The keyboard warrior: a much-feared Karen hiding behind the safety of the keyboard who, instead of facing real-life conflict, turns to the removed environment of the internet to cast aspersions on your well-meaning company. Even if the feedback is constructive and helpful, the criticism is now out there for everyone to see. But online reputation management need not be complaint control—when managed effectively, online reviews (even the bad ones!) can raise your business’ reputation and profile. They’re also a helpful way to improve your search engine results page ranking.
So, how do you win the war against the warriors? And how do you use online reviews to your advantage? Read on for some dos and don’ts to help you with managing online reviews, as well as some ideas for building your online reputation.
The first step to effectively managing online reviews is taking control of the platforms where they’re popping up. Create comprehensive business profiles on relevant sites, such as Yelp, Google Business, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Note that we said relevant—not every business needs to show up everywhere, but you should make sure you’ve established a presence on the sites where your audience expects you to appear. Make sure you catch any industry-specific sites as well (for example, if you’re running a medical clinic, you’ll want a Healthgrades profile; book authors need an author profile on Amazon). Include all relevant company descriptions, high-quality images, contact information, a link to your website, videos, and any other information the platform allows.
Online reputation management isn’t only about damage control. If someone leaves a positive review, take the time to thank the person with a customized response referencing their specific feedback. And if someone leaves a negative review, try to resolve (or at least acknowledge) the issue.
Give a relevant person at your company the responsibility for managing online reviews to ensure they don’t slip through the cracks. Whether the review is negative or positive, a timely response goes a long way in showing that you care about your customers’ experiences. Make sure that the dedicated responder knows how to handle reviews in a professional manner.
Bad reviews suck. But they can yield candid, honest feedback that you can use to improve your product or services. Paying close attention to reviews helps you gather invaluable information on what your customers want, expect, and appreciate from your company. Look for trends that might point to internal issues (or strengths) worth considering.
Google’s policy guidelines explicitly state that discouraging negative reviews or selectively soliciting positive reviews from customers is not allowed. You’re not permitted to incentivize reviews, either. Crossing the line can lead to reviews being removed or, worst case, being suspended from Google Search.
Have you left reviews for the partners, service providers, and suppliers you work with? Although it shouldn’t be your primary intention, doing so could remind them to leave a review for you, too.
Show customers that your brand is listening to them! Most online review platforms make it very easy to respond to reviews customers leave on your profiles, so be sure to respond immediately or set aside some time every week to respond to recent reviews.
Google is smarter than you, and your customers are smarter than you think. It’s glaringly obvious (and extremely biased) when all of a company’s reviews are written by employees, close friends, and families. If a friend or family member happens to leave a review on their own accord, that’s great, but don’t go spamming all your WhatsApp groups with review requests.
Google is on the lookout for phony reviews, and submitting all reviews from the same IP could raise some red flags. Don’t try to game the system—that’s the main point here.
You want your profile to be as authentic as possible, and it will look highly suspicious if all your reviews have been left on the same day. And if Google receives a bulk of reviews for your company in a short period, they may not even accept them.
Negative reviews hurt, and they especially sting when they seem to be unfounded. Nevertheless, it’s important to remain professional and respond as soon as possible with genuine, caring, personalized feedback. Remember that people who are checking out your business will see how you’ve responded to negative reviews. Try not to be too panicked or stressed, but see a negative review as an opportunity to respond to your dissatisfied customer and ask what you can do to improve the situation or to explain (carefully and politely) how there may have been a misunderstanding.
Occasionally, you may get a negative review from someone you’ve never encountered. The various platforms have processes for reporting spam reviews, and some are more speedy than others about removing them. Real users typically see through these as well. The best course of action for any negative review, once you’ve settled the matter to the best of your ability, is to surround it with positivity. If you already have an ethical, personalized process in place for asking your customers to leave a review, it won’t be long before that negative gets bumped to the bottom of the list.
Which one do you think is better for SEO: a business with two 5-star reviews or a business with 20 3.5-star reviews? You may be surprised to learn that, as far as SEO is concerned, quantity is better than quality when it comes to reviews. Obviously, it’s important that your prospective customers see good reviews, but the point is that it’s worth your while to seek reviews proactively so that you get as many as you can. Here are some ideas:
- Use emails, receipts, live chat, social media, print materials, etc. to direct your customers to sites where they can leave reviews.
- Phone your loyal clients and personally ask them to leave you an online review.
- Make leaving a review seamless and easy by linking directly to the page where customers can add a review.
- Ask for a review in person if you offer a face-to-face service or own a brick-and-mortar company. Keep a QR code with you so the customer can scan it and leave a review immediately.
- Don’t be afraid to follow up a few days after your initial review requests.
Hi [customer name],
Thank you for purchasing [product] from [company name].
Let us know what you think of it by leaving a review. Each review you share allows us to improve and give our community what they need. [Click to review]
Please click the link below to leave your feedback and help others like you get the help they need in [customer pain point].
Thanks in advance for leaving a review! If you have any questions about [product], feel free to contact me anytime.
[sales rep name] from [brand name]
Hi [customer name],
Thank you for your recent [service] with [company name]. We truly value all of our customers that come to us for help!
Customer satisfaction is very important to us, so we’d love to hear your feedback on your recent service. If you have a few minutes, we would really appreciate a quick review to let us know how we did.
To submit your review, click the link below and let us know your thoughts.
Thanks for taking the time out of your day!
[sales rep name] from [brand name]
Should I automate the process of asking for online reviews?
This is a tricky one that is highly dependent upon the nature of your business. An automated ask immediately after a customer interaction can be a great way to build your online reputation, but it can also go wrong rather quickly. If you’re going to use a service, be sure to set it up in a way that won’t annoy your customers.
Here are a few rules to consider if you’re going to automate review requests:
- Only ask for reviews from satisfied customers. There should be a way to stop the request from going out to a customer who just left in a huff.
- Don’t ask repeatedly—if the customer left a review last year, don’t ping them about it again.
- Be sensitive about who and when you ask. If you provide a product or service that’s related to a particularly emotional issue, tread lightly here. For example, if you are diagnosing people with cancer or helping them through the death of a family member, it’s probably not the best time to ask for a review.
Ready to get rated?
We hope you found this article helpful in calming the Karens and managing your online reviews. If you are looking for help managing your online reviews or other digital marketing support, please reach out to our team.