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How to Fix Your Businesses Online Reputation

By BlogNo Comments

Has your business or your brand recently received negative reviews that have caused your reputation to plummet? Look no further. This article is a great guide if you find yourself in this situation.

Everyone knows that one of the most important things for your business-and your brand-is your reputation. In addition to your reputation, it is also imperative that you have a positive response when faced with negative feedback and controversy online.

Even large, well-established corporations face obstacles while trying to maintain a positive reputation. During this age of social media, where posting takes seconds and negative reviews spread like wildfire, it is important to understand that one social media post has the opportunity to change the perspective of your brand within minutes.

While it is true that reputation will plummet faster than it takes to be fixed, it is important to take your time while planning out your next steps and consulting the right company if you find yourself in this situation.

Constantly Monitor your Brand

It is important to stay on top of monitoring the feedback that your brand receives. Even if your reputation is a good one, you should actively be taking steps to minimize the possibility of a negative review adversely affecting your reputation.

This may be accomplished through the hiring of a reputation management company like Repute PR.  Our reputation management professionals are able to monitor the mentions of your name or your company online and alert you and your company to any negative press you may receive.

One of the best ways to monitor your brand is to look at the search engine results pages (SERP) and utilize Google Autocomplete. This service helps you look out for negative stories and reviews and take a more proactive approach to maintain your brand’s reputation. If you discover negative reviews, you can use Google Analytics to look at your site’s traffic.  This data may guide you to the possible issues.

Address Complaints As Quickly As Possible

When looking through your reviews, it is important that you address complaints in a timely manner.

Some social media users expect a response in under an hour, and most expect a response in under 24 hours. Statistics also show that unhappy customers will share their experience with up to 15 people. These statistics demonstrate how extremely important it is to respond quickly and effectively–working with customers to help solve the issues at hand.

A negative post on social media has the opportunity to reach a large population in a small amount of time, so your response must address the complaint, show sympathy,  and effectively try to change the person’s perception of your company.

While these comments have the power to hurt your reputation, you should never delete the complaints. If you delete someone’s complaint or question, you are at risk of tarnishing your brand’s reputation.

A useful tip is to make sure that you are regularly checking your customer support email. If you have an influx of messages from angry customers, you should have your support team analyze the comments and save them to a document or spreadsheet.

This will allow you to organize the comments and reviews and will help you identify the common traits among the complaints. You must reply to these customers during this process. Communication should be your number one priority.

Plan Your Strategy for Social Media

It is important to brainstorm ideas and strategies to address any negative situations the comments identify. Often, a company will respond immediately before giving thought to its message.  This may do more harm than good. Sometimes, it is more beneficial to post a statement immediately after a situation, but it really depends on the particular case.

Often, it is better to wait to really think about what you want to say and to let the public cool down a bit. You should work with your team to assess the damage that may be caused by the statement and identify the outcome you are looking for from your response.

According to Entrepreneur, the hardest part of this process is understanding the pre-work and after-effects of communicating with the media.

If you find yourself in this type of situation, you should work on improving your image through your actions rather than with just words.  Hiring a reputation management company can help you gain insight and perspective into the situation.

One technique that some reputation management companies may utilize is hiring a trusted journalist to tell the story to the public in the way that you want it to be portrayed.

Think About Your Company Values

What is one of the most important values that people look for in a company? Trust! Your customers’ trust is imperative to being a successful company. So, regaining your customers trust has to be a priority.

Responding to your customers in the most appropriate way is necessary to regain their trust and fix your reputation as a business and as a brand. Even if you are able to regain customers’ trust after your crisis, it is not the time to relax.

After experiencing relief from a crisis, it is essential that your company exemplifies the core beliefs that are stated in its mission. Your company should be especially focusing on the feedback from the past and becoming the best possible version of your brand.

This is a great moment to share with your customers all the progress your company has made over the years and your commitment to the issues and beliefs your company stands for. Repute PR is a great resource when it comes to managing your company and thinking about its reputation and our professionals are available to help you manage your online reputation.

Think About the Future of the Company

Now that you have successfully gotten past the crisis, what should you do?

In order to maintain the future of your brand, you need to plan and think about the reputation you want to uphold and how you are going to sustain it. It is necessary to evaluate the crisis and see what you can do differently.

Establish a plan with your reputation management company to address future issues.  That way, you and your company are ready if another issue were to comes along. Another important step is to have a concrete plan in place to ensure that something like that does not happen again.

Social Media Tips for Businesses

By BlogNo Comments

Social media has become a crucial part of society. And, as a result, a successful company should have a concrete grasp of social media. This will be your comprehensive guide to social media: which platform you should use and how to use it. 

What Are the Advantages of Social Media Marketing?

The Internet is quickly becoming the best place for marketing. With websites like Amazon boosting online shopping over in-person shopping, products are able to reach much wider audiences than they would locally. In order to reach those audiences, you need social media. 

It also forms a kind of network. With in-person or traditional online ad marketing, people are likely to skim the content of the ad and neglect it. They may even find it bothersome. But if you use social media to build a platform for your product, your followers see you as more than somebody trying to take their money. It forms a personal connection that’s more likely to be long-lasting. 

Finally, social media is ubiquitous. The chances of somebody scrolling through your post, even if they don’t follow you, are high. Through the app’s analytics, your target audience will be filtered through to you. Somebody, at least, is going to see and pay attention to your content. 

Goldilocks: Which Fits Best?

To be successful in social media marketing, a key idea is understanding who is most likely to see your content. Each platform has a targeted audience, divided by factors like age and socioeconomic standing. You should define your target demographic and then choose the platform that houses the most people in that demographic. 

The second factor when choosing a platform to use is content. What kind of content can you commit to creating? Various social media platforms have different content styles, from short videos to blog posts, and it may be easier for you to make one than the other. Remember, social media should be a tool for you, not a hindrance. 

If you need help keeping up and creating content, then contact Repute PR, and their team of professionals will be able to help.

The final factor is what you plan to do on social media: whether you decide to use paid advertisements or grow a following from scratch. This choice depends largely on your demographic. For example, elderly people are more likely to click on ads that are welltailored to them—teenagers often aren’t interested. 

Once you’ve defined your demographic, your commitment to content, and your plan, it’s time to choose a platform. There are three major ones that this guide will cover: Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. 

Your Guide to Facebook Marketing

Facebook, the grandparent of social media. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s demographic tends to be parents. As of April 2021, 56.4% of its users were over 35, and the largest chunk of its user base was between 25- and 34-year-olds. 

Keep in mind, the elderly tend to steer clear from social media, to begin with. It’s an enormous commitment to make and get used to so late in life, and the learning curve to be able to effectively use it is intense. However, if your demographic targets older people, your best chance of finding them is on Facebook. 

Facebook also tends to cater slightly more to women. In the same April 2021 study as above, every designated age group had a higher percentage of women than men—except 25 to 34, in which the percentages were equal. 

Now, we have established who tends towards Facebook. But what kind of content should you put out? 

If you have decided to go the grow-a-following route, regular Facebook posts are the way to go. Include an image of what you’re writing about, and keep your post short but informative. If you have a lot of information to share, it helps to break up text into small paragraphs—people are more likely to read material that looks easily digestible. 

For example, if your smoothie company is launching a new collection of vegan smoothies, your content might be a short description of the flavors, or what inspired you to create this new line. Facebook is where people want to get to know you, so give them something to learn. 

Update your page often, and consider implementing some kind of scheduled weekly post. This helps keep your following base interested, as well as ensure your Facebook page is a reliable and up-to-date source. Also, try to interact with companies similar to yours—their fans will more easily find their way over to you. 

Finally, if you have a concrete website, be sure to create a firm link between that and your Facebook page. Include your website link in your page bio, and add a Social Media tab on your official site. This will help boost traffic to your site. It also allows you to keep your page more entertaining. You can post important points there, but your viewers can look to your website for more information if they’re interested. 

If you don’t have a concrete site (and definitely consider getting one!), then treat this Facebook page as your site. Frequent updates, visually interesting posts and good organization will all help grow your following base. Facebook is the most information-wealthy of the three main social media platforms, so treating your page as a website is more viable here than elsewhere. 

