Are bad Google+ reviews getting you down? Trust us when we say you are not alone. Google+ Local business pages are extremely important for company reputation, and when bad reviews arise, it can be difficult to fix them. But with a little dedication and TLC, it is possible to overcome negative reviews.
Why Does it Matter?
Google+ Local has proven to have quite an impact on both click through rates and online reputation. And unfortunately, this means that when bad reviews accumulate, they need to be addressed. Otherwise they can negatively affect traffic, rankings, and conversions.
- Google+ and Reputation
According to Reach Local, 85% of consumers are searching for local businesses online. In addition, “76% of consumers reported considering online reviews when determining which local business to use.”
For business, this means that people need to be both: 1. Able to find your business through local search, and 2. Impressed by what other consumers have to say about your business
- Maps and Click Through Rate
Social signals and maps have been proven to increase the likelihood of someone clicking on your website. According to an eye-tracking study, which monitored the direction of the human eye on search results pages, people are much more likely to be drawn to local search results and rich snippet thumbnails than to other results on a page. Google+ Local also allows for clickable phone numbers, which make it easy for people on mobile devices to get in touch with your brand quickly.
For these reasons and others, Google+ Local is a big deal for businesses. However, Google+ is not an easy monster for businesses to tackle. With profiles, pages, local pages, and the verification process, it’s enough to make even the most experienced social media or marketing professional’s head spin. Even when a company expels a great deal of effort to create a verified page and build it out with images, videos, +1s, and posts, negative reviews can still greatly damage both ranking potential and the ability to yield conversions.
That’s right; not only can negative company reviews damage reputation, but they can actually inhibit a business’s ability to rank in Google+ Local search results. The thing about Google is that it prefers to show results that people like. When a company is receiving consistently negative feedback, Google takes notice. So if your business is not ranking in local search queries, it might be a good idea to take a look at its Google+ Local reviews.
How can I counter negative reviews?
It’s not easy to overcome negative Google+ reviews, but the good news is that it usually can be done with a little hard work and TLC. Here’s how:
1. Request the Removal of Reviews that Do Not Follow Guidelines.
- Off-Topic Reviews: This one is a huge deal. According to the guidelines, a review is off-topic if it is “based on someone else’s experience” or “not about the specific place you are reviewing.” In other words, someone cannot post a review about what they think or know has happened to someone else, including family members and close friends. And they cannot post about the brand in general, if it does not apply directly to the particular location about which they are posting. Do you know how many reviews start with “I heard,” or “They did this to so-and-so?” A lot.
- Advertising or spam: In the words of Google, “Don’t post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings, and don’t include links to other websites.” So if someone is looking to promote his/her own services by downplaying yours, this is not acceptable. Even if a review is not negative, but is created with the sole purpose of advertising another company, it warrants removal.
- Conflict of interest: Similar to the point above, this states that: “reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased.” Google goes on to say that employees as well as competitors should not be posting reviews about a company when it results in a conflict of interest. It also discourages offering money for reviews, setting up kiosks or stations at a place of business to promote reviews, or mis-representing affiliations with companies someone is reviewing.Therefore, in order to abide by this guideline, it is not recommended to post a review as an employee or partnering agency in an attempt to counter negative ones. If Google finds out that this is the case, it can remove these reviews quicker than you can post them.
- Hate speech: According to Google this refers to speech that “promotes hatred or violence” based on “race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity.” Anyone expressing an opinion about your business due to any of these factors, and explicitly using this as the basis for a review, causes that review to become moot. When a review violates any of these and other guidelines listed, click the “Flag as Inappropriate” link next to it so Google can take a look. If the review is still not removed, throw one in Google’s inbox by following instructions here.
2. Dilute Negative Reviews with Positive Ones.
Set internal company goals to obtain a certain number of positive reviews in a set period of time. A constant flow of positive reviews will greatly diminish the impact of negative ones.There are several ways to request customer reviews, including on-site requests, direct mail, online surveys, and email. Keep in mind your customers’ main channel of communication and what is most convenient to them. While this is obviously very important, do not get carried away. Missing a quota is far less damaging than angering or losing valuable clients with incessant requests for reviews. Know the boundary, and under no circumstance cross it.
3. Respond to Negative Reviewers Directly
You can publicly respond to a negative review if you are the verified owner of a Google+ Local page. Keep in mind that this generally only helps if your intent is to fix the issue and make that customer happy. If that is the case, it is a great way to show other customers that you care about what they have to say. Plus, if you succeed in solving that personas issue, they may remove their negative review altogether. Negative reviews happen, and some cannot be removed or avoided. But when people abuse their right to post reviews and ignore Google’s guidelines, your brand should not have to suffer. Even negative comments that abide by the rules can be subdued through positive reviews and direct responses to consumers. This will ensure that your business continues to dominate local search results.