The Truth about Negative Reviews Online

Everyone who owns a business has dealt with one or two bad reviews at some stage… and then there’s those who have dealt with more than just a few. It’s unpleasant and overwhelming to say the least. Some reviews are warranted while others aren’t. According to Moz, whether you have experienced negative reviews or not, the most important thing for a business is to have a strategy for, if and when the time comes. Why? Because often when we receive negative feedback our very first response isn’t always the most intelligent.

Negative Reviews aren’t THAT bad…

Even though it might feel like a kick to the stomach, negative reviews aren’t the end of your business – don’t shut up shop just yet! A few negative reviews can actually have a positive impact on your SEO, yep you read right… a positive impact! Here’s why Negative Reviews aren’t as bad as you think:

  • The more reviews you have on Google and Web Design Brisbane, the better it is for your local ranking. So, good or bad, it’s still another review and will still positively impact your Search Engine Optimisation. In saying this, if the negative reviews, were positive, this would obviously be better for your SEO and reputation management.
  • According to Search Engine Journal, too many overly positive reviews can create suspicion. Have you ever seen a bunch of dramatically positive business reviews and thought… hmm this looks a little fishy? As reviews are such a huge decision determinant in this digital world, people know that there are fake reviews, there are employers who get their employees to write reviews and of course there are businesses who tactically try to take down their competitors by reviewing them unfavourably. Basically, a couple of negative reviews in the mix, can increase credibility. And, much to your surprise, people do know that nothing is ever perfect and mistakes can happen!
  • Negative reviews, or rather, recurring negative reviews are an opportunity for change. Even if you take it as an opportunity to connect with customers more and offer your apologies and perhaps something for their troubles, this is still a positive change. It’s very important that you let negative reviews fuel you positively. Don’t let them cause you anger or frustration, remember you are a business owner – it’s not always going to be smooth sailing. It’s not about what comes your way, it’s about how you deal with it and this is exceptionally true when it comes to dissatisfied customers.

How to Cope with Negative reviews

1. Take Control of the Situation:
As previously mentioned, responding to reviews is crucial. This means regularly monitoring and managing your Google My Business and Social Media accounts and staying updated on your review activity. According to the Google My Business support page, businesses should “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.”  This statement is then followed by “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.

Further, a 2018 study by Trip Advisor, show hotels that responded to reviews received 12% more reviews and their ratings increased by 0.12 stars. However the Local Search Association recently reported on a 2018 consumer loyalty survey that found most consumers expect a brand to respond within 24 hours. So, as we said, regularly monitoring your Online accounts is extremely important.

2. Learn from your Mistakes! 
Receiving a negative review is always an opportunity to grow as a business! Identify the root cause of this customers review, how, why, when and who it involved, and take steps to improve this area of your business. Perhaps you might discover a flaw in your employee training, or a miscommunication somewhere along the line which can be a lesson learnt for everyone involved. Another cool way to see the silver lining is to source inspiration from your negative reviews for social media/blog content. If you’re noticing a recurring complaint, and it’s something that people are perhaps doing incorrectly or can do differently for a better result, turn it into posts and blogs and teach people.

2. Remedy Remedy Remedy:
If there is some merit to a bad review you have received, offering something for their troubles shows people that you acknowledge their disappointment and are willing to right your wrong. However, even if you don’t believe there is any merit to a negative review, it is still crucial that you reply. Inspired by Moz, here are some of the Do’s and Dont’s of responding to bad reviews:

  • Blame the customer
  • Shift blame onto your staff
  • Accuse the customer of lying or exaggerating
  • Refuse to apologize
  • Refuse to be accountable
  • Use unprofessional language
  • Write a long-winded response
  • Apologise
  • Empathize with the distress they express
  • Accept complete responsibility if you believe there is merit
  • Offer something you think might make amends if the customer would be so kind as to give you the chance (a refund, a meal on the house, a replacement product)
  • Express your commitment to fixing any issues that have been raised and explain what you will do/have done to remedy them
  • Be as transparent and honest as possible about the cause of the mistake
  • Let the customer know you eagerly invite further in-person complaints and feedback because of your commitment to offering them a great experience
  • Keep it brief but sincere

Removing Fake Reviews

Removing fake reviews isn’t always straight forward and can require different levels of persistence case by case. Here’s a general step by step guide that we have used to remove some of our clients fake Google My Business reviews:

1. Respond 

As we have mentioned, responding is the first step. In the case of it being a fake review however, explain that you know it’s a fake review, with evidence and that you are taking matters further as this is not a true representation of your business or services.

2. Report the review

Click on the flag next to the reviewer’s name to get to a page where you can report the review as a violation of Google’s TOS. Fill out the form, using your business email address for the contact information. This works better if you can flag the review on a number of different Google Accounts.

3. Contact Google

If within 24 hours the review has not been removed, call Google to get results.

4. Go the legal route

If by this stage, nothing else has prevailed, fill out a legal form request. You can find this at Be persistent, and continue following up and eventually you should have success.


So, hopefully by now, we have calmed your fear of negative reviews and you can see that if dealt with properly, they can actually be an extremely useful and productive learning curve for your business. Get in touch with the SEO savvy team at YDS for a free consultation to chat about how you can optimise your Google My Business and stay on top of your reputation management system.


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