You’ve been monitoring online sentiment, you’ve even started responding to negative content, but there’s still some lingering items on the search engine results page (SERP) that you’d rather not have your users see.
Remove Negative Webpages From Your SERP
It’s unlikely you will be able to completely remove a negative webpage which shows up when someone searches for your brand. The best you can do is push it down far enough that your users won’t see it on the first few pages.
There are a few ways to push those bad results down in the SERP. I’m going to share with you my favourite strategies for cleaning up your reputation.
Encourage More Reviews
This is so simple, but I hardly ever see anyone do it. I know a doctor that passes out a little thank you card to all his patients with instructions on how to leave a review on 4 different review sites. This is a great way to encourage people to leave a review.
You could also leave a message on a receipt asking for a review. An even better way would be asking for a review in an email receipt or follow-up and adding a link to the review site.
These tactics all work. People don’t mind leaving a review if they liked their service and you make it easy for them.
The Most Effective Way To Get Reviews
This method makes it as easy as possible for the customer to leave you a review:
- Build a “Leave a Review” page on your website with links to various review sites that your customers use (Google Places, Angie’s List, Yelp, etc.)
- On paper & email receipts add a request for a review and link to the new review webpage
- If you have a physical location ask people for a review and show the link on the receipt at the end of each transaction
- If possible send an automated followup email a few days after a transaction asking how they like the product and if they’d write a quick review
This may seem like you’re bothering your customers a lot, but if you do it with tact it will be non-obtrusive and you’ll soon be swimming in positive reviews.
Don’t ask your customers to write a review for each site. That’s crossing into review spam territory and your hard work could eventually be lost.
If you had a particularly bad review on a certain site, you could temporarily remove the links to some of the other review sites so your customers will be forced to write reviews on your chosen site. This way the negative review will be pushed down faster.
Give your customers a choice though. Not everyone has a Google account and you can’t expect them to sign up just to leave a review on Google Places.
Pushing Negative Websites Down
If a webpage just won’t leave your SERP then you’ll need to create new content which will hopefully outrank it. This is where you can use Google’s recent “Freshness” algorithm update to your advantage. One thing you can do is put out a simple press release to news sites. You should actually already have a generic press release or two set aside just for this purpose.
If a search for “blue widgets” yields a website complaining about your blue widgets then you should create a new page which will outrank the negative page by writing about the same content…but better. Let’s say the title of the offending website is “blue widgets suck” with a list of complaints. A good page to create could be “Why blue widgets don’t suck”, with counterpoints to the content on the negative page.
If your blue widgets do suck you should probably fix them before your start publishing new content that states otherwise.
Now you’re armed with the basic knowledge of online reputation management and even a few advanced strategies.
Remember: Don’t let reputation management get in the way of running your business. Reputation management is only a small aspect of business. If you have a good product and treat your customers with respect then hopefully you won’t have too much to worry about.
5 Tips For Responding To Negative Customer Reviews Online – Fantastic article with points not mentioned here
Mike Blumenthal – Expert in Local SEO & reputation management for the SMB
Outspoken Media – Reputation management experts