital. As the capital was consumed, it seems that R&D had to be cut back, and the company operated for some time at what appeared to be a little/no investment mode.

Eventually it showed. According to a January 15, 2018 article in the USA Herald (https://usaherald.com/reputation-com-going-business/) its CEO and another senior executive resigned. The USA Herald also reported employee comments on glassdoor as claiming, “The ship is about to sink”.

Thankfully, the ship didn’t sink, but it did suffer and was eventually taken over by a private equity firm called The Stagwell Group in April 2018. Typically when companies are taken over by private equity firms, investments in marketing, R&D and quality are slashed; line workers are fired, and; operations are shifted off-shore. All these cuts enable the firm’s partners to make a fortune – but at the expense of current and future trusting customers.

In addition to ReputationDefender, many ad and PR agencies offer ORM services in addition to their main line of business. In many of these cases, there are generally no ORM experts onsite and the firms will use their regular staff to do the ORM work. This lack of focus on pure ORM can lead to subpar results.

When it appeared ReputationDefender pulled back on investments and innovations, it created market opportunities for new entrants of ORM-focused service providers. These firms, like Reputation Director, focus on offering customers proactive strategies rather than backward-looking reactive defensive tactics. And, their focus is purely ORM so that customer results can benefit from this expertise.

What is the cost comparison of ReputationDefender with others? Are these one time or ongoing costs?
ReputationDefender has a straightforward annual pricing schedule on its website. In general, ORM services should be considered an ongoing expense since the internet is always changing. It is not rare for old content to resurface on new sites, and there is always the chance of new, negative content surfacing. As a result, most companies like ReputationDefender offer annual pricing for a given set of services.

When comparing services and prices, the devil is in the details. For example, ReputationDefender pricing lists something called “Personalized Websites” which may give one the impression of a website but it really isn’t. This type of listing is more accurately described as an internet property since it is just one page of a website. A LinkedIn listing is an example of an internet property or what ReputationDefender calls a “Personalized Website”. Sometimes consumers will need additional services due to this misunderstanding, and this usually leads to an increase in price.

At Reputation Director, we want to earn your business by doing a great job while staying within budget. As a result, our packages are sized to include all that is needed to accomplish the goals. We provide a minimum of 2x the amount of sites and credit to our customers for the same price point when compared to ReputationDefender.

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