If you’ve decided to go the paid advertisement route, however, Facebook is probably the best place to be. Their Ads Manager is sleek, easy to use, and quite effective at getting your product to the eyes of your market. Not to mention, Facebook’s user base is scientifically more likely to click on ads presented to them, due to their age grouping. 

If you’re just starting out, Facebook Ads could give you a decent foundation of people familiar with your product, from which you could build your own following. However, if your product is already fairly well-known, ads might not be the way to go—simply because they aren’t worth the trouble. 

Your Guide to Instagram Marketing 

The middle child of the big three platforms, Instagram is all about aesthetics. Its age group ranges from 13 to 30, with no trend in the gender of its users—so to use it, you must focus on aesthetics as well. 

Successful Instagram pages keep things visually interesting and unique and manage to maintain a theme throughout their posts. The best way to do this is to manipulate patterns while keeping color consistent. When looking at an overall feed, the patterns tend not to jump out, but a good color scheme ties the whole piece together. In individual posts, however, patterns are allowed to stand out. 

A good example of this is Pura Vida®’s page. Their posts are organized in subtle groupings by color: beige, light blue, green, a different shade of light blue, etc., as you continue to scroll.

While simply looking over their feed, it looks cohesive. However, they change up the patterns in their posts by choosing what to photograph: cloth bag, girl surfing, dreamcatcher, denim jacket. Scrolling through these individually keeps each post visually interesting, but the overall color scheme remains the same. 

Not sure how to create a cohesive feed? Not to worry! Websites like Colorkuler take the most prevalent color in each of your posts and create a palette of your Instagram feed. From here, you can see which colors you should include more of or what you might want to rein in. 

We know that Facebook is the best platform for consistently sharing lots of information, but Instagram can handle that occasionally, too! However, you still have to keep things visually interesting. The solution? Infographics. 

Infographics are a great way to get your audience to look at the important points of your post, which will hopefully spark their interest enough to warrant further research. Most Instagram users will refrain from reading excessively long captions because they’re on this platform to be entertained—infographics maintain that. 

Love to All Project, a nonprofit aimed at educating and funding LGBTQ+ students, does a fantastic job of Instagram infographics. Not only is their color presentation consistent, but they vary their style enough to keep the information engaging. The information is presented in concise sentences, with statistics if necessary, and its abruptness is balanced by the artistry of the graphic itself.

Another thing Instagram is well-known for is hashtags. Hashtags, when used properly, can boost your posts onto the Explore page, where people interested in your product or service will more easily see them. 

However, hashtags can be hard to get a hold of, and popular ones fall in and out of usage. So, it’s best to start off with a hashtag guide, like this one. Once you’ve found a pattern of what tags work well for you, you can stick to those. 

Your Guide to TikTok Marketing

TikTok, the last of the big three, is more difficult to manage. It’s addictive in nature because it’s almost exclusively entertainment, divided into 15-second videos for a short attention span. Ads on TikTok look completely out of place. To be successful here, you have to dive entirely into entertainment. 

First, their user base: 25% of their users are between 10 and 19, and another 22.4% are between 20 and 29. As with Instagram, there doesn’t seem to be a gender preference amongst their users. TikTok is very much a youthful app—to make it work for you, you have to work for them. 

Second, how their content works: TikTok users create 15-second-long videos (though they can range up to a minute if need be) by using pre-recorded sounds. That might be a popular song, audio from somebody else’s video, or even just a funny collection of sounds. They can then add stickers and text to their videos. 

There are two routes of content you could take: comedy or aesthetic. Both of these follow the fast-paced trends of the app, and both require the use of popular sounds. However, one may be easier to create than the other, depending on your product. 

For example, if your company sells make-up, it would be easier to do aesthetics—a chicken nugget company would probably resort to comedy, and a surfing company could be in-between. If your product can be marketed for its look, over its function, aesthetic would be the way to go. 

An example of an aesthetic-style company that does well is Shekou, a clothing company. Their content focuses on their product, and they use trending sounds and hashtags to get on the For You page. But their content is about displaying the clothing, the details in the fabric, and how they can be styled. Their sounds also tend to be music instead of vocal, which comedic content often uses. 

In contrast, Ryanair does a fantastic job with comedy. The European airline has greatly boosted their image by making TikToks that are both funny and follow trends. They cater their content to the product, the airplane itself, and market their low prices through comedy. 

A common trap that businesses fall into on social media is the guilt trip: instead of keeping the focus of their content on the product, they shift it to the people instead. Nuggs, a vegan chicken nugget company, is struggling with this. Their content focuses largely on the person who runs the account and not exclusively on their product. If you simply ask people to follow you, the odds are that they won’t—content is key. 

TikTok marketing is about building a relationship between your company and your followers, so it’s key to respond to comments. By interacting with your viewers, you show them that you’re paying attention. It also helps to answer frequently asked questions in the comments, and a higher number of comments boosts your general engagement. 

If you don’t know where to start, however, you can turn to a guide. TikTok trends move quickly. Some have even gone in and out over the span of a day. So, naturally, it gets difficult to keep up with the trends enough to create good content around them. You could use a trend watch service, like this one, to stay up-to-date. Or, consider hiring somebody as a social media manager. 

Can Somebody Else Do It?

Social media marketing seems easy, but keeping up with demographics and consistently creating content is a tedious process. That’s why it can help to hire somebody else to do it. Reputation management companies, like Repute PR, often have a team devoted to boosting your company on social media. 

They do this in various ways. Facebook posts, for instance, are written and tailored to bring the most engagement possible to your company. They can also find and work with social media experts to create visual content for Instagram or entertaining content for TikTok. 

The benefit of this is more free time for you! Growing your business should be your first priority, and you can leave social media growth to people trained to do it efficiently.

Repute PR’s team is comprised of professional writers, research analysts, and digital marketing experts, among others—they have backgrounds in campaign management, journalism, and branding. They’ll be able to help you define your target audience, determine which platform works best for you, and subsequently guide your growth on that platform. Fret not—your company is in good hands with Repute PR. 

How have social media tips helped you? 

Tips for Expanding Your Business Online

By BlogNo Comments

“The only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, founder, Facebook

It now seems that anything you could ever desire can now be purchased online and shipped to your front door.  Now more than ever, online shopping is relevant and trendy, many people opting to do most, if not all, of their shopping online. 

Many small businesses, however, are being left behind in this age of the internet, and those not yet ready to take the steps to expand their online presence will lose out on a lot of money they could be making.

Whether you are simply growing your brand or planning to sell your products or services online, the internet can be a great tool for expanding your business.

But there is a lot more to going online besides getting a website and putting up content or an online store. 

Here are some tips for expanding your business online. 

Choose the Right Platforms for Website

Creating your website can be one of the most important steps when expanding your business online. But before you can create a stunning website that’s sure to draw your audience in, you need to make the important decision of which platform to use for your website. 

Some platforms cost more money or are not intuitive to use, so making sure you do research and pick the right platform for you and your business’s needs is vital. 

You also want to make sure you pick the right hosting company with an affordable plan that suits your business’s individual needs. 

If you are unsure where to start, Repute PR can help you build a stunning website that will fit your brand’s specific needs.

Web Design is Important

Now that you’ve decided on a platform and web host for your website, you have to create and design it. 

You don’t need a website that is professionally designed, although it may look stunning, as that can cost a lot of money that small business owners can’t afford. When starting out online, using ready-made themes, which many platforms offer, can save time, money, and look very attractive. 

Website design is about more than just looking aesthetic. It’s about functionality, making sure your website is easy to navigate, making sure there is a balance between minimalism and clutter, with not too much empty space, but not so full that it feels claustrophobic. 

You also want to be selective about color themes, graphics, and the overall layout of the site’s functions. 

Even more important perhaps, is making sure your website looks and functions as good on the computer as it does when viewed on mobile devices. Many people use their phones and other mobile devices to surf the web, and you want to make sure when they look at your website that it looks good and is easy to navigate, or else they won’t stick around. 

Use Social Media

Social media is a great way to build your brand without spending any money. There are tons of different social media platforms to choose from and creating profiles on most of them is free and easy. 

You can use your social media accounts to share your website’s blog posts or bring awareness to your brand through engaging content.

It’s important to know who your target consumers are, as different audiences gravitate towards different platforms. Facebook is most commonly used by women ages 30-50, whereas TikTok is most commonly used by both men and women ages 18-29. You can look up the demographics of different social media platforms online and make your decision on which ones to use based on that information. 

