Business Owners: Negative Reviews Don’t Die – They Multiply

Negative Perceptions Live a Long, Healthy Life Online

A few days ago, I was in my hometown visiting when a friend of mine asked me about a restaurant that used to be down the street. Because I couldn’t remember the new location, we “Googled” it. Instantly we were bombarded by negative reviews of the establishment via several different sites. So much so, that even I was a little bit taken aback at the number of negative reviews and their penetration throughout the first page of Google.

I had to then try and convince my friend that the establishment was always clean, with good food and fast service. Alas, she would hear nothing of it. In the end, the online reviews won her trust over that of a close friend! My feelings a bit hurt, we laughed it off and went out to eat at another restaurant down the street.

Upon returning to the office, I decided to do some investigative work around this business and their reputation issue.

Mind you, this is a restaurant that spends a small fortune on print ads in the newspaper, full-color phone book ads, and a ton of other printed material; but nowhere to be found was their website. Digging into the search results pages, I found that there were really only seven original reviews online; however, those seven reviews were picked up and syndicated by close to 20 websites, which filled the first 2 pages of Google. Google itself was even displaying a syndicated version of 5 of them via their Google Places product.

So, what went wrong here?

  1. The company had no website, so without a true-match to the query, Google gave the consumer the next best thing: Information on the company from secondary sources.
  2. A representative from the company never once attempted to reply to the claims, which left a [negative] void in the consumers mind.
  3. While this company had allotted a huge portion of their marketing money to print advertising, they had apparently ignored the internet. They had saturated the market with name awareness via print advertising – so much so, that we Googled their name directly and were given results that no business owner wants to see.

In the above scenario, some of the reviews I located were upwards of 5 years old. They were still hanging out in the search engine results, just as fresh as the day they were written. In most cases, the date of the review was in small type-face and added as if it were an after-thought. It’s extremely easy for the average person to pay more attention to the review itself rather than the date of the review. On top of that, many “scrapers” pull original reviews from websites and add them to their own website. This, in effect can multiply just one bad review, hundreds of times.

Good or Bad: Are you paying attention to what your prospects are saying about you?

Part 2:  My business has negative reviews online; Now what?!

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