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Unexpected Turns: How to Turn Negative Reviews Into New Opportunities

Turning a Negative Into a Positive

Few things in life as a small business owner in the 21st century inspire more dread than a bad review. If you’ve been paying any attention to our blog posts here at LinkNow Media, you’ll know that we’re obsessed with reviews and “how they can impact your SEO” . And in fact, most consumers take reviews into account when they are searching for information on products.

So when your business gets a dreaded one-star review, it can feel like the end of the world. But it absolutely isn’t. In fact, it might just be the best thing that happens to your business this week.

When Life Hands You Lemons, Paint Them Gold

The first step to reclaiming your company’s reputation after a bad review?

DON’T PANIC.

Take a deep breath. Now is not the time to let powerful emotions take sway. And you will be experiencing powerful emotions! After all, your business isn’t only your livelihood, it’s so much more than that. It’s your raison d’etre. It’s what gets you bounding out of bed in the morning. When someone leaves a bad review, it feels personal.

What we see time and time again in dealing with small business owners is an immediate defensive response. The business owner will reply to the review, but immediately attack the reviewer’s character. This person is a liar. We never worked with them. This customer was mentally unwell!

Never do this.

It does not matter whether or not you and the client had a disagreement. The customer might even be lying (more on that below). Never ever attack the customer as a review response strategy.
It will immediately make you, the business owner, look like someone who leverages their power in order to get their way. Because you have to remember here that, from the outside, it looks like you have the power here, and that this customer is merely trying to make amends for how they were treated.

What do you do instead?

Reach out, with compassion and humility. You do not have to admit to anything you did not do, but you can apologize for the fact the customer had a negative experience.
Be kind but remain in control. Which means diplomatically expressing your condolences and promising to make amends in some regard. Maybe that means offering a discount on future services. Or maybe it requires something more serious like a policy review.

But remember that you are the face and voice of your business. Remember: magnanimity is something that looks good on absolutely everybody.

If you need to take time to get into the right headspace to do this, then do so.Remember that customers aren’t looking for an instant response, but the right response.

But I can still hear you saying, the review really is fake! I’ve never had that customer!

It doesn’t matter. Respond graciously. If it’s false, respond graciously and quietly report the review.

And don’t lose sleep. You’ll be okay. And soon, people will know your business as kind and professional under fire, which is worth its weight in gold stars.

Can You Remove That Negative Review?

Removing Reviews

For business owners, negative online reviews are the bane of their existence. You work so hard to get your business up and running and promote it properly online, working with SEO and creating regular quality content, only to find that those reviews you see when someone searches for you have dipped a star because someone had a bad experience.

If it’s something you’re genuinely at fault for it’s upsetting, but something you can work with. But what about when it’s undeserved? Your competition can use reviews to sabotage you, ex-employees can use them to get their rage out, and activists can use them to tank your rating for doing something they don’t approve of.

In these cases, you’re going to want to get that review removed ASAP. But will Google do it? How do you even contact them to try? It’s time to find out.

Five Types of Reviews You Can Remove

There are five categories of reviews that Google will review and remove for you. To get to the reviewing process simply flag the review. You’ll then be prompted to enter your email address and if Google requires follow-up information they’ll get in touch.

Illegal Content

If there is mention of illegal activity within a review, then it will likely be removed from Google. Mentions of racist organizations may also be removed. In many cases these reviews are meant to purely be sensationalistic and bring down a business’s reputation rather than deal with a real problem. However, if there is a clear and strong case presented, Google may opt to leave the review up.

Fake Reviews

Anyone can claim that a review is fake and ask for it to be removed, so how does Google determine which is which? If one account reviews multiple similar businesses or if multiple accounts leave reviews on one business in quick succession these are good signs.

Biased Reviews

Negative reviews left by current or ex-employees of a company will be removed immediately. Another case of a biased review will be one account leaving you a negative review and leaving your direct competition a positive one. In most cases this is your competition doing the writing.

Mistaken Reviews

Mistakes happen, and so do glitches. A client from the business down the street could get prompted to review your company, think you’re someone else, and before you know it you’re learning about someone’s bad graphic design experience while you’re just over here trying to run your restaurant!

Reviews After Controversy

Social media is great for spreading information, but that information isn’t always positive. If your business has been part of a controversial news story that resulted in hundreds of negative reviews from people who have never been clients, Google will remove those reviews.

Relieved?

We hope that some of those examples were a relief to you. Online it can often feel like we’re left without anyone to protect us from negative comments, but in quite a few cases Google will do exactly that.

