Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Have you ever had a bad comment posted about you online? Have you worried that potential customers would see it and be repelled? How does that make you feel? What can you do about it? Should you do anything about it?

Have you ever "Googled" yourself or your company? Seriously, you might be surprised by what you find. Google the largest search engine in the world estimates that it is indexing over 4.96 billion relevant pages of data. That’s many pages to contend with, and if reputation management is your goal, you have your work cut out for you.

A new client asked me recently about reputation management. He was upset because a disgruntled customer posted three negative comments about his company and his services. He paid a reputation management company to make them go away, and they did, for a while. But then, after he stopped paying that company, the posts popped back up on the first page.

My client had his customers leave rebuttal comments saying that the original comments weren’t true. Every time they did this, it pushed the original comment back to the top instead of burying it down near the bottom of the list, which is where he wanted it to stay. Lesson: sometimes, it's better to ignore negative comments rather than to try to counteract them.

If you want to hide negative comments that are on the Internet, you can pay thousands of dollars to a reputation management company to squash the comments. These companies post articles, create websites, setup social media profiles, and otherwise try to sanitize your profile to force these comments to lower pages where companies hope that customers will not look. The problem is, the comments are still there and they will never go away.

There are things you can do to help make these negative comments go away, or at least push them down.

  • As all of our mothers said at one time or another, “Stop picking at it.” Let it heal and sink on its own. If you can’t wait that long, start a blog and post a new blog post three times a week.
  • Makes sure you have the SEO (search engine optimization) turned on so the search engines can index your pages.
  • Create a Google + page and develop keyword relevant titles for your posts. If you do this on the two days that you aren’t posting blog posts, within a month you’ll add 20 new pages of data to the Internet forcing the negative comments to the bottom.
  • Create additional social media pages to generate additional comments thus building additional positive information about you or your company.
  • Create a Facebook timeline and a Facebook business page.
  • Create a Twitter profile, even if you don’t use it.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile, and make sure that you fill in the profile completely. Setup a Plaxo account and create a profile.
  • Fill out any free Internet listings that you can find for your company. As in fishing, consider this chumming the Internet waters; it creates multiple pages that push negative comments several pages down in the listings.

The reputation management fallacy is that you don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to a company to “manage your reputation.” You or your employees can do it yourselves. Most customers never look past the first couple of pages in the search results anyway, so if you succeed in pushing them down that far then they're essentially gone. Save your hard earned money and do it yourself. There are no secrets, there are only people looking to take your money.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter.

Andy Fracica is the author of Navigating the Marketing Maze, he is, a speaker, a marketing coach, and president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the HVAC industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.

Navigating the Marketing Maze is now available in a very affordable eBook format on Amazon.com.