You search for your company’s name on Google, only to find nothing but praise and positive feedback from your customers. But when you look closer, one negative comment on a forum catches your eye, and you have the feeling that a customer didn’t write it.
In the business world, competition is tough, and it’s even tougher on the internet. Some companies resort to bashing their competitors and ruining their online reputation in order to discourage their potential customers. Smear campaigns are nothing new. They’ve been around since the birth of traditional advertising, but today, it is tougher than ever to deal with them because anyone can comment on anything – anonymously – with just one click.
How to Know if You’re Dealing with a Competitor
Before a company can start its online reputation repair strategy, it should determine if the negative comment was indeed posted by a competitor and not by a customer. A competitor would consistently harass a business online, leaving several negative posts that might not even have a clear understanding of the business.
Using SEO Techniques
When fighting an online smear campaign and repairing a damaged reputation, a little search engine optimization will help. While it is highly recommended to hire SEO professionals to handle such situation, there are some simple SEO techniques that even small businesses can employ on their own. Spreading positive content about the business is a good way to start. This content can be uploaded to social networking sites and blogs, and these sites can be linked to the company’s official website. Optimized keywords should always be included in the content.
Responding to Negative Feedback
Victims of smear campaigns may respond – not react — to the negative comments posted online, but it is important to remember that the response should be neutral since it will be read by your potential customers. The company could ask for the poster’s contact information and offer to address the complaints personally and directly. Competitors who posted the negative feedback rarely answer. The victim could flag the posts or block the person posting them, if such an option exists, or contact the site administrator in order to report the harassment.
Take it to Court
When all else fails and the victim has exhausted all options, legal action can be taken over libelous words written online.
Having a clean online reputation is critical, and a lot of factors can injure one’s online reputation easily. Companies should consistently monitor how they appear online. When smear campaigns against them start to pop up, a carefully thought-out plan to remedy the situation must be taken immediately.