Have you had any other types of reviews removed from your page that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Where Will Online Reviews Take You in 2018?

Online Reviews in 2018

Whether you’re just starting out online or you’ve been promoting your company on the World Wide Web for years now, there’s no denying the strength of a quality collection of online reviews.

Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List… it goes on and on. The sites that people can use to have their say about your business are endless.

Opening up your business to reviews can be scary at first, but after you settle into a routine, you take them as they come. However, if you are just starting out or you’re in a bad place with your reviews currently, your main resolution for 2018 should be to create a quality reputation for your company online.

The Stats

We’ll start off with the stats. Heading into 2018, we’ve got a few we know already.

  • 82% of Americans pay attention to the reviews of their friends and family.
  • 92% of all consumers are reading reviews.
  • 31%of consumers will spend 31% more on businesses with good reviews.

In fact, if your business has a one star rating only 5% of consumers will feel comfortable purchasing from you or using your services. That’s a pretty staggering case for staying on top of your reviews.

Collecting Reviews in the New Year

Whether you were already aware of it or not, there are good ways to get reviews, and bad ways. And while the lines of legality can be tough considering you’re on the internet, consider this: Companies paying for reviews left by fake reviewers have been sued multiple times in the past by large corporations such as Amazon. Just don’t do it.

Instead, collect your reviews direct from happy customers. If you have a storefront, put a sign at your counter telling people how they can have their say, or even include a flyer with their receipt that tells them the same. Your clients will want to be heard, so letting them know they have an outlet will do the trick.

Responding to Bad Reviews

Got a bad review? It probably doesn’t feel very good. We’ve all been there. What can you do about it? Respond as quickly as possible.

If the review is from an unreasonable client, explain your stance politely and offer restitution if possible. If you are in the wrong, admit this immediately and offer a discount or other reward. Whether these clients accept what you say or not, you are showing that you are a professional and reasonable business owner. This will go a long way for potential clients reading your negative reviews.

The worst thing you can do in the case of a negative review is ignore it. It’s not going to go away.

A Toast to Your Success

When you’ve got a top-rated business online you can truly get ready to pop that champagne and celebrate. Online reviews can be frustrating but always keep in mind that your clients are the people who keep your business going. Their input is valuable, and without them you wouldn’t be around very long!

Happy New Year, and happy reviewing!

The Best Way to Understand Your Clients’ Needs

Understanding your clients

As of 2015, Forbes estimated there were 27 million small businesses registered in the United States. If you spread that number out equally amongst all 50 states, that leaves 480,000 small business per state. And this count isn’t including larger companies that could be your competition depending on your industry.

Being able to understand your clients’ needs is what is going to end up determining whether you’re successful or not. Attracting clients is the first step, but then you’re going to need to ensure they stick around. Predicting what merchandise and services they could use and making changes they’ll appreciate—that is how you guarantee a return customer.

It’s Actually Quite Simple

Believe it or not, it’s actually quite simple to understand the needs of your clients in 2018. Why is this? It’s because of the internet.

Everyone is able to have their say now, to the point of frustration! And, while the online world has its share of irritants and unreasonable commenters, there is a lot that can be taken into account from analytics, and especially online reviews.

While analytics can tell you what products and posts are popular, reviews are your direct line to the minds of your clients, not sugar-coated, and honest.

Seeing Through the Attitude

The best and worst thing about the internet is that people feel more comfortable saying exactly what they like. Without being face to face with someone, you’re just talking to your monitor, and what sort of offense is it going to take to what you’re typing? Not much.

Positive reviews tend to be straightforward about what the client enjoyed about your services.

“I came by the gaming store today looking for an expansion I couldn’t find anywhere else and not only did you have it, but it was priced lower than everywhere else!”

They like your pricing—check.

Negative reviews often come wrapped in excessive language and hate which can make it hard to pull the constructive parts out.

“I have never left a negative review in my life. But because of your restaurant, today is the day. I was going out to enjoy a beautiful day and have lunch with my fiancée who I never have the chance to treat to anything because I’m so busy with work, but the presentation of your menus as well as the food was disappointing to say the least. The attitudes of the servers offended us further…”

The list goes on. Negative reviewers want to paint a picture of their entire negative experience, which is OK. From this you can glean that there were issues with presentation, food, as well as service. To find out more, all you need to do is reply politely and request that you speak over the phone and rectify the experience.

Extending the Olive Branch

Extending the olive branch to negative reviewers is what will get you the best information on changes that you should be making. While some reviewers may be in the wrong, take everything that is said seriously and do a self-evaluation to see if maybe there’s something right hiding in there.