Create Content

This goes for both your website’s blog, and your business’s social media accounts, but creating engaging content for your audiences is a great way to expand and promote your business online.

When creating content, you need to focus on engagement, consistency, and quality. 

You want your audiences to engage with the content you create, which can be done by creating polls, quizzes, and contests. Interacting with your audiences can help make them feel like they matter, and that they are interacting with your business on a more personal level. 

Putting out content consistently is also important. On social media, things move fast, so often you need to put out content daily to keep up and remain relevant. When creating blog posts and other such content, you may not have to post as often, but making sure you are consistent about how much you put out in a certain amount of time is key to keeping your audiences reading and engaged. 

If you need help staying relevant and keeping up with the fast-paced world of the internet, Repute PR can help you to develop and distribute new content about your brand and your accomplishments with their Targeted Media Campaign Package

Lastly, you want to create quality content, by avoiding turning your posts into commercials to sell your product, as that can be a turn-off for most audiences. You instead want to focus on creating content that is relevant to your business, adding in “calls to action” that were at all relevant, and keeping your content organic and personable. 

Manage Your Brand’s Reputation Online

 

“Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealised, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character and no public trust.” 

-Richard Branson

With the rise of social media, blogs, review websites, and other such digital platforms, keeping a good reputation for your company and brand is all the more important, especially when expanding online.

Social media can help you to connect with your audiences, and build their trust, but it can also be used by others to slander and spread rumors and bad reviews about your brand, which can greatly reduce the number of people who buy your product or service, and can influence people’s opinions when looking up your brand online.

It can be difficult to manage your brand’s reputation online, so many businesses turn to reputation management services to help bear the burden of maintaining a clean and healthy reputation.

Reputation management services, like Repute PR, can help you build your brand, showcase your successes in the nation’s leading news publications, suppress “bad news” in the media, control what shows up when people look your brand up online, and even recruit loyal customers to give praise to your brand through online reviews.

If you are interested in the services a reputation management company can provide, then contact Repute PR, to find out everything they can do for you and your brand. 

Use SEO

Creating great content is important, but if nobody is visiting your website, then it doesn’t matter. 

Search engine optimization has become a very relevant topic in the world of content creation, and if your website is not optimized for search engines, it can be hard for your audiences to find your website at all. 

Results found on page two of Google are 75% less likely to be clocked on than results featured on the first page, and 18% of people searching are likely to click on the top result, which means your website is doomed unless you can get it higher on the results page. 

There are tons of resources online that can help you learn how to optimize your website for search engines, but if you don’t have the time to invest in learning SEO, then hiring a professional to help might be a good idea.

Repute PR can help you with SEO, powering up your visibility and ensuring you are at the top of the results online with their SEO Juice Pack.

Make it Easy for Users to Contact You

If you want to bring in more customers online, then it is a good idea to have a simple and easy way for visitors to your website to contact you. If visitors to your website have a difficult time figuring out how to get a hold of you, they may get frustrated or feel that your company doesn’t care about them. 

You want to make contact information readily available all over your website and even on your social media, making sure it is highly visible and easy to find. 

Be aware that if you are putting down your contact information but are not responsive to those various forms of contact, then you could be putting your business’s reputation at risk, so make sure you use contact information for emails and phone numbers that are going to be monitored and responsive.

Another way to make it easy for users to contact you is by using contact forms, which can greatly increase the fluidity and ease of contacting you on your website without having to go to a separate tab or pull out their phone. 

Build Email Lists

Many of the users who visit your site will never come back again, meaning that if you do not get their email addresses, then there will be no way to contact them in the future. 

An easy and cost-effective way of keeping in contact with users even after they have left your site is through their email, so building an email list is crucial. With access to their direct inbox, you will be able to announce content, services, and products, ask for feedback and increase engagement across all of your online channels. 

An easy way to start an email list is by offering something for free to your potential users and consumers, asking for an email address in return. This free thing could be a product, a coupon for your products, or a free trial of some service you offer. 

Improve Site Speed and Performance

In a study conducted by Microsoft, it was found that people could only focus on one thing for the span of 12 seconds in 2000, dropping to 8 seconds 15 years later, meaning that the attention span of the average person is decreasing. 

This means that your website has very little time to show visitors what your business and site have to offer them in order to convince them to stay. 

In another study conducted by Aberdeen Group, they found that “A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.”

Because of this, it has never been more important to improve the speed and performance of your website. 

Depending on the platform your website is on, there may be tools to help this process, and there are tools online to check the speed of your website as well to make sure it is running fast. 

Focus on Your Target Audience

You wouldn’t want to be catering to an audience of middle-aged women if your product or service is for adolescent men. You also wouldn’t want to be catering to the entire world when your product or service is niche and mostly purchased by a specific audience. 

You need to have a good idea of who your target audience is, that way you can better focus and cater to them. Although you may have some consumers who are outside of the target audience, it is better, and more profitable, to focus on who your majority of consumers are. 

Once you know who your target audience is, you can use this information to better create content that will interest them, use social media platforms that they use, and advertise on sites and in ways that would attract them. 

Partner and Network With Other Brands

A great way to increase your profits, as well as your audience and potential consumers, is to network or partner with other brands. 

Reaching out to complementary businesses and brands who are in your industry, but not necessarily competing with the same buyers, can help to get your brand out in front of consumers who may not even be aware of your brand yet. 

For example, a wireless network operating company could team up with a smartphone company, each promoting the other’s products or services as complimentary for their own.

By partnering with complementary brands, you can piggyback off their consumer base, so long as you are also promoting their brand as well. It needs to be a symbiotic relationship, otherwise, it won’t work. 

Reach out to Influencers

With the rise of social media, there are a surprising number of influencers out there, each on their own platform, from famous and influential YouTubers, to up-and-coming TikTok stars. 

You can reach out to these influencers, either to offer sponsorship if you can afford to, or to offer a free product or service you provide, in return for them reviewing it on their channel, or mentioning your brand to their audience. 

There are loads of videos on YouTube that are unboxing products sent by companies they are working with, and having influencers create engaging and fun content using your brand, products, or services, can not only help expand your audience but also show the quality of your brand. 

You can reach out to creators directly, or via Facebook for Creators, and start working with influencers, but depending on how big their audience is, it may cost more to work with or sponsor them. 

How to Manage and Repair Your Business’s Online Reputation

By BlogNo Comments

The internet is a vast network of positive and negative information. We use it every day, but we tend to brush over how enormous it has actually become, and in a place with more than 1 billion sites, making an impression can be difficult. So let’s go over how you, as a business owner, can get your foot in the door. 

Developing an Online Presence 

Developing an online presence requires techniques from digital marketing. It happens largely through three things: a website, social media, and content creation

Step One: A Website 

The first step towards a concrete online presence is a website. Having a website gives you a home base to reach out to sponsors, draw in customers, and show your product to the eyes of the world. Of course, you are free to customize, but there are a couple of principles of good web design that you should keep in mind.

A good website will have a clean design that reflects your company’s product. For example, if you sell hiking gear, it’s probably best not to design your site around images of Los Angeles. Stick to a scheme that reflects the kind of service you offer, and if you have a logo, build off of it. 

A simple design also ensures that your website is easy to navigate. Too often, customers open a site, only to find that the button they’re looking for is hidden somewhere deep in the pages. Your website’s home page should give easy access to the basics of what people want to know: 

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • How to contact you

The homepage of your website is like an elevator pitch to the visitor, but you have around 2 seconds to catch their interest. You don’t need to include all of your information on the first page, but make it easily accessible from there. Make those 2 seconds count. 

Creating a visually appealing and intuitive website that can catch the attention of your viewers may seem overwhelming, and if you feel like you don’t know where to start, then Repute PR might be able to help you with your website building needs.

Step Two: Social Media 

Once you have a website, it’s time to publicize it through social media. Places like Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok have become increasingly popular marketing tools among companies.

The usual route is to take out paid advertisements through places like Google Ads, but more recently, businesses have taken to creating social media accounts themselves—this option is great because it comes at no additional cost to you. 

When using social media as a platform for self-promotion, it’s important to consider your target market. Facebook tends to draw older users, perhaps with families and established jobs already. Instagram is largely used by people between 15 and 35; TikTok usually indulges younger generations, up through college students. 

