Never Pay for Ratings

There are many companies out there that will tell you that your rankings in the search engines can be affected by having good reviews and negatively affected by bad reviews.

That is a true statement – in a simplistic way.

Unfortunately it opens the door to scammers and spammers of all types and you may be approached by some company that offers to give you good reviews (in exchange for payment) or individuals that will threaten a bad review UNLESS you make good on some form of settlement. Either offer is a bad offer and you would be cautioned to avoid either situation.

Here is how one restaurant owner handled the threat of a negative review from one patron:

To make matters more complicated – there are companies that will (for a fee) post negative reviews and do what is called ‘negative SEO’ on your competitors.

Reputation management is very important when it comes to your business and there are better ways to deal with negative reviews and certainly more honest ways to get good reviews.

Six ways to help you get good reviews from your clients on your Google Places Business Page, or Yelp, or Angie, or where ever it is that you have public listings:

1. Ask!
Really! After you have performed a service for your customer, ask them if they are happy. If the answer is yes then ask them to please say something nice on whatever page it is you would like them to comment on. And if they aren’t happy? Do what you can to help them out – a personal , negative response can be a very valuable learning experience for any business owner.

2. Specifics
Sometimes your customer may use words like ‘good’ or ‘nice’. By asking them specific questions you get more specific testimonial – example you can say “What did you order for dinner?” “Would you recommend the salmon to your mother?” – then you can help them write the testimonial by saying “The salmon special was so good – I would recommend it to my own mother!”

3. Ease of access
Don’t wait to get your testimonial during a followup, get the testimonial right away using your iPhone or iPod. You can already be on the website you want them to place their testimonial.

4. Photograph
Some people love to be photographed, why not take one of the happy customer for them. Treat them like the queen (or king) for the day.

5. Reward
You don’t need to bribe or pay for a good review but if you are clear that their satisfaction is important to you and give them a reason to come back to you – why not give a certificate at the location where you want them to leave their review?

6. Contest
Offer every person who leaves a review an entry into a contest with a tasty prize.

7. Say thank you
Publicly acknowledge people who have taken the time to comment on your service. By saying thank you in the same forum you are doing a couple of positive things. One which is to acknowledge the person who has gone the extra for you and two, inviting the responses of others because it is obvious that you will see them too.

What can you do about bad reviews?

Someone has written a nasty on the web and its out there for all to see. You might think that ignoring it is the way to go – I mean, who reads that stuff anyway? Lots of people, plus the search engines and it can affect your rankings (the ease of which people can find your website on the internet) and negatively affect the decision of a potential client or a future business partner. Good news is there are things you can do protect your reputation.

1. Answer
Don’t shy away from negative comments, you have the capability to respond in the same forum they wrote their review so you might consider inviting them to contact you directly and try and fix it. Assure the other readers that your customers satisfaction is very important and you will do your best to see that everyone receives excellent treatment.

2. Avoid them in the first place
There are two ways you can do this:
– Make sure your customer is happy before you part ways. Consider the deal isn’t done until you have gotten their assurances that they are happy.
– Read your competitors reviews. Find out what people are complaining about them on the review sites and take it to heart and learn from it. Review sites and what people freely and openly say about your competitors will give you a huge insight as to what they want and expect from the service you offer.

3. Clarify
If the customer didn’t bring this to your attention, if an employee has already been fired for the situation, if the defect has been recalled… clarify this in your reply to the complaint and direct the reader to a url where they can get more information on the issue.

4. Get it deleted
In the case of unreasonable malicious attacks there are ways to have scathing reviews deleted. In most cases its just by contacting the forum or review site monitors and set your subject line to say “report abuse” or “fraudulent review”

5. Don’t be negative
Being defensive and hurling insults in a public forum at your critic may feel good at the time but likely won’t have a positive impact. Always be the grownup.

What do you do when your competitor is PAYING for reviews?

You may be looking at some competitors site thinking they are probably paying for reviews – and that may be the case. Are you mad? Is it disheartening to see them climb in the rankings? Sure it is. Are you tempted to hire some company to write reviews for you? Sure.

My advise is – and always will be – don’t do it!

I guarantee you if they are manufacturing fake reviews the search engines will figure it out soon enough and their rise in the rankings will only be temporary.