Negative feedback via links, reviews and news can be detrimental to the success of your business or personal brand. The wide availability of the internet to the public has created an open playing field for the population as a whole to spread their opinions across an expansive amount of platforms that can have a huge impact on those who are trying to grow a brand, especially those of small businesses.
Feedback sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook Business, to name just a few, have a huge impact on the opinions of buyers, customers, investors and clients.
Customer reviews are incredibly important for businesses offering services and products. As a business owner, you can look at reviews as a gauge of your customer service, business operations, and quality of products or services.
Why are customer reviews so important?
Customer experiences are invaluable when it comes to improving your business and brand, and retaining and nourishing your current network and target audience.
According to studies like Power Review’s, “97% of consumers consult product reviews when making purchase decisions, up from 95% in 2014. Of those shoppers, more than a quarter (26%) consult reviews for every purchase they make online. That number jumps to 30% for consumers ages 18–44.” So yes, you could say they’re pretty important!
When a customer, or a potential client or investor Googles you, will they find positive reviews, or negative ones in the search results? The feedback they find online is a direct result of your online reputation, and weighs in on their ability to trust your brand or business. This trust can be altered by your reputation score.
Your reputation score is an accumulative and measurable scale to how positive or negative your online reputation is. Though some like to calculate their reputation to an exact score by paying for a service to do so, you can actually get a good understanding of yourself with a quick SERP analysis, which stands for Search Engine Results Pages.
Search engines like Google (the most popular of all) are designed to answer questions. When we type something into a Google search bar and hit enter, that is known as a search query that is made of keywords and search terms. Google searches the web at hyperspeed to find published content that best matches your search term.
Your SERP results are categorized by best matches depending on their relevancy, authenticity, and readability. When you search your name, your brand’s name, or your business’s name, the first page of results outweighs in importance compared to any other page.
So is that good or bad for your business? Well, it depends on what you find on your first page of results! Are negative reviews at the top of your page? That will considerably lower your reputation score because it is altering the trustworthiness of your brand to first-time buyers, clients, and customers.
Can bad reviews be good for business?
Receiving negative feedback is never easy, but contrary to popular belief, something that may come off as “bad” can actually be good for your business, depending on how you perceive it.
When new customers look at a seller’s account on a review platform, they are looking to find some sort of information that allows them to trust that your business will provide valuable, worthwhile, and worth the money kind of goods. Depending on your feedback rating, they can establish that trust because they value the opinions of previous customers and their unbiased opinions.
When a customer reviews a site, odds are they’ve either experienced something amazing or a worst-case scenario. Either way, how you respond to their feedback makes a huge difference.
Getting a bad review every once in a while actually isn’t as bad as you’ve been led to believe. When a new customer is doing their homework on you, their main goal is to find that aspect of trust. If your business has all 5-stars across the board, that might actually lead someone to believe that those reviews are fake (which happens more than you’d think and is not a healthy business practice).
The kind of negative reviews you should be wary of are the type that violates publishing and content guidelines that are often aimed to defame a business or individual out of spite.
Understanding violations against content guidelines
Google and Yelp are the two most popular review sites across the board, followed by TripAdvisor and Facebook. Each of those four sites has applicable terms and conditions outlined as well as publishing and content guidelines that help monitor the type of content that can be shared on their sites.
Review Site Statistics
Social media has created a whirlwind in giving consumers an open outlet to be able to give feedback to businesses and brands. Unfortunately, it can get out of hand when it comes to disgruntled customers or even past employees.
When content goes against posting guidelines, depending on which site you use, the owner of the site holds authority and in turn automatically removes feedback that violates their guidelines. Most sites have the ability to remove any type of content, from fake reviewers to defamatory postings and malicious content.
How to remove bad reviews
But in some cases, the owner of the site might need a heads up in order to remove the negative feedback. Most of these sites understand positive reviews are just as important as the negative ones when it comes to helping you stay on top. That said, the type of content they consider a violation can be quite specific.
Disrespect of privacy
If you feel that the negative feedback you are addressing has violated certain terms outlined by the site owner and is worthy of contacting the source directly to hopefully remove the content, you have the ability to do so.
1. Contacting your source directly
You can approach this scenario two different ways. You can contact the buyer who left the negative feedback or online review (who is also considered the publisher), or go straight to the site owner directly to remove the content for you.
