While I’m a content writer and not a reputation management specialist, I recently worked with a client who had an unflattering article in a local newspaper showing up high in the search engine results. Sick with worry, he called to see what first steps he should take. First, the cold hard truth: neither Yelp, RipOff Reports (a consumer complaint site) nor any other respectable review site will remove bad business reviews. It’s their job to trust the reviewers after all. You can’t make a negative review or news article disappear permanently. But you can bury them a little. Think about it: when was the last time you went to the second page of the Google search engine results page? Before I sent this client along to a www.reputation.com type organization (which I do respect and recommend when the situation calls for it), I gave him these tips.
First Step to Remove Bad Business Reviews: Find Where It’s Located, Get an Account There and Share Your Side
Otherwise known as grabbing the bull by the horns. The good news about the sometimes frightening, ubiquitous transparency that social media provides is that most sites, especially the review sites like Pissed Consumer and RipOff Reports, offer an area where the attacked party can answer the bad review. Other readers know there are crackpots out there who unload misdirected anger on innocent parties. (If you don’t believe me, read this account of how a lady beat me up with dirt, “Negative Social Media Comments: A Veterinarian’s Concern.” A sheriff told me all about misdirected anger.) After encouraging a carpet cleaner client to list himself on Yelp, one of the very first things to happen was a completely unwarranted negative review. The situation was so uncalled for (negative reviewer had damaged my client’s truck and my client asked him for insurance information), I stormed right on over to Yelp and put up a glowing review for this business (which I patronize myself; my smarter dog engages in retaliation pooping every few months when I’m out of the house too much; oh yes, it’s intentional.) I then encourage the carpet cleaner to call a few clients, explain the situation and ask for a positive review on Yelp. Likewise outraged, they were happy to help Jean out. In fact, without the wrong done to him, these clients may have never gotten around to writing a positive review, despite their best intentions. Keep in mind that you can respond to Facebook, Twitter and other negative comments about a business right on your page as well. Think you’re the only one who gets bad comments on Facebook? Expand McDonald’s comments. Or any large company’s for that matter. You’ll see some nasty stuff! If you counter vitriol with reasoned desire to correct the situation AND insert a bit of positive information about your business practices or products, other readers can be easily swayed. Think about your most recent couple friends heading down the divorce path. You sided with HIM until you heard HER side; didn’t you. I know I did. Whatever you do, DON’T HIDE FROM SOCIAL MEDIA and REVIEW SITES! Get your side out there in a reasoned, helpful tone.
Answering Bad Business Publicity in the Press
But what if it’s a news article, as was the case for the first client I mentioned? Resort to the old fashioned approach. Be brave. Call the paper and insist on sharing your side. If that doesn’t work? Consider creating a positive press release and distributing it through PR Web or PRNewswire. If another newspaper picks it up, the negative article could be buried rather quickly by the more recent, positive one. Another means of burying one negative article is by writing one’s own articles including business name for article databases like CafeMom (one of the largest), HubPages, Ezine Articles or iVillage. BIG places. MANY pages.
Second Strategy to Remove Bad Business Reviews: Bury Them in the Search Engine Results
The next step I suggested the client with a negative newspaper article was to get up as many sites with his business name as possible. Those sites had to be big authority sites (with lots of pages) so that the search engines would rely on them first. It’s just a matter of creating an account, filling out fields and forms, hopefully taking no longer than one hour each (one hour because there should be some content like photos and posts on there as well.)
- Google Plus
These sites need to be at least as big as the complaint sites like Pissed Consumer or RipOff Reports. The key here was to create accounts on each so that there the business name would populate the internet at these alternatives, pushing down the sites where the business name is listed negatively. When someone searched for his business name, yes the newspaper article would come up, but with Google emphasizing relevancy in its algorhythm, with time, that news article would sink lower and lower and these social media sites would rise, particularly if he kept updating them regularly (making them MORE relevant.) If his company was XYZInstalls, the goal was basically to create the microsites:
- Facebook/ XYZInstalls
- Google Plus/ XYZInstalls
- SlideShare/ XYZInstalls
- Flickr/ XYZInstalls
- Twitter/ XYZInstalls
- Pinterest/ XYZInstalls
- Yelp/ XYZInstalls
A Content Writer Keeps Reputation Management All in the Family
I resorted to the above remedy after I unintentionally caused a dire reputation management issue for my dear little sister. Once she reached her early 30s, I decided it was time she settled down. She’d spent fifteen years in a rigorous field that moved her around almost constantly; she nee
ded the comfort of a family. One night, watching Millionaire Matchmakerwith that queen of all matchmakers, Patty Stanger, I had the great idea that Leah deserved a millionaire! Why not? After all, she’s in the art field, has a boatload of education, a great eye for design and she does like the finer things. I rushed to my computer and signed her up to be one of the women the millionaires would meet at their cocktail “mixers” like the one in this photo. (Come on, Leah! Doesn’t this look fun!) I told her all about it, and she laughed and we both forgot about it. A few months later, a colleague told her that while searching her name in regards to a position, he’d found the Millionaire Matchmaker entry. This time she didn’t laugh, and I had the job of burying that little piece of content post haste by setting up lots of these social media sites for her and putting photos and content on. Sorry, Leah! I also quickly got sick of the total jerks on Millionaire Matchmaker. Aren’t they awful? But I digress.
A Pre-emptive Strike for Bad Reviews: The Business Blog
One way to ease your mind about potential negative reviews on social media, review sites and the press is to put up a blog that subtly demonstrates you dedication to your clients and to your profession. Then, when someone says, “this accountant has no idea about 2012 tax laws!” you can counter with your blog post ABOUT changes in 2012 tax law and mention the conference you attended to learn them.
Need Some Reputation Repair? A Content Writer Can Help
A negative business review or social media comment can be scary and infuriating, but your business isn’t the first to receive one. Lots of businesses before you have responded to and rectified the situation, even boosting their reputation in the long run. Think a search engine optimized press release may help save the day? How about some quick content on a blog? We love learning about new businesses. Call or email us today!