Comprehensive Guide to Protecting and Defending Against Online Reputation Attacks
In today’s world, it would be difficult to find a thriving business that has a negative online reputation. First impressions are frequently based on what is on the internet, meaning online reputations have become quite critical to most businesses’ success. After all, consumers are frequently turning to Google and other search engines to gather information before making purchasing decisions, such as reading online reviews.
What makes online reputations such a major concern for businesses is that they are incredibly vulnerable today. Virtually anyone that has a motive to do so can seriously harm a business’s online reputation. For example, competitors, former employees, disgruntled customers, ex-business partners, and the like can all very easily publish damaging content on a complaint website such as Ripoff Report, which will 1) likely rank highly on a business’s first search engine results page (SERP) and 2) be difficult to remove.
Similarly, individuals that want to hurt a business can go onto online review websites such as Yelp and publish damaging statements that can also lower a business’s online rating (which also is typically prominent in search results). This type of online reputation attack is particularly harmful as consumers are increasingly trusting consumer reviews, even though large percentages of reviews are false. And, of course, people are regularly harming businesses’ reputations by spreading harmful information on social media, as well as creating their own blogs or websites solely to attack particular businesses.
One of the primary goals of the Online Protection Coalition is to help businesses protect and defend their reputations online. Based on our experience, we have found that most businesses are uneducated and not utilizing best practices when it comes to protecting or defending against online reputation attacks. The online reputation market is filled with service providers. However, many of them are selling services or products that are ineffective, or that the business could implement on their own, or – worse – that create legal or PR risks for businesses. Moreover, most businesses do not have the knowledge or experience to sort out what they really need or what is best for them. As a result, many businesses are confused on what to do, they are putting the protection of their entire online reputation in the hands of a vendor without fully understanding what should be done, and, frankly, they are not ultimately implementing best practices to protect their own online reputations.
In an effort to help businesses handle this difficult challenge, our non-profit organization composed this whitepaper to provide members a holistic guide of best business practices for protecting and defending against online reputation attacks.