A bad online reputation can be costly for any business. Customers search Google, review websites, and social channels before buying. If they find negative comments or bad reviews, they’ll simply move on to another option.

On the flip side, a positive reputation makes you stand out from the competition—ensuring both new and prospective customers choose your business over the rest. If your current online reputation is less than perfect, this guide will teach you how to fix it.

Five Steps to Repair Your Online Reputation

Totally eliminating bad press about your business may not be 100% possible, but it’s important to do as much as you can. It can be costly in many ways to ignore it. However, there are steps you can take to position yourself in a positive light and minimize the impact of the bad information out there.

The overall goal of any reputation repair strategy is to generate positive content about your business and have that content rank high in search engine results. This positive content then pushes the negative content off page one of search results and onto later pages where almost nobody bothers to look.

Here are the steps to take to do that:

  1. Claim All Your Online Business Profiles
  2. Monitor What Is Being Said About Your Business Online
  3. Request The Removal Of Negative Information
  4. Harness The Power Of SEO
  5. Engage, Engage, Engage

We’ll walk you through each step in detail. Most of it is pretty straightforward, but it will take time.

If you have taken reputation repair as far as you can on your own, but you aren’t happy with the results, there is always an option to hire professional help.

There are a handful of really good online reputation management companies that will handle the entire process, however long it takes. Check out our top recommendation, Better Reputation, which will give you a good idea of what these services offer, or visit our full list of the top online reputation management companies.

The Easy Parts of Online Reputation Repair

While there’s no quick fix to improve your online reputation, there are a few things you can do right away to build a foundation for turning your online reputation around. It’s an ongoing process that takes time and effort, so be prepared for some work.

One of the easiest things to do is claim all social media accounts and online accounts, such as Google Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, on behalf of your business. Claiming these accounts gives you a steady online presence. The pages will begin to rank higher in search results, and customers will have a legitimate place to leave positive reviews—more on that last one later. 

Next, you can set up Google Alerts for your business name. You can set your alerts to deliver notifications weekly, daily, or as they happen. Armed with early notice, you can quickly deal with any potentially damaging information.

If online reputation management is new to you, check out our beginner’s guide to managing your online reputation for more tips and information. You’ll get some context about the nuts and bolts of building and maintaining a good reputation.

The Difficult Parts of Online Reputation Repair

Claiming all your online profiles is relatively easy.

Managing all of those different profiles day in and day out? It gets intense pretty quick.

Think about it: social media manager is a full-time role, even at a pretty small company. And there is a lot more beyond managing business profiles.

It may be the case that repairing an online reputation requires a full-blown content campaign to counter the negative press online.

Are you ready to publish fresh, new content on a regular basis? Are you ready to dive into SEO reputation management?

Doing any of this well enough to help your reputation requires knowledge, experience, and more of your time. Many companies don’t have the bandwidth or in-house expertise to do this well.

When it comes to restoring your online reputation, there is a lot of grindy work. You may experience frustration with how slowly the process is going. Understand that achieving results through this process is going to take a while, but it will be worth it in the long run. Think of it as making an investment in your future, even if you are not receiving immediate benefits.

If all of this work sounds daunting, that’s because it can be.

Many businesses, especially those without the skills or resources in-house to tackle these tasks, turn to professional reputation managers for assistance. For a free consultation about how to repair your reputation, reach out to directly to Better Reputation. Or, view our full list of the top ORM companies for additional options.

Step 1: Claim All Your Online Business Profiles

The first thing to do to start your reputation cleanup process is to inventory your existing online business profiles and identify any you haven’t yet claimed. This ensures that customers and potential customers can find information about you easily, while also offering them an easy place to leave reviews.

Social Media

Choose the social media channels most important to your business, and make sure you have complete profiles on each. Whether this is a Facebook Business page, Twitter account, LinkedIn company page, Instagram account, Pinterest profile, or all of the above, be sure your company information is complete on each platform. If your company uses video at all, add YouTube and TikTok to that list. 

