How negative content affects your online reputation

“It’s a well-known customer service maxim that happy clients tell three people about their experience. Unhappy customers tell nine.”

Online review sites multiply those numbers by the thousands. Whether a customer has had a good or bad experience with your company, they are free to tell everyone on sites like Yelp, AOL’s Yellow Pages and Angie’s List.

Word-of-mouth can be both positive and negative, and one bad review can quickly turn customers away from your business. In business to business marketing, reputation is everything, make sure your online reputation is pristine.

Do a quick search of your company’s name on Google or Yahoo. If you find any negative reviews, don’t get too discouraged, there’s something you can do about it.

A recent article in Fortune Small Business chronicles how some savvy business owners have come up with successful defenses to bad online reviews. A good mix of “vanilla marketing” and customer service, with an online twist helped these businesses come out on top.

After some horrible reviews on TripAdvisor, a hotel owner in San Francisco decided to personally defend the hotel. For each negative review, he would publish the hotel’s side of the story, using the site’s response tool. If a complaint was legitimate, he set out to make it right for future guests.

Preston Wynne Spas in Silicon Valley uses negative online complaints as a way to create a deeper relationship with the client. The company sees it as a way to potentially turn negative complaints into a strong word-of-mouth marketing force.

The spa owner personally messaged each unhappy reviewer and offered a complimentary return visit. Many reviewers returned to the site and posted positive reviews in place of their old negative posts.

“I’m not trying to bribe them,” Borgman [spa owner] says. “I’m just trying to give them what they deserve. And I never asked them to repost – that would be completely inappropriate.”

The spa owner had used a free online alert system, like Google Alerts, to help bring reviews (good and bad) to her attention. Whenever her company name appeared on the Web, she would get an email alert.

Another strategy in the fight against negative content involves a little Google “magic” – push the negativity so far down in search results that it is virtually invisible to surfers.

The authors over at Web Success Team recommend combating negative content with an influx content both branded and positive. They advise starting a blog to drive traffic to your site, which will help to increase sales. Blog articles and keywords should be relevant to your products and/or services and should provide browsers with valuable information.

Also try joining social networks like FaceBook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Link these pages to your blog and homepage. Google will rank sub-domains (other pages that link to your site) close to the top of a search for your business name.

“The more sites you have with your brand, the better your chances of increasing sales and consumer relations.”

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