Social media is a great way to bulk up your website’s following, so it’s important not to include too many details when using it. People scroll through social media as a way to relax—providing an excess of information can feel overwhelming and actually drive them away from your page. Instead, stick to the basics of what you can provide, use visually interesting images, and link your website (either in a post or in your profile) so people can find out more information for themselves. 

Step Three: Content Creation 

Good work! You’ve established a website and a social media page. Now, you need to fill them with something. That’s where content creation comes in. 

Website Content: On a website, your best option is blogging. Besides being a way for you to show your product, websites let you keep in touch with your customers and tell them about your progress. You can also use a blog to provide information about your field to your customers. 

You have a wide variety of options here: you could answer commonly asked questions or stick to a list-style article. For example, if you sell hiking gear, your website could host a blog with posts like, “What should you never bring on a hike?” or “The 10 Best Hidden Trails in the US.”

Blogging is also a great option because it increases traffic to your website. Instead of just being a business, you’ve now become a source of information and entertainment to your visitors, and this will help boost your ranking on a search engine result page. 

Social Media Content: On social media, you’re almost required to have more fun. People turn to social media for fast-paced entertainment, so your content needs to conform to that. A great way to do this is to follow trends but with your product in mind. And it’s okay if things get humorous here. 

A company that’s done a great job with social media is Ryanair, an Irish airline. Though getting bad press in Europe because of their low-cost style, Ryanair’s image has soared online due to their TikTok profile. They follow popular trends but do everything with airplanes—and the comedy that creates has garnered them millions of views on their videos. 

If you don’t consider yourself particularly social-media-savvy, it could help to start with a trend watch, and you’ll begin to get a feel for what kind of content your business can create. 

Maintaining an Online Presence 

Though creating a website or social media platform may be a one-time thing, you need to consistently update your content and marketing strategy to maintain your online presence. There are three main ways to do this: customer engagement, revisiting content, and getting in the news

Method One: Customer Engagement

On the bottom of Dunkin’ receipts, there’s often a QR code. If you scan it, it brings you to a survey about your customer experience at that particular Dunkin’ store. It gives you the opportunity to voice any complaints, but it also allows you to say you enjoyed your experience. That’s what customer engagement is all about. 

Customer engagement is particularly important online due to the fast-paced style of the internet. Consistently getting traffic to your website will help you stay afloat in the long run, especially as you’re continuing to build your brand. 

It also helps to build rapport between you and your customers. People like to feel in control of their experiences, and if you provide them with the option to give you feedback, they’ll be grateful for the trust they can build with your business. 

But the satisfaction survey is not the only way you can give your customers a say. Many small businesses turn to raffles and giving away some of their products as a way to hold publicity and make their customers share their content. Let’s go back to our hiking gear business to see how this might play out. 

You’ve noticed that a particular water bottle you sell is a customer favorite. So, on social media, you advertise that you are doing a giveaway of five water bottles! Of course, your company is able to afford not getting profits from those 5 bottles—otherwise, this deal would not work in your favor. But you say that to enter the giveaway, one must like the post and tag two friends. 

People who want the bottle will do these two things because they’re simple enough to do, and it garners traction for your site. You choose five lucky winners from those that participated, your company gets boosted online, and your customers are happy that you’ve engaged them. It’s a win on all sides. 

Method Two: Revisiting Content

You’ve spent a lot of time developing content to establish yourself on the web, so it’s not surprising that you need to keep doing it to keep your place. Of course, fresh topics, like your newest product launch, or a new sustainability initiative your company is taking, are great things to write about. But there’s no harm in revisiting topics you’ve already discussed (and it’s less work, too!). 

Editing and republishing old articles on a blog is a great way to boost your rankings in the eyes of the internet algorithms. Fresh traffic to an older yet revised page tells search engines that your content is consistently needed by readers. This is what’s called evergreen content, and it’s a resource you can continually use. 

Revisiting old posts is also a good way to do site maintenance. Sometimes links or images get removed, in which case your article is left with its most important source leading to an error page. Or perhaps, you might find a post that is no longer true, in which case revision is welcome. 

Finally, it sends a message to your customers. It is correcting data, updating links, and revising sentences that show you pay attention to how this website is presented to them. It’s all about the customer experience, and doing this shows them you care about it. 

Method Three: Get in the News

Easier said than done; it would seem. But it might be the solution both you and a journalist are looking for. 

Like business blog writers, personal blog writers and journalists are always looking for topics to cover, although their content tends to be more topical than evergreen. So if you reach out to them and say you have a topic, they’ll often be more than willing to hear you out. 

Good times to contact the media are when you’re doing something completely new. Things that are big changes for your business, like releasing a new line of products, starting a new political initiative, or hiring a new group of people, will be fresh stories that they are more likely to pick up on. 

Start by looking for local or online-based writers, and get a feel for their style of content. It would be difficult to pitch a story about new hiking boot technology to a journalist who writes about French politics. It will also help you, once you do contact them, to be familiar with their work because this establishes rapport. 

Whether you call or email, there are five basic steps to follow when contacting a journalist

  1. Who and what: establish why you’re contacting them. 
  2. If you’re on the phone, ask if it’s a good time: journalists have a lot on their plates, so respecting what time they’re able to meet is a good first step in. 
  3. Why them: tell them you know their work, and that is why you think they’d be a good fit for your story. 
  4. The story itself: pitch your idea! What’s so special about your new product line or initiative?
  5. Ask if they’re interested: if they are, great! If not, don’t take it personally, thank them for their time, and move on to the next one. 

Contacting the media is an interesting process because you often don’t know whether you’ve been successful until the words “yes” or “no” come out of their mouth, but getting in touch with journalists is a crucial way to expand your customer base. 

Sounds like a lot? An incredible amount of work goes into growing and maintaining a business reputation. So much so, in fact, that there are companies who can do it for you

The Benefits of a PR Company 

Working with a PR company allows you to focus on actually building your business. They have teams that can more intricately follow these techniques and even used more advanced ones, like whisper campaigns and SEO writing. But they can be expensive when you’re just starting out—so when do you know you’re ready to work with a PR company? Is it worth getting one?

Repute PR states that their three-step process of reputation management is to tidy it up, broadcast it, and then protect it. For these three steps to work, they mostly need to build off of a reputation you’ve already created. So it’s best to follow the steps outlined above to give yourself a reputation to work on until you feel that it’s concrete enough to be improved. 

But once you reach that point, it is absolutely worth investing in a PR company. The third step of Repute PR’s “Formula” is to protect your reputation—that isn’t something you can easily do on your own. Reputations are built over long periods of time, but they can be damaged by an unseen event in a matter of days. 

Working with a company like Repute PR ensures that you don’t have to worry about that. We specifically have a crisis management team that can take matters into their own hands if you run into unexpected trouble. The relief of being able to focus on what you’re putting out, instead of what everyone on the internet thinks about you, is definitely worth exploring as a business owner. 

What methods have you used to grow an online reputation?

How to Increase the Number of Google Searches your Business Gets

By BlogNo Comments

Improving your business’s position on the Google search engine takes optimization, time, and strategy. It helps in finding new customers, attracting local businesses, boosting your online reputation, and ultimately increases leads and sales.

A dedicated team like the professional reputation managers at Repute PR can help you accomplish these goals.  It is up to you and your PR team to put the effort into driving more traffic to your website by targeting the following key areas:

Keywords

The words and phrases that are typed into your Google search box are the words associated with the websites that come up after you press “enter.” These websites are ranked based on the relevance to the keywords, the reliability of their content, and their structure.

With that said, you need to include the right keywords in the right places within your business content that target what your potential customers are searching for. Using commonly searched words on your website will make your business more likely to rank higher on Google.

You can use a keyword rank checker to learn about your site’s usage and gauge your audience’s search patterns to know where to improve. Looking at social media conversations is also a helpful way to gather personas and see what language your customers use to talk about your business.

Using these target words and phrases will additionally help build trust between you and your customers, which also plays a role in Google ranking. Optimizing informational keywords in a language your audience understands makes your customers realize that your website is there to educate them rather than to show off, which will increase visits back to your site. 