The old saying really is true—the customer is always right!

Chaos: The World of Online Reviews

Chaos Online Reviews

The world of online reviews can be a chaotic one. So, is it really that necessary to be a part of it? For many business, they are losing interest and dropping the option for reviews altogether on websites like Facebook where this is possible.

Larger companies such as conventions find themselves inundated with reviews from false reviewers, disappointed attendees who didn’t have lofty needs met, and more. Knowing that they’re still guaranteed a large attendance, why bother leaving those pesky reviews up?

And, with mega review site Yelp itself clocking in at 57% of their reviews being one star, it’s clear that the community is not impressed. And Yelp is not the only one. There are a lot of online business owners out there who think review website aren’t doing their job when it comes to quality control.

Control Your Feedback

While it’s impossible to have full control over your online reviews, there are steps you can take to ensure your review section online is not a total disaster. It all starts with vigilance.

If you’re just starting out and have the time to man your own reviews, make sure that you set up notifications so you can see them as the roll in. If you are a larger company that gets multiple reviews in a week or even day, you’re going to need a dedicated employee for this task.

Response is everything when it comes to reviews. If you have received a negative review from a genuine client of whom you can comment on their experience and offer a solution, do it as quickly as possible. If you have received a review not left by a genuine customer, you can calmly and professionally express your side of the story.

And, the report button is your friend. Most recently, Google reviews updated their terms of service to state that ex-employees cannot leave negative reviews. If you’re dealing with those, send a report to Google straight away!

The Power is in Your Hands… Sort Of

It’s a tough fact of life that online reviews are always going to be a bit of a mess. In a world where an argument to remove a review is very much “he said she said,” it’s not easy for moderators on websites such as Yelp to make decisions in your favor.

But the power is still in your hands, and reviews are still useful to your business.

The stats still are there. Ninety-two percent of consumers in 2018 are reading online reviews when looking for local businesses and 42% of these consumers won’t use business with less than a three-star rating.

Business owners may not have complete control over the state of their reviews, but they can always do their best to represent themselves properly.

The most anyone can do is their best, so stay on top of your reviews, run your business ethically, and remember: the customer is always right. Unless they’re not really your customer and have a personal vendetta against you. 😉

Lose Your Bad Review Rep

Lose Your Bad Review Rep

We’ve all seen how important online reviews were for businesses in 2017, and know how horrifying it can be when you put your business out there hoping to hear the best, and instead receive negativity.

A shocking 97% of consumers are browsing for local businesses and reading online reviews, with these reviews impacting nearly 70% of purchasing decisions. The last thing you should be doing is sitting back, relaxing, letting the reviews flow in and focusing on other parts of your business.

However, it also needs to be said that freaking out about every bad review is not the best path to go down either. So, what do you do to regain your reputation when reviews go sour?

It’s Not So Bad

Let’s start off with another statistic: 77% of consumers don’t pay attention to reviews older than three months.

Breathing a little better now? While it is a wait period, if you’re actively monitoring your reviews, taking in constructive criticism, and responding professionally to non-constructive criticism, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to ride this out.

Negative reviews can happen for a lot of reasons. You could be dealing with a competitor sending fake reviews your way, you could have had a difficult customer who just can’t be satisfied, or you made a mistake. In all of these cases—it’s not so bad. There are ways to deal, and to recover.

Keep up Communication

If you launched your business, immediately opened it up for reviews, and then got inundated with all that comes along with launching a business, don’t be surprised if your reviews are less than kind.

Lots of us have been there—you haven’t looked in a while, and when you do, you get that sick feeling in your stomach.

First: You can’t go back. If you have yet to build your online presence and open yourself up to reviews, hold off until you’re a bit more established.

If not… get communicating! A review without a response is a missed opportunity.

You Can Improve

It’s easy as a business owner to become protective over your company and believe that it can do no wrong. But this is absolutely never the case.

As humans, we make mistakes. As humans, what one of us likes is not always what another one of us will like. You’re always going to have unhappy customers, and opening yourself up to their criticism will only make you and your business better.

This Too Shall Pass

A good mantra for anyone dealing with review stress is: “This too shall pass”.

Online reviews are important, and yes, they will be there forever. But the more time goes by, the less those few bad ones are going to matter.

And best of all, now you have a public record of just how far you’ve come!

Five Review Sites That are not Google or Facebook

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Online reviews are one of the most important tools for businesses online. Reviews help clients to communicate with your company, promote you, and attribute to a decent chunk of SEO as well.

