You don’t have to settle for false reviews as an inevitable part of the online landscape. Here’s how to fight these destructive tactics and win!
Sometimes negative online attacks can be perpetrated using relatively low-tech means. By simply leaving negative online reviews, spammers, and even competitors, can drop a hornet’s nest onto your hard earned reputation. Here in the second in our negative SEO blog series (catch part 1 here) we’ll take a look at how attackers use false reviews and how you can turn the tables back in your favor.
Before You Forge Ahead – Look Inward, First
First, ask yourself; could the poor review have a basis in fact? Be objective – have there been actual issues with your customer service or your products that could have caused a poor review? If so, meet these challenges head on, and offer to take the conversation off line to reach a satisfactory resolution for the customer.
If you’ve determined that the reviews are likely fake, then you’ll need to do some work to counteract and remove them. Some of the SEO techniques we’ll talk about here are often classed as reputation management, and can come in handy when you need to push down harmful negative commentary, until such time as you can get Google or other sites to remove the reviews.
Engage Your Supporters to Help Counteract Negative Reviews
A terrific option you can use is superbly illustrated by Joy Hawkins, in her February 21, 2018 Moz article, ‘How to Deal with Fake Negative Reviews on Google.’ She makes a brief, pointed comment on Twitter about three bogus reviews (along with a screen shot of the reviews themselves). She receives support from her real customers, and actually gains three new, positive, reviews from this experience. The upshot is that she relied upon her good reputation (that she took years to build), and then her actual customers were glad to speak up in her defense. The tweet she created also is a form of documentation, if you will, of the incident, that Google and humans can reference. Well done!
Respond Promptly, Briefly & Constructively
In addition to the above strategy, there is one key tactic you must *always* use when dealing with negative reviews (real or fake). You must always respond – and as promptly as possible. Plus, you want to provide a personalized response, as your responses will be seen by others who are considering doing business with you. If all your responses are repetitive, canned comments, you won’t be making a good impression with new prospects. Plus, you of course want to be as helpful as you can to actual people, so you can get to the root of the issue and resolve it to the customer’s satisfaction.
Even a fake review requires a positive, constructive, and *brief* response. These become part of your permanent record, if you will, and need to be handled with care. Try this for a template, and vary it according to the situation, so it is personalized to the issue at hand:
Dear (reviewer’s name or handle):
We see that you had a less than optimal experience with our company. We would like to talk to you in more detail about your experience and provide a proper resolution. Please contact our office at 555-555-5555 (enter your customer service phone number here). We look forward to resolving your issue promptly and to your satisfaction! Thank you!
The goal here is to acknowledge the reviewer’s comments. Your reply should be professional; and it needs to make the point of taking the issue *off line.* Should the reviewer write additional negative comments online, our recommendation is to respond positively with one sentence.
Simply offer once again to take it off line. And do this only one more time. You do not want to create a permanent record on the Internet of a long, negative back and forth conversation.
Great User Experience & Genuineness are the Ultimate Goals
In a number of our SEO blogs we have discussed the importance of user experience. It is a key indicator that Google uses to rank websites. It can be difficult to get fake reviews taken off of Google, but the process starts with flagging the review (here’s how, from Google). Google makes no guarantees. It won’t get involved in disagreements between businesses and customers. Google won’t adjudicate claims made by you and the other party. What it can do is analyze your flagged review, and if it finds that the review appears fake, Google may remove it.
Even though Google (or other sites, like Facebook or Yelp) doesn’t guarantee fake review removal, you are not left powerless when hit with spam reviews. As outlined above, you can take proactive steps to protect your reputation. Plus, (and you don’t have to wait for negative reviews to do this) you should be regularly distributing good news about your company’s activities. These positive announcements should include community involvement pieces; which, along with promoting your genuine interest in community affairs, help build trust with customers. This PR content can also be search optimized to help drive traffic to your website.
Black Hat Has Gone Mainstream – Let Our Experts Help Protect You!
Today ultra-competitive and downright black hat SEO tactics don’t always hide in the shadows. Check out this Google search result for ‘negative SEO services’:
Your competitors can actually search for negative SEO service providers to try and bring you down! No need for covert operations – this stuff is now going mainstream!
It’s time you got your own team of experts to protect your business reputation. Contact Engine-ius Marketing! We offer a specialized combination of reputation management, SEO and communication skills that can help you deliver the exceptional experience that human users and Google love! Get in touch today (800-781-3074) firstname.lastname@example.org