Welcome to SEO Boy, the authority on search engine optimization -- how to articles, industry news, insider tips, and more! If you like what you see, you can receive free and daily updates via email or RSS.
Print This Post Print This Post

How to Handle Negative Reviews in Local SEO

May 26th, 2009 | | Local SEO, Reputation Management

The power of the Internet with local SEO can bring more leads to your business and increase your branding. The cost-per-lead can be dramatically cheaper than traditional media. There is, however, a different part to this animal that one needs to take very seriously and that is online reviews.

The Power of Online Reviews

The Internet is a powerful force that is built on anonymity and opinions expressed in online reviews hold tremendous sway to a searching public.  Anytime you find a review about something you are interested, you give it immediate credibility without questioning the source.  If a certain negative review seems out of place, you may think that was a rare situation, but the fact remains that someone said something bad about your company or product.

When a Review is Negative

Getting reviews accounts for a lot in ranking in Local SEO.  The results whether the review is negative or positive seems not to be as important as having any reviews at all.  That’s right, bad publicity is better than no publicity in terms of the algorithm, but all that bad publicity needs to be dealt with before steering people to another choice in the Locals list.  First, let’s clear out two items I get asked most about:

1. You can’t remove the negative review
2. You can’t find out who the review is from, even if it is a competitor

You might be tempted to respond online to the post and that needs to be taken with extreme caution.  Imagine first that this is a stage for the world to see.  Going online to post is the same as stepping onto that stage with everyone to see.  What do you say?  How do you say it?  Well, here are some tips:

1. Realize the Review Might Be True

It’s easy to think that this might be some sort of online sabotage, but it’s always better to err on the side of legitimacy.  Don’t write it off immediately as a local competitor because that doesn’t help the situation.  The review is on there and you have a choice to make.  Ignore it or handle it?  And let me add this to the mix: Don’t let your SEO guys do the talking, involve customer service ASAP.  Your customer service team should be trained to handle this just as when someone calls in to complain or stops by your store.

2. Get the Conversation Offline as Soon as Possible.

The last thing you want is your entire conversation with this person to circle around the blogs, forums and … more blogs and forums.  People have saved email correspondence and published it, circulated it, picked it apart and ridiculed it.  This is something you need to get off digital paper and on the phone lines.  The way you need to get them to respond is to respond to their post.  Create a log-in into the review site they used.  Setup the profile for your company, use the logo as an avatar and fill out the information as full as possible to represent your company.  You’re “going in” so to speak and you want to go in strong.

When you respond to the post you need to realize that a.) they want to be heard and  b.) they WANT TO BE HEARD.  Listening to what they said will carry a lot.  It shows that you aren’t just trying to placate them to get them out of the way.  Use this post to show that you heard them and empathize with their frustration.

DO NOT OFFER A SPECIFIC RESOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM ONLINE.

Don’t say “we’re sorry, call us now and we’ll give you a $X coupon” unless you want several people calling for a coupon.  You need to get this offline as soon as possible.  Your resolution should be personalized and offline.  In order to do this you need to give specific instruction to the individual.  Your post can mention a specific person they should ask for when they call.

“[Reviews User ID], We’re sorry about [the problem] and the frustration you experienced.  Please call us right away at XXX-XXXX and ask for [person in customer service brought into this problem] and we will work with you to your satisfaction.”

Empathy and a call to action – that’s what you want to leave online.  Because if they don’t take the offer to call, at the very least everyone else sees you listening and willing to work it out.

3. Work Out the Issue Offline

If they respond, this is the opportunity to put your A-Team Customer Service Rep to task to make this situation stable again.

4. Ask For an Online Update

Don’t forget this part.  If you have been able to follow through and make the situation right, ask if the review online could be updated.  Don’t ask for it to be removed, they might take offense at that.  Ask if they could update the posting to reflect how much that your company does care to try to work with each and every customer.

5. Review Your Practices

If you were able to turn a negative review around to a positive, remember how much effort it took to do so and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.  Alert your staff that there’s a system out there that can quickly report how well any one of your customers has been treated.

What If the Reviewer Cannot be Consoled …

This will happen.  There are people who will not like you no matter what you do. The only way to fight that is to be consistantly good at what you do and encourage your actual “fans” to review your company and hopefully outnumber the disgruntled customers.

Facebook   IN   Stumble Upon   Twitter   Sphinndo some of that social network stuff.