The Best Online Reputation Management Providers of 2020

By Skye Schooley,
business.com writer
| Updated
Dec 12, 2019
Image Credit: imtmphoto/Getty Images

 

In the digital era, it's no longer enough for businesses to rely on word of mouth. Most consumers are searching for companies online to learn about them before making purchases, and what they find can drastically affect their decisions. Anyone can post a negative review or an aggressive article about you, and because consumers trust Google results and online reviews, it's important to manage those results to ensure consumers see the best version of your business. 

Many businesses are turning to online reputation management services to ensure their online reputations accurately reflect their products and services. Online reputation management services are designed to help you build and maintain a positive online image. They use a variety of tactics to replace defamatory or unflattering web content with information that shows you or your business at its best. Online reputation management companies can also create a wealth of positive content, such as blog posts and microsites; update your social media feeds; manage your online reviews, and more. These strategies will help repair poor reputations and maintain positive ones.   

How do you know which reputation management company is the best for your small business? To help you, we evaluated more than 50 of these agencies. Here are the best reputation management companies for small businesses and professionals.

Best Picks

WebiMax - Online Reputation Management
WebiMax - Online Reputation Management
Best Online Reputation Management Service for Small Businesses

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Online Reputation Management Pricing and Negotiation

Improving an online reputation is a unique process for every business. The process depends on the type and extent of digital damage, as well as overall business goals. That's why very few reputation management companies offer a set plan or price. Instead, most services customize pricing based on how long and which strategies are needed to improve your brand's image. This means pricing can vary greatly. We found services targeted at small businesses with fees ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars per month. 

To estimate pricing, most online reputation management companies start by performing a free reputation analysis. They discuss the current state of your online image and the goals you have in mind. Each service asks for your website and keywords, and then conducts preliminary research to see where your online reputation stands. Based on this information, the service creates a formal proposal that outlines the strategies that could benefit your business and an estimate of how long it may take to see results. 

Businesses should be aware of the following potential fees and contracts: 

  • Multiple locations. Businesses with multiple locations should expect to pay a higher rate than those with only one location. Online reputation management companies will likely have to perform more work to build and maintain the reputation for each of your locations to bring up your overall business reputation and reviews.

  • First-month fees. Some agencies charge higher fees for the first month of service. This is not common, but a lot of content building happens in those first weeks, so it is something to ask about.

  • Setup fees. A few online reputation management agencies charge setup fees. Though uncommon, these fees typically range from $200 to $500. Before signing on with an agency, be sure to ask about these additional fees and, if applicable, if they can be waived.

  • Long-term contracts. Some agencies work on a month-to-month basis and do not require long-term contracts, allowing you to walk away from the service at any time without penalty. However, because agencies typically don't provide immediate results, many online reputation management companies require you to sign a long-term contract to ensure you don't leave the company after it performs all of the initial work to get your reputation on the right track, such as creating new content and building social profiles. We found a variety of contract-length requirements in our research, with most ranging from three to 12 months. 

Because there are rarely set plans or pricing in this industry, there is often a lot of room for negotiation. When you receive a formal proposal from an online reputation management company, don't be afraid to try negotiating a lower rate. 

Here are some ways to negotiate lower costs: 

  • See if the company will cut your costs if you agree to pay for the length of the contract up front, rather than paying monthly.
  • Ask if the agency is willing to match a competitor's lower price.
  • If the company doesn't require a long-term contract, see if it will lower its costs if you agree to a six-month or annual commitment. 

Regardless of whether you successfully negotiate a lower price, be sure to read all of the contract details before signing anything. Make sure there are no hidden fees or added details that you didn't discuss, and get all your questions answered before agreeing to use the services.

Online Reputation Management FAQs

Q: What can an online reputation management company do for me?

A: It used to be that you needed to consider online reputation management only if you or your company had fallen victim to negative reviews or smear campaigns. However, consumer practices have changed over the years, and people are more likely to seek out information about a company or product, especially when they expect to do more than make a one-time purchase. As such, it's become vital not only for you to appear in a positive light on the first page of an online search but also that your online reputation spans the internet, including online reviews, social media outlets and online news sources. 

While internet reputation management can help salvage an unfairly tarnished reputation or enhance a good one, it can also have an underside. Our articles on reputation management explore these services and what reputation management entails. You may also want to check out our sister site's article on choosing an online reputation management service. 

Q: Why should you have an online reputation management plan?

A: It's important to have an online reputation management plan so you know how to react when someone posts something negative online about your business. The more quickly you react to these situations, the better chance you have to mitigate the issue before it turns into a problem beyond repair. 

Your plan should include how to respond to negative reviews or what steps to take when a negative blog post about your business is published. Also, what if your business gets wrapped up in a full-blown PR crisis? You should have a plan to address the situation immediately. 

Figuring out the best strategies to handle each of these situations is one reason why it makes sense to work with an online reputation management company. These firms have experience in dealing with each of these scenarios and many more. They can help you lay out a specific plan to diminish the impact of a negative online post. In some situations, they can also help you turn a negative situation into a positive one. 

The key is to have a plan that allows you to react quickly. The longer you wait to respond in these situations, the bigger the hit your reputation will take. 

Q: How important is a modern business's online reputation?

A: For businesses today, a positive online reputation is critical. When deciding where to spend their money, a growing number of shoppers turn to the internet first. They want to see what others are saying about your business, services and products. This is especially true for shoppers looking for businesses in their local communities. Recent research shows that 86% of consumers read local reviews to decide whether to use a business. Studies also show that what consumers read online ultimately impacts their decision to shop with a local business: 68% of consumers said positive reviews make them trust a local business more, while 40% said negative reviews could deter them from using a business. 

Considering how much consumers trust and rely on what they read online, your online reputation can't be an afterthought. If it is, you take the risk that consumers will have a negative impression of you, which will surely lead to a decline in customers. 

Q: How bad can it be to have a negative online reputation?

A: A negative online reputation can have drastic consequences. There is a good chance that consumers won't even consider spending money with your business if you have a poor online image. Star ratings are critical. Research has found that more than 90% of consumers won't even consider shopping at a business that doesn't have at least three stars on Google, and 57% said they need at least a four-star rating to choose a business. 

Even if you feel the negative reviews aren't accurate or fair, you still need to address them. If you don't, you run the risk of never being able to prove those reviews wrong, because the vast majority of shoppers will never give you the chance.

Online Reputation Management Features

Online reputation management services have two main goals: to repair poor reputations and to maintain positive ones. Here are some of the strategies and services these companies use to accomplish these goals: 

Reputation Analysis

The first step most online reputation agencies perform is an analysis of the current state of your business's online image. They scour the web for mentions of your brand, and they look at your website, blog posts and customer reviews, researching both positive and negative feedback about your business. The goal is for the first pages of search results to have all positive content, as users rarely search past the first few pages. The more negative results the companies find at the top of the search results, the more work needs to be done. 

After the reputation management company completes the analysis, they put together a proposal outlining the strategies and tactics they think are necessary to meet your reputation goals. Most online reputation management companies offer this analysis for free. 

Content Creation

One of the most common tactics to improve a business's online reputation is to flood the web with positive content about your brand. The goal is to get as much positive content (that you can control) on the search engine's front page as possible. To this end, most online reputation companies create content such as microsites, articles, press releases and videos. 

The best business reputation services concentrate on the aspects that will help your site the most. For example, a travel agency specializing in honeymoons might benefit from a honeymoon-focused microsite, while a company changing management might bolster its reputation with press releases and interviews with the new CEO. 

Search Engine Optimization

It's one thing to create all of this content; it's a whole other thing to make sure the search engines recognize it. Online reputation management companies make sure all of the content has the proper SEO, which includes ensuring the proper keywords are mixed in with the content, the headline is correct and the metadata is optimized. Reputation management services also work with the content to build links among these venues and any articles mentioning you. Backlinks tell search engines like Google that the information is important to readers. 

Online Review Management

Acquiring and managing online reviews is another key component of online reputation management. There are two steps in this process. The first step is to acquire as many positive reviews as you can. These companies will help you develop strategies to encourage your customers to leave reviews. 

The second step is to manage all of these reviews. You want to know when new reviews come in so that you can respond to them accordingly. For negative reviews, you should find ways to correct the problems that resulted in the customer's poor experience. For positive reviews, you should thank customers for their kind words. Quickly responding to your reviews shows others that you care about what your customers think of you. Also, analyzing trends in your reviews can help you improve your business operations. 

Social Media Management

Online reputation management services can handle your social media accounts. This work includes creating profiles for your brand on the most important social networks and keeping those profiles up-to-date with engaging content. These services can also monitor the social networks to see what others are saying about your brand. 

