The Guide to Online Reputation Management & Bad Reviews

  • 29
  • 4.49
  • Rating:
    The Guide to Online Reputation Management & Bad Reviews

Ryan Stewart

Marketing expert

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.

Having issues with bad online reviews?

This post contains inside information that reputation management agencies charge thousands for.

It has 2 parts:

  1. Part 1: Cleaning up Bad Reviews in Google Searches
    1. Why your branded keyword searches are so damn important
    2. The truth about “removing” negative reviews
    3. How to replace bad review results with quality brand properties
  2. Part 2: Cleaning up Bad Reviews from Review Sites
    1. How to improve your Yelp reviews
    2. How to improve your Google Places reviews
    3. How to deal with bad reviews around the web

Online Rep Management

Why Does it Matter?

  1. Branded searches (aka searches with business name) can drive up to 50% of your organic traffic. They’re the result of brand recognition, offline advertising, direct searches, networking and potential customers doing research.
  2. Branded searches = direct traffic. Direct traffic caps off the customer journey. When someone knows they want to purchase/contact your business, they type your business name/URL directly into Google. Direct is the most valuable form of traffic for your business.

88% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. If you have negative ones showing up for branded/direct searches, kiss that customer goodbye.

Truth About Rep Management

Pay attention. I’m only going to say this once.

There is no way to delete negative reviews unless you get the person who posted it to take it down (I don’t care what that “online reputation management” company told you).

It’s not slander – it’s the internet. It’s full of trolls (I work here, I would know).

Internet Trolls Bad Reviews

Assuming that person won’t delete it, the only way to get rid of bad reviews is to bury them.

Let’s take a look at a live example.

Last week I was watching a reality show about a company that builds custom fish tanks (Tanked). In the episode they built this bad ass custom tank that was shaped like a bank vault for a company called “Saveology”.

I thought to myself “That tank cost at least $500,000 to build, that company must be KILLING it. I’m intrigued, I want to learn more”, so I Googled the company name. Here’s what I saw:

Example of Bad Reputation in GoogleYikes.

1.5 stars on Yelp and 2 on GlassDoor. I instantly lost respect for them.

I see this happen to businesses all the time. Reviews sites like Yelp are high authority domains giving them ranking power. If you don’t take action, they will outrank for your business name.

No worries! I’ve got a fix. If you’re reading this Saveology, here’s how to reclaim your brand.

Replace Negative Review Listings with Owned Properties

Let’s start by taking a look at what a branded search should look like:

Proper Google Reputation Management

Those results didn’t happen automatically – I had to optimize each of those properties to rank for my brand’s keywords.

If you look at the ranked properties, you’ll notice 2 things:

  1. If clicked, they help promote my brand in a positive way
  2. They’re high authority domains

#2 is key. Here’s a breakdown of each’s Domain Authority (DA):

  1. Vimeo – DA 98
  2. Facebook – DA 100
  3. Twitter – DA 100
  4. YouTube – DA 100
  5. Yelp – DA 94
  6. – 78
  7. Instagram – 97

Since they’re so high, Google has a ton of trust in them (TOO much).

That means you can rank them by blasting them with really bad links.

If the DA is high enough, it serves as a spam filter. Facebook has over 15,000,0000,0000 links, giving you shelter to build bad links to your Facebook page without fear of getting slapped.

DA of Facebook

You don’t have to worry about anchor text over optimization either. The only anchors you need to build are brand name related and naked URLs. Unless your business name is “Boner Pills, LLC”, you’re set.

Picking the Properties to Rank

When picking the properties, look for these attributes:

  1. Properties with high Domain Authority (use Moz Bar to verify)
  2. Properties that shed a positive light on your brand
  3. Properties that allow you to link directly to your website
  4. Properties that have your brand name in the URL or <title> tag
  5. Properties with positive reviews from customers (FourSquare, Google+, niche sites)

Select however many you need to fill up the first and second page of branded keyword searches.

Build Links to Your Properties

There are two types lost cost/effort links you can use to rank your selected properties:

1. Owned

You need to associate the properties with your URL – do so by linking your website to each property.

Link Your Website to Social Platforms

The easiest place to do this is the footer. You can also reference them in blog posts with branded anchor text.

