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.