Gini Dietrich

Get a Bad Review Off the First Page of Search Results

By: Gini Dietrich | May 19, 2015 | 

A Bad ReviewBy Gini Dietrich

A couple of months ago, I did a breakout session at Social Media Marketing World on crisis communications.

Because of that, I have had the opportunity to help some organizations with  some interesting cases of both issues and crises.

Throughout my career, I have handled everything from asbestos found in a food manufacturing plant and tires that blew up when they were driven faster than 45 mph to the Japanese dumping fish into the United States and an employee shot and killed at work.

There has been no shortage of scary things to deal with and the Internet has made it even more challenging.

Don’t Panic!

You see, now everything is a crisis.

Someone says something negative about you online? We want to respond as if it’s a crisis.

There is a bad review online? We want to respond as if it’s a crisis.

A disgruntled former employee leaves a bad review on Glassdoor? Wewant to respond as if it’s a crisis.

These things, quite fortunately, are not crises. They are issues that could be blown into crises if not handled well, but they can be handled.

It’s great for business here because I get lots of panicked calls from executives needing help managing the issues, and I spend a lot of time talking people off the ledge.

But, most of the time, it’s not worth getting all panicked. Sure, you should absolutely be paying attention and you absolutely should respond, but remember this: It’s rarely worth getting upset about.

Reputation Management

Such is a situation that came up recently.

A woman I met at Social Media Marketing World works for a company that has a pretty bad review on Ripoff Report.

The good news is they have only that one complaint (which is actually pretty commendable in their line of work) and it’s two years old.

They also have one really good review on Yelp and an A+ rating from the BBB.

The bad news is—and I’m certain it’s why the executives keep bringing it up—it’s on the first page of Google results.

But it’s not on the first page when you search just the company name. When you search that, you see their social networks, you see the good reviews, and you see the A+ rating.

When you add “reputation” to the search, you find the Ripoff Report review.

So company name, alone, has only great things on the first page of results. But when a savvy searcher adds “reputation” to the company name, they’ll find this pretty bad review.

Content is King, in this Case

This is when I have to talk someone off the ledge.

In the big scheme of things, if you were doing your research and found all of these great things on Yelp and on the Better Business Bureau, and also found the Ripoff Report review, what would you think?

Most of us expect signs of imperfection when we search for companies. Yes, we’ll read the bad review and take notes, but it also makes us smarter in the questions we ask the sales guy before we hire the company.

It’s not life or death, by any stretch of the imagination.

That said, it’s really smart not to ignore it. And there are some things you can do to push that negative review to the second or third pages of search results.

Content, content, content.

Move a Bad Review from Search Results

If I were working with this company, this is what I would recommend:

  • Create content that uses “Company Name Reputation” as the key phrase. They have a YouTube channel so I would recommend they create videos that have that exact phrase in them.
  • They don’t have a blog so I’d recommend they consider adding one. But, if they’re not going to do that, they can create content for business, news, and trade publications as part of their PR efforts (this is our three-pronged approach to media relations). Use “Company Name Reputation” as the key phrase in that content.
  • Once a week, they should use the social networks (particularly Google+) to promote the videos and contributed content. The status updates should include “Company Name Reputation” in them.
  • Ask people to review the company on Yelp. While you can’t incentivize anyone to write a review, you most certainly can ask. Not everyone will do it, but most won’t know to even do it without being asked.

It won’t happen overnight, but within a few months, they’ll see that review move closer to the bottom of the page and, after nine to 12 months, it’ll leave the first page entirely.

If you were working with this company, what would you recommend they do to get the Ripoff Report off the first page of search results?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • whitney_fay

    I would confront the issue — write a response, reach out to the person (both at the time the negative review is discovered) and if there’s space to respond to the negative comment, I would do it immediately. That way if someone clicks on that search result, they’ll see the response.

    I would also definitely get the customers involved. Maybe start a campaign asking current customers to post pictures of their best memories with the company (if applicable, it’s harder not knowing what the business is.) Also, send out a customer survey and if the score was on the high end, set it up so an automatic email would immediately go to them inviting them to post a review on Yelp.

  • I see this a lot. I tell people worry more about real world live word of mouth more because the online stuff is always with a grain of salt unless there us a pattern. Now the Google stuff has had some epic results. But in time these things fix themselves as it did for Rickie.

  • I had a similar situation when working with a hotel client once. They had a bad review on TripAdvisor, and were pretty frustrated we couldn’t get it deleted for them. 


  • KBenakole

    I’ll recommend the same things as you have, Gini. 

    However, I’ll even ask that they leave this bad review right where it is. I think it makes companies more human that some persons do not like them. 

    Sure no matter what good we do, we can’t all be liked. So fine, leave it there, some day though the good reviews (with reputation, reputation, reputation) will knock it off.

  • KBenakole I agree with you! When I wrote Spin Sucks, I considered asking people to write negative reviews because there were nearly 100 four- and five-star reviews! Not even Pulitzer-prize winning books don’t have bad reviews.

  • Eleanor Pierce They definitely cannot be removed, and I don’t think this company was asking for that. Rather, they wanted to know if there was anything they could do to highlight all the good reviews they get. This bad one is two years old and I imagine it just sticks in their craw.

  • Howie Goldfarb Or Michael Milken…

  • whitney_fay Ripoff Report won’t let you respond (it’s a pay-for-play and a ripoff in and of itself), but I totally agree with you that when you can, you should always respond, just so others visiting the site can see you’re paying attention and tried to solve the issue.

    And I LOVE the idea of the automatic email. Love.

  • I’d also be sure to have them RESPOND to the bad review on Ripoff Report, in an appropriate way that is non-emotional, not defensive – just honest and helpful. It helps someone reading the review see there are two sides to every story.

  • danielschiller

    KBenakole – That could be a useful case study to define who your audience *isn’t* or clients *aren’t*.

  • danielschiller

    Here’s something — does the review have merit? I think that’s an important 1st step in determining what tactics to deploy. Respond with humility. It’s ridiculous to publicly napalm a troll.

  • ginidietrich whitney_fay I actually did have a company do that (the automatic email). It’s super smart and works really well. The follow-up email was tongue in cheek, something like 
    “Hey, thanks…we think you’re swell too and we’d love for you to share your experience so other equally as awesome people can find us too”

    Obviously the ego boost worked for me.

  • Full agreement with your advice steps and of others that recommend writing a response. Most importantly I feel producing content with those keywords “Company Name Reputation” coupled with using Google+ with those keywords can not be highlighted enough for ranking up on Google search or suppressing the poor review.  Essentially you want to rise above rather than wallow in the rabble (assuming the rabble is just babble 😉

  • JamieNRutter

    Great guide, Gini!

    I would add extra emphasis to creating “content for business, news, and trade publications as part of their PR efforts.” People savvy enough to Google “Company Name reputation” will probably trust content on non-owned sites more.

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