Reputation Management Pricing: How Small Businesses Can Win

Reputation management is the practice of monitoring and influencing how a brand, business, or person is perceived online. According to Gartner, reputation management involves “directing and responding to stakeholders’ conversations and opinions about a brand.”

For small businesses today, actively managing their reputation online is crucial. With the rise of social media and review sites like Yelp, any business can quickly accumulate reviews, mentions, and online commentary. A few negative reviews or bad publicity can severely damage a small business’ reputation. Research shows 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Small businesses that want to attract customers and grow need to care about their reputation by monitoring what’s said about them online and taking steps to improve it.

Monitoring Mentions and Reviews

The first step in reputation management is setting up monitoring and alerts to track mentions of your brand, products, and key leaders across the web and social media. This allows you to find reviews, customer feedback, and other conversations where your business is being discussed. According to Sprout Social, 77% of consumers will research a company online before purchasing, so monitoring brand mentions is critical.

There are many free and paid tools available for monitoring online reputation, such as Google Alerts, Mention, and ReviewTrackers. These tools scan the web continuously and send notifications when your brand or keywords are detected. It’s recommended to check for brand mentions daily if possible to stay on top of any emerging issues or negative reviews. According to Faisal Khan, consistent monitoring allows businesses to mitigate small issues before they spiral into crises.

When setting up monitoring, be sure to include variations of your brand name, executives’ names, product names, and other relevant keywords. Cast a wide net by searching social sites like X, Facebook, and Instagram in addition to review sites like Yelp and industry forums. The more sources you monitor, the better protected your online reputation will be.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of online reputation management. Optimizing your website and online content can help push down negative search results and promote positive pages.

There are two main goals for SEO reputation management:

1. Improving search rankings for your brand name, products/services, and other positive keywords. This is done through on-page optimization, building high-quality backlinks, and earning authoritative citations.

According to Search Engine Journal, ranking on the first page of Google for branded and relevant keywords will lead to more visibility for positive content.

2. Managing negative search results—reputation management companies use SEO tactics like publishing new positive content and optimizing existing pages to push down negative content. This makes damaging pages appear further down in search results.

SEO can minimize the impact of negative reviews, articles, forum posts, and other harmful content about your brand.

Review Generation

Getting positive reviews is an important component of reputation management. Companies can generate reviews through automated review requests and by incentivizing customers to leave reviews.

Many reputation management services will send automated review requests on the business’s behalf through email and SMS. These requests encourage happy customers to take a few minutes to leave a review online. Services like NetReputation and WebFX often include review generation as part of their packages.

Businesses can also incentivize customers by offering a discount code or free gift in exchange for leaving an online review. This helps generate more reviews from satisfied customers who might not have otherwise left feedback. However, incentives should be used carefully to avoid appearing manipulative or fake. The most effective way to get authentic reviews is simply providing excellent products and service.

Negative Content Removal

One of the core services of reputation management is identifying and removing untrue, misleading, or defamatory content about a business. This can involve getting negative reviews, blog posts, or other online content edited or taken down through legal requests.

Reputation management companies have processes for working with review sites like Yelp and Google to flag problematic reviews that violate policies. They can request removal of reviews that contain false allegations, use profanity, or reveal personal details. Over 50% of negative reviews can be removed through their structured disputing process.

For more serious reputation issues like parody sites, imposter social media profiles, or libelous blog posts, legal action may be required. Reputation management firms can send cease and desist letters or file lawsuits on a client’s behalf. The legal fees for this service often start around $5,000. However, the benefit is resolving dangerous misinformation that can’t be easily taken down otherwise.

Overall, being proactive about scrubbing clearly false or damaging content is crucial for reputation repair. Most agencies charge extra fees beyond the base monthly rate for manual negative content removal and legal services. So, small businesses should anticipate these potential added costs when budgeting for reputation management.

Social Media Management

Social media management is a critical component of reputation management for small businesses. This involves regularly monitoring social media channels for brand mentions and responding appropriately.

