Addressing Negative Reviews & Reputation Management

Internet Marketing May 3rd, 2012

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Internet Marketing

The internet has empowered consumers, allowing them to publicly voice their opinions and concerns, unfortunately many customers have abused this practice. The internet is a breeding ground for customer feedback. Social media monitoring tools like Radian6 and Sysomos help you track what’s being shared about you on public social networks; there are also free tools that can help you do the same. This blog will show you how to respond to negative reviews, outline a best practice example and walk you through the steps for removing negative reviews from Google Places and unwanted images from Google Images. We’ll also show you how to look up a website owner in order to contact them about defamatory content related to your business.

Addressing Negative Reviews & Reputation Management

The Dilemma With Online Reviews

Online reviews are a great thing, positive reviews help your business stand out online, but one problem exists: people tend to post them when they’re upset. It’s not too often (apart from extraordinary customer experiences) that people go out of their way to write positive reviews. So how can you get more Google Places Reviews? A good place to start is by reading our article on how to get Google Places reviews. What else can you do?

Create Extraordinary Customer Experiences

Create Extraordinary Customer ExperiencesGo out of your way for your customers and they will do the same for you. It never hurts to ask your customers to review your services or product. I have seen offers of “5% off your next order,” or even “exclusive access to our upcoming product line” or you can write a personal thank you note with your customer’s order (if it’s feasible). These are three great ways to incentivize reviews. When positive online reviews do occur they carry a lot of weight.

Encourage Customers to Write Positive Online Reviews

(i) Give your customers a chance to write a positive online review about your service simply by asking them a question.  It makes them feel important and it reassures your customers that your products and services are of high-quality.

(ii) Rewarding reviewers with a monthly draw rather than rewarding everyone who writes a review gives you an opportunity to boost customer morale.

(iii) Ask your Facebook fans and Twitter followers to write a review. Fans and followers like to be asked questions like such as whether they would recommend your products. This is easy to implement, just post a question and leave a link to your review page

(iv) Gather feedback by telephone, social media or word of mouth. Post the feedback with the permission of the person or post it as an anonymous review.

Addressing Negative Reviews

Addressing Negative ReviewsThe worst thing you can do with a negative review is let it be. Chances are you’re an honest business owner who’s simply made an mistake e.g. unknowingly shipping a defective product. Follow up the review like you would any customer complaint, document the situation, ask the customer to return the product and send them a repaired or new product. This can become costly, and affect your bottom line. The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to hire the right people and make sure your products and services work flawlessly. Will this prevent every complaint? No.

Negative reviews can be pushed down in SERPS by posting fresh content about your company; most of the time the new content will come up on top in search. Increasing the visibility of fresh, reader friendly content is a good way to handle negative reviews. Posting fresh and topical content about your products and services will garner more unique visitors and will also create SEO value.

Is the Customer Always Right?

Is The Customer Always Right?I came across an intriguing interview with AlarmForce CEO Joel Matlin where they asked him that very same question: is the customer always right? His answer was quite interesting and I’m sure many business owners can relate:

“Is the customer (client) always right? Not 100% of the time! An honest customer is always right but unfortunately, some customers are trained to think if they complain they will get what they want.”

Example of an Effective Response to a Negative Review

I’ve been shopping around for an air conditioner lately and naturally I flocked to online reviews to help me make my purchase decision. I liked the look of these reviews for one company, but there were a few negative reviews, here’s an example of one, with an especially effective response by the company.

Example Of An Effective Response To A Negative Review

Source: http://homestars.com/reviews/113338?company_id=202263

It takes a bit of critical thinking on the reader’s behalf to judge the validity of the claim. In the above example we can see that the reviewer’s grammar was quite poor, he also made allegations which would have been more appropriate for the police to hear rather than the general public.

In the company’s response the owner did not deny the claim, but rather ensured the poster that they only hire bonded workers and that the issue was shared with the appropriate team members. The General Manager then documented his investigation of the matter and respectfully disagreed with the customer’s assertions.

As a potential customer seeing this negative review didn’t make me think poorly of the company at all. In fact, seeing the company address the complaint head-on won them points in my book.

How to Take Down Negative Reviews on Google

Although taking the initial steps to remove a Google Places review is a fairly straight forward process (just simply “flag as inappropriate”). You will be able to choose from four violations:

  • This post contains hateful, violent, or inappropriate content
  • This post contains advertising or spam
  • Off-topic
  • This post contains conflicts of interest

If you feel the person has broke the law i.e. defamation of character,  then visit this page to file a legal removal issue.

After doing this, your complaint will be manually reviewed by Google. You will receive a confirmation email so you’ll be able to keep track of what you filed. Be thorough and read all the terms. This is a formal legal complaint, so fill it out as accurately and as truthfully as possible.

Don’t be Tempted to Post Fake Reviews

Don't Be Tempted To Post Fake ReviewsAlthough it may be tempting certainly do not hire someone or create fake accounts to write fake reviews. It make  temporarily boost your rating, but you can incur severe penalties from Google, such as having your Google Places listing removed and having your associated site de-indexed from Google completely. Please avoid this band-aid solution at all costs.

Reviews where the poster has no prior reviews should generally be discounted. When determining validity Google looks at the IP address of the review, their previous reviews, the quality of their reviews and many other factors. All of these help to determine whether or not your Google Places listing will rank for local search results. Don’t try and cheat the system!

Getting Images Removed

Check out this video from Google on how to remove an image from Google images:

To learn more about removing images visit:
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1663694

Keeping Your Ear to the Ground

One of the best ways to monitor what’s being said about your brand online is by creating Google Alerts for your company name. Creating alerts for your product names, related terms, or names you wish to keep track of will help you respond to criticism in a timely manner.

In Conclusion

If you notice online negativity that is adversely affecting your business your best course of action is to address the facts, respond in a timely manner and let people use their better judgement when deciding to give you their business. If it’s reviews that are the problem take the appropriate course of action. If the negativity was posted on a private website contact the website’s owner. Do a whois search and write them a respectful email, engage them in dialogue and work towards a resolution.

Have any other strategies or concerns? Share them with us in the comments.

Post By Steve Toth (140 Posts)

I’m the SEO Director at TechWyse. I’ve been published in Moz, I love headphones and all things internet marketing. I hang out on the conceptual side of SEO and it’s a blast! Please find me on Twitter @StrategyInventr I'd love to connect with you!

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I’m the SEO Director at TechWyse. I’ve been published in Moz, I love headphones and all things internet marketing. I hang out on the conceptual side of SEO and it’s a blast! Please find me on Twitter @StrategyInventr I'd love to connect with you!

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