Backlinks

Getting a high authority and trusted website to link your business is essential in placing high in Google rankings because it exposes your content to a new audience, increases your site’s credibility, and brings in traffic.

In order to achieve this factor, you need to focus on building your network and creating mutually benefitting relationships with local or similar businesses, in addition to newspapers, blogs, and directories.

Contact Repute PR to get your success in the news. The more eyes you can get on your site, the more likely other writers will link it in theirs. 

Quality Content

Giving searchers the most relevant and useful information is the most obvious yet important step in maintaining a high Google ranking. Not only is it about stuffing your site with keywords, but proving yourself worthy of that keyword over time.

The relevance to certain keywords, as well as the reliability of that content, is how your site can gain value and have users stay on your site longer. Build your site over time and keep it fresh with new and in-depth content. In other words, don’t let your site get stale.

Continually improving your content and growing the number of resources your site provides will help you get to the top of Google search results, and Repute PR can help your company achieve this through our digital marketing services.     

Local Search

Setting up local listings for your business through Google My Business helps obtain more backlists that will rank your business higher in local results and bring more customers to you.

As a local business, using geographic keywords in page titles, links, and your content strategy is essential to let Google know that you are prominent in that location.

It is not only important to generate a local listing in the first place but to keep your listing up to date, accurate, and active to get a higher ranking business. Concentrating on niche topics is also a good way for your business to stand out of the crowd, not because you meet more needs but because you meet a special need. 

Mobile Responsiveness

In today’s digital world, nearly 60% of searches are from mobile devices. With that in mind, Google now factors mobile responsiveness into its ranking criteria. If your website doesn’t comply with mobile use, a large section of your audience will be missed.

Ensuring that your customers can perform any task on the mobile version that they could on their desktop is key to maximizing Google searches, considering the majority of people who surf the internet on their mobile devices.

To go along with optimizing mobile use, it is important for your site to optimize speed as well. Having a slow site can jeopardize your Google ranking and drive customers away, which is why you should continuously try to improve your site’s performance by making image files smaller and streamline your web content

Positive Reviews

Getting your site featured in top Google reviews is helpful to establish trust between potential customers who are reading about your business.

85% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which goes to show that your company’s best marketers are your existing customers.

Glowing reviews of your site can help in boosting your online reputation and ranking higher on Google searches for reliability, so it is important to ask your loyal customers to put in a good word.

Repute PR can also help you and your business foster these customer relations and gather essential reviews to feature on your website.

This way, Google searchers can come across your name with a pre-existing notion that your website is relevant enough for them to want to search up again. Keeping Google reviews positive is essential for your business, and you can find out more on how to get rid of the negative here. 

How Do I Remove a Google Review?

By BlogNo Comments

In the world of business, word of mouth is different than it used to be. Where business cards and coffee shop conversations once ruled the world of reviews, now the internet is the first place most people go to learn about a company before they will even entertain the idea of using its goods or services.

While virtually everyone uses the information Google reviews provide, far fewer people actually leave reviews. In fact, studies have shown that people are twice as likely to leave a review for a negative experience as they are for a positive one.

Think about going out to dinner. If your meal was timely, your drink stayed filled, and the place was clean you will probably pay your tab and leave with just a mental note that the place is good, and you could stop there again. It probably will not cross your mind to leave a review.

Now think about the same dinner if the wait staff was rude, your food was cold, and a bug crawled across your table—people need to know to stay away! You are much more likely to leave a review.

Content Matters

If a negative review is over the top, using foul language, or has clearly unreasonable demands, the consumer is likely to ignore it and move on, but if there is a seemingly reasonable complaint and it is voiced repeatedly… it may have merit.

For the consumer, this just means weighing the voice of Google with a grain of salt. If there are a handful of reviews and only a couple is negative, likely the company is fine, and the person is the problem. However, if there are mostly negative reviews, the consumer will probably scroll to the nearest competitor. The review may have helped them dodge a bullet.

But what if you are the business with a negative review? If you helped one hundred people today and your one problem client is the one that picked up his phone and went to google, that is not a good look at your company. These one-sided evaluations of your business can be harmful to your reputation and can cost you real money. Thankfully, there are ways to remove unfair Google reviews and repair your reputation.

What is a Google Review? Why is it important?

Google does “everywhere” best. That is what it is known for. Google reviews attach to every facet of your business within the search engine. If a client is looking for your address, they will type in your company name and instantly be provided with a snapshot of not only the information for which they were looking but also your star rating and a clip of your reviews that they can click into.

In just a few steps, they are looking at reviews, they may not have ever wanted, and if the snapshot is not good, your relationship may be tainted before it truly starts. The entire Google suite of applications, including Google maps, is embedded to provide your reviews along with your name. Keeping these reviews positive is essential to your business.

How Do I Get Rid of the Negative?

The good news is—you can get rid of unfair reviews on your business. The bad news is that it is not always simple to do so. For the sake of a fair market, Google reviews can not be deleted. The primary way to get rid of an unwanted review is to flag it as inappropriate. The steps to begin this process are:

  1. Find the review on your company that you would like to be removed
  2. In the upper righthand corner of the review, click on the three dots
  3. Click “Flag as Inappropriate”
  4. Select the reason you want to file your removal under (Fake review, conflict of interest, off-topic,      contains spam, etc.)
  5. Click Submit to Google

The reason for removal will be what decides if it will actually get taken down. There are four main choices you are given for removal, and they are broad so they can be applied in a few ways. First, if the post contains any kind of foul language, hate speech, inappropriate wording, threats, or violence you can have it removed. This choice is cut and dry because the words themselves will prove that the review is inappropriate. Advertising and spam are similarly easy to prove. If your review drags down your company and ends with a call to “CLICK HERE” or a number to a competitor, it is a safe bet that you can have it removed for advertisement.

The last two, conflict of interest and off-topic, are more open to interpretation. Conflict of interest is an option if you suspect the reviewer’s intent has little to do with your service and more to do with doing damage to your company. If you can prove that the review is bogus, it can be removed. Similarly, if the review is clearly negative about a service or good that you do not offer, you may have grounds for removal.

Will All Submissions Get Removed?

Unfortunately for your business, after you hit submit, everything that happens next is in the hands and on the timeline of Google. Google will not remove every review to which you object. They want customers to be informed of negative experiences, so if there is not a legitimate objection in their eyes, the review will stand. Also, it will take time for an objection to process and still more time if they decide to remove it. It is worth the effort but be patient because it could take a while.

Do I Have Other Options?

You always have a few other options as well, and occasionally they may work better than flagging the review. These require a little more leg work on your part but could save your business money in the long run. If customer service is not your best work, give this job to the most personable employee in the office. You will want a customer service genius handling your reviews; they are that important.

Respond to the Review: If there is more to the story, let the people know! You have the ability to respond to the review but do so as if you are speaking to every client you hope to have in the future. Stay professional, own the issue, apologize if a mistake was made. Defend yourself if you feel you have been misrepresented in the review but never attack or belittle the reviewer. Your response could not only save that client but save future clients who will be impressed by how you handled yourself.

Ask the Reviewer to Take it Down: Do not be shy. Reach out to the unhappy reviewer if you feel like you can make them happy. It may be worth offering a discount or perk to them to make up for their experience. Think of this as a restaurant giving you a free appetizer for your trouble. You can apologize in almost every situation, even if it is just apologizing that the person felt that way. If the client is won over by your efforts in either gesture or your response to their review, do not hesitate to reach out and ask them to remove the negative review or update it to a positive review. Many reviewers want action to be taken to remedy what made them unhappy. Some reviewers just want to vent. The ones you can win over are worth the time and effort of dealing with the ones you may never get through to.

Incentivize Good Reviews: You have responded, you have made offers, you have flagged the review, but there it stands. You have done all that you can to have it removed, but it will not go away. That is okay! One bad review will not sink the ship, but it is important that your good reviews make its impact smaller. When you see a client in the office the very first time, make a point to offer an incentive if they leave you a review. Car dealerships employ this technique often, offering a free tank of gas for each review some other incentive. Make sure the client feels appreciated in all that they do, including helping out your rating.

One last thing…

Smooth customer service will save you from the hassle of flagging bad reviews a lot of the time. It is quicker and often more effective to reach out to the source and deal directly with the disgruntled client than wait on Google to take care of it. Make it all business professional and keep a cool head, and you may be able to fix a bad review and save a client all at the same time. In the end, one review is not going to make or break you, but the customer service you provide very well could.