Key aspects of social media management include:

  • Responding to complaints—It’s important to quickly address any negative feedback or complaints on social media channels. A timely, helpful response can turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate.
  • Posting positive updates—Proactively sharing positive news, behind-the-scenes content, and thought leadership on social media helps boost engagement and improve sentiment.
  • Managing brand presence—Social media managers will optimize profiles, implement posting strategies, and grow followers to develop a strong, consistent brand image across channels.

According to NetReputation, social media management can cost around $500-$1500 per month, depending on the level of support needed. More extensive community management with 24/7 coverage will be at the higher end of that range.

For small businesses with limited resources, it’s smart to focus social media efforts on the two or three platforms where your brand is most active. Monitoring can be done through free social media management tools before considering paid services.

Crisis Response

When your business faces a potential crisis situation such as a negative news story or viral social media post, having expert crisis response support available 24/7 can help mitigate damage. Reputation management firms should provide around-the-clock availability to enact emergency damage control strategies. This includes identifying the source of misinformation or attacks and responding swiftly to inaccurate claims. They can also issue statements, contact media outlets, and advise on crisis communication plans through press releases or social media. Having an experienced team ready to respond any time of day or night is crucial for minimizing harm during a crisis.

The ability to mobilize quickly with damage control and strategic crisis communication can make or break a small business’s online reputation when faced with a sudden issue. Rather than scrambling to react, partnering with a firm that offers dedicated around-the-clock crisis response can give small businesses the support they need to effectively manage reputation threats as they arise.

Pricing Models

There are a few common pricing models used by reputation management companies:

Monthly Retainer Fee

This is the most common model, where clients pay a fixed monthly fee for ongoing reputation management services. Monthly fees often range from $500-$2,000 for small businesses, depending on the services included.

Project-Based Pricing

Some companies charge on a per-project basis, with fixed one-time fees for specific reputation management tasks. This could include pricing per negative review removal or per new positive review. Project fees often range $100-$500 per item.

Tiered Packages

Providers may offer different, preset packages based on number of locations, services needed, etc. A basic tier might be $750/month, while a premium tier with expanded services might be $2,500/month.

Cost Factors

There are several key factors that influence the costs of reputation management for a small business:

The number of locations a business has is a major cost driver. Managing online reputation across multiple stores or offices requires more monitoring and work, so pricing is typically higher.

The amount of negative content that needs to be addressed also affects pricing. If there are many negative reviews, inaccurate listings, or harmful web pages that need to be removed, costs will be higher than for a business with minimal issues.

The specific services needed is another consideration. Basic monitoring and social media management will be cheaper than advanced SEO, press releases, Wikipedia page creation, and other premium services.

Contract length can impact costs. Many firms offer discounts for signing 6-12 month contracts versus paying month-to-month.

In general, the larger the existing online presence a business has, the more reputation management will cost. There’s more content to monitor and manage for brands that already have an extensive web footprint.

Getting the Best Value

When selecting a reputation management provider, it’s important for small businesses to get the most value for their budget. Here are some tips:

Don’t overpay for unnecessary services. Carefully evaluate what your business really needs. Monitoring and responding to reviews may be sufficient for some businesses. More comprehensive packages with social media marketing and press releases can get expensive fast.

Look for companies that offer month-to-month contracts rather than locking you into a long-term commitment. This gives you flexibility to adjust services as needed. According to Konnect Insights, monthly contracts are recommended for small businesses new to reputation management.

Negotiate custom packages rather than paying for predefined tiers. Work with providers to tailor solutions to fit your budget. Prioritize the most critical components like review monitoring and search engine optimization.

Leverage free review generation platforms and DIY monitoring with Google Alerts for mentions of your brand. Combining this with professional services can maximize value.

The key is balancing reputational needs with budget constraints. With some savvy negotiation and customization, small businesses can find cost-effective solutions.


Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.


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