If you’re like many business owners, you invest a lot in your brand. You work with designers to make your business look good, copywriters to make your business sound good, and public relations firms to spread the word that your doors are open. And, if you’re like many small business owners, you try to protect this brand by doing reputation management by yourself.
This is not only dangerous, but it could dramatically slow your progress toward your long-term goals.
Your true brand is what people say about your business. One negative review could tarnish the image you’ve worked so hard to create. To fight back against false or defamatory reviews, many small businesses use DIY reputation management tactics. Here are the most common ones and why they don’t always work.
1. Paying SEO Companies to Boost Rankings
Ranking high in the search results is one of the best ways to get attention from your consumers. But, when your business’s listing is followed directly by a defamatory review of your company on another website, you get into a battle of your word versus the word of someone trying to hurt you.
To overcome this problem, some small businesses invest thousands of dollars with SEO companies to rise in the rankings. The hope is that the higher they rank, the less likely it is that anyone will see the negative review, undoing the damage to your business’s reputation.
Why this tactic doesn’t always work: Even if your business is the first listing on Google, seeing the negative review directly beneath your company’s website will automatically tarnish your brand’s image. It will cause consumers to second guess whether or not to pick up the phone and call your business. It will plant a seed of doubt about your integrity.
2. Paying Companies to Push Down Negative Reviews
When ranking high isn’t enough, many small businesses invest heavily in burying the negative content by publishing additional webpages to outrank the negative review in the search engines. After all, if no one sees the negative remarks, they were never said, right? Not quite.
Why this tactic doesn’t always work: Although it’s true that the first three listings in search results get the bulk of the clicks and views, this isn’t enough to hang your hat on. Just as hard as you’re working to push your brand’s website to the top of the search results, the other websites are working to rank high too. The search engines, like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, don’t like it when people try to game the system. They periodically change their search algorithms to counteract these reputation management tactics – bringing the negative review back to the very top of the results. (You’ll fight a constant battle of trying to hide other websites instead of being able to properly promote your brand’s good name.)
3. Ask Customers for Positive Reviews
Another way to drown out the negative? Replace it with positive. You have happy customers walk into your business every day. These people should be more than happy to write a raving review. To encourage them to take to the Internet and say nice things about your business, you ask them to write a review. You might even incentivize a positive review with a future discount or freebie. You’ll do what you can to get the positive remarks online and hide that negative comment.
Why this tactic doesn’t always work: It’s true. Your customers are happy with the work you provide. They’re also happy to recommend your business to a friend. But asking them to take time out of their already busy days to find a website and leave a review might not be the right approach.
Asking for a positive review might (and often times does) come across as begging. Although your customers might be happy to offer up their positive reviews on their own, when they’re asked to share their testimonials publicly, it takes a different tone. You could damage the goodwill you’ve worked so hard to build.
Incentivizing or rewarding your consumers for a positive review is equally dangerous. Review websites have strict guidelines against this borderline ethical behavior. Their goal is to get the most honest feedback from consumers, and they know that when a person has a reward on the line, they’re more inclined to speak positively about a brand. It diminishes their brand’s credibility, which could come back to bite your business in the long run.
4. Put on the Blinders
Ignore it and it will all go away soon enough, right? After all, this was just one negative review. In time, people will notice that it’s defamatory and has little credibility. Your consumers are smart. They’ll be able to tell the difference. There’s no need to spend time or energy fighting back. You’ll just continue doing your good work and the results will speak for themselves.
Why this tactic doesn’t work: On the surface, this approach sounds great. Ignore the negative, focus on your positive actions, and everything will fall into place. The problem is, ignoring defamatory and false reviews is a surefire way to amplify the person who is vying for attention by posting these remarks. They’ll continue to get that attention from other leary consumers, and your brand will continue to be haunted by someone’s false and disparaging remarks.
What Can You Do?
It’s understandable that you’re frustrated by the defamatory remark placed online. It’s equally understandable that you want to take action to protect your business reputation. But DIYing reputation management isn’t the solution.
The only way to eliminate the chances of that defamatory review hurting your business is to have it completely removed from search results. Although the website itself will likely not remove the review, Google will happily take the webpage with the negative comment out of their search index so it won’t appear when someone is looking up your business’s name. The key is to file a defamation lawsuit and obtain a court order.
At Hutcherson Law, we’ve removed thousands of webpages from Google. We understand how damaging these reviews can be, which is why we pioneered this branch of Internet law. With our help, you can protect your business’s reputation by taking the defamatory review out of search results all together.
Ready to stop trying to do reputation management by yourself? Breathe a sigh of relief that help is here and give us a call to get started. It’s easier and more effective than you might think.