There are two reasons to do this. First, these accounts often show up near the top of online search results. If your business doesn’t have any profiles, you lose this easy opportunity to appear high up on page one of the search results.

Image of Meta Facebook home page.
Claiming all your company’s social media profiles helps you rank high in Google results AND gives customers another place to leave reviews.

Second, customers often turn to social media to talk about their experiences—good or bad. On some platforms, including Facebook, they can even leave reviews. Staying active on social media is one way to keep your finger on the pulse of what customers are saying about your business, engage with them in a positive way, and respond to any negative comments quickly. 

Unclaimed an inactive social profiles may even make customers think you’ve gone out of business. At the very least, a vacant profile is not a good sign. Plus it’s an easy fix.

Business and Review Sites

Don’t forget about sites like Google Business and Yelp. Both will show up high in search results, which is usually a good thing. Having a profile on each also gives customers an easy way to leave positive reviews about your business.

It’s also important to know that, at least in the case of Yelp, people can leave reviews whether you have an official business profile or not. However, you can’t respond to any reviews until you set up your business profile there. Engaging with customer reviews is important, so you’ll want to be able to do so on every platform.

Example of an unclaimed Yelp profile with low customer reviews.
If you don’t claim your Yelp business profile, people can still leave reviews but you won’t be able to respond to them, meaning low ratings will remain out there unexplained.

Depending on your industry or business type, you may have to claim some niche-specific profiles. For example, restaurants, hotels, and hospitality businesses would need to claim listings on TripAdvisor. Whereas a B2B software company would need to prioritize sites like G2.

Step 2: Monitor What Is Being Said About Your Business Online

Another easy step you should take right away is to keep an eye on your business mentions online. This is the fastest way to know when something negative about you turns up on the web. 

The faster you find out what’s being said about you online, the faster you can put out fires before they spread.

Identify Past Mentions

This is as simple as running an online search for your business name, products, and services. You’ll find any past mentions and can quickly assess how much negative information is out there right now.

Running a search is also a good way to see how your business stacks up in search results overall. This gives you a benchmark for measuring search result improvements in the future. 

If you’re coming across lots of negative press, blog posts, images, or any other content that paints your brand in a bad light, you should start a list that includes all of these URLs.

Using a spreadsheet like Excel or Google Docs is the easiest way to do this. Simply copy and paste the URL containing negative content to a list. This is especially useful if you’re trying to remove negative news articles from the web.

Then you can use this to keep track of who you’ve reached out to to request removals, which we’ll cover in greater detail shortly. You’ll eventually use this to keep detailed notes in the column next to each URL on the list.

Set Up Google Alerts for Future Mentions

Knowing what’s already been said is only part of the equation. You also need to be aware when new information is published. While you could just keep running searches periodically, there is a more efficient way.

You can automate the process by setting up a Google Alert for your business name.

Google Alerts setup page

You have a number of settings to set up, including how often to be alerted. We recommend you select as-it-happens, so you can deal with any negative information as fast as possible.

Once you create your alert, you’ll receive an email at the interval you chose. The email will identify all mentions of your business name with a link to the source.

Pinpoint the Source of the Problem

For some of you, the reason for your bad online reputation might be obvious. It could be tied to a specific event, arrest, bad publicity, news article, or something along those lines.

But other businesses may not quite understand exactly why they’re getting bad reviews or why their brand’s perception has fallen.

The easiest way to do this is by looking through the brand mentions that you’ve identified. See if there are common problems or complaints throughout them.

For example, is the problem tied to a particular product or service? Or is it related to a specific employee or location?

While you’ll ultimately be taking steps to remove negative information that’s on the web, you won’t be able to prevent negative remarks from being published in the future if you can’t contain the root cause. It makes sense to do this now while you’re going through your mentions.

