Regardless of your industry of choice, it’s likely that the Internet is filled with customer reviews providing feedback on the various products and services available. The good news is that more often than not, these reviews can be really helpful to improve your SEO. Think of reviews as bonus, user-generated content, which keeps your website relevant in the eyes of search engine algorithms. Those reviews generally include very strong keywords, given that real customers provide them in relation to your business.
This applies to negative reviews as well. If you choose to respond to those negative reviews, you’re generating even more keyword-filled content while simultaneously increasing your customer engagement. Still, positive reviews are inevitably going to help you more than negative ones. For instance, positive reviews are a key component to increasing your conversion rates. It’s no secret that reviews have a real impact on people’s decisions to purchase or hire a service. It’s been proven that people are far more likely to become customers if there are reviews available. Google treats positive reviews similarly to quality backlinks, in the sense that positive reviews also show Google’s algorithm that your site is trustworthy and popular, making it more likely for you to achieve a high ranking on the results page.
How Do Negative Reviews Impact Your Business?
The fact of the matter is that eventually, you may encounter a negative review. This is a normal part of running a business, and to some degree, it can be to your benefit. Websites with nothing but positive reviews are generally met with skepticism, paired with an assumption that either the owner has gone through the trouble of putting up false reviews or deleted all the negative reviews. So how should you proceed when you receive a negative review? If the review is an honest assessment of your business, then you can address it as discussed above or utilize the feedback to make improvements to your site. However, not all reviews are legitimate.
Some people go out of their way to leave fake reviews on sites they have never interacted with before. Others willfully misunderstand your business offerings in an attempt to get some compensation. Others are still confused and end up leaving reviews for a completely different business on your page. At best, these reviews provide unnecessary clutter, making it more difficult for potential customers to assess your business accurately. At worst, they can actively hurt your SEO.
How Can You Remove Negative Reviews?
Fortunately, Google is on your side. When customers choose to submit a review through Google, they are subject to Google’s terms and conditions, and behavior such as that discussed above is prohibited. Reviews that fall under the category of spam, are off-topic, include hate speech, or are dishonest are all in violation of Google’s policies and are eligible for removal. Google takes this issue so seriously that it provides business owners with an easy solution. If you find reviews for your business that are eligible for removal, all you have to do is click on the upper right corner of the problematic review and select “Flag as inappropriate.” Depending on your request, Google will then walk you through the next steps to complete the report.
While this is certainly the easiest way to deal with the issue, it is not always successful, especially when the violation is not so straightforward and easy to prove. If Google decides against removing the review, you can appeal your situation by reaching out to Google’s business support team. The team can be located for contact here. When submitting your appeal, make sure you include as much relevant information as possible. Screenshots and additional details can help strengthen your case.
Finally, if Google still refuses to remove the review, you can still respond to it. While the writers of false or misleading reviews are unlikely to act cooperatively, doing so still provides some additional context that can help persuade an otherwise cautious potential customer that your company is in the right. There have been multiple cases where the company so well countered an initial misleading, negative review that its response went viral, completely shifting the narrative and boosting the company’s visibility in the process.