Reviews are an excellent way to catch the attention of potential customers. They have the power of influencing a customer to trust your product and service more before they buy it. So they are a fantastic marketing tool when utilised correctly. They are one of the many marketing tools that our agency reviews in our SEO audits.
With this being said, we all know that reviews are made by customers and not the company itself (or at least they should be!). For this reason, reviews are out of our control as business owners or marketers. This can, unfortunately, result in some seriously bad reviews that completely and utterly tarnish a product, service or even sometimes an entire company’s reputation.
As much as I’ve become accustomed to ‘smelly, dirty and loads of alcoholics’ kind-of-places being a young lad from Grimsby, it’s still a really poor review to receive.
In this article, I’m going to talk about how you can easily deal with bad reviews and give you an understanding of the rules surrounding Google My Business reviews.
Getting a bad review can be very frustrating, especially when you feel it is unjustified. However, it is important to remain calm and read the review carefully to assess what has happened. Here is a checklist of things to do when you receive a bad review:
1. Read CAREFULLY multiple times. As I have mentioned previously, this can be very frustrating, but your customer has put this review for a reason. If you are sat at your computer with steam blowing out of your ears, then you aren’t going to read the review correctly. You will make a mistake by not actually responding to the problem the customer has when you get round to making the response because you didn’t listen.
2. Assess the reason. Now you are calm, try to assess what the customer’s problem is. Sometimes it may be a fake review to tarnish the reputation of your business. Sometimes it may be genuine criticism or feedback which is really useful. Sometimes it may be unrelated to what your business offers, but how people view your business. People viewing your business badly can be due to bad press. Whatever it is you need to assess the reason why to be able to proceed.
3. Now you need to think of a valid way to respond to this. Always remember to stay completely professional and polite, even though it may be difficult.
This is the ideal way to respond to a bad review. However, with this being said, there is no guaranteed way to turn a genuine bad review into a good one. But the way listed above is your best bet!
Now, what if you are getting bad reviews but it’s not about the product or service you sell? What if the reviews being given are fake or spam?
Well, there’s a solution for that too.
Thankfully Google has provided business owners with the ability to flag inappropriate reviews. So what is an inappropriate review?
An inappropriate review is a review that violates Google’s Review Policies.
These violations include:
Now if you read those policies carefully, you may find that some of the reviews that you are receiving do actually violate Google’s policies and can, therefore, be flagged and removed. So if you are receiving multiple reviews by the same person containing the same or similar review content you will be able to flag them for ‘spam and fake content’.
Bad press can seriously affect how people view your business. It can also anger people so much that they feel it necessary to leave a bad review even though it wasn’t their experience of your company. If your business is having multiple bad reviews due to bad press, you can flag the reviews as ‘off-topic’ for general political or social commentary.
Have a current or former employee posting bad reviews? Flag for conflict of interest.
You will be surprised by how much Google wants to protect business owners via their My Business accounts. So you should definitely read the policies and keep up-to-date with what Google thinks is an acceptable review. You may find yourself able to get rid of a lot of them without even taking any action! So Google can be a good guy… sometimes.
The problems lie with the one-star reviews that have no review body (no text). This is because they don’t actually show any text that violates Google’s Review Policies.
The best way to deal with these reviews is to first respond saying something along the lines of:
We’re really sorry that we have done something to cause you to leave a one star review. However, because you haven’t left any details of what is wrong we are unable to remedy the situation. We take our customers opinions very seriously and would like to offer you a 100% refund. Please get in touch with us so we can address the situation.
By saying this you are leaving a professional and well-mannered response that looks like you treat even your bad reviews with respect. This is excellent for future prospects to see.
After you’ve made the response, it’s worth flagging the review as fake or spam if you think it is. Google is usually pretty good at identifying if a review is genuine.
Please take what I am about to say next with a pinch of salt. It sometimes is a plausible and sound strategy to turn bad publicity into good publicity. However, there is a talent to this and it can be a slippery slope when dealing with emotional beings. With this being said, if you are absolutely certain that a review is fake, then you can start to have some fun with it.
Some business owners have fantastically manipulated fake reviews to their advantage.
Now, I feel it is also my responsibility as the author of this article to reiterate professionally; be careful when doing this. People have feelings, if a review is genuine or you are not certain that it is fake, then address the review professionally, courteously and politely.
Bad reviews are annoying. Especially when after years of building your company’s sterling reputation it can be tarnished within an instant due to someone either being an idiot or leaving fake reviews.
However, it is important that you take it seriously, yet calmly. It is also important that when you receive a bad review that is genuine that you amend the customer’s problems. So remember:
Be careful out there business owners, it can be a tricky world to navigate. THE SEVEN WEBS BE A WORTHY ADVERSARY!
Please read our article on the cost of SEO to work out how much you should pay.
Nick Brown is the founder & CEO of accelerate agency, a SaaS SEO agency. Nick has launched several successful online businesses, writes for Forbes, published a book and has grown accelerate from a UK agency to a company that now operates across US, APAC and EMEA and employs 160 people. He was also once charged at by a mountain gorilla