The Guide to Online Reputation Management & Bad Reviews
I have an unhealthy obsession with being considered the world's top internet marketing expert. This blog is one of the channels I use to demonstrate that. I'm highly active on social media and love a good debate (internet trolls). Click the icons below and fire away.
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Having issues with bad online reviews?
This post contains inside information that reputation management agencies charge thousands for.
It has 2 parts:
- Part 1: Cleaning up Bad Reviews in Google Searches
- Why your branded keyword searches are so damn important
- The truth about “removing” negative reviews
- How to replace bad review results with quality brand properties
- Part 2: Cleaning up Bad Reviews from Review Sites
- How to improve your Yelp reviews
- How to improve your Google Places reviews
- How to deal with bad reviews around the web
Why Does it Matter?
- 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.
- 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.
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).
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:
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:
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:
#2 is key. Here’s a breakdown of each’s Domain Authority (DA):
- Vimeo – DA 98
- Facebook – DA 100
- Twitter – DA 100
- YouTube – DA 100
- Yelp – DA 94
- PR.com – 78
- 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.
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:
- Properties with high Domain Authority (use Moz Bar to verify)
- Properties that shed a positive light on your brand
- Properties that allow you to link directly to your website
- Properties that have your brand name in the URL or <title> tag
- 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:
You need to associate the properties with your URL – do so by linking your website to each property.
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 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.
Interlink your social accounts where available. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter Tumblr and Instagram allow you to sync multiple accounts.
This creates a relationship across multiple properties that all link back to your website.
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:
- 50 Social Bookmarks – $5
- 30 Press Release Submissions – $10
- 30 High PR Profile Links – $20
Keyword: Webris, Webris reviews, http://webris.org
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!
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.
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 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!
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.
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 sh!t out of 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:
Hey [client name],
First, I want to thank you for your business. Clients like yourself are a big reason we’ve experience positive growth this past year.
I wanted to reach out and ask a small favor. Over the last 6 months your website has seen a tremendous return from our SEO services and I was wondering if you’d be open to sharing your experience with others.
As you know, we’re a small working day and night to grow – a few kind words would go a long way.
If you could spare :30 seconds, here is the link to our Google Places page: Click to review.
Thanks in advance!
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).
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!
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.
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.
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!