Florida Restaurant Lashes Out At Customer After Bad Review Online

Fees for this service at Profile Defenders can range from $2,000 per case to five figures for a monthly retainer. Ruddie said his clients include lawyers, doctors, small business owners and companies who want to respond quickly to bad ratings.

One client was Ryan Blank, owner of Get Gold Cash and Diamonds in Boca Raton. Last year, Blank noticed that online customers were confusing his business with a similarly named one, Get Gold Cash.

"It was becoming a problem,'' Blank said. "Profile Defenders were able to do whatever they do on Google to fix the problem."

Sometimes, these online reputation firms can get a bad rap themselves. Last month, Park Avenue Funding, a New York mortgage investment firm, filed a suit against Profile Defenders claiming the company was using confidential information to extort money from them and damage their online reputation. Ruddie, of Profile Defenders, said "the lawsuit filed by PAF is frivolous and based on assertions without merit." Park Avenue Funding declined to comment.

Google, Yelp respond

The web reputation management industry is a growing one. An April study by media research firm BIA/Kelsey found that small and mid-sized businesses will spend about $700 million to monitor consumer online opinions in the next year — double the spending from the past 12 months.

"Tools like this that can automate the process or make the process much easier are becoming not just more attractive but more necessary,'' said Jed Williams, a senior analyst with Virginia-based BIA/Kelsey. He noted the proliferation of social networking sites where people have an instant podium to share comments and reviews about services or products they've used.

"You put all these things together and it really is this unbelievable, and in many ways, an overwhelming patchwork quilt you have to attend to as a business,'' he said.

Chris Miquel, a partner at SoVi Digital in West Palm Beach, agreed. "The search engines and all these social platforms and the way the social media is now, a lot of stuff is review-based,'' said Miquel, whose Internet marketing firm began offering reputation management services two years ago.

SoVi's clientele includes South Florida jewelry stores, restaurants, insurance agents and lawyers. "If we see a negative review, we can notify the customer right away so we can take care of this as soon as possible," he said.

That means contacting the review's author with requests to remove the commentary. If that doesn't work, the company reaches out to the website to investigate whether the review is fraudulent or inaccurate.

Source : http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-08-10/news/fl-web-reputation-managers-20120810_1_online-reputation-digital-dirt-page-of-search-results

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