As consumers, job seekers or B2B buyers, we frequently visit online review sites such as Yelp and BBB to evaluate products, services, businesses and employers. Yet, we are surprised by the number of companies we talk to that have no idea what these immensely popular review sites have to say about them.
In an era dominated by word-of-mouth marketing, influencer marketing and social proof, even a handful of negative reviews about a business can send it tumbling down.
Poor negative reviews based on actual experiences are bad enough, but sad to say, negative reviews are not always on the up-and-up. Unscrupulous companies have been known to sabotage competitors by planting fake negative reviews — we’ve seen it happen. And despite diligent efforts being made by review sites to police content, fake reviews frequently slip through.
Negative reviews are damaging to brands because so many people see them. Sites such as Yelp and Glassdoor appear high in Google’s organic rankings for company search queries. These sites draw tens of millions of visitors every month, and if the first or main impression visitors get of your business is a negative review, you’re fighting for business (or new hires) with one, two or maybe even three strikes against you.
Reputation Management Is No Longer Optional
It’s vital to own your online reputation. These are things every business needs to do toward that end.
- Monitor review sites for mentions of your business (and of competitors, while you’re at it — you may discover a weakness).
- If the review site allows it, respond professionally to negative reviews. You want other people to hear your side of the story. You may be able to turn a negative review into an overall favorable impression of your brand.
- Make it right. In addition to responding to a negative review, do what you can to fix the problem. Sometimes a negative reviewer will update or re-review your company with the positive impression you have earned.
- If you suspect or clearly identify a negative review as being fake, take action. Here are helpful tips for fighting fake reviews on several popular sites.
- Cultivate positive reviews on major review sites used in your industry, while being careful to conform to review site policies. Most legitimate review sites have strict rules against compensating customers for posting reviews — here are Yelp’s policies as an example.
Incidentally, an excellent fringe benefit of SEO is that by elevating the ranking of your on-site and off-site content, you may be able to push negative reviews lower on Google. For some companies, this benefit is a primary driver of their decision to invest in SEO. Whether or not SEO is right for you, silence in the face of negative reviews is a suicidal online marketing and branding strategy.
Need help defending your brand online? Contact us now — we’re eager to learn more about your situation and see if we can assist.