The facts are as follows:

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews.
  • Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business.
  • 80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations./
  • On average reviews increase sales by 18%.

Reviews are important, and on average, a consumer will look at over 10 information sources before making a purchase. When we think of review websites, the two that are most often in our faces are Google and Facebook. However, having your business on multiple review sites will count for citations, and boost activity to rank you higher. So what other sites are out there to gather reviews?

Yelp

The go-to for most business reviews, Yelp has an average monthly unique visitor count of 145 million. 135 million reviews are posted per year, and most people you run into on the street will have the app on their phone. In fact, 70% of Yelp page views come from mobile devices.

Any variety of business can be posted on Yelp, and for consumers on the go it’s an easy-to- use, and reliable review site. If you’re not already listed on Yelp, you should make it top priority!

Foursquare

Foursquare currently has 10 million users with three million check-ins every day. Being one of the 400,000 business owners that use Foursquare as a marketing tool won’t just get you reviews, it will get you noticed. The way it works is users can check into a location as many times as they like and every time they do, their friends will know where they are. Users can become “mayor” of locations they are at the most, and fight for this title adding a fun, competitive aspect to this marketing tool—all of which will cost you nothing!

TripAdvisor

Users looking for the best places to go on a vacation or in their own city can rely on TripAdvisor. With 390 million unique visitors, 500 million reviews and opinions, and over 4.2 million business listed, like Yelp, this is a highly useful tool for review-gathering.

Better Business Bureau

To be a part of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you will have to pay for a yearly membership. One of the oldest review and rating sites, the BBB is an authority on many businesses in North America. Listing detailed information including inception dates, a high rating relies on a list of factors including:

  • Type of business
  • Time in business
  • Complaint volume
  • Transparent practices
  • Competency licensing

The BBB is known for holding business accountable.

Consumer Affairs

Not only can you gather reviews with Consumer Affairs, you will also gain access to a wealth of resources to help you learn more about reviews, increase revenue, find brand ambassadors, and learn how to convert negative customer experiences into positive ones.

There are other prominent websites out there such as Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and GlassDoor, however these are focused on serving specific purposes or industries. If you are in the world of home renovation, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are important. If you’re hoping to gain a reputation for future employees, GlassDoor is your best friend.

In the world of online marketing there is no shortage of online review websites, but getting your business to appear on those that are most viewed is your first step to business and SEO success.

Online Review Stats in 2017

online reviews

Every year surveys come out with percentages and detailed information regarding just about everything online. At LinkNow Media, we’re always interested in anything that affects SEO.
When it comes to online reviews, your reputation is pretty important, and the latest information confirms it. We’ll give you the “too long didn’t read” right now and say: reviews still matter in 2017.

So, don’t think you can get out of encouraging and monitoring them any time soon.

Who is Reading What?

In 2016, 95% of consumers were using the internet to look up local businesses. If you think that’s high though, 2017 has seen a 2% increase, up to 97%! If you currently run a business that doesn’t have an online presence, you’re making a big mistake.

Half of these consumers are looking for local businesses online at least once a month. Imagine how much business you’re missing out on if you’re not there to be found!
But, maybe your industry doesn’t really do that whole online thing? We doubt it. Among the top industries that have their clients reading reviews are:

    • Restaurants
    • Hotels
    • Healthcare
    • Clothing stores
    • Car dealerships
    • Tradesmen
    • Pest control
    • Cars for hire
    • Accountants
    • Locksmiths

And that’s just to name a few. So, where should you be collecting reviews? Facebook and Yelp unsurprisingly tied at 20% of consumers trusting them the most, followed closely by Google at 16% and the Better Business Bureau at 15%.

And, how many of these browsers turn into conversions? 68% of US consumers are more likely to use a business with positive reviews, with 40% citing negative reviews as a reason not to frequent a local business.

Best of all, the number of consumers who will actually visit a business after reading a review has grown by 10% from last year, to 17%.

Focus on Quantity and Quality

Factors that have also grown in importance since 2016 are the quantity and quality of reviews. There’s no way you can just sit back and coast when it comes to this powerful SEO builder.
54% of consumers rank star rating as the most important factor, with quantity coming in second at 46%—up 11% from last year. Consumers also want to see you getting involved. Up 10% from 2016, 30% now want to see you responding.

Therefore, our best advice to you is to keep doing what you’re doing. But do it a lot more. You still need to be drumming up reviews and monitoring them, providing professional responses to both positive and negative, but the importance of review building and etiquette has only become more important.

Feeling overwhelmed? You can always put the reins in the hands of an experienced SEO team like the one at LinkNow Media!

