TAMPA, FLORIDA — Perhaps Charles Dickens said it best in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
That is how many business owners feel about Google Places and other sources on the Internet that enable people to write reviews or leave comments about businesses. Favorable comments about your product or service can be one of the best ways to build your reputation. Negative comments can have some of the worst repercussions.
Let’s get this out of the way first: your chances of removing a negative review from Google Places are slim. Check out Google’s information on that popular question here. One way to combat the bad press is to use the “flag as inappropriate” option, in which case Google will look into the review to determine whether it violates Google’s guidelines.
So what else can you do when someone slams your business in a review? Growmap.com has a great example of how one business handled it. In short, a company that sells woodworking tools and educational materials got a negative review from a disgruntled customer. The CEO sent out an email blast to its customers that outlined the circumstances surrounding the disgruntled customer and provided a link to the negative complaint, which he answered, the Grow Map article states.
Additionally, he included a link to his company’s Google Places page so satisfied customers could leave their own reviews “so others would have a more balanced view” of the company, the article states. It wasn’t long before the negative review was buried by dozens of favorable reviews.
“No company is perfect, and an occasional negative review should be anticipated,” says Ali Husayni, CEO of Millionairium, which specializes in marketing medical practices. “This CEO took a proactive approach to this discouraging situation and I would say he turned a negative into a positive.”
Looking at the situation strategically, you want to drown your negative reviews with positive ones. Essentially, having 50 favorable reviews to one negative one will work in your favor, according to Matthew Loop, a social media and Internet marketing expert.
Multiple experts say it is wise to respond directly to a negative review, which you can do if you’ve claimed your Google Places listing. Be careful how you reply, though. Pop off a response in anger and you’re likely to do more harm than good. A professional, courteous response is what you want to shoot for.
In addition to knowing how to respond to a negative review, it’s important to understand just how important good reviews are to your business and more specifically, your website. Favorable reviews paint a favorable opinion of your business when potential customers find your Google Places page, according to Alex Eaton at Energypro.com. In terms of businesses’ overall SEO plans, the more reviews there are, the better businesses do in organic search results.
It’s also important to note that your Google Places page will list reviews from sources other than just Google places. It pulls reviews from sites including Yelp, Urban Spoon and Insider Pages, to name a few.
“I view this as yet another example of how Google constantly works to make user experiences better,” says Husayni, who works to achieve top SEO results for clients by offering guidance on how to manage their Google Places listings. “Pulling in reviews and comments from multiple sources gives those in search of information a broad picture of the company they are researching.”
I think Chris Robinson over at Giantseed Creative says it best when talking about negative reviews: “We can’t control the conversations taking place on social media platforms, but we can monitor and respond to what is being said.”
In closing, remember these key tips:
- Monitor your reviews
- Truly take note of what is being said
- Respond professionally and compassionately
- Take action if you believe a review is spammy or malicious in nature
- By all means, reach out to your happy clients and customers and ask them to give their honest feedback.
I’m convinced if you take this approach, you can’t go wrong.