For a huge number of businesses in a variety of industries, reviews are some of the most important factors that help drive success. And while all business owners would certainly prefer to never receive them, a reality in the world of online marketing is that negative reviews will crop up from time to time – and while there’s no question these aren’t wonderful to see and will be schemed against by business owners and SEO professionals alike, negative reviews do offer a few hidden opportunities for you to improve your business.
At SEO Werkz, we’re here to help with a wide range of private label SEO services, including areas like reputation management to help improve the way your audiences perceive your brand. We’ve helped numerous clients deal with negative reviews in the past, and we’ll do the same for you. Here’s a detailed primer on the opportunities negative reviews offer you to improve your business, plus some general actions you might be able to take based on them.
Actionable Areas Associated with Negative Reviews
Again, no one likes to see negative reviews. But when you do, they offer several opportunities to delve further into what clients are seeing about your business and website that can be improved – most business owners have a very good idea of what they do well, but some struggle with grasping their weaker points, and this is an area where negative reviews can actually be a blessing in disguise.
Here are several themes negative reviews might allow you to dig into further and improve for your business, website and marketing programs:
- Missing elements: In many cases, the complaints or negative areas that you’ll see in these reviews give you great insight into what your business or website is missing. If you’ve seen multiple client reviews that all mention the same missing element, for instance, you’ll have a clear idea of what you can improve moving forward.
- Brand experience: Down similar lines, you should have a clear goal for your brand experience and what you’re trying to deliver to customers. But if your reality fails to deliver on these promises, your clients will notice – and negative reviews will often be some of the most direct ways they let you know.
- Unclear information: There are several ways negative reviews might reveal that your clients aren’t getting enough information about you or your products. Perhaps your website is not visible enough or is difficult to navigate; in other cases, products or services may not be properly defined, leading to issues of reality versus expectation like we just mentioned above.
- Search terms: Finally, negative reviews may even lead you toward a few basic search terms that you haven’t considered strongly enough as site keywords, but should think about adding in your test program.
Cost of Doing Business
You’ve heard the phrase “cost of doing business” in some setting most likely, and it’s one that can apply to negative reviews from the right broad angle. Namely, one major goal of SEO and all its related concepts are to grow your business and increase your position in rankings, which will in turn lead to increased sales – and as you do this, a simple reality is that you will get more reviews.
As you may have guessed, the simple presence of a larger volume of reviews raises the likelihood that some of them will be negative – the cost of growth, in essence. So again, while these negative reviews aren’t necessarily desirable and you should do everything you can to respond to them and change your approach so you don’t see the same complaints again in the future, these can actually be a signal that you’re experiencing the level of growth you had imagined.
Taking the above theme even further, there are absolutely situations where negative reviews increase your site’s legitimacy, particularly to search engines like Google. Such engines actually tend to prefer that businesses have a few bad reviews, an area called “review discrepancy” that’s regularly raised in the industry.
This becomes even more true with each passing year, as Google and other engines get better and better at detecting fake reviews. If your site has a few organic negatives in there, there will be less concern from Google’s crawlers that you might be faking reviews. This theme extends beyond search engines, too, with research showing that readers tend to react more positively overall to companies that have at least some negative reviews – mainly because they view these sites as more credible.
Also, did you know that the average negative review tends to be much longer than the average positive one? A longer review has several benefits, from the insights being shared to the simple time people spend on your pages – this improves dwell time ratings and improves search rankings.
And of course, any negative review should be viewed as an opportunity in multiple ways. First, it’s a chance to quickly and positively respond while addressing the issue, also maintaining your strong online reputation in the process. Whenever other readers come across your reviews, they’ll see that you’re taking negatives seriously and working hard to improve.
Second, it’s an opportunity for you as a business owner or management team to improve internally. The responses you make publicly to negative reviews should not just be to appease customers – they should lead to actionable changes within your business model, branding and marketing, or other areas that clients have evaluated negatively. What separates great businesses from average ones is often how they deal with adversity, and this area is absolutely an example.
For more on how to handle negative reviews for your site or business, or to learn about any of our SEO, PPC, web design or other services, speak to the staff at SEO Werkz today.