Are you in search for a marketing agency that can calm your most heated reputation qualms? It is critical that you remain attentive when searching for the best online reputation management (ORM) agency that can meet your needs since there are a few bad apples in this slowly emerging industry.
Are you working with a white hat or black hat agency?
A white hat agency is who we consider the good guys. Their employees consist of SEO experts determined to resolve your damaged reputation through ethical practices. They don’t resort to actions that go against Google’s policies, such as buying fake links to crank up your client’s rank position. These organizations follow legitimate practices and processes.
Black hat firms, on the other hand, fulfill the dark side of ORM. You want to beware of these type of agencies because although they may wow you with quick results, the long-term effect may be more devastating than the issue you came to them with. These agencies don’t mind breaking the rules and laws, sometimes resorting to blackmail in order to get the job done. They take these extreme measures in order to drive fast results that will satisfy the client in the short-term, in which they thus close the contract and move on to another client. However, that client will not reap satisfactory benefits from their ORM service in the long-haul since that poor result will often work its way back up Google’s first page once the job has been closed. Trying to beat Google in its game is no short-term endeavor. It requires rigorous and consistent attention, time and money. If you encounter an ORM agency that tells you otherwise, you should immediately question their practices. It’s not uncommon for black hat agencies to get caught by law enforcement officials and forced to pay a heavy fine for their misconduct.
Black hat agencies are often accountable for writing fake negative reviews (bashing the competition, of course) or positive reviews for a company. Most platforms ban this behavior and enlist it as fine-able. A recent Harvard Business Review study found that over 20% of Yelp reviews are fake. Yelp, along with other companies such as Expedia, have begun to form reviewing processes that proof-check each review for validity before allowing it go live on their website.
It may come to a surprise when you find out what companies have enlisted in work with black hat agencies. Samsung incurred a $340,000 fine when Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission found out that the company had commissioned the writing of fake reviews that put Samsung in the spotlight while shaming their competitors.
The same way black hats will pay people to write fake blog or social media reviews, they will do the same with Wikipedia posts. This is done because Wikipedia pages often rank high on Google, thus blowing steam off of your unwanted press release. However, Wikipedia was reported to use the tool CheckUser to seek out fake reviews. The tool can effectively detect whether consumers are using fake accounts to write their Wikipedia articles, in which Wikipedia administrators will then block the user and sometimes even take down the Wikipedia site altogether as a means of punishment.
Some black hat companies sign deals with sites that are meant to be reputation damaging, in which the only way to remove your name from the unwanted piece of content is to pay a lump sum to an ORM company enlisted on the site. The site may have a separate tab stating “remove my name”, in which the user will thus click it and be forced to pay for the removal of their name. While these companies may state that the user need only spend a one-time amount to remove their name, customers often fall into the trap of having to make repeat expenditures if they wish to see their name removed long-term.
Steer clear of those nasty black hat agencies. If they charge lower prices than normal for their ORM services, such as a flat rate of $500, then you may have reason to question their verity. Companies such as InternetReputation.Services may take a little longer to suppress your results, but you’ll find that the quality of their work is higher and your problem will be solved for the long-term.