So you want to change Google search results for your business? Perhaps you want to shine the spotlight on the positive and downplay negative reviews? Perhaps you want to build an online presence because your business is relatively new? Whatever the reason, CBS News has discovered one more reason why you should do your homework before hiring a company to manage your online business reputation.
CBS News Finds Fraudulent Activity By Some Online Presence Management Companies
In a recent CBS News investigation, CBS found more than sixty fraudulent court orders from online presence management companies demanding the removal of content from Google. But, let’s back up for just a second to look at why these companies are doing what they are doing…
Getting Negative Content Removed From Google / Websites
When someone shares negative content about your company – true or not – you need to go through a process to get that content removed. In some instances, that process can be as simple as making a complaint and providing proof that the content in question breaks the specific terms of service of the site it appears on or that it breaks the law in some way.
Now, in some instances, getting content removed from a site can be much more difficult. In order to protect the rights of those who wrote the content in question, some sites require a court order from a judge before content can be removed. This means having a judge agree that there are grounds for the content to be removed and having an official order issued. Of course, this also means spending money and waiting for the judicial system to act which can be frustrating. It can also take much longer than most people are willing to wait.
You see, we live in a time of instant gratification and – particularly in situations such as this where we feel that our reputation is being destroyed – we want to see action right away. So, when a business owner approaches an online reputation management company and says “I want this removed from Google, make it happen”, they want results in days, if not hours. Unfortunately, this just isn’t possible…at least not if you are working with a reputable ORM company.
This is where the recent CBS News Investigation comes in…
The CBS Investigation Into Fake Court Orders Sent to Google
Disreputable business reputation management companies are taking that demand for instant action and providing those customers with the results that they want to see. BUT, they are doing so by creating their own court orders!
You read that correctly, disreputable online presence management companies have been drawing up their own fake court orders and sending them to Google to get content removed for their clients. CBS working alongside Eugene Volokh, a professor specializing in internet law at the University of California, and found over sixty such documents in a relatively short time. Some of those documents were blatant fakes while others were a little more sophisticated, but all had one thing in common – they were illegal.
The Cost of Issuing a Fraudulent Court Order
The forging of a court document is a crime, one that can leave those involved with a criminal record and the conviction of a felony. But it’s not just the companies involved in issuing these fake documents who face legal trouble, the businesses that hire those companies also face repercussions of their own, which is why it’s so important to vet your online reputation management company before you hire them!
Finding a Reputable Online Reputation Management Company
So how do you find a reputable company to help manage your online reputation?
Finding a reputable company to help you to manage your business reputation online is a matter of knowing what to look for as well as knowing the red flags. We have put together a few tips to help you below…
Avoid companies that “guarantee” the first spot on Google or who promise to get you ranked as #1 for any specific search term. This is a promise that depends on so many dynamic factors that it just doesn’t make sense. Instead, look for a company who can “improve search engine rankings” and help you to get ranked for specific industry-related terms.
Avoid companies that promise to “delete negative reviews instantly”. As we discussed above, there is no easy and fast way to get this done and when pursuing legal removal, it’s not always guaranteed that a review or comment will be removed. Instead, look for a company that can help you to learn how to address negative reviews to improve your online presence and keep customers happy so that your business benefits too!
Avoid companies that try to confuse you with industry “jargon”. There are technical terms for every industry out there, but there is always a way to explain things in a way that’s easy for non-industry folks to understand. If a company representative is intentionally making something difficult for you to understand by using jargon, be wary, they may be trying to confuse you and “pump up” the service that they are providing.
We have a habit of relying on third party reviews when it comes to choosing new service providers, but what do you do when the company you are considering has the ability to remove or bury those reviews so that you only see what they want you to see? This is a unique problem, but it’s one that can easily be overcome. Find the portfolio of that business’s clients (if a company is reluctant to share their portfolio or give you references, RUN!), select a handful of businesses from that portfolio and ask them yourself!
If you feel uncomfortable doing this, turn to reputable business monitoring agencies like the Better Business Bureau or search the business online and go DEEP into the search result pages. See what you find.
Is It Possible to Change Google Search Results?
Of course! Google is an ever-changing, constantly evolving creature and there are many ways that you can alter Google results for your business, but issuing a fraudulent court order is certainly not the way to go about it.
Need Online Reputation Management From a Reputable ORM Company?
If you’re in need of online reputation management services from a reputable ORM company that won’t sidestep the law or even hop into those “gray areas”, Online Presence Manager is here for you. We build your online reputation through hard work and dedication and we’d love to help you to grow your online presence whenever you a ready to ask for our help!