How Do I Delete Myself from Google & the Internet?

By BlogNo Comments

Who we are online is a lasting first impression of who we may be in person. In the digital age, everything from our name and address to the school we attended and our banking information exists on the internet.

Prospective employers or clients can usually find anything they want to know about you online. Worse, hackers and other ill-intentioned individuals have endless means to take your information and use it against you. Many choose to set strict privacy restrictions to avoid these invasions. Some want to take more drastic measures.

If your online presence has become a problem, or if you just want to live a little more off the grid, there are ways to fix the amount of information out there. It all depends on how deep you would like to go. You can work through encrypted servers and set everything to private, or you can effectively delete yourself from Google and the internet.

How Much Content Do You Need to be Removed? 

There is a spectrum of what you can have exposed to online. Before you decide to start deleting, you need to ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. If you would like to come up “clean” when clients or employers look for you, you may simply need to adjust your privacy settings.

If you want no trace of your existence left, you can get close but not quite completely gone because of digitized public records. State and federal records have been available online for several decades, and there is no way to opt out of their availability. Aside from those things beyond individual reach, however, there is a lot that can be done to minimize your available information online.

Most people who are looking to delete themselves from Google and the internet are really only looking to delete themselves from the eye of the general public. Who you are on your locked down social media may not be the version of yourself you present in a professional environment. For those seeking a clean slate, more work is involved than adjusting the settings.

Where Do I Start?

First, start by searching for yourself on Google and see what you find. This will give you an idea of your biggest issues. Many people looking to go “off the grid,” so to speak, are already fairly private, so there may not be any major red flags. A thorough Google search will let you know if there are any surprises you need to handle first.

If you do find objectionable images or information on yourself and you do not control it (i.e., on a website you do not own), your first step will be to contact the owner and ask that it be taken down. You may have to do some research to find the contact information for the site, particularly if it is an older page.

If you contact the owner and they refuse to remove the issue or if you cannot find their information to ask that it be removed, Google may be able to help. There is a contact section specifically for this situation.

Some things Google may remove at your request are:

  • Involuntary (real or      fabricated) explicit images
  • Certain financial or medical      information
  • The information posted with the      intent of blackmailing you into taking it down

Essentially, start with the worst of the worst. If there is something really bad out there, get rid of it first. Search for your name, any other names you have used in the past, and search those names with towns in which you have lived. Be creative in your combinations for searching and leave no stone unturned. To get rid of the big things, you need to start with essentially investigating yourself.

There are other materials that Google will voluntarily remove as well, but these are for legal reasons. Illicit, illegal content involving abuse, particularly of children, will be removed as soon as it is identified. Materials subject to legal restrictions or classified information will be quickly removed as well. You may need to seek legal advice depending on the situation.

The People You Let Have Your Information

Most of the information online was put there bit by bit, by none other than yourself. After you have the major issues under control, you can change your focus to the more minor things. The seemingly innocuous use of everyday social media can be the biggest minefield of personal information.

Consistent use of social media releases details of our everyday lives, so to eliminate yourself from the internet, this is a good place to start. In the settings of Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets, you can go under your account settings and delete your account. Be sure to back up all of your information before you do so, as you never know when you may need it again. Once it is gone, it is gone for good. Some platforms have tools for retrieval, but most do not.

Facebook does have the option to go inactive if you are not ready to commit to deleting the account but needless no information out there. This keeps your account intact but takes it offline for everyone but yourself.

Once you have taken care of social media, the bigger task begins. You will need to identify every account you have made online and search for their platform for the protocol on account deletion.

One by one, every account you have ever made will need to be not only closed but fully deleted. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Banking Apps, Fitbit, YouTube—these are just a few that will need to be taken care of to be considered offline truly. There are websites dedicated to reducing the digital footprint that can provide you with a list of popular sites and applications and give you instructions on deleting your accounts.

These pages are helpful in consolidating the information as well as reminding you about which accounts you may have forgotten. This will take time, but it can significantly reduce your exposure.

The Other Places that Have Your Information  

One of the most disconcerting internet facts is that anyone can go to a “people search” website such as Intelius and buy your most private information—phone numbers, addresses, family members, etc.. These websites poach public records and put all your information in one convenient place for a nominal fee. Some of these sites compile information from your social media as well, making them doubly invasive.

If you do not want any random person to be able to track you down for ten dollars, you can opt out of “people search” websites.

They do not all make it easy. Some require a snail mail letter or fax to remove your information. However, this is a price you may want to pay for your privacy.

If You Are Serious About Being “Off the Grid”

If you have taken care of the big stuff, gotten off of all the websites, wiped your name off the “people search” databases, and you are ready to truly pull the plug on your existence online, you only have two things left—Email and Google.

Email is a big deal. It is a major form of basic communication. It is the gateway to all other internet life. If you want to be offline, you need to back up all of your sent mail, all of your inbox, and all other saved information, go to your account settings and delete your email. Gmail has a small recovery window where your content can be retrieved, but it is best not to risk it. Once your email is gone, you can work on eliminating yourself from google.

Google holds a history of all of your activity beyond just your browser history. Google uses your information for ads and other marketing. In order to stop google from tracking what you do you need to disable the marketing activity by taking the following steps

  • Click “Manage my Google      Account”
  • Click “Manage your data &      personalization”
  • Click “Manage your activity      controls”
  • Click “Pause” on all of the add      tracking columns

You need to delete your entire activity history quite frequently as well in order to reduce your digital footprint. Using Chrome, you need to do the following steps after each use:

  • Click “Manage my Google      Account”
  • Click “Manage your data &      personalization”
  • Click “My activity”
  • Click “Delete by”
  • Select your range and delete

These steps delete everything you have read, searched, watched, or done at all in the realm of Google.

The Bottom Line 

You cannot truly and completely delete yourself from the internet, but you can dramatically reduce your online presence. Google allows for a great deal of autonomy though it takes a bit of leg work and knows how to effectively restrict its marketing and activity tracking. If you are dedicated to being off the grid, you will be looking at a lot of effort over a period of time, but you can come very close to deleting yourself from Google and the internet.

3-Step Guide to Removing Images from Google

By BlogNo Comments

You search your name on Google, to see what other people will see when they search for you.  The first few results are not very exciting.  Most of the results aren’t even you, just someone with a similar name.

However, you click on the images tab on the Google search and you find embarrassing photos for all of the worlds to see.  Panic sets in and you wonder what you can do! You feel helpless and ashamed that such images show up in the search.

You may also, from time to time, check the google results related to your business or profession.  Your own business website may appear, or the typical review sites.  But you may also one day notice images that are very unprofessional or even consist of outright false information about your company.

Afraid this may lead to your professional reputation being ruined and a loss of your customer base? Then you need to act quickly to stop the damage before it’s too late.

Fortunately, following these three steps will help eliminate those images from the web and help save you from embarrassment or financial ruin!

Step One – Remove Images That You Control

The first step in removing images from Google is to go through all of the images you control.  You may be the one that posted the image to social media or a webpage through your own account.

Simply:

1. log in to your account;

2. find the image; and, either,

3. make the image private; or

4. delete it from the website.

Sometimes, you may need to contact the owner of the social media site to have the image deleted completely.

  • Facebook/Instagram: Large social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram have customer and technical support help-lines and chats to help you with the removal of photos if you are unable to remove them yourself.
  • Old Profiles: If the image is on an old profile or account that you do not have access to anymore, you may need to do an account recovery or password reset in order to access the image.  Some social media sites have options to connect certain images to your name or profile, which in turn will result in Google publishing the image when your name is searched.  Disconnecting the photo from your name or profile may help to keep the image from appearing in the Google search.
  • Posts by Friends/Family: Sometimes, friends and family may have posted your image without you even knowing. Contacting them to remove the image may be necessary in order to have the image removed from the google search.  If someone you know has posted the image of you and it is appearing in Google searches, you can ask them to go into their account and remove the image.

Deleting your own images or having friends and family delete an image may not immediately remove the image from the Google search.  

However, Google often updates its search data. So, after some time, the image should disappear from the search connected to your name.

