Online business directories have a great deal of power — and consumers know it. A negative review on a popular directory such as Yelp can greatly hurt a business’s ability to acquire new customers. It’s not uncommon for customers to “punish” companies by leaving negative reviews on Yelp and other websites when they’re unhappy.
If customers have harmed your business’s reputation by posting negative reviews, the best thing to do is evaluate the situations that caused them. If you evaluate your business honestly, are there some things that could be changed to prevent negative reviews in the future? Are you doing a good job of encouraging your happy customers to leave positive reviews? Is there something that you could change about your SEO strategy to minimize the impact of negative reviews in the future?
Even if you already have an effective strategy for reputation management, the fact is that you can’t prevent all negative reviews that may appear online. There may be some times when a negative review appears in spite of your best efforts. When that happens, you need a fast method to bury the review before it can harm your business’s reputation. In this article, we’ll present three powerful methods of minimizing the impact of negative online reviews. Add these tools to your reputation management arsenal today.
One of the reasons why negative online reviews can damage a business is because business directories such as Yelp, Facebook and Google Places for Business have very good search engine rankings. A negative review of your business on a popular directory could easily end up on Google’s first page for keywords relating to your business. You can potentially drive negative reviews off of the first page, though, simply by creating new pages that outrank negative pages.
Creating a brand new page that starts out with a high search engine ranking isn’t easy. When searching for potential websites on which to create new pages for your business, start with business directories and social media websites. Have you created pages for your business on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus? Could you create a YouTube page and upload a few videos? Pages on popular websites such as these tend to rank very well on Google without a lot of work.
Don’t forget that you can also make Google AdWords work for you as a reputation management strategy. Google displays sponsored listings first on search results pages. If you create an advertisement and bid on the keywords that cause the negative review to appear, you’ll immediately push the review down one position on search results pages.
Retargeting is one of the most powerful tools available to online marketers today. Tracking cookies have made it possible to advertise to people only under very specific conditions. You can display advertisements only to people who have searched for your business’s name on Google, for example, or to people who have visited your business’s website. Many of the world’s most popular websites belong to advertising networks that utilize retargeting, since displaying retargeted advertisements earns publishers a great deal of money.
So, how should you utilize retargeting as a reputation management technique? First, create a banner or rich media advertisement that portrays your company as highly professional, competent and trustworthy. In other words, you want to create an advertisement that portrays your company as exactly the opposite of anything that a negative review might state.
Next, simply add your advertisement to a network that uses retargeting. Some of the most popular retargeting networks include AdRoll, Perfect Audience and Chango. Facebook and Google AdWords both utilize retargeting as well. Target the advertisement to people who have searched for your company’s name, visited your website or viewed the negative review.
Utilizing retargeting as a reputation management technique probably won’t have much of an effect on your sales figures in the short term. However, cultivating a positive overall impression of your company can pay great dividends over the long term. By displaying an image that portrays your company in a positive light to people who have already shown an interest, you’re subliminally sending the message that your company is trustworthy and the negative reviews are false.
The best defense is a good offense. In addition to using reputation management techniques to lower the search engine rankings of negative reviews and cultivating a positive image for your company, you should confront the negative review directly and try to correct the problem that caused the review.
Begin by approaching the customer if you can. Do whatever you can to rectify the problem that caused the negative review. If you can change the company policy that made the customer unhappy or appease the customer in some other way, you should do so. After you verify that you’ve satisfied the customer fully, ask him or her to remove the negative review.
It isn’t possible to please every customer. If you can’t convince a customer to remove a negative review in spite of your best efforts, post a response on the website where the negative review appeared instead. Explain your side of the story. Tell the website’s users what happened from your point of view, and describe all of the things that you did for the customer to try to make him or her happy. Ideally, any reasonable person who reads your response will conclude that you did everything possible to please the customer who left the negative review and that your company is not at fault.
Did your company play any role in causing the negative review? Did you have an unreasonable company policy that was in need of refinement? Was there a problem with an employee or your business’s facility that needed to be addressed? Sometimes, a negative review isn’t entirely bad because it exposes some aspect of a company that requires change.
If you changed something about your company as a result of a negative review, tell people about it! Write an article describing the problem and explaining the steps that you took to correct it. Create a press release about the article so news agencies will pick it up.
Writing an article describing a problem that you found within your company and the steps that you took to correct it essentially ties together all of the points that we’ve discussed in this article. If news agencies pick up the press release, it’ll create additional Google News search results that Google may display at the top of the results page when people search for your business. Each new result that appears at the top of the results page pushes negative results down.
In addition, submitting a press release about a positive change within your company helps to foster a positive image. If a person searches for your company and sees the press release before noticing any negative results, that person will have a positive opinion about your company before he or she has a chance to view the negative results.