Share your target properties across social media accounts.

Tweet Your Links

Tweet your Facebook URL. Tumble your YouTube channel. Share your Google+ page.

Over time, this creates a natural association between accounts.

Google will recognize these properties as directly related to your website. This will push them up in rankings for branded searches.

Cross Link:
Interlink your social accounts where available. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter Tumblr and Instagram allow you to sync multiple accounts.

Instagram Reputation Management Instagram Link Association

This creates a relationship across multiple properties that all link back to your website.

2. Paid

If your business’ name is something obscure, the method laid out above will probably do the trick.

For the rest of us, we need an extra boost.

You can buy links from anywhere these days, but I use Rank Crew. They offer a number of low cost packages that deliver surprisingly high level quality.

These are the exact link packages I used to rank my properties:

  1. 50 Social Bookmarks – $5
  2. 30 Press Release Submissions – $10
  3. 30 High PR Profile Links – $20

Keyword: WEBRIS, WEBRIS reviews,

Repeat those link packages for every property you’d like to rank. It will cost you $35 – $50 each, but it’s a hell of a lot better than paying an agency $5,000!

Review Cleanup

Cleaning up your branded search results is 80% of the battle. However, customers will also check review sites directly. It’s important to get a handle on those properties as well.

Google gives you a tool within your Google My Business page that pulls together your reviews across the web. Use it to find any review sites with negative feedback about your business.

Find Your Business' Reviews

If no reviews show up, you can try performing a Google search (“your business name” + review) instead.

The web’s top two review sites are Google and Yelp. I’m only going into detail on these because you can apply the same strategies to any other review site.

Yelp Reviews

Yelp has the toughest review algorithm in the game. It’s awesome at picking up fake reviews and will even filter out real reviews that are deemed too positive or negative.

This leaves you with limited options on getting rid of bad reviews.

Respond and Offer
Most of the time, reviewers are blowing off steam. I’ve had great success by responding to the negative review with an offer. If you own a restaurant, offer a free meal. If you’re an attorney, offer a free consult. The loss is revenue for services well outweighs the cost of a bad review!

Flag It
Yelp has stringent review guidelines and occasionally, Yelpers cross the line. If the review contains any overly negative, derogatory or lewd content, you can flag it for removal. If it’s found to violate Yelp’s ToS, it will be removed within a few days.

Customer Outreach
If you can get a bunch of positive reviews, they’ll outshine the negative. But whatever you do, don’t buy them!

I know my methods can teeter on black hat, but Yelp will sue the crap outta you if they catch you.

The best way to get reviews is outreach to happy customers / clients. I like to send personalized emails to my clients with a direct link to the review page:

This email has a 100% conversion rate.

Google Places Reviews

These reviews are crucial because they show up for branded searches and critical keyword searches (assuming your website is ranking, of course).

Reviews in Google

Having a perfect 5 star rating will skyrocket your Google click through rate – having a low one will kill it.

Google also has a tough review filter, although much more lenient than Yelp’s. The best way to get rid of bad reviews is to bury them with good ones.

Use Your Network
If you’re just starting out you’ve undoubtedly done business with friends or family. There’s no shame asking to leave you a couple of kind words!

Personal Recommendations
There’s no law saying reviews have to be about your business. Who you are as a person is important too. Contact people from your network and ask them to review your character, work ethic or how you always wear matching socks.

Offer Discounts
Big G frowns on this but I don’t care. Reviews matter. It’s worth taking a haircut on revenue to build yourself a solid reputation.

Email Signatures
I recommended this method to my client and it worked wonders. By leaving a link in his email signature with a small call to action (Like Our Service? Leave Us a Review!) he was able to get 35 reviews in 2 months. If you’re providing awesome customer service via email, people are happy to leave a review!


Your online reputation matters! One bad review can undermine what you’ve worked hard to build.

If there are one or two bad reviews about your business, use the methods listed here to take back your brand. If there’s a bunch of reviews…it might be time to think about a new career!

About Ryan Stewart

I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's BEST internet marketer. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate.


  1. Sound advice for online reputation management. Bad reviews and slander is becoming a force to be reckoned with on the internet. It can really kill a company, so if definitely not something to be ignored.

