January 11, 2011, 1:41 PM — If you own a small or medium business, a good reputation--online and offline--is clearly key to your success.
The Internet can overwhelm users with information, so anything negative--especially if it appears high in search results--can have a drastically harmful effect on your company's success and reputation.
A potential customer who searches for your business online is a lot like a recruiter, trying to find the best company for the job.Among U.S. recruiters, 70% have rejected candidates based on their online reputation--and yet only 7% of Americans believe that their online reputation can affect their job search, according to a 2010 study by Microsoft and Cross-Tab Market Research.
Ignoring how your company appears in search results and on ratings Websites has arguably never been more perilous.
One significant figure in the recently altered relationship between businesses and search engines is Vitaly Borker, owner of retail eyewear Website DecorMyEyes.com, who told the New York Times in November that his unconventional search engine optimization (SEO) strategy worked like a charm: Borker harassed customers, directing them to vent on the Internet. His Website thus climbed higher in Google's search results, bolstered by the many links from established review Websites.
Google immediately reworked its code and buried DecorMyEyes along with other businesses it deemed "bad." Now that Google no longer rewards bad customer service with top spots in searches, it's a good time to examine how your business can get more positive attention in legitimate ways.
Should You Pay for Online Reputation Management?
Deciding to take control of your online reputation is a daunting task, and you may be tempted just to hire someone to do it for you. Online reputation management companies abound on the Internet--claiming everything from 100% success rate (or your money back) to a "special technology" that reorders search results.