3 Ways to Fix Bad Online Reviews On Your Business

For every review site, there are at least a dozen businesses that promise to clean up a bad review…for a fee. As the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, however, clean-up isn’t quite as easy as these businesses make it look.

“You can’t remove bad reviews,” Brent Franson, vice president of sales for Reputation.com told the newspaper. “The goal is to make sure the tip-of-the-iceberg reviews are good.”

Yelp, Angie’s List, and other review sites confirm that businesses can’t simply have a negative review removed. These sites are set up to allow users to freely post about experiences with a business. If a company could control which comments remained, the integrity of review sites would be greatly weakened.

That would be a great system if it were 100% tamper-proof. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know that a posted review is posted by a legitimate customer. Anyone can post a review anonymously. Imagine an angry business partner, disgruntled former employee, or even your own competition writing a negative review in order to steer customers away from your business. With no recourse, that can be pretty frustrating.

When faced with bad online reviews, small businesses aren’t helpless. Here are three ways your business can turn negative online reviews around.

  • Participate in your online presence. If your business has social media profiles, take an active part in them. Your updates should be informative, inviting interaction from your customers. This not only provides regularly updated content that will rank well in search results, it will provide a wealth of information to those searching for your business.
  • Craft well-written content. If your website has a blog, use it to post informative articles about your business. Use LSIKeywords to determine the words most often searched in your topic range. Several other free search engine optimization tools exist that can help you determine if your site will make the cut.
  • Work with a reputation management firm. A carefully chosen reputation management company can expertly obscure negative content in a fraction of the time it would take a novice. Those reputation managers know how many keywords to use, where to post articles, and what to expect from postings. Beware of companies that claim to be able to remove negative reviews from sites like Ripoff Report and other consumer review sites for a large fee. A legitimate reputation management company will tell you up front that they restore a business’s reputation by posting positive information. When it comes to reputation management, the goal is to help the business take control of its online reputation.

Your small business doesn’t have to wait until something negative is posted to build a reputation. By setting up an online presence, businesses provide a variety of places to post information if the need should arise. Having a strong online presence also increases a business’s chance of showing up in search results, potentially increasing business.

Most importantly, be patient. Your positive content may not overtake the negative postings overnight. In fact, it may take multiple articles over multiple weeks to begin to see serious results. But with each article you post, you’ll be creating valuable content for any customers looking for information on your business.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

11 thoughts on “3 Ways to Fix Bad Online Reviews On Your Business

  1. Nina_Gorbunova

    Unfortunately for vendors users are more likely to leave negative feedback, as they feel it must be shared to the whole world, though positive comments sometimes stay unwritten.
    However, it’s the best motivation to improve the service and react asap.

  2. Jill Tooley

    Great tips, Stephanie! I’d also suggest replying to every negative review, if possible. Companies may not be able to prevent them, but they can certainly respond to them. Community managers shouldn’t take a defensive tone or belittle anything the angry/upset client says, but they should address the concerns in a calm manner and at least attempt to right the situation. Responses work in the company’s favor if they’re done correctly, and it lets potential customers know that they’re listening! We’ve only had a couple of displeased clients post bad reviews in the past, but we managed to correct the problem and make them happy again. Empathy is the best strategy! 🙂

    • Nina_Gorbunova

      And honesty is the best policy as well)
      replying to every negative review is the must for each company – every manager should finally learn it by heart. Even if we are talking about the company’s fault, there is nothing horrible in admitting it, saying sorry and promising to fix the problem. It will be accepted much better, than silence.

  3. Suzanne Delzio

    When I worked at big corporate, negative reviews never even phased the marketing people. They just had a protocol they rolled out in each instance (and there were a lot of them!): respond, perform restitution where possible and never get bent out of shape.

    I’d like to add that a negative review could be also an opening for a company to educate consumers on the company’s efforts to never engage in the bad behavior the complainer is describing,rather than just taking the criticism without defending itself. In other words, share your side! If the responsibility isn’t all yours, make it clear. At the risk of sounding sexist, I think men are more willing to defend themselves where women apologize before even considering their side of the story.

    Further, other readers already know that there are crackpots out there that are never satisfied. It’s fun when a negative review is called out as crazy talk. As Faris, says, small business must participate in the social spheres in order to be heard. I just did a short post on this called, “Negative Social Media Comments: A Veterinarian’s Concern.”

  4. M Neff

    I truly do not like sites that let anyone post freely, many tyime th bad review come for someone the buisness has never seen or dont any business with just a way a competitor can make you look bad. Then many gibve you the Idea they think they are superior to the vendor — its a two way street I perofrm a good and valuble service. Its just many dont relaize a one perosn buisne is just that but I have in in Buisness 45 years– that says a lot! I am a mechanical elecrical and plumbing contractor. fully licesd bonded and In sured what I am not is a halnd holder or conversationalist how to I do that and get the Job done. Then I fidn the yourtht of today wants instant– generaslly that creates waste.


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