You thought it could never happen to you. Your company does its best to provide great service or put out the finest product of its kind on the market, but there it is a negative review on Google My Business. As part of a local SEO strategy, reputation management is essential to your ranking and overall marketing efforts.
While one bad review won’t necessarily kill your business, it can affect how your company is ranked on search listings and make potential customers think twice about choosing you over a competitor. In fact, that bad review may well be part of an unethical attempt to sabotage your online reputation by a rival company.
Deserved or not, what can you do about a negative Google My Business review?
The Importance of Online Reputation Management
Brick and mortar businesses are learning something that e-tailers have known for years: online reputation is everything. Traditionally, companies relied on positive word of mouth and recommendations from loyal customers to attract new business. Those things are still the basis for consumer decision making, but the internet has changed the scope and scale of how the marketing and PR game is played.
In an increasingly mobile world, the first place potential customers look for information about a business is on the internet. Statistics bear this out with some staggering numbers. According to current surveys performed by digital marketing research firms like HubSpot, Bright Local, and NetMarketShare:
– 97 percent of customers used local search to find a service provider. – Local business lookups constitute nearly half of all Google searches. – 70 percent of customers will visit a store based on information gleaned from online listings and reviews. – 80 percent of customers will visit a business they found online within five minutes.
Maintaining an impeccable online reputation is core to boosting and maintaining your spot on the search engine results page (SERP) listing. Online reputation management (ORM) serves several purposes that are essential to branding brick and mortar business.
Maintaining a favorable online business presence will:
– Build credibility. In a world of scammers and disreputable business practices, trust is one of the biggest factors consumers name when recommending one company over another. With tight budgets and a world of brands to choose from, potential customers need to know they can rely on a company to deliver as advertised.
– Improve your brand image. Establishing a favorable brand image solidifies that company in the public mind as someone who deserves their business. Monitoring and controlling online mentions, shares, comments, and reviews is the first step in controlling how your brand is viewed.
– Increase sales. Most people search for a company online before they decide where to spend their hard-earned cash. High search engine ranking and favorable reviews improve visibility. When customers can find you in local listings and read glowing Google reviews, it translates to conversions, and that means sales.
– Aid recruitment. Companies have three objectives: to attract new business, prevent customer churn, and increase revenue. Businesses with a tarnished image aren’t going to attract the best and brightest talent from the employment pool. That has a direct bearing on customer service and product development…
Local Search Engine Optimization and Google Search Results
If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you’ve witnessed first hand how a bad tweet or negative review on a Google business profile can catch on and spread like a wildfire across social media. It doesn’t even matter if the blurb was true or not, whether a quote was taken out of context, or even if the negative statement was refuted later.
What happens on the internet stays on the internet.
Google and other search engines are constantly refining their algorithms in order to provide meaningful results that are relevant to what their users need. The purpose is to evaluate a company’s ability to provide a quality customer experience online and in the real world. As a result, search engine optimization has evolved beyond detecting the right keywords to include the quality of the content and feedback from customers. In today’s marketplace, local SEO is just as important as any other optimization tactics local businesses can utilize.
If you’re not able to prevent negative press, the best thing to do is perform damage control after the fact.
How to Neutralize a Negative Google Business Review
Smart business owners know how important it is to constantly monitor their online presence and bury negative press from disgruntled customers. Most don’t have the time or the knowledge to find bad reviews or analyze the metrics that provide insight into their performance online. Brand management is not only essential for preventing a crisis that can put you out of business, but it can also save you an untold amount of money and effort undoing the damage if you find unwanted or defamatory comments from visitors posting on your business listing.
There are five steps you can take right now to manage your listing, take control of the conversation, and remove negative reviews from Google Places and other consumer review platforms.
1. Evaluate the review.
Unless you’re doing something very wrong that’s affecting a large segment of your customer base, evaluating negative reviews shouldn’t be too difficult. Most fall into one of four categories:
– Product malfunction – Unsatisfactory service – Inaccurate billing – Incorrect order
2. Confirm that it’s a genuine complaint.
Once you’ve determined the nature of the complaint, you need to determine if it’s authentic or an intentionally negative review meant to sabotage your business listing. Legitimate complaints can be dealt with on their own terms. Unethical practices need immediate attention to remove them from your profile.
The process for flagging and reporting negative reviews from your Google Business listing is as follows:
– Log into your Google My Business account. – Find “Display all reviews” on the left-hand side of your dashboard. – Once the bad review has been located, click on the three-dot stack at the far right- hand side of the line with the reviewer’s name. – Click and choose the option to flag the review as inappropriate. – Select the corresponding reason when prompted, and submit. – Follow up by contacting Google Support to expedite the removal process.
3. Respond quickly to address the complaint or problem.
Complaints that do have merit need to be addressed within 24 hours at the most. Respond directly to the complaint using the reply mechanism on the comment. Customers and people investigating your company need to know that they are dealing with a real person who cares about their problems. Apologize for their dissatisfaction, expressing genuine concern and a willingness to rectify the matter.
4. Resolve the issue.
This is where you turn the situation around. It doesn’t matter how sincere your apology is if you’re unable to correct the problem. This could entail offering a refund or replacement or offering a discount on future orders. The keys are timeliness and showing an honest effort to do everything in your power to make it right.
5. Mitigate or remove negative reviews.
Once the complaint is resolved, let the customer know that they have an opportunity to change their review on your Google profile if they’re satisfied with the solution. You may not be able to remove the original review in this situation, but customers checking out your business will be able to see how you resolve conflict.
Many business owners don’t have the time or expertise to keep on top of managing their My Business profile. Professional SEO consulting services can audit and respond to bad press before it becomes a crisis that will ruin your brand image and push down your SERPs.
If you are looking for a way to lower or remove a negative Google review leave us a message as we have reverse engineered how Google ranks the reviews, this is a bullet proof strategy to remove negative Google reviews from Google My Business listings.