We all know that positive reviews are important for your company. They reflect how other people see your business and can be critical to your success, or failure as a business owner. In this article, we will discuss how to deal with negative reviews left for your company, how to leverage existing clients for positive reviews, and a step by step guide on how to actually get those reviews posted online. In this guide, I will be referencing Google+ as the main source for reviews, since it is arguably the most important for local SEO.
If your business deals with a lot of customers, chances are you have received the odd negative review. This is normal, and comes with the territory, because let's face it, you can't please 100% of people ALL the time. However, there are things you can do to make those negative reviews have less impact.
If your company has a massive ratio of poor to positive reviews, this article can help, but you might want to think about creating a new page or spending a lot of money to hire a PR firm to do serious damage control. For example, a recent news story broke about a department store in the UK, where a Debenhams security guard soaked a homeless man who was sleeping outside their store. This is a PR nightmare, and of course, the story went viral on social media. As a result, THOUSANDS and I mean, THOUSANDS of people left negative reviews on Debenham's pages on Facebook, Google, Tripadvisor, etc etc.
A large company can afford to pay for PR to clean up this mess, but still, the negative press Debenhams received from these negative reviews will seriously damage their reputation, which in turn will affect their sales and revenue.
So let's get on with it.
If for example your business has received a few negative reviews, there are three main things you can do to ease the sting.
It sounds too simple to be useful doesn't it? The reality is, if somebody is upset about something and take the time to leave a negative review, they will listen to you if you also take the time to respond to them.
You'd be surprised at how effective this alone can be right here. When people read reviews on your site, they will tend to value any negative reviews a bit higher. Let's put it another way, if your company has 15 reviews and 14 out of 15 are 5/5, people are likely going to read that 1 review that is not 5/5. People will want to find the dirt on your company (if there is any), so taking negative reviews seriously is very important.
By responding to a negative review on Google, you can accomplish a couple things. First, it shows that you care about your customers and are dedicated to fixing any issue they may have. It can also weed out the trolls and fake reviews from the real ones. Yes, this does happen and there is such a thing as negative SEO which you can purchase to attack your competitors, but sometimes this shitty tactic can hit you too. If you respond to these fake reviews, chances are the person who created them won't respond back, therefore losing credibility as a review.
If the review is real, and you engage a response back from them, it can really help ease their frustration while hopefully coming to a solution. We cannot stress enough how important it is to communicate to your customers in a timely fashion. 85% of customers who receive a non-generic response are more likely to co-operate and come to a resolution. Customer service goes a long way if done properly and quickly.
This tactic is a bit more challenging, and definitely takes time. The impact of it is definitely big if implemented properly. By engaging with your customers who you know were happy with your service or product, you can leverage positive reviews. As a reward, you can gift them future savings with a promo code, or some sort of discount.
If your product or service is truly great, then you can expect lots of people to agree to this tactic. Why do you think coupon sites became so successful and trendy? People love to save money, and will generally jump through hoops to do it. Writing a review for your company is no different, but it only takes a few minutes to accomplish and really costs them nothing but a small amount of their time.
If they are not sure how to write a review, or are not convinced they want to, you can make it easy for them by physically handing them this Step by Step guide on how to leave a Google review. I posted this mini step by step guide so anybody reading this post can leverage it for their own company, for free. A PDF copy is available to download for free, just replace the fields with your business information and it's good to go! Or you can download the PDF and host it on your website, it's up to you!
This last technique is definitely more difficult, but results can be accomplished by simply creating enough new social profiles on big sites like Wikipedia, Glassdoor, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Yelp, Youtube, Wordpress, and the list goes on. We call these Web 2.0 properties, and they all hold extremely high domain authority within Google. Usually if you have active pages among these web properties, they will appear at the top of the search results in Google.
To put this theory into perspective, my sister actually came to me with a problem her company was facing. She knew that we performed SEO at Search Engine Sherpas, so she asked me how to remove negative reviews her company was getting on Glassdoor. For those who don't know, Glassdoor is a site where employers of a company can write a review based on their experience working for said company.
A few of her co-workers had been laid off and well within their own rights, wrote negative reviews on the company. As citizens of the free world, we all have the right to freedom of speech, and therefore these reviews cannot be taken down. It's well within our own rights to post these reviews, and I fully agree with this sentiment. The problem is, as we have discussed above, they can really hurt your company if you have done something shitty to your staff.
I informed her of this, but I also mentioned that they could try to outrank the Glassdoor review page in the search results, so at least it would appear on page 2 or 3 if someone were ever to Google their company. Out of respect to my sister and her company, I will not post the results publicly, but with this tactic they were able to create profiles on 20 different Web 2.0 properties and update them to create engagement, and social signals. It took a while, but eventually they got the Glassdoor site link to page 2.
The only downside is, if someone is to specifically Google reviews on Glassdoor for your company, there is no way to outrank that and it will always appear near the top. So this tactic does have its limitations, but it definitely can help with minimizing bad press.
Google template for 5 star reviews
Now for the step by step guide you can physically hand to your customers, or print off as a PDF to host on your own business website. For the sake of this guide, we will use our own company Google+ page as the example:
Step 1) Create an account on Gmail, it can be anonymous, or you can put your real name. Go to www.gmail.com to do this a click the link that says "create an account"
Step 2) Fill out the details within the form found on the next page. Within this page, you can enter your real first and last name, you can keep it anonymous by just typing in, "Anonymous" into the fields. Your username will effectively be your email address, so for example if your username is "seosherpas" your address will be firstname.lastname@example.org. All this information is confidential, so you don't have to worry about your information being shared.
Note that by signing up with gmail, you get access to all the other apps shown in the picture above including Google+, Maps, Google Drive, etc.
Step 3) Once the account has been created, or you have logged into your existing account, go to google maps (www.google.ca/maps) and type in the business name "Search Engine Sherpas" to see the results:
Step 4) In the bottom of the page, there should be a "WRITE A REVIEW" button visible for you to click.
Step 5) After clicking the button to write a review, a box will popup with space for you to write the review and add a rating based out of 1-5 stars. The ability to post the star rating is only enabled after comments have been entered into the text field, and a score of zero cannot be given.
This step is very important because the amount of stars given will obviously affect your overall score. While we encourage everyone to give 5 stars, you can only hope your customer will feel generous to do so.
After posting the review, it may or may not become available right away. Sometimes, with new Google accounts, the reviews need to be verified through their algorithm. Additionally, a visible star rating will not be available on your Google+ business page until you have a total of 5 reviews.