Freedom of Speech Suit Makes a Case for Online Reputation Management

online reputation management, freedom of speech

online reputation management, freedom of speech An ongoing case in the Virginia Supreme Court proves that managing your online reputation is more important than ever. The business Hadeed Carpet Cleaning received seven negative anonymous appraisals through online reviewing platform Yelp. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning’s owner, Joe Hadeed, is suing those reviewers, because he believes these reviews are in fact not from his customers, but from business competitors trying to destroy his reputation. This is exactly why business owners need to promote and defend their online reputations.

Hadeed’s attorneys sent a subpoena to Yelp, hoping to obtain the reviewers’ identities. Yelp, however, ignored the subpoena, claiming that reviewers had a right to anonymity and that their opinions were protected whether positive or negative in nature. Yelp attorneys believe that divulging the information would violate the reviewers’ constitutional right to free speech. This, in turn, would set a dangerous precedent that might discourage business patrons from posting honest reviews on Yelp.

Hadeed’s argument, however is this: the Yelp review is only protected if it is an honest customer opinion. If, in fact it was not posted by a customer of Hadeed’s, it will be deemed a defamatory statement and therefore not an opinion protected under the first amendment.

If the Virginia Supreme Court agrees with Hadeed’s lawyers, the decision may prove unpopular since many believe this case lacks evidence to suggest that the reviews are inauthentic. Whether you are an attorney arguing in the Virginia Supreme Court, or acar accident lawyer in PG County MD, you know a case is difficult to win without evidence. Hadeed seems to believe he can win this case and is willing to go to court to defend his business’s name. Of course it would be best to avoid going to court in the first place. To prevent a situation like Hadeed’s, there are many ways to lessen the impact of negative reviews: tackle customer complaints as soon as they arise, collect and respond to all client feedback, and control your brand’s search results on the web. Trust your brand to a firm that offers you Search Engine Optimization, Online Reputation Management and Web Design, so as to protect your business’s good name online.

What are My Legal Rights When it Comes to Online Reviews?


No one wants to see negative online reviews of their business online. As we previously discussed on this blog, negative online reviews can seriously affect how likely customers are to use your business, and how much they want or expect to pay for your services. While negative online reviews can be detrimental to your business, they can be especially problematic when you know or think they information that they express is notably untrue. Your consumers have rights as private patrons and individuals in the United States, but you also have rights that protect your name and your business. JackMyRep uses various strategies for dealing with unfortunate assessments of your business.  

Know Your Legal Rights

As a business owner, if someone says something factually incorrect about your business, you can sue for defamation. By pursuing legal action against the poster, you can probably reveal who the negative reviewer is even if they posted anonymously to a website. However it’s also possible that you have an idea of which of your customers may have published a disgruntled and factually incorrect online review.   Legal action against your previous customers can be costly. The Government seriously protects the First Amendment, the right to free speech. You should also consider how a customer’s privacy might be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) when discussing legal action. Furthermore, you need to be sure that your before you seriously consider pursuing action to stop a potentially slanderous online review, you consult with your legal counsel to make sure that legal action is the most prudent action to take against the poster.  

Assume Control over Your Review Process

You can ask your customers to submit reviews to your own private service, and then ask for permission to re-post these reviews. If you assert a specific website, or a response form through a service like SurveyMonkey, you can see who of your customers felt strongly about the services you offered. Just like you don’t want inaccurate negative reviews of your business proliferating around the internet, you cannot and should not create falsely embellishing reviews of your product online. However, if you ask all your patients to submit reviews to a website or web form that you or a company like JackMyRep controls, you or that service will be able to re-post, with your customers’ permission, positive information about your business, while restricting negative information. It is important to note when considering re-posting a positive review that you have permission to re-post the patient’s opinion if you work in a medical industry, so that you can be in compliance with HIPAA. HIPAA stipulates serious restrictions on the type of information and reasons that you can disclose information about someone’s personal health information.

Don’t Wait, Arbitrate

Many review websites like Ripoff Report offer options for arbitration if you would like to negotiate with a dissatisfied customer who posted on their website. Other websites like Yelp offer options for companies to complain about unfair postings. Even if you control the review process yourself, it is smart to respond to a negative reviewer before they take their opinion to the internet at large. Finding the person who posted a negative review and working with them through their complaints can be a quick fix to a serious problem and can also remove the need for a prolonged legal battle with its accompanying expenses.  