Whether it’s a Google review or some spiteful feedback from a disgruntled employee, contacting the owner of the site is going to be your best bet when dealing with the type of content that goes against terms and conditions.
If you’re just dealing with your run-of-the-mill, “my meal was cold and my waitress was mean,” a simple, polite and public response to the buyer directly on the site it was published on should be enough to simmer the situation.
But, if you’re dealing with a hotheaded individual who shared some private information, inappropriate or offensive content, or misleading claims, you might be better off with a removal request sent to the site.
In your removal request be sure to document the content with screenshots and make sure to give context to the situation in a clear, concise manner, followed with your own contact information to resolve the situation completely.
If you come to find out that the information you are trying to delete completely does not violate any type of guidelines, you also have the option to suppress the results.
This does not mean spam your page with fake reviews, that’s a big “no-no” and completely defeats the purpose. If you’ve experienced some unfortunate feedback and truly wish to regain your authority, you can try boosting your online reputation. By using positive results and feedback, you can build that trust back up with other first-time customers that might happen to stumble upon a not-so-nice review.
To do this, some sites often give incentives to their customers to boost positive reviews. Customer engagement engines are now used widely across businesses that often offer goods or services.
3. Improve your online reputation by engaging customers
By enticing customers with the ability to give their own opinion in a fun way, they are much more drawn to leaving a positive review. Customers can leave reviews and vote on their best dishes, showing other customers simply and visually that your restaurant has some great responses!
4. How to suppress negative search results
If you want to take it a step further and suppress not just reviews themselves but entire link results from a Google search, you also have the ability to do that – and it’s not as hard as you’d think!
This can be helpful if the first link on Google is a direct link to a review site you’re trying to move away from or “bury” in your search results. All you have to do is put more effort into nurturing other linking sites to outperform the negative ones.
To do this, you can utilize other large-scale platforms
Press release sites
Social media platforms to help bury negative links:
The key to burying negative search results is by incorporating your search term, in this case, your name or your business’s, into the content your posting on whichever platform you prefer, and to do it consistently.
By posting consistent, valuable content that is in line with Google’s E-A-T update principles, or Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, you can tell Google what’s important and what isn’t.
5. Understanding the E-A-T Google update
The E-A-T Google update drastically changes how you can remove negative feedback by suppressing negative search results. This update was implemented to target spam sites and irrelevant content, which is a very good thing for businesses with ethics.
Creating content that is in line with the E-A-T update allows you to control your online reputation better. All you have to do is stay true to your brand and your values and write as if you’re speaking to your next customer. Google is making more effort than ever to move towards ethical practices and conversational marketing.
6. The importance of link building
When suppressing negative Google results, it’s not only important to implement new sources of content, it’s also important to build the authority of those sites with link building.
Link building is essentially creating a network for yourself by cross-referencing whatever you publish online. By building your links, you curate more content associated with your brand or business name that Google has to sort through now. The higher the authority of those links, the higher they will show in your search results… in turn suppressing the negative.
7. Hiring a professional to remove negative feedback
Sometimes things can get out of hand when cleaning up negative reviews online. It can feel daunting to go about it alone, but there are trained professionals who specialize in handling review feedback when it comes to building up your online reputation.
Online Reputation Management Companies Like Reputation911 utilize innovative products and technology to remove negative feedback and results for clients, but only when it is determined to be competitor-driven, disgruntled employees, fake, or spam.
*Reputation911 will not remove truthful feedback and/or reviews that demonstrate the factual and current representation of the client and or their business.
We specialize in uncovering the source of the negative feedback
Reputation911 will contest the review at the source
Our experienced forensic investigators can detect and identify the source and remove negative articles and blogs that are determined to be misleading, fake, or spam
Our legal advisors will send ‘cease and desist’ orders to the perpetrators of out-of-date, false, misleading, and fake information. They will demand that the individuals who are responsible for these negative posts immediately remove any false information
After restoring your online image, we will protect your good reputation with 24/7 monitoring using automatic alerts for what is said about your firm from every review site, blog post, news article, forum & social media outlet on the Internet.
Every day that these negative reviews and posts remain online, you are losing customers, so you can’t afford to wait. Remove negative feedback with the help of the Reputation911 team. Reach out to us to learn about our other online reputation management options.
We are a reputation management company that helps to make you Look Good Online.