How to Combat Negative Online Reviews
Negative reviews have been shown to directly correlate with lost revenue for any business with less than 5 stars. The way users utilize reviews is a big part of the reasoning behind that correlation. Users, especially those on the go, tend to review the star ratings because those ratings provide a quick and easy reference point. Unfortunately for businesses with fewer than 5 stars, those pages don’t always display the kind of information one might want to show.
If your business is the victim of a negative review smear campaign, or you find your ratings slip and want to be proactive about improving them, then these tips will help you grow.
Address the Concern
Google will go to great lengths to present all information in a dispute, including your response. If you use your business Google account to publicly respond to negative press about your business, your response will be included. This is a double-edged sword. If your response is hastily written and doesn’t address the problem, record of it remains. Carefully word your responses and feel free to ask the user to take the conversation private (either by phone or email) to find a solution.
If you own multiple properties, there are good odds that those properties will show when someone conducts a search for your name. Especially if you do some basic SEO and link building to those properties. The more properties you own, the better your odds of controlling the messaging around your business. This strategy is especially effective at helping businesses that wouldn’t normally get a ton of press from outside sources.
Request New Reviews
While you can pay Yelp to advertise on their site, it’s a better idea to just ask your existing customers to leave reviews on your page. It’s against the terms of service to offer some form of incentive, even a small discount, but you would be surprised at how many customers want to offer their point of view to help others out. You’ll need to collect the customer’s email address to get the best results, but many businesses will just ask the customer to leave a Yelp review on the receipt.
Businesses with a less than stellar Yelp review are literally leaving money on the table. Every star missing equates to a loss of revenue near 5-9%, according to a study published by the Harvard School of Business. If you’re a restaurant, and you’re not a chain, the losses could be even worse!
Yelp will try to hassle you for advertising, hinting (but never explicitly saying) that your negative image will vanish. This isn’t true. Yelp reviews must be sought actively. Paying for ad space on Yelp is the equivalent of paying AdWords fees. If you’re interested in improving your reputation, you need to engage with your customers.