  2. Great stuff. Ryan, what do you think of the business suing people who leave bad reviews.? I heard of an attorney recently & a dog walker. Do that. I would imagine it would be bad advice. Thanks-

  3. Offering remedies to a dissatisfied customer is so logical and common sensical yet so often forgotten. This is true not just to improve one’s review rating on the net, but to improve reputation in the local market too. I don’t have an online business, but I would definitely use this technique to keep the “word of mouth” healthy in the local market for my small business. Thanks a lot.

  4. Negative SEO attacks are becoming a big problem. Some companies are doing this against their competitors. It’s like the wild wild west!

  5. I sure wish I had read a post like this a while back. It would have surely saved one of my sites from tanking! Oh well…better late than never.

  6. This is the definitive guide to reputation management and bad reviews removal. This is the best guide I have read on the subject. Nice work!

  7. It’s so unfair how sites with high DA can get ranked so easily even when blasting a ton of shitty links to them – but if we did this to our own sites we’d likely get pimp-slapped by Google!

  8. Wow! This is a real eye opener. I was wondering about the effects of negetive and postive reveiws. Now I know how to gain more control of my presence on the internet without spending a fortune.

  9. Wow, I didn’t really know about how positive and negative reviews can affect one’s online reputation and website. I’ve noted this, thank you.

  10. Yes Yelp and similar site have a lot of power. They can make or break a business if they’re not careful and aware of negative reviews floating around against them. I will share this post with every business owner I know!

  11. Provide good customer service then you will be good reputation. Do not play around with the service that will harm your reputation.

  12. I can read blog is best but i have know to more about. How cam manage my business review! So please share to you great knowledge.

  13. Great article! Thank you. Can you please share what link you are using to automatically open the review window? Your link still works, but the link I had previously been using no longer works after the Google+ changes. Also, where do you think Google is heading removing the about page with reviews from the Local Google+ business pages?

  14. Hi: I am an attorney in Fort Lauderdale area since 1983. In last 12 years my son was very very sick and passed away in 2012. In 200 and late 2012 several clients filed Bar Complaints and I voluntarily agreed to 30 day suspensions. My son was on dialysis in 2009 and died July 2012 of kidney failure at 26. Those were the 2 suspensions but several people didn’t stop there. They wrote vicious attacks on the Internet. Obviously the 26 years I practiced before 2009 is left out. I’m not very computer literate. I’m hoping to find out how I can fix these reviews. For every complaint I receive, I have 10 clients who love me but they don’t write on my behalf. I appreciate any help you can give me.
    Thank you,
    Bruce Warner

    1. hey bruce – first of all, condolences. it’s truly tragic about your son and i can imagine it was probably near impossible to focus on any sort of work during that time period.

      why don’t you send me an email to and we can setup a call – i can walk you through a strategy that could help to clear some of this up (i’m happy to do it free of charge).

      hope to hear from you soon.

  15. Hello ……
    I am Theja from bangalore. i wanted to remove the negative reviews about my company from some of the websites. request you to help me regarding this.

  16. So far the BEST article on ORM I have read so far. I’m new to the subject and was finding it very difficult to find any information I can actually use. This was very HELPFUL and I will definitely put it to use. You have obtained a new follower. Thanks Ryan!

  17. Have you had any luck ranking these social properties for “brand + reviews”?

    I have a client in the hosting space that has a ton of mixed reviews across 8-9 forums on page 1. Wondering if I should send links at the good forum/review listings and push them up or attempt to rank something like their facebook page, youtube video for “brand name + reviews”

    Both? What would you recommend?

  18. We are in a very tough business and I would like to know where to start on cleaning up a few bad reviews.

  19. Thanks for bringing up this post again on your Facebook page. I have personally removed several bad reviews on Yelp. You honestly need to think like a very sensitive individual and find whether little thing that would trigger you. It works so well. People who tend to leave bad reviews tend to leave a lot of offensive language – the key as the business owner is to not lose and respond back in anger. They can call your employee fat, smelly, etc. Calling out age, gender, race, etc are all within your power to flag and get removed granted you provide a good explaination for Yelp.

    Always try to reverse the situation like Ryan says, but do not underestimate that flag review button and using your trigger sensors as a last attempt to get a bad review removed :)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


No sales pitches, just marketing tips.