Chris Williams

How One-Star Reviews Act Like Leeches: Part One

By: Chris Williams | June 19, 2019 | 
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one-star reviewEvery time someone searches for your brand, they encounter reviews.

So what do they do when they see a one-star?

Chances are, they read it before the positive notices.

(Admit it, we’ve all done this.)

Now, they may choose to ignore that one-star.

Or they may decide to skip past your business and continue searching.

Maybe you’ve lost a potential customer, and you’ll never even know it.

The “Leech” Review: One-Star Reviews Meant to Hurt Your Brand

Leaving a negative review generally means a customer is dissatisfied with your business.

However, people often leave one-star reviews for more vindictive reasons.

Perhaps they’re trying to get back at you, or hurt your brand.

These negative reviews act like leeches.

Stuck to your brand, quietly sucking away business.

And they’ll keep doing it unless you find them and pry them away.

In this post, we’ll cover the “leech” review, and how it affects your brand.

In part two, we’ll talk about how to deal with them.

Reviews Affect Every Business, Even B2B

“Why should I be concerned about online reviews? We’re a B2B company, not a coffee shop.”

I’ve heard this sentiment expressed by customers, over and over.

If you’re thinking along the same lines, let me disprove this notion right now.

Reviews aren’t just for restaurants.

People can leave reviews for B2B businesses in many places online—and they do, all the time!

Here are five examples of B2B-focused or B2B-inclusive review websites:

There’s also Google.

Reviews posted directly to Google pop up for just about every business, whether you’re B2C, B2B, B2HEFG, or something else.

When you finish reading this article, take a second, and type your brand’s name into Google.

Do you have any reviews?

Odds are you do.

Next, check those five review websites.

Any reviews there?

Surprise!

No business—not even yours—is immune to online reviews.

Which includes those one-star leeches.

Why Do People Leave One-Star Reviews?

Anyone can leave a one-star review, and people can have many reasons for doing so.

But when it comes to brands, people usually hit you with a one-star for these factors.

A Terrible Experience

The customer received poor service and wants to share it—usually to ward off others from experiencing the same issue.

This could happen for many reasons:

  • Miscommunication
  • Accident
  • Oversight
  • Defective product
  • Service mishap

Accidental or intentional.

No matter the cause, the result is the same.

Vindictiveness

The reviewer wants you to lose customers.

Maybe they had a bad customer experience of their own.

Or a personal dislike of an employee or the owner.

Perhaps they disagree with a decision your company made (social, political, business tactic, etc.).

It’s not pleasant, but it happens.

Sabotage

A competitor asks a friend (or pays someone) to leave one-star reviews on your business.

Do that a few times for each competitor, and the leeches send more customers away from you—and toward their business instead.

The Legality of Leaving Bad Reviews

Sabotage?

Intentionally hurting other businesses?

That’s got to be against the law, isn’t it?

There must be some legal recourse.

You can sue over a negative review.

People have done that for years.

But to win that suit, you’ll have to prove that the reviewer posted factually incorrect information, according to the FreshBooks Blog.

Reviews are considered free speech and protected accordingly.

The problem comes in proving intent.

See, in most legal cases, the burden of proof is on the accuser.

When it comes to online reviews, this is flipped on its head.

The review subject—your business—must prove either that a review is factually incorrect, or had malicious intent.

Both are difficult to verify to a court’s satisfaction.

Which makes the whole process cumbersome, expensive, and stressful.

Have businesses won lawsuits against negative reviewers? Sure.

Is it worth it to take the legal option?

I am not a lawyer, but in most cases, I’d say no.

How the Leech Review Hurts Your Brand (and Your Bottom Line)

So you got a one-star review, what’s the big deal?

Everyone gets one at some point.

Just shrug and go back to work.

While you might think taking the high road is the best approach, it ignores one fundamental aspect of your brand—its perception in prospects’ minds.

Think about the last time you saw a negative review on a business you’re considering.

If it’s only one, you may decide to go there anyway.

What about five one-star reviews? Ten? Twenty?

Now you’re wondering if the business is poorly run, too expensive, has rude staff, and so on.

You doubt their claims of professionalism or competence.

You’re less likely to move from prospect to customer.

Those reviews changed your perception.

That’s the damage leech reviews do.

They act like an invisible, silent barricade to your business.

A tarnish on your brand’s image.

And fewer prospects turning into actual customers can ruin your bottom line!

That’s not all, though.

Negative reviews can hurt brands in two other ways.

Lower Search Results

Reviews are a ranking factor for all major search engines.

Not the most critical factor, but they do carry weight.

If your business name has a bunch of negative reviews attached to it, the search engines ding you!

Just as positive reviews can push you higher in local search, negative reviews push you down.

This will become more important in part two.

Lowers Referrals

Say a long-time customer wants to recommend your business to a friend.

They look you up online—and see five negative reviews posted in the past month.

They may not want to suggest you now.

You’ve lost a referral.

Again, you’ll never know about this kind of effect.

Yