Getting rid of bad reviews online – online reputation management

displeased breakfastIt seems that the more you ‘put yourself out there’ on the internet, the greater target you become.

At first it’s great – customers and clients give you fantastic reviews, you add yourselves to more and more sites and directories, set up google Alerts to receive emails whenever you’re mentioned online, and all is good with the world.

But then comes the day that you receive a bad review online – or even more. Your alerts tell you that someone or some people are saying bad things, and you’re not altogether sure what to do.

It may be that the reviews are justified, or it could be that someone is ‘out to get you’ – either way it doesn’t make nice reading.

In some cases you can go to the review sites and refute the allegations, put your side of the story, or have the review removed if you can prove that it is untrue. In other cases though, you can’t. Lots of review sites allow anonymous reviews, and although it’s massively unfair, there’s not a lot you can do about it.

So how can you avoid potential customers and clients seeing bad reviews of your service?

If you can’t fix it or refute it, and getting it removed isn’t an option, then you may want to consider burying it.

What does this mean? Quite simply you need to drive the bad reviews off the front page of Google, Bing and wherever else – so that potential customers looking for you on the Internet find YOU and GOOD THINGS about you before they find bad reviews.

Back in December I talked about developing your circle of credibility – and this is kind of an extension of that – making sure that when people search for you online they find you in various places with results that leave them feeling good about you. Let’s recap on the things I said were good to have:

Your company website. Ideally your website will be in the number one position, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have prominent links showing to the main areas of your website, including testimonials.

Your website is probably the first thing someone will be looking for, so make sure it contains some great testimonials / reviews, and shows you at your best. Case studies, examples of work and quotes from happy clients are great for showing you in a good light.

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– Your blog. Whether your blog is attached to your website, or a separate entity, it gives any potential client a flavour of your thoughts, opinions and expertise. A quick read through a corporate blog can often tell you much more than a company website, as a blog tends to be more informal and have more of a ‘personality’ – make sure yours is visible and showing the side of you that you want people to see.

– Your Twitter profile. Of course, this is only a good thing if you WANT people to find it, and if you’ve thought about your company image and brand while posting tweets :) If your Twitter profile is full of ‘Got a hangover and don’t know the name of the man I woke up with this morning’ then it’s probably best if you give it a different name ;)

However, if you use your Twitter profile as part of your company brand then having it show up as one of the results for your company name is a good thing.

Your LinkedIn and online networking profiles. Along with places such as UK Business forums, UK Business Labs, Xing, WeCanDo.biz, BT Tradespace and more, your LinkedIn profile shows that you appear in various places online that are related to business. These profiles, especially if very active and up to date, show that you’re not just a fly by night, and that you can be tracked down in the event of any problems. This is especially important if you’re a ‘virtual’ company, in my opinion.

Articles you’ve written. Whether they are articles on your own site, or articles on somewhere authoritative such as Ezine Articles, having your content easily findable shows you spend time promoting yourself, and those articles could be the difference between you showing your expertise or becoming just another ‘also ran’ in the competition for someone’s business.

Interviews. If you’ve been asked to do interviews and the transcripts or audio files are online, then they’re a great way for a potential customer to learn more about you – if you’ve not been asked to do interviews, start making it known that you’re available!

Videos. Whether it’s your very own YouTube channel, or videos on your site, having videos show up in the search results for your company name is a good thing. Not everyone likes reading reams of text about how great you are ;)

Your Facebook profile and / or  Fan Page. This is only a good thing if you’re aware that your Facebook profile could be seen as part of a ‘fact finding’ mission by potential customers. If your profile is available to all (and Fan Pages are by default) then make sure it shows your best side, not just your wild and possibly drunken side ;)

Basically, you want the search results for your company or your name to show a well rounded promotion of your company and services. When people see your website, your blog, your Twitter profile and Facebook Fan Page, numerous articles written by you, interviews, videos etc, they see that you’ve been around a while, that you’re not going anywhere and that you’re probably the person that they want to deal with.

That’s why we always recommend to our clients that they have up to date profiles in as many places as possible, that they blog and write articles regularly, and that they bear in mind their Circle of Credibility, no matter what they’re doing online.

Unfortunately, when it comes to burying bad reviews, the above isn’t always enough (although it’s a good start). Review sites and blogs, by their very nature, do well in search engines such as Google, and you may have to work a little harder to ensure your positive results come above the negative ones.

If you’re interested in finding out more about getting rid of bad reviews online and managing your online reputation, get in touch.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Genista

Want to create more hype about your product or service?

Toy sampling megaphoneIt’s 2010 and a great way to create hype and recognition of your product or service this year is to involve the blogosphere.

We’ve worked with quite a few clients in 2009 who gave away free samples of their products or services in return for reviews, generating backlinks, great articles, traffic and in turn buyers for very little outlay.

Good blog reviews on sites with lots of traffic in your niche market can create great buzz, great traffic and obviously sales.

So why not try it this year?

If you have a product or service that you could give away, even to as few as 10 good bloggers, in return for reviews, you could generate more interest in your company, and hopefully more money!

It’s as simple as approaching bloggers in your market, and asking them if they’d accept your freebie in return for a review.

Some points:

  • DON’T demand a positive review – be confident in your product or service
  • DON’T only choose blogs with lots of comments – ask about the number of readers or subscribers too
  • DO ensure you give your bloggers some guidelines, telling them where you want them to link to and the tone of review you’re looking for, as well as the number of words you’ll need
  • DON’T demand to see the blog before it’s written – although feel free to ask for changes in grammar and spelling afterwards.
  • DO remember to thank your bloggers and comment on their blogs afterwards

It does take up a little time, it isn’t always easy to get people to agree to do this, and some would say it’s a little controversial, but it works, and it works well.

We’ve seen book authors sell more books, skin care specialists make more sales from their online shops, speakers gain more bookings, and a baby product retailer increase sales by 75% from 15 reviews!

Give it a go, let me know how you get on, and of course if you don’t want to do this yourself, drop me a line to nikkipilk@gmail.com to find out more about  how we can help you for as little as £15 per review!
Creative Commons License photo credit: altemark

Protection and management of your online reputation

It’s been a grumpy day for me today, made a bit grumpier because of a tweet I came across on Twitter, and 2 phone calls I had this morning, both about similar things.

Part of the service we offer is Online Negative Reputation Management. We don’t make a big deal out of it, as it’s not cheap, and it’s not something that most people need, but we do get the occasional call about it and take on one or two jobs a month. It’s also not something we can put out case studies for, for reasons that will become obvious!

The tweet came from @france_normandy – gite owners in Normandy, France, who have recently had a couple of fake negative reviews on Trip Advisor, resulting in this blog: Trip Advisor Fake Reviews

The calls came from a photographic studio and a jewellers, both who were finding that when searching for their company name, the front page of Google brought up reviews that were negative and, as far as the callers were concerned, untrue. They were well aware that by having these negative reviews, they were losing customers – and in both cases, the loss of just one or two customers meant a considerable amout of money.

While writing this blog I’m reminded of another call a couple of weeks ago from a wedding organiser who organised weddings in another country. She had some great testimonials, but a disgruntled ex employee had started a campaign against her, and knowing the internet better than her, had managed to get some great front page positions slagging her off, posing as an unhappy customer.

See, one of the things I love about the internet is freedom of speech. Anyone can have their say on bad customer experiences – I use the web frequently to moan about Orange.fr and Aweber, among other things! But it can also be a bad thing, because if your livelihood is online, and bad reviews and negative comments can affect you, then you’re vulnerable and at risk.

It’s bad enough when the reviews are true – and believe me, we’ve had plenty of customers where we’ve quickly realised the reviews were true and had to implement a strategy to deal with that and enable them to come out of it looking better.

But when they’re untrue and the sites involved have published them without checking, without thinking, and in a lot of cases without verifying the person involved, it’s worse. Reviews that are negative and downright untrue, yet have no real name attached, can’t be traced back to an actual customer, and may even be a competitor or ex employee / business partner can still be accepted and read as if they’re true.

And in a lot of cases the vendor has no comeback – not all review sites let you challenge a review, and some of them will just refuse to remove the bad reviews, no matter what proof you send.

In the cases I talk about above, the jeweller, the photographer and the wedding planner, we are able to help – we can implement a strategy to drive the negative reviews off the front page, limit the damage caused by the reviews in other ways, and help to limit the impact they have.

In the case of @france_normandy, Trip Advisor is a big part of their business, and really needs to tighten up its processes to avoid a backlash. Happily it looks as if that one will be sorted out in the end, but at what cost? The longer a negative review is in a prominent position, the more damage it can do.

It’s a timely reminder to keep on top of what is being said about you online – make sure you at least have Google Alerts set up so that anything published with your copany name is seen by you immediately and can be responded to – if it’s in the public eye then your potential customers could be seeing it.

In a world where ‘to Google’ is common before choosing a supplier, make sure that if someone ‘Googles’ you, they see what YOU want them to see, not what your enemies do…

If you’re having problems with negative online reputation management, drop me a line, I might be able to help.

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