The Internet has given a lot of power to the consumer—buyers of goods and services have many, many ways to sing a business’s praises online or destroy its reputation. This has resulted in a new service industry called Online Reputation Management (ORM). Fortune 500 businesses and even celebrities are often clients of such services, but with one service called Reputation Changer, even small-to-mid-sized businesses can keep tabs on their online reputation. It’s a very interesting service and, if your business has an online presence, it’s worth a look.
How It Works
Reputation Changer is a cloud-based service that monitors any keywords you enter (such as your business name). The company also offers assistance in improving online reputation by manipulating search engines to push negative content about an individual or business further down in search results. The monitoring part is free.
Reputation Changer is not the biggest name in the ORM business. That is arguably, Reputation.com. However, Reputation.com does not offer a trial account for small to mid size businesses to test—not even the monitoring capabilities. With Reputation.com, you can sign up and cancel anytime, but to test the service out, you do have to sign up for it. The ability to test-drive reputation monitoring with Reputation Changer is a definite plus for small businesses.
You can create a free account at reputationchanger.com (it doesn’t even require a credit card).You sign in the first time, and are asked to enter up to three keywords to search against. This creates a campaign.
Seeing as I’m not a business owner, I tested Reputation Changer by entering my first and last name. Once I did a dashboard displayed. This interface contains quite a bit of information and activity and the UI is aptly referred to as the “Command Center.” This gives the user quite a bit of insight and information into their or their business’s online reputation. The company tells me that the Command Center interface and tools are what set them apart from other ORM services.
There are several different panels on the dashboard. In one, you are presented with a listing of any URLs to sites containing your keyword—the top-ranked URLs are displayed first. For example, at the top of the list was my PCMag bio information, likely the most searched or viewed URL containing my name.
There’s a drop down list above this panel that allows you to switch the view to find URLs in the three major search engines: Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
The listed URLs are shown by their ranked position. Next to each, you can flag a URL as “negative” meaning it contains content on the site that can hurt a reputation. Now, Reputation Changer also has underlying algorithms that allow it to find and flag negative content for you. The service recognizes more than 100 negative domains and keywords that contain terms such as “fraud.”
On the left panel from the URL listings, you can see how many negative listings a keyword tallies up. You can also here view how many times your keyword was searched. Two lower panels display related keywords and reputation alerts—these are notifications of any recent content on the Internet that contains your keywords.
I created another trial account (you can only have one campaign in the free account) and used a keyword containing a restaurant that had recently closed in my neighborhood, Manganaro’s. The two abrasive sisters who ran the place were subject to a lot of criticism online. Sure enough, when I looked at the URL listings for this restaurant’s name, there were several flagged as negative by Reputation Changer (a few links are to Yelp.)
Reputation alerts can also show postings in social media about your keyword. I asked a friend on Facebook to create a message tagging me and then delete it. Sure enough, I saw that person’s post in Reputation Alerts, and I kept seeing it after it was deleted, days later. My concern about this feature is how up-to-date it is. You could be worrying about negative comments or posts online that no longer exist on a live server.
With a free account, you can also initiate active monitoring. By clicking “Reputation Monitoring” on the tabs at the top of the interface, you are given the option to add your keywords or a URL for monitoring. You can also send alerts to an email address.
One of the cleverest features is Auto Complete. You know when you type in words in Google and it will auto complete a search term? Well, Reputation Changer also monitors any auto-completed search terms associated with your keyword. Example: my keywords are my first and last name. Google auto complete shows my name auto-completing with “pc mag,” “email,” and “Linkedin.” Reputation Changer automatically picked up on this and monitors these search terms.
The High Price of a Good Reputation
There is a lot to this service, more than I covered in this review. But, you may be asking, OK, so if I get negative reviews and see negative content on the Internet about me or my business how do I fix it? Well, monitoring is free. Fixing that negativity is not. For a fee, the company will provide ways to help bury negative content really deep down in searches. They do this in myriad ways: By creating reviews on sites Reputation Changer hosts, by posting favorable comments—essentially bombarding your keyword with positivity, and keeping the negativity down. That type of salvage will cost you, though.
This is how Reputation Changer makes money. To help an individual or business save face costs at least $5,000. Subscribing as a paid client also gives you more tools and features in the Command Center Additionally, without changing the problems that lead to the bad reviews in the first place, it’s likely these sorts of review would crop up again.
Some may question the tactics of this type of service, I know I did. However, businesses (and people) are very vulnerable to attack from the open stage that is the Internet. It only takes one disgruntled customer, who is online-savvy, to really demean your business or service, and they may do so unfairly. Reputation Changer and other ORM services, give you a chance to be active in keeping intact a good reputation for your business, or yourself. It’s a fascinating market and one of the first services we’ve reviewed in this space. I do think the free service offers much benefit to SMBs who want to track what the online community is saying about their business and for that, it gets four out of five stars for SMB services.
|OS Compatibility||Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux, Mac OS, Windows 7, Windows 8|
|Type||Business, Personal, Enterprise, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc