Your name is your brand. I know that may sound like an obvious statement, but as the internet continues to emerge as the marketplace of choice you will have to become more aggressive in the defense of your brand.
Long before Google, if a customer had an issue with your business they would simply storm into your location and demand to speak with the manager. Now they storm onto Google and trash the reputation of your business with the use of Consumer Complaint Sites. In no way am I discrediting all consumer complaints as shallow, but the popularity of sites like Rip off Report and Complaints.com has become a hub for insidious content.
And to make matters worse search engines like Google take no responsibility for the content posted by 3rd parties, however Google is also financing and legitimizing these sites with their Google Adsense campaigns. So now you have two separate parties benefiting from one lie posted about your business. To paint an even clearer picture for you, we will now examine what I call the “Slander for Cash Scheme.”
Slander For Cash Scheme
1. A customer enters your mechanic shop interested in getting a wheel alignment on their 2004 Honda Civic. After you check their car you discover that they also need four new tires and back rotors. You give the customer the price for the wheel alignment, but also inform them that they really need 4 new tires and 2 back rotors or the problem will persist. The customer determines that they will only pay for the wheel alignment and nothing more. After two months has passed, the wheel alignment is now offset again due to the poor quality of the tires. The same customer storms into your location demanding a refund, in which you pull your notes from the transaction and politely inform them of your recommendations at the time of their last service visit. The customer becomes angry because you refused to give them a refund or re-align the car for free.
2. Customer then in turn contacts the local Better Business Bureau and files a complaint claiming that your business is a scam. In addition to the complaint with the local BBB the customer also posts a one paragraph entry on Rip off Report calling you a scam artist, and your business a scam. In their posting on the complaint site the customer makes no mention of the fact that you advised them that they would need 4 new tires, and new rotors. Now you are noticing a decline in your clientele, and the national roadside companies are no longer sending you emergency calls. Despite the fact that you have been in business for over 15 years and have built an impressive reputation in your town, this one post online is now eroding your business. You have no idea why you’re losing sales and have dropped down to a few loyal customers. Then one day your 16 year old daughter informs you that there is a negative article about you in Google. You heart rate increases as you type your name into the Google search box, and there it is in bold at the top of the page “ABC Auto Is A Scam.”
3. You try to repost what actually happened in an attempt to prove that your business is not a scam. You even try to contact the complaint site and ask them to take the page down because it is not true, but no would reply to your emails. As you look closer at the negative post you notice that a few people have added anonymous comments also calling your business a scam. Your gut feeling tells you that the other posts are from the same guy because they were entered only minutes apart, but never the less all of the post or listed under your name. You also notice that several ads for Reputation Management companies are along the sides of the complaint site, advertising that they can remove negative sites like the one you’re on. Then to add insult to injury you receive an email from the host of the site 6 weeks later saying that they are willing to remove the link for a fee of $3500. You contact your attorney in an attempt to sue the site for slander only to be informed that they are protected under freedom of speech laws.
In a recent interview with Ron Collins COO of Remove It Now.com, he shared with us a few of the challenges that small business owners are facing as they try to protect their brands from Cyber Slander.
“I’m sure that when President Bill Clinton signed into law Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in 1996, he had no idea that it would be used in such a horrific manner. Everyday thousands of false allegations are posted online by customers who are unfairly accusing legitimate businesses of operating as scams.”
How To Fight Back!
As a business owner you have the right to defend yourself against online attacks from both disgruntled customers, as well as competitors. Your brand took years to build and is in fact a symbol of your life work, which also means that it’s worth protecting. Listed below are two things that you can do today that will begin the process of building a fence around your brand.
1. Create several versions of your website – The only way an attack site like Rip off Report or Complaints.com can really hurt you is if they land on the 1st page. Google will display on average 10 links on the first page that are associated with the searched keyword. In your case that keyword is the name of your business. This strategy will begin the process of taking up space on the first page of your search results, thus leaving less room for anything else to land.
2. Become your own publicist – You have a right to publish positive content about you and your business, exercise this right! Remember what I said earlier, Google remains on the sidelines of this big mess that they’ve created by referring to all published content as “3rd Party Submissions”, therefore get your own 3rd party to defend your company. You can accomplish this without spending all of your profits, especially with the help of Social Media.
I encourage you to defend your brand as vigorously as major corporations defend their brands. What it all comes down to is money; negative online articles can put you out of business before Thanksgiving arrives. The defense of your brand is a personal fight that you must take very personally in your intensity; your legacy is depending on it.
About the Author
For more information on how to protect your brand from online attacks please visit https://www.removeitnow.com/Business-Reputation.html
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