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Effectively Dealing with Your Bad Online Reviews

Even if you don’t know it, your online reputation is important to you. Almost every business has some references to it on the internet, and they may even have business directory listings that they don’t know about- but their customers do. As many as 58% of consumers say that they have used search as a part of their purchasing process and 24% have posted comments or online reviews of the products that they have bought1. Your customers may have been reviewing your business in dozens of places online without you ever knowing!

In light of the fact that 80% of consumers say that they have changed their mind about a product or a company after reading bad reviews,2 it makes finding out what others have been saying about you online a lot more important than you might have imagined. Bad reviews could be costing you valuable customers, so finding them and dealing with them effectively could be as important as your online advertising is to your revenue.

Finding Your Business Online
The obvious way to look for your business online is to do what over half of your potential customers will do, and go to the search engines and see what turns up in the SERPs. It might be a good idea to do the same searches on both a desktop and a smart phone to make sure to get all of the pages, as mobile web search is optimized for mobile devices. If it exists, Google will show your Google Places listing in its SERPs, and if you haven’t claimed this for your business you should. It is also important to go to as many of the online business directories as possible to see if you are mentioned and, if they offer a free business listing, to take ownership of it and fill in the relevant details. The final place that it is practical to look is on the user based content sites like Squidoo and Hubpages, where users are able to create their own pages and leave reviews of businesses and their products.

After going through that list of websites you may have collected a lot of reviews and comments and if you find that not all of them are complimentary you will want to do something about it. If you haven’t rated many mentions online, or they are all good, then it is an opportunity to begin from scratch and build a good online reputation for your business. If you are faced with some bad press about you there are a few things that you can do to repair the damage, or at least lessen it.

Four Steps to Effectively Dealing with Bad Online Reviews

1. The first thing that you can do is to update your company website, and if you aren’t already blogging on it, start. It is also important to take ownership of your online directory brand pages so that they at least represent your business as you want them to, even if you can’t totally control the comments.

2. Replace user content sites’ reviews with positive ones. Encourage your satisfied customers to leave good reviews on specific sites and reward their loyalty with a discount or a special offer.

3. Create a strong social media reputation by engaging with your customers via Facebook and Twitter. Social media comments don’t last as long as online reviews, but social sites can be a great way to get people to review you positively online.

4. Institute a long term reputation management plan so that any bad reviews that come along are less of a problem in the future. can help you to deal with bad online reviews or online reputation management.

1. Online Product Research, Pew Research Center, 2010
2. Online Influence Trend Tracker Fact Sheet, Cone, Aug 2011

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