Step 3: Request Negative Information Be Deleted

Negative information about your and your business can come in all different shapes and sizes. But to simplify things, we can break them down into three categories—URLs, reviews, and videos.

Any news story or blog post would fall into the negative URL category. This is essentially everything that’s not a third-party review website, and the process to request deletion for each of these varies slightly.

Negative URL Deletion Requests

If you find untrue or defamatory information about your business in a Google search result, you can ask Google to delete it. They have processes in place to evaluate and respond to these requests.

But keep in mind that even if Google removes your information from its search results, the content will still reside online at its source. It just won’t appear in any Google searches. You will have to approach the site directly if you want the information permanently deleted from the web.

That’s where the list you created back in the second step comes in handy. To stay organized, you need to keep track of every site you’ve reached out to, when you reached out to them, and the status of the URL.

Depending on how many URLs you’re dealing with, this can be a long and somewhat grueling process. Even after you’ve identified a negative URL, you still need to do some digging on who to contact. In most cases, a general “Contact Us” form won’t get the job done.

You’re much better off contacting the editor or webmaster directly.

Review Deletion Requests

If the negative information is on a public review site like Yelp, you can ask the site to remove the false review. The site will investigate and if they find the information is untrue, they will take the information down.

However, if the negative review stems from a legitimate transaction, then you’ll have to approach the review differently. We’ll cover how to handle that scenario later on.


This won’t apply to everyone, and it can sometimes be a bit more challenging to identify. But there might be videos online that bash you, your brand, or your products.

Start with what’s being indexed on Google. You can click the Videos filter of any search term to see the top video results.

Unlike a blog post or a review, this step may require you to actually watch the videos to see what’s being said about you. If there’s no transcript, you can’t just quickly search for your name and jump to it on the page.

You can also go straight to different video hosting platforms like YouTube or Vimeo and search for your name and related keywords there.

Another tricky part about this step is picking your battles. For example, let’s say your business sells backpacks online. Someone creates a YouTube video of the “Five Worst Hiking Backpacks” and puts one of your products on a “do not buy” list.

If the video only has a few hundred views, move on. But even if it has 100,000 views, the reviewer may not be so willing to delete the video.

So in terms of video, make sure you only put effort into getting content removed that’s really damaging to you and your brand. Be highly selective here, since it could be an uphill battle.

Step 4: Harness the Power of SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps the content you publish about your business rank higher in online search results. This is a very effective way to push any negative information about your company off page one and into internet oblivion.

Why does this matter? Three-quarters of people who search online don’t look beyond the first page of results. So the more positive content you can get to land high in rankings, the faster the bad stuff will be relegated to the place few people look.

Develop a Solid SEO Strategy

Creating a comprehensive SEO reputation management strategy involves researching to determine high-ranking keywords and phrases applicable to your business, building a solid website structure, and getting backlinks to your content from other reputable websites.

Effectively doing this requires having someone on your team that is very knowledgeable about the ins and outs of SEO. This person creates the strategy and then manages the execution. It is a big job, so don’t worry if you aren’t—or don’t want to be—an SEO expert.

Create Great Content

The SEO research will tell you what users are searching for, but it’s up to you to create killer content that is informative and helpful for those users. Your content must also incorporate the keywords and phrases you identified during your SEO research, so that it has a chance to catch Google’s attention. 

The more of this great content you publish, the happier Google will be since it loves fresh, quality content. Pleasing Google gives you the best shot to see your content rank high in search results. 

Having a blog on your website is a great place to start. You can use it to share news and information about your business, answer frequently asked questions, offer tips, and provide other information relevant to your company.

Another important factor is adding content to your website. You can publish your blog on your website, but you also can create content that describes your business and your services that ranks well on Google. 

Additionally, you need to have a well-organized website. If visitors click through to your website, but quickly become frustrated with finding the information they want, they will jump to the next site in the Google search results. A well-organized website generates “sticky” visitors, meaning they spend a lot of time on your site, which Google views positively inside its ranking system.