If you have removed the image and it continues to appear in Google search, you may need to contact the website that is hosting the image and find out why the image still continues to exist.

A copy of the image may have been downloaded onto another website, or possibly, another social media account may have posted the image.  If this is the case, you will need to continue to step two, for images that you do not control.

Step Two – Remove Images You Do Not Control

Sometimes the embarrassing image you want to be removed from the Google search is not under your control.  Instead, the photo is published by a person or website you have never even spoken to!

If this is the case, you will need to find the owner of the website that is posting the embarrassing image and request that they remove the image.

If you see an embarrassing image on Google, you can click on the image or the hyperlink directly below the image to take you to the location of the image on the internet, outside of Google.

It is important to find the exact location of the image so that you can determine what person or company needs to be contacted to request the removal.

  • Contact the entity directly: Some websites will have contact information posted somewhere on their website. It may be listed as a tab that says “contact us” or “contact information.”  Clicking these links often leads to an email address or direct message function, where you can request that the image be removed.  Be sure to tell the owner exactly which image you would like to remove.  You may need to repeat this step multiple times if the image is posted on various websites or in various locations across the internet.
  • Contacting Google: In certain circumstances, you can request directly through Google to remove your image from their search function.  Google has a policy of not hosting images that may be of an explicit nature of a person made without their consent.  They also have a policy of not posting images that are illegal or contain sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, health data, or certain financial information.

When you contact Google directly, make sure you are ready to explain the reason why Google should remove your images and exactly which images should be removed.

What Will You Need?

You will need to state your case for why the image does not comply with Google community guidelines, terms & conditions, additional policies, or why the image is illegal.

Google will not automatically remove images from their search function by request and will in fact deny requests if they deem the image is appropriate and public record.

Step Three – Get Outside Help

Unfortunately, not all websites are responsive or cooperative to requests to take down images.  You may not be able to find the owner of the website or ever make contact with the person or company that has the ability to take down the image.

Even more troubling, sometimes your request does make it to the owner of the website, who refuses to remove the image or even demands payment to take down the image.

Extortion? 

An unfortunate trend on the internet, which borders on legality (often more on the side of illegal), is the practice of posting embarrassing images of people and charging a “fee” for their removal.

Mugshots are a common image that these websites will post, often under the guise of public records and community safety information.  When asked to remove the image, these websites will demand a fee for doing so.

Other websites have done similar practices, but instead post nude or sexual images of a person, with removal coming at a price.  These practices have often been cited as illegal and even possibly criminal.

If you are the victim of such a website and want the offending images taken down from Google search or the hosting website, you may need to immediately obtain outside help.

What Can You Do?

If this is the case, you may need the assistance of a specialist for reputation management or even possibly legal help to protect your privacy rights.

Reputation management specialists can do a deep dive into website ownership through website server companies or corporate filings.  They also can come up with strategies that may help eliminate certain images from being associated with your name is searched on Google.

Reputation management services for businesses may help to continuously monitor Google images to ensure removed offensive images do not reappear.  These services may also be necessary for an individual that relies on their reputation.

If all of these steps fail you may need to speak to legal counsel that has expertise in the laws of privacy and the internet.  A law firm with the proper experience will be able to advise you as to what legal protections may be available to your situation in order to remove certain images from Google and any other website the image is hosted on.

A lawyer may need to send a cease and desist letter to the owner of a website or even possibly file a lawsuit against them.  A court order may be necessary to force the removal of an image from Google, however, only a legal expert will be able to determine whether you have the legal grounds to force such a removal.

Takeaway:

Whether you want images removed from Google due to embarrassment, personal security, professional reputation, or just because you don’t like the image being associated with you, the above steps will help you achieve your goals.

First and foremost, removing the images you control is the easiest way to remove an offending image from Google.  If you do not have control of the image, finding the entity that does control it and requesting removal may also help you achieve your goal.

Lastly, getting help from a professional, while potentially costly and time-consuming, can ensure that you have taken every possible step to remove an image from Google.

Fortunately, many services are available, especially when you need to enforce legal protections to keep embarrassing or damaging images from appearing in Google searches.

Why Is It Important to Search and Google Your Name

By BlogNo Comments

Employers, customers, friends, family, and even strangers are probably using search engines to search your name. Google, being the largest search engine by far, is the most likely way they are searching your name. When they enter your name, what do they find? Have you ever used Google to search your own name?

If so, are the results the same today? These are very important questions you need to ask yourself in order to protect your personal and professional reputation. Fortunately, you can monitor Google for search results relating to your name and take steps to ensure your online reputation or personal information does not cause you harm.

Information about you may be easily searchable on Google. When a search is entered into Google, the system uses an algorithm to give you what is supposed to be the most relevant result of the information posted across the internet.

This will include any public records posted online, especially from websites that are based on pulling public information and posting them on their website.

This may also include your home address, tax information, phone numbers, criminal records, mug shots, or any other number of available information. While Google has some of its own information stored on various websites, Google is simply the intermediary to direct people to information across the web.

Conducting searches of your name on Google is crucial to ensure harmful or even false information about you is not listed. Google algorithms continuously change and update according to what is posted to the internet, so these searches should be performed regularly to ensure nothing damaging appears. It is even possible for a search of your name to have different results only days apart.

If the search of your name on Google gives negative results that you do not want readily available, there are steps you can take to try to have that information removed and ideally save your reputation.

Searching your name on Google:

The following guidelines should be followed for searching your name on Google:

1. Start With Broad Search Terms and Then Use More Specific Search Terms

Of course, the first step to search your name on Google is to type in your name. Start with your full name and see what results appear. If your name is a commonly shared name, it may be necessary to use quotation marks to limit unrelated results. For example, if your name is John Doe, you should enter “John Doe.” Doing so will limit results that only have either the terms “John” or “Doe.” If nothing related to you appears, you may need to start branching out to more specific searches. You should search your name in combination with the town and state where you live, with previous addresses, with the name of your work, or in combination with family or friends. As you continue to search using more specific terms in conjunction with your name, you will most likely find additional results that relate to you.

2. Search the Various Pages of Google Results

When you search your name, you may need to go through the various pages of Google results. While most people stop at searches on the first page, there may be negative results that appear deeper in the pages of the search results. Not going through the additional search page results may lead to you missing important results that you do not want publicly available to a motivated searcher.

3. Use the Different Search Functions on Google

While the basic Google search function is your go-to for general search results, you need to also utilize the other search functions provided by Google. Google images are the next important function to use. Images of yourself, your family, your residence, or any other number of personal identifying information can be found. Make sure that no damaging or personal information appears in a search of your name and personal information through the images. Google news is another search function you should utilize. If your name appears in any published news articles, it should appear through the Google news search function. Google videos, which will include the Google-owned Youtube.com, may also provide some results you will want to monitor relating to your name.

4. The Reverse Image Search

One of Google’s most interesting search features is the ability to search by using an image, instead of words. By doing this, you will find any location where the image is posted on the internet.

To perform a reverse image search on Google, follow these steps:

  • Select the image you want to search and have it ready to upload
  • Go to the Google Image search page and select the camera icon
  • Either enter a link to the image or upload the image that is saved on your computer
  • Press the search button and review the results for the locations of the image.

The reverse image search may lead you to additional websites that have information about you or additional images. You can then take the necessary steps to have that information removed or suppressed in the Google search results.

5. Search Usernames and Emails

While most of us think of our actual names and identities as the main way to find personal information about ourselves, we should also consider any usernames or emails as ways to find identifying information on Google.

If you are active on any websites that require a username, you should keep track of those names and perform the Google search using those names or variations to see if personal information appears in the google search results. Perform the same process with any email addresses that may be associated with you. It may come as a surprise how many results you find using these names and the personal information that may link back to you.

As is always a good practice, if possible, using usernames or emails that do not contain your personally identifying information is a good practice, to avoid any linkage to personal information through a Google search.

Professional and Legal Help:

Occasionally, it may be necessary to seek outside help for managing Google searches and ensuring sensitive or damaging information is kept off of Google searches.

There may be extremely harmful information available which, if found by certain people, may irreparably damage you or even put your safety at risk. Having your address, family names and locations, place of work, or other identifying information may be a threat to your safety. Commonly, victims of domestic violence or other crimes fall into this category of at-risk individuals.