How Company Reviews Affect Potential Employees

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You’ve spent all this time gathering reviews and thinking about how they’re going to affect your bottom line, but what about how they affect your potential employees?

The way your company is spoken about online isn’t only going to help you to gain or lose business, it can influence who’s interested in working for you as well.

Most business owners assume that in the job market their word is law, but in a workforce that’s slowly being overtaken by Millennials, peer opinion matters a lot, and can cost you valuable employees.

Company Review Websites

I’m sure many of us remember the days of rate my teacher and rate my professor websites. Students don’t have much of a choice when it comes to choosing who teaches them what, so while serious complaints could have some affect, these acted mainly as open gossip sites—a place for frustrated students to get their emotions out.

This is not the case with company review and rating websites.

Glassdoor

Glassdoor displays ratings and reviews for more than 600,000 companies worldwide. When you need to get the inside scoop and find out what it’s really like from the people who work there, this is how you do it.

Offering articles on the factors that play a role in salary negotiations, the types of companies you should never work for, and of course the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards, this website is the largest and most crucial site on which you as an employer will want to rank well.

Indeed

Most commonly known as a networking website, Indeed also offers an anonymous review section of their website. While it’s not quite as personal as Glassdoor, ratings still hold a lot of weight on this well-known industry leader.

And Beyond

The website FairyGodBoss is an employer site strictly for women. RateMyEmployer features more than 45,000 candidate and employee reviews, and of course websites such as Google, Yelp and Facebook offer general reviews from employees and customers alike that can give future employers a pretty good idea about what a prospective employer is all about.

What it Comes Down To

While larger companies such as McDonald’s and Best Buy are going to have thousands of reviews that muddy the waters—and let’s face it, people looking for jobs at huge chains like this aren’t going to put as much weight into reviews—it’s imperative that a small business keeps up workplace morale.

When you’re looking to hire a talented new employee to head that new department, you’re going to want the best. While your ad may draw them in, any tech-savvy potential employee is going to check out your ratings right away.

If they pull up your Glassdoor page and find a post stating “Worst Job I’ve Ever Had”, they’re going to think twice.

So, what can you do about it?

Treat your employees well, but don’t sacrifice your professional atmosphere. There are great ways to build morale and keep a smile on peoples’ faces throughout the day without your office turning into a madhouse. And, get on these websites yourself!

Glassdoor offers you the ability to respond to all negative reviews. Like with any other review, the way you respond can set the tone for your business no matter what that reviewer said.

Can I Review my own Business?

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In the world of online reviews, many business owners like to start the ball rolling by leaving their own company a star rating or a little review.

Sounds innocent enough, but is it?

Whether your intentions are good, or shady, reviewing your own business is a bad idea.

Nearly 80% of consumers rely on online reviews before hiring a service or purchasing a product. In fact, peer reviews are trusted as much as recommendations from family or friends. With this in mind, it can be easy to get greedy and impatient when you’re just starting out.

However, you need to keep in mind that fake reviews are unethical, and even illegal. That’s right—you can be sued for posting fake reviews. It is called “astroturfing” and websites such as Google, Yelp and Amazon have been known to sue over it.

But you might be thinking: “How is it a fake review if I state that I am the business owner, or don’t say anything and just leave five stars??”

In the case of a five-star rating, it’s true you can probably get away with it. But if anyone realizes you are the business owner, your credibility is shot. If you reviewed your own company with five stars, who’s to say you didn’t talk other friends and family members into leaving biased reviews, or even pay for fake reviews?

    A fake review can be any of the following:

    • Asking someone who is not a customer to write a review.

    • Paying someone to write a review, even if they are a customer.

    • Asking an employee to review your company (it’s different if they review and state that the review is about their experience as an employee).

    • Creating a fake profile to review your company.

    • Reviewing your company as yourself, the business owner.

    That’s right, even if you state that you are the business owner and you’re just stopping in to leave a positive review, it’s counted as fake.
    Why?

    Because you have added to your rating. Whether you’re up-front about who you are or not, you have successfully altered the rating of your business and that is the goal of fake reviews.

    In 2016, Amazon sued 1,000 fake reviewers in an attempt to crack down on this practice. They stated that these false reviewers were tarnishing their brand with inauthenticity.

    No one is invulnerable to this sort of crackdown.

    So, how do you get started with reviews? There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that clients leave a review. Mention it on your website by linking to your business page, or put a sign up in your brick and mortar business.

    But next time you’re considering somehow leaving a review for your own business, just say no.

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