Building a positive and solid reputation for your business is relatively easy when you’re just starting out. However, in these social media driven times, one small mistake could also spell its end. With so many people having access to the Internet, bringing a business up or making it fail can happen in just seconds. This is why you should be wary about what’s posted about you online.
Take the case of taxidermist Marissa Hernandez. When she was just starting out from her New York home, she established name that made her service provide of choice by many locals. At 20 years old, she was already managing a small business and created a solid source of income.
However, years later, she suddenly noticed a drop in sales. She typed her name into Google search and discovered that a report had been filed on a website called Ripoff Report complaining about her work. The said report even went as far as saying that she had been accepting orders that involved illegal animals.
Worried about her business, claiming that none of those allegations were true, she discovered that the Ripoff Report complaint was not filed by a customer, but actually a competitor. While she was eventually able to convince the competitor to have the complaint removed, things don’t really work that way with the site. Hernandez then decided to reach out to the website directly and was rejected. Follow-up calls and emails were ignored and the report remained online. At that point, Hernandez started contemplating whether she should just shut down because she was getting zero orders.
The Ripoff Report Effect
Ripoff Report is a popular website where people can anonymously posted complaints about a certain person or business. While there’s nothing wrong with posting reviews, the fact that users can file anonymously creates a huge problem. You can’t really verify if the claims are true or not.
When the site was first established in 1999, it was a go-to place for reviews. However, because of its questionable process, it has turned into an often-unreliable source of untrue (and sometimes damaging) reports. Worse, once you are mentioned on the site, you have to go through hell and high water to get your information corrected — if at all. At present, Ripoff Report remains high up in Google search results, despite its reputation. Thus, a single mention spells a major problem.
What To Do When You’re Mentioned
However, there is something you can do to recover. Do not close down and give up just yet. You can employ reputation management strategies or get in touch with professional reputation management firms to help push the bad stuff to the back and bring only the good to the front. This involves a technical process.
Once you or your business appears on Ripoff Report, the first thing to do is to not engage. When you leave a comment or post, you only refresh the page and keep it active and relevant. Your goal is to make the page about you extinct by ignoring it. Remember, Google’s algorithm notices which sites are active and which are dormant. Do not give your detractors the time of day by responding to the negative press.
Acknowledge The Problem
When somebody complains about you, it’s most likely because there IS something about your product or service that he or she does not like. Even when you think your business is stellar, you cannot please everybody. The best way to deal with this is to contact the posted directly and try to make amends.
By creating a positive relationship with someone who used to complain about you, you build a fresh start. You might even convert this disgruntled customer into an advocate, so he or she will start writing good things about you. Reaching out to your client will not erase the Ripoff Report complaint, but it will open channels for people to say something positive instead. Also take it as an opportunity to make improvements to your service.
Hire A Pro
There are online reputation management services whose focus is to change what appears on Google’s search results, so all the negative stuff is pushed to the 5th page and so on. When somebody types your name or business’s name on Google search, the general response would be to check out only the first or second page (sometimes third).
You can employ SEO practices to make sure your first few pages go in your favor, but this can be tricky. The smartest bet is to get in touch with the pros. After all, you need a fast fix to your problem or else you will continue to shed clients. By promoting only positive content about you online via reputation management strategies, you minimize the appearance of bad press and make the good stuff rank in their place.