In response, a professional that specializes in finding your personal information on the internet and either deleting or hiding that information may be able to ensure your safety. These professionals use techniques to either remove the location of the information or to block it from appearing in Google searches. While Google and other internet websites will remove certain information voluntarily if it violates their policies, they may not remove all information upon request.

Instead, it may be necessary to seek legal help to protect your rights and safety from the publication of such information. An experienced law firm can help by sending cease and desist letters, filing for court orders, or even possibly filing lawsuits in order to get harmful information off the internet that violates your rights.

If you have any restraining orders or have previously been the victim of a crime, it may be urgent that your information is removed. A lawyer may be able to file emergency motions to have the information deleted and hidden to protect your safety.

Takeaway:

Conducting regular searches of your name, variations of your name, addresses, professional information, and images should be done to ensure your internet presence is clean and free of embarrassing or damaging information.

The constant changing of information and the addition of information from websites means that Google’s results of your name may change from time to time. While the majority of changes will be indifferent or not apply to you, there is the chance that harmful or even false information will appear along with your name in the Google Search.

While it may be time-consuming and a drain to continuously monitor your internet presence, using the Google search function on your own name may save you from irreparable embarrassment which cannot be undone.

Certain people and businesses may have special needs related to Google searches of their names. Reputation may be critical to their professional or personal lives and may require constant monitoring. It may also be necessary for security purposes – just having identifying information available through a Google search may put certain people or businesses at risk for harm.

If you have special requirements to ensure that certain information is not associated with your name through a Google search, you should consult with a professional that specializes in search engines, security, and reputation management.

If it is an emergency, or if your legal rights are violated by the presence of personal information that appears in the Google search results, you may need to immediately contact an experienced law firm to protect your rights and have that information suppressed.

Everything You Need to Know About Google’s Removal Policy

By BlogNo Comments

Google’s removal policy is not as straightforward as you may think.

Sometimes, Google may remove content with a simple request and an internal review; other times they may refuse to voluntarily remove the information and require a court order to force removal.

Depending on the content that you are seeking to remove from Google, you may need additional help from an internet expert or experienced privacy and internet-related attorneys.

Right off the bat, you need to identify where the information is located. Google results are typically an index of information found across the internet. While they will lead users to these websites, the information usually exists on the website outside of Google’s control.

Once you have the location identified, you can bring that information to Google’s attention so that they can decide whether it meets their policy for being included in Google search results or otherwise posting on Google-owned websites.

Keep in Mind:

Even if Google removes the site with personal information (or image) from Google search results, the information is still available on the hosted website. Removing information successfully from Google does not result in the content being removed from the internet. It can still be accessed by going directly to the website or possibly through other lesser-known search engines, such as Bing, Yahoo, or Ask.com.

While Google is the most popular method of searching the internet, it is also important to look across various platforms to ensure the harmful information is not appearing anywhere else. If you are unsure of how to do this, you should consult with a professional to help protect your reputation online.

Although Google has a policy for removal, they may determine your information should be located on their search results. When this happens, you may have no choice but to seek legal consultations of your legal rights and rights of privacy.

How to Make a Request for Removal:

Google requires specific steps in order to request the removal of content from its search engine. First, you must access Google’s form for removal. This form is found through the Google website’s help section. Once you have the form opened, you must select the reason for removal.

  • First, you must tell Google whether you want to remove information already appearing in the Google search, or if you want to prevent information from appearing in the Google search. You may select the prevention option if there is specific information you believe someone will post on the internet with the hopes of appearing on Google search and causing you harm.
  • Second, you must tell Google whether the information is in both Google’s search results and posted on a website, or if it is only appearing in Google’s search results. The reason Google needs to know this is to determine whether the information will continue to appear on the internet (which would mean Google’s indexing will potentially select it again, causing it to appear in the Google search again) or if it is information that is only appearing in Google’s search but does not exist on any website. This may include outdated information that is no longer relevant on the internet, however, Google’s search function still includes it in results.
  • Third, you must tell Google whether you have contacted the website that the information appears. If you have not, you can not select an option asking for help in contacting that website’s owner. Google will provide some resources in order to help you find the owner of the website and request the information is removed, however, their interests may not align with yours. Consult with a professional if you do not feel comfortable contacting the owner of the website hosting your information.
  • Finally, you must describe the type of information you want to be removed. Options include personal information, nude or sexually explicit items, content hosted by an exploitative website, or content that should be removed for other legal reasons.

Google’s Removal Policy:

How does Google determine what content should be removed from their search index? It should be obvious that very sensitive personal information will be removed from Google, such as bank account information, passwords, or illegal pornography. Google lists the following information subject to its removal policy:

  1. Government-issued Identification, which includes social security numbers, tax identification, citizenship identification, and passport information.
  2. Sensitive financial account information, which may lead to identity theft or fraud.
  3. Credit card information or online payment account information
  4. Images of your personal signature
  5. Non-consensual sexually explicit or nude photos, including but not limited to hidden camera photos, photos of underaged children, or personal sexual material taken without consent.
  6. The information posted on exploitative websites using blackmail and extortion tactics (see below)

Exploitation and Extortion Websites:

There are allegedly 25,000 reputation complaint sites on the web.

These exploitative websites use embarrassing information or images and use extortion tactics when removal is requested.

They may take information from publicly available sources, which include mundane information like home addresses or phone numbers, or they may include more harmful information, such as criminal records, mugshots, or lawsuit information.

When you request that they remove such information, they will only remove it in exchange for money, or in some extremely exploitative situations, they may seek explicit photos or other highly personal things. While Google’s policy is to remove these websites from their database, this does not mean that the information is taken down from the original website.

If you are the victim of such exploitative websites, you should immediately seek professional legal help to ensure that your rights are protected. 

Personal Information Deemed “Not Harmful to Publish” – Public Records:

Unfortunately, Google does not remove all personal information by request. Instead, they have determined certain personal information is not harmful to publish and readily available by public records. The types of content Google will typically not remove include:

  1. Your personal or business address
  2. Your date of birth
  3. Your personal or business phone numbers

Out-of-Date Information:

One exception to the removal of readily available information is to request that Google remove outdated content or information. For example, if you change your phone number and your new phone number is listed as being owned by its old owner, you may receive unwanted phone calls from people searching Google for the old owner. Notifying Google that the information in their search index will usually result in that information being removed.

Removal Policies Vary by Country and Local Laws:

Google’s removal policy is vastly different in the European Union. In 2014, the European Union’s Court of Justice made a law requiring Google to delete personal content in certain circumstances.

This ruling, dubbed the “Right to be Forgotten” law, requires Google to establish a process for EU citizens to list all websites that may be associated with their name through a Google index search. This is widely different from the laws of the United States, which do not directly address the policy of Google’s search and personal information.

Instead, citizens of the United States may request removal from Google, but it is entirely up to Google to determine their own policy as to removal.

If Google refuses, a United States citizen must take further action to force Google to remove the information from appearing in its search. This will typically require acquiring the help of a legal professional to start the legal process against Google and any other offenders on the internet.

Professional and Legal Help:

A skilled attorney will be able to review the content you want to be removed and advise whether the law will uphold your position for removal. To do so, it may need to violate criminal or civil protection.

These may include:

  • consent laws (typically invoked for personal images or possibly pornography laws);
  • defamation (typically invoked for protection against false information that has a negative impact on your personal or business reputations); or
  • protective orders issued by another court (typically put in place for domestic violence or other violent crime victims to protect them from people who may harm them).

When is Google’s Removal Policy Not Enough?

What should you do if you cannot remove information from Google on your own?

Contacting an experienced law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of clients on the internet is an important step you should take in getting content removed from Google. While you may have never anticipated it would require legal intervention, it is not uncommon to use the court system to force Google to remove your information.

While Google is a huge company with deep pockets, they are still motivated by profit and financial success, so the hiring of an attorney may require them to use their own legal resources to defend their position for not removing your content from their website.

Depending on your situation, you may also need to seek the help of online reputation management professionals. These professionals specialize in monitoring and removing content from Google, in order to protect their client’s image and character. Many businesses employ specialists to do exactly this.

They search the internet, looking for harmful information to their brand, or monitor reviews of products and services. If you have a brand or image to uphold, it may be a good idea to contact a reputation management expert in order to ensure you are protected by harmful exposure online.