New Changes to EU Google Sites Mean You can be Gone but not Forgotten


On May 13th, 2014, the highest court in the European Union decided that google and other search engines operating with EU country domains must allow requests from individual citizens who want information about them removed from google search results. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought by a Spanish man who continued to receive solicitation about an auction he was forced to hold in 1998 to pay back his government. The court determined that because the primary “purpose” of the article had already happened, the public benefit from continuing to include information about the man’s previous debt problems was outweighed by his “right to be forgotten.” This ruling could have been a boon for individuals who want to better online reputation protection, but Google made two determinations integral to how they will go facilitate a person’s removal from their search results. 1) Google has the power to reject a person’s request for removal 2) Google is only going to remove your requested information from EU member websites So let’s say that I live in Germany, was arrested, but not convicted, for something embarrassing, and now I notice online sources mentioning the details of my altercation. I could now theoretically petition Google to remove the details of my arrest from their search results, but because of their qualifications for search removal, will not necessarily remove this information which seriously damages my reputation from the internet. Firstly, Google retains the right to deny my request. Second, Google will only remove my information from Google EU websites, so although the details of my arrest will not come up as a result in Google.de or Google.Fr, they will continue to be available for non EU google websites like google.com. Google will furthermore insert a disclosure on their EU websites informing the searcher that Google complied with my request to remove certain undisclosed information about me. So even if google agrees on removing the harmful information about me, they are only removing it from some of their websites. These two stipulations mean that although you have a right to be forgotten, google will not completely guarantee your erasure from the internet, and can instead include information that continues to make you appear suspicious. That’s why online reputation monitoring and protection should continue to be a crucial aspect of your reputation management strategy. Even if google agrees to take down harmful and potentially untrue information about you, you still need to independently petition other popular search engines like bing and yahoo to remove your information. Your reputation monitoring strategy should incorporate searching other google sites like google.com or google.au for the information which reflects negatively on you, as well as other popular search websites with EU domains and with domains from other countries. Furthermore, brainstorming strategies to embellish your online presence can continue to do wonders for protecting your reputation. If you want help with strategizing and implementing a reputation monitoring and reputation protection plan, contact a premier reputation management firm like JackMyRep.com.

How to Find the Best SEO Company in Fairfax, VA


If your company is located in Fairfax, VA, and your online presence is feeling a little lackluster, then you may be tempted to punch a search into Google, like “Fairfax VA SEO Company.” And that will definitely give you results! But how do you really know if that Fairfax SEO company is right for you and your business? According to Forbes.com, the top ranking SEO company for your geographic area, in our case, Fairfax, VA, may not in fact be the best SEO option for your company. Sure, they have done everything for their own site to put them at the top of the results for “Fairfax VA SEO Company,” but that doesn’t mean that their competitors are any more or less worthy of your business. Time is a factor, and the oldest doesn’t always mean the best — although Google gives the amount of time a URL has been around a lot of weight — and it also doesn’t reflect how well a company will work with your company in Fairfax, or even in your industry! Joshua Stiemle also notes that “bigger is not always better” when it comes to your SEO company. Often — but not always — less can be more. It depends on your budget, it depends on what you need accomplished in your SEO campaign, it depends on you. So whether a potential SEO is a 3 person company, or a 100 person company, neither should be written off automatically. So, how do you find the best SEO company for your Fairfax, VA firm or practice? Here are the three steps that you and your company can take to ensure you get the best SEO service you can: Make sure your SEO company has an understanding of the goals you have for your Fairfax business. This means that you must first understand your business goals, and more importantly, that your SEO company understands these goals. We recently had a client who ran into an issue with too much growth, which we were very excited about, but ended up having to reign in and slow down our SEO efforts. Make sure your SEO company has an understanding of your industry, and the position of your company in that industry in Fairfax, VA. Has your company worked with industries like yours, or companies in positions like yours in that industry? Ensuring that your company has a full picture of where and what you are in your industry is a key to success with your SEO company. Check out their past experiences to get a better sense of the work that they do. We post whitepapers and webinars to give our clients a better sense of how we can serve them, based off how we have done in the past. Use those free consultations. Many SEO companies in Fairfax, VA might offer opportunities to companies to speak about their goals and industries before starting up a contract. Use these consultations to really get to know your SEO company. Are they competent and creative enough to get you the results you need? We offer free consultations to potential customers so that we can get to know them, and importantly, they can get to know us. This preliminary communication has lead to some amazing relationship with our clients. We love them! Keep these three things in mind as you search for the right SEO company for you and your Fairfax company. These three steps will lead to, not only a great relationship with the Fairfax SEO company you choose, but to success in your SEO efforts.

Automotive Reputation Management


Does your automotive dealership or garage have a strategy for online automotive reputation management? Let me lay it out for you: According to a 2012 Local Consumer Review Study, 72% of consumers trust online reviews as if they were personal recommendations. That means that the reviews about your auto dealership or garage are not just being seen, but are regularly being trusted. So what are you doing to protect your automotive reputation and ensure your automotive and automotive service consumers are seeing your auto company as trustworthy? Automotive Reputation Management What does automotive reputation management mean? What does it entail? Is there really a way to manage your online reputation? Our online reputation management strategy is broken down into 3 in-depth parts: Protect, Polish, and Promote. The process of removing bad reviews or spammy reviews is lengthy, tremendously involved, and often impossible. But removing them from the plain sight of your automotive consumers, ie: the front page of Google, can be achieved. We protect your automotive reputation by suppressing the negative and pushing the visibility of the positive reviews. That way, when your consumers search for you, the valid and positive reviews are seen more readily! Polish by getting positive reviews. It’s pretty easy to understand how a heated, disgruntled automotive consumer would be more inclined to get online and spend the necessary time putting up a negative review, than would be a satisfied automotive consumer, whose expectations were met, or even exceeded. We have a process for making it much easier your satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and to get them online, and to the front page. Promote the reputation of your automotive dealership and garage by having a well-rounded online presence. This involves web design and development and a detailed SEO (search engine optimization) campaign, and can help lead to a satisfying holistic experience for your automotive and automotive service consumers. If you would like to learn more about our own online strategies for automotive reputation management, give us a call!

Online Reputation Management Tools in Washington, DC


According to Search Engine Land, 79% of your clients and patients are going to trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. Let me repeat, 79% of your consumers trust the reviews posted online about your business. Need I explain the importance of having an all-encompassing selection of online reputation management tools in your online reputation management tool-belt? And where can you find such a tool-belt in Washington, DC? Well right here, of course! The way that we see it, there are three purposes to be covered by your online reputation management tools: produce, protect and promote. Produce. Your online presence starts and ends with your company’s website. Web design and development has the ability to make or break that first impression for your clients or patients. A strong and appealing website, with high search engine rankings and conversion rates, is one of the first things we make sure our Washington, DC clients have in their list of online reputation management tools. Protect. One of our favorite online reputation management tools, which we like to give to our Washington, DC clients, is the ability to own the “real estate” on the first page of search engine results. With these “minisites,” your can control what people see when they search your company on Google! We also make sure that our Washington, DC clients have a campaign for getting positive, hassle-free online reviews from their clients and patients, which are displayed prominently online! This online reputation management tool has helped so many of our clients in the Washington, DC area get the online reputation they deserve. Promote. Last, but certainly not least, a very important online reputation management tool to have is an SEO campaign. As we said before, owning the front page is how you take control over your online reputation management. Our search engine optimization strategies, which include keyword analysis and positive press releases, have proven to our DC clients that controlling what is seen on Google is controlling online reputation. Finding exceptional online reputation management tools in Washington, DC can be hard to come by. If you have further questions about which online reputation management tools can benefit your Washington, DC company, firm or practice, give us a call!