Public Relations

Should your brand run into a crisis situation or a reputation attack, online reputation management companies have PR tactics to help repair your image. These plans include writing press releases, putting out social media statements and booking interviews when necessary. All of these PR plans are designed to help prevent the negative content from spreading and to start rehabilitating your image. 

Online Monitoring

For an online reputation service to do its job, it must monitor opinions expressed online. Some companies do manual searches of the common complaint websites to find out what people are saying about you. The top online reputation services go a step further to read the complaints and identify common issues. Most services employ monitoring software that they develop in-house or buy commercially. Others have computer labs for automatic searching and clicking to influence website rankings. 

Reputations are important, possibly even more so online, where anyone can make a judgment based on whatever information shows up on a web search or social media site. Online reputation management services have the tools to help repair a damaged image, build a positive one, and give you the help you need to continue monitoring and bolstering your reputation. 

Although a basic reputation management program can be successful, it may not be enough to fix every issue. For example, an online reputation company may do a brilliant job of promoting your good reviews, but if your business doesn't fix its customer service problems, negative reviews will continue to surface. 

Other variables also influence your online reputation. For example, your website may have superb SEO, but if the website containing complaints about your business has even better SEO or a great social media presence, it may rank higher than yours. Therefore, it's prudent to enter online reputation management with the understanding that it should be just one of the tools for improving your company.

Online Reputation Management Review Methodology

To find the best online reputation management services for small businesses, we started with our current list of reputation management vendors. We added to that list by researching other reputable online sources, such as review and business websites, as well as conducting standard industry research. In total, we examined more than 50 reputation management agencies.  

We narrowed down our list based on different use cases and the criteria listed below. We reviewed each reputation management provider's website, compared services and prices, and studied user reviews. We posed as small business owners and contacted support representatives to learn information we couldn't find online and assessed the quality of the services being offered.  

We eventually cut down our list to the top 10 contenders: BirdEye, Gadook, Go Fish Digital, Netmark.com, Podium, Reputation Management Consultants, Reputation Management LLC, Reputation.com, SubmitEdge SEO and WebiMax. 

We based our final decisions on these factors: 

  • Rates and contracts 
  • Online review acquisition and management
  • Content creation
  • Customizability
  • Social media management
  • Online monitoring
  • Public relations
  • Added services available 
  • Industries served 
  • Customer service 
  • Better Business Bureau ratings and accreditations
  • Customer reviews and complaints
 

Common Online Reputation Management Questions & Answers

Have an online reputation management question of your own?

It's very important. In my industry (online advertising), it is completely normal for a business to change their name after some bad press. Now, we've had some missteps along the way as well, but we've never changed our name, and we consistently communicate that. As a result, we leveraged the tagline "If you want to succeed, you have to change the game. Not your name." We had many positive accolades for it because of how true it is of our industry. That being said, people who are...

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Scott, 1.) Media outlets, editors, writers and journalists don't have to write an apology or retract the article unless the facts stated within the article aren't true. And, you've stated the facts in the article were correct. 2.) Media outlets writers, and journalists are not obligated to write a follow up article to an event they originally reported on unless the editor deems it is necessary to do so. 3.) Media outlets, writers, journalists, editors are not obligated to respond to...

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Yes, they are two different things unless as another stated, you are a one-person business. I would caution you that in creating a "one-person" business where you are in fact the brand you are selling, it makes it very difficult to grow. You can not have John S. as the face of the business and handling a client, if the client is hiring Sue S. Consulting for a project. It makes it very hard for anyone else to have credibility working for you and very disappointed clients who expect the name of...

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Even with the the minimal detail provided, there are a lot of moving parts in the question and the situation. In any case, for a small business owner, it is as important to have a response plan in place as it is for a major corporation or event. For Michellyn, being in a small town is an added level of complexity, since what may be news in her community wouldn't make the back pages of the paper in a large city. Remember first, the event may be news; your response is editorial in most cases....

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Your business strategy and the reason(s) why you're creating the spinoff company should answer that question for you. I doubt that's the only question you need to be asking. Is there more value in the new company than there would be in keeping it part of the sister company? If so, why and why is that bad? Is there less value? If so, why the spinoff - just don't do it to begin with. Is there product/service overlap that can't be resolved by tighter niche/market focus in either company?...

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