Knowing exactly how to create sticky content on a website that keeps visitors engaged can be challenging for many people. If you are running your own business already, you may not have much time available to create your content. An online reputation management company can help you design your website, organizing it successfully and helping you create content that ranks well.

You can also employ other strategies like sending out press releases and sharing your content across your social media channels. The more positive information you send out into the world about your business, the more chances you have to bury any negative information.

Build Authority

In addition to creating content on your own website, you can use other websites and online platforms to help establish yourself as an authoritative source within your niche or industry.

So when someone searches for your name, they’ll see a variety of results showing you as a leader or innovator in a particular space.

  • Look for guest posting opportunities
  • Be a podcast guest
  • Create video content
  • Speak at an event

From an SEO perspective, these types of initiatives can ultimately kill two birds with one stone.

First, your name or your brand’s name will have a more positive spin in the search results—even if the URLs aren’t directly sending people to your own site.

But for most of these, you’ll also get backlinks to help boost your website’s domain authority. This is a huge win for your SEO efforts.

Step 5: Engage, Engage, Engage

Once you’ve got your basic online reputation repair strategies in place, it’s time to start a dialogue with your current and future customers. Regular engagement is one of the most effective ways to build goodwill with your target audience. 

Ask For Reviews

While customers who have a bad experience don’t hesitate to leave negative reviews, the same isn’t always true for satisfied customers. It’s important to encourage your happy customers to share their positive experiences with the world through online reviews.

There are many ways to do this. You can create social media posts asking them to share their honest opinions about their experience with you. You can include small reminders in the packages you send with customer orders. You can send follow-up emails to your customers, too.

The point is to remind customers that reviews are a valuable part of their transaction with your company. 

For more information, we have a dedicated guide on how to ask for reviews that you can use as a resource.

Respond To All Reviews

Asking for reviews is only half of the equation. You also need to respond in a timely manner to all the reviews you get—whether they’re good or not so great. Responding to the positive reviews is easy—a simple “thanks for your feedback” is fine, though you can certainly say more to show your gratitude if you want! 

Responding to negative reviews is a little trickier. If the contents of the review are true and the issue they’re complaining about actually happened, be open and honest in your response. Acknowledge the mistake, fix it if you can, and apologize. Then explain the steps you’ve taken to avoid a repeat of the mistake down the road.

They’ll get reviews for your business, keep your online profiles up-to-date, provide strategic responses to all reviews, and help highlight the most positive ones.

Own Your Mistakes

Turning something negative into a positive is one of the best ways to respond to bad publicity.

So while you’re engaging with your audience and putting out new content, don’t be afraid to reference mistakes from your past and identify how you’ve improved moving forward.

For example, let’s say you’re running a restaurant, and the majority of your bad reviews were tied to slow service. You can recognize that your service in the past wasn’t up to standards and highlight what you’ve done to get better—like hiring more kitchen staff or reducing the number of items on the menu.

You could potentially take this a step further and offer a discount if food isn’t on the table within 20 minutes of ordering.

Customers love it when you’re honest. The same people who previously wrote bad reviews about you will be more inclined to write positive ones if you’ve addressed their complaints.

Other Ways To Engage

Social media is a great way to engage with your followers. Start with a thoughtful post, ask readers to respond in comments, then respond quickly to any comments you get. 

While this sort of engagement isn’t going to directly impact any negative online information, it does keep your company front of mind for your followers. Then when you do ask for reviews on your social channels, there’s a higher likelihood your followers will see the request and respond with the positive reviews you want.

Final Thoughts About Repairing Your Online Reputation

Repairing a damaged reputation requires time, patience, and ongoing attention. If you don’t have the resources to manage this on your own, it’s worth investing in an online reputation management service to handle the heavy lifting on your behalf. 

Read our full reviews of our top online reputation management companies to learn more about these services.