For the Best SEO, Look Up Changes to Google’s Algorithm


When you’re looking for the best SEO service, you’re nominally looking for a service that will get you to the top of google’s rankings. However the algorithm that google uses to update its local search results continues to undergo a major overhaul. The update, which some are referring to as the “Pigeon” update, will change the results that people find when they’re looking up local services. The changes may bear direct effects on your business, because it’s possible that the changes will alter where your company comes up in local google search rankings. What are the Coming Changes? Google is preparing to reconsider hundreds of factors in their local search results. They are making these changes to give their customers the search results that better reflect what they were initially searching for. The changes primarily stem from gaining a better understanding of what people are using google to search for locally. Some of the most prominent features they’ve disclosed changing are:

  • Boosting Local Directories
A few weeks back, the directory and customer review service Yelp complained to google about how even when customers included the word Yelp in their search, google prioritized their own google + listing of a business over the Yelp listing. Google has remedied that issue in the Pigeon update and now boosts Yelp and other local search directories as well in its results. If you’re looking to receive the best SEO service, it’s important for you to certify that the company you hire lists you on a variety of local search directories because it’s very likely that those directories will come up when a potential customer searches for your business.
  • Reformatting Search Results
Let’s assume your business is a local business like a doctor’s office, law firm, or restaurant. People will probably find you on Google by searching for “law firm (or your specific type of business) in Washington, DC (or wherever your business is located).” Before the Pigeon update, specific businesses would come up in the list of results relevant to someone’s search. Now Google lists specific businesses in a “carousel,” while providing links on the first few pages to other local directories. These changes mean that unless people are searching for your business by name, they will only find it if it’s prominently featured on google’s carousel (example below) or in other local directories. Other Factors Google is Continuing to Reconfigure in Penguin
  • Knowledge Graph
  • Spelling Correction in search inquiries
  • Synonyms for search terms
  • “Hundreds of other factors” that Google has yet to disclose but which are nonetheless included in their search algorithm
search results2
In order to do good SEO, you’ll need to pay attention as google continues to update its algorithm. As a DC SEO Company, JackMyRep.com is continuing to prepare for the different ways that our clients might be better discovered in google’s search results. Ensuring that your company comes up on the first page of a google search is part of our commitment to offering the best SEO service.

SEO Help for Your Small Business


SEO isn’t as simple as some make it out to be. There are no realistic “10 Simple Steps to Perfect SEO,” and it’s definitely not something that can be done once, and then forgotten…unless online success isn’t your goal. SEO is ever-evolving: one day you’re at the top, master of your craft, then the next day, you’ve been dethroned by a change in Google’s ranking algorithm, or a bigger and even more perfectly optimized site. Maintaining your Google rankings is a lot of work, and staying up-to-the-minute on what works and what doesn’t for SEO is even more work! Help! Luckily, there is SEO help to be had! SEO companies like Jack My Rep are equipped with the expertise to help your company optimize your website. From web development and laying the ground work for your company’s site, to optimizing content and analyzing the results of our efforts, we are here to help you hang onto that top ranking position. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with all the intricate steps to achieving SEO and a high Google ranking. Allow us to take the burden of daily efforts on all SEO fronts, and help you see the success that a strong online presence can have, through the following 3 services:

  • Web Development: Allow us to establish a base from which your company’s website can grow and improve.
  • Search Engine Optimization: Let us keep your company at the top of the ranks with fresh, optimized content creation and continual technical SEO efforts.
  • Online Reputation Management: If you’re going to be on top, be on top for only the positives. Let us help you get those positive reviews your clients, patients, and customers do have!
We understand that a small business is a lot of work, and that sometimes your online presence can get pushed to the wayside. But allowing this to happen can be detrimental to the potential growth your company can achieve with a little SEO help. Outsourcing your company’s SEO is a wonderful option for your busy small business, because we can continually contribute to keeping your company at the top of Google for your keywords. So if SEO has you screaming “SOS!” get SEO help for your small business, from professionals like us!

New Twitter Tools to Transform Your Online Reputation


If you’re like many businesses, you may have heard that maintaining a presence on social media platforms like facebook and twitter should be an important part of attracting new customers and managing your reputation online. Yet if you’re like many businesses, you may be unsure or have questions about the best ways to use these technologies to engage with your customers. Thankfully, on Friday July 11, Twitter announced on their blog that they will make new information available to their users through the website analytics.twitter.com. With the new services offered, you’ll be able to quantify more extensive detail than ever before how people interact with your twitter presence, and best of all you won’t have to pay any extra money for this information. More Information for Better Decision Making The new twitter analytics tools provide you with unprecedented information about how other people respond to your tweets. Twitter is making available information that you never had access to before, and we’ve only included some of the features below:

  • Real time metrics on how any individual tweet is performing
  • Data on how many people viewed a tweet on a computer or mobile phone
  • Information about how people interacted with any one of your individual tweets, by tracking:
    • Retweets
    • Favorites
    • Replies
    • How many people chose to follow your twitter profile in relation to the tweet
    • click the link you tweeted
    • or clicked on media (such as a video, photo, or song) that you embedded in your tweet
    • Track how people generally interact with the course of your twitter profile month-to-month, by aggregating data for comparison every month including
      • Retweets
      • Replies
      • Favorites
      • Follows
      • Link clicks
      • Embedding media clicks
And perhaps best of all, twitter allows you to export this information onto a spreadsheet file so that you can use analytic software to enhance your analysis. Twitter is drastically increasing the information available to its users, and you have the potential to turn this new knowledge into a powerful resource for attracting new customers and managing and improving your online reputation. New Strategies for New Media The information now available through analytics.twitter.com can revolutionize the way that you interact with social media. By tracking the efficacy of any individual tweet, you’ll be able to precisely quantify how that tweet affected other twitter users. Furthermore because you’ll be able to examine trends in your twitter profile, you’ll be able to see which tweets evoke the most responses, and can experiment with new social media strategies in a more informed and thorough way because you will be able to compare what you’re trying with what you know has worked and what has failed. Yet twitter is just one aspect of marketing yourself online. If you’re still unsure of how to get customers online, consider using other techniques. One of the best, most proven ways to attract new customers is to learn web SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you have questions about managing your online reputation, or about how to get customers online, call JackMyRep today or shoot us an email.

Five Ways to Increase Your Google Ranking and Grow Your Business


The way we see it at JackMyRep.com, to increase your Google ranking, you must first and foremost have an effective search engine optimization campaign. There are five parts in our strategy to increase Google rankings: keyword research, content creation, backlinking, positive press, social media, and a continual effort to improve rankings. Keywords Research Keywords are an important factor in increasing rankings, because keywords and key phrases are what your target market will search in Google to find you. This requires an understanding of your target market, and of the answers that they need, so that you can optimize your website to answer their questions. It is also important to rank for searches that have a high monthly search volume, but have limited competition. Our biggest focus, though, is on keywords associated with conversions, so that your company can see revenue. Content Creation Content is the implementation of the knowledge gathered from keyword research, and a primary way for optimization to be achieved. If your website is rich in keywords, and provides value to your target market when you are found, it is easier for Google to translate, which will increase your rankings. But you can’t simply fill your site with keywords; genuine value must be conveyed, so that your target market’s questions are answered. This will increase the likelihood of your website traffic (which will, in turn, increase when you increase your Google ranking) turning into conversions, so that you see a revenue. We like to strike a balance between these two forces – optimization and valuable content creation – all the while ensuring that your site is as easy to find, and easy to read to Google, to increase your ranking. Positive Press Word of mouth is still the most trusted marketing technique, and positive press has a better effect than paid advertising. We go out of our way to form strong relationships with reporters who are excited to hear about your business. With favorable media that you earn for your business – by being the best in your industry, as we trust that you are – you can also earn links back to your website, which will increase your Google rankings, and also help your conversion rates. Social Media Everyone has a social media page these days; whether they get any use or not seems beside the point. However, there is some power to be harvested from a strong social presence in your efforts to increase Google rankings. These platforms are perfect for sharing the value in your website content. The websites we create are designed to automatically push blog posts to social media sites, like Facebook. Efforts here can also provide opportunities for brand building, and the positive press mentioned above. Lastly, Keep Up the Effort This isn’t just a 4 step plan to forever increase your Google rankings; this is a continual process. Staying at the top requires persistence in all of these areas. We like to meet with our SEO clients once a month to review the results of our efforts to increase their rankings on Google, which includes changing keyword strategies, improving content optimization, etc. Because Google rankings are ever-changing, our methods must be ever-evolving to continue to increase Google rankings.

  • Email *