The Dos and Don’ts of Online Reviews in Your Reputation Management Strategy

User-generated content is one of the biggest movements in the online world since the beginning of the new century. Social networks, reviews sites, and more, depend almost entirely on their user base to create content for their website. All this user-generated content is great for users, especially those who are looking to get an opinion about a new product or service before they buy. But this deluge of user-reviews and comments can also be extremely harmful to businesses when users feel they need to bad-mouth a particular establishment or complain about a small detail of service when the vast majority of their experience was positive.

If your business has generally positive reviews, this can be a great boon to your reputation management campaign. But it’s not such a great thing when you have a handful of reviews floating around the internet that are damaging or outright false. And all these reviews are now showing up in branded SERPs on a regular basis. That means, for example, when an individual searches for your business, they may see 3-4 links to different review websites where your business is mentioned—both good and bad.

As a result, these online reviews are one of the biggest concerns for any business that wants to maintain a pristine online reputation. So, here are a few dos and don’ts for dealing with online reviews to help you can build the most positive online reputation possible.

DO: Seek out Reviews

The best way to keep an eye on the reviews that you’re getting is by seeking them out. Primarily, search for your business name online and see what reviews appear. But once you’ve discovered what’s already out there, stay on top of what is being published about your company online by setting up a notification system like Google Alerts—so you’ll be informed immediately when a new review is published or a blogger decides to write about you. And when you know what is being published and where it’s coming from, you can start to deal with bad reviews.

DO: Open a Dialogue

Once you’ve identified a negative review, the best thing to do is try and contact the reviewer. Your ultimate goal is to get the reviewer to take down the review or change it, but that should not be your immediate petition upon first contact. Start by apologizing for any misunderstanding or mistreatment the customer may have experienced and offer your apologies. And NEVER try and argue with the customer about what happened or call into question their judgment. Next, ask if there is anything you can do to make it up to them or offer them a special deal on their next purchase or service. If the reviewer responds favorably, ask them if they might consider taking down or changing the review once they have a more pleasant experience the second time around. If they are reasonable human beings—and you are sincere and authentic in your communication—they’ll probably agree. If they don’t respond, or they respond with another angry message, it’s probably best to leave the situation alone and do your best with other reputation management strategies to bury the review as low as possible in the SERPs.

DON’T: Trash Competitors

If you respond to a review in an open forum, never trash a competitor. Trashing competitors can have two negative effects on your online reputation. 1) You will simply come off as petty and unpleasant. And anyone who sees that review will view your company as one who would rather bad-mouth others than improve the level of your own service or product in order to get ahead. 2) If you competitors see the comment, they could take legal action against you. And that’s not pleasant at all. It’s best to stay away from mentioning competitors at all and focus on your business’ positive points and products.

DON’T: Post Fake Reviews

This is, perhaps, the worst thing you can do when it comes to reputation management through online reviews. You may get away with it for a little while, but when it is found out that you are manufacturing reviews—and it usually is—you’ll suffer an even more embarrassing blow to your reputation management. When you fake reviews, you risk alienating any and all good trust that you have built with your current customers and any future customers you might have. The best policy is simply to give good service and sell great products, then you’ll greatly reduce the chance that you’ll have to deal with negative reviews online at all.

5 Stars for Reputations Management: Getting Reviews in Your SERPs

You’ve probably seen more and more rich snippets sneaking in the SERPs over the past year or so. For example, if you’ve searched for a product or service recently, chances are you’ve seen reviews tied to specific websites. More to the point, you’ve probably seen a star rating appear under certain results.

Whether or not the review is 5/5 stars of 2/5, your eye is drawn to these extra graphics in the SERPs, and you start to form opinions about that product or service before even clicking on the result. In some cases, you may avoid the product altogether if you see that all the ratings are really low. As you can see, these star ratings can have a big influence over the way people see your company if you know how to implement them the right way.

That’s why they could be a powerful tool for reputation management. There are two ways you can get these rating stars to appear in the SERPs, and you have the power to influence how they appear on the page. So let’s dive in.

Paid Search

Paid search (PPC) is not usually something we explore in reputation management, generally because there isn’t a whole lot of competition for your brand name. However, use can use paid search ads to get these little reviews to appear in the results.

Google has partnerships with tons of online review sites, like bizrate.com, yelp.com, and others. When you create a PPC campaign and you give Google the linking URL, Google automatically searches through its own and its partners’ reviews to find reviews related to the URL given. If it finds reviews, it aggregates them, averages the 5-star rating and posts the average star rating in the SERP along with the total number of reviews given.

However, only use this strategy if you know your reviews are stellar across a multitude of sites, or it could backfire on you.

Microdata

The second way to implement star ratings is to implement microdata on your site for rich snippents. Microdata is a language you can add to your site that gives Google information about your site. It can be used to tell Google who wrote a blog post (so their picture appears in the SERPs), pricing on products (so the price appears in the SERPs), or even upcoming events (so the dates appear in the SERPs). And they can give Google informaiton about the reviews on the page so it can display a star rating in the SERPs.

Although it is too lengthy (and technical) to go into here, you can find specific markup at Schema.org that you can use to implement on your websites so that Google can easily find your reviews and display them.

After you’ve implemented the code, Google will generally recognize all the reviews on a page, average the star rating, and make it appear in the results. Since you are implementing the code on your site, you control what Google sees and what it doesn’t, which makes it extremely easy to give yourself a 5-star rating.

However, keep in mind that most of the people searching for your name in the SERPs are looking for information about you, not edited reviews by you. If they see 5-stra rating across the board, they’ll be much less likely to believe that the reviews are real—even if you have collected them from real customers. So, make sure you publish a variety of reviews on your site to make it seem less biased and more natural. In the SERPs, people are much more likely to click a link with a star rating of 4/5 than 5/5.

Implementing Ratings

Of course, getting the reviews to appear is the last step of the process. First you have to get people to review you on multiple sites and submit reviews to your website as well. But once you done that, implementing the microdata (or buying PPC ads) is the step that will make those reviews appear in the SERPs—hopefully to the benefit of your online reputation.

Contact Info

+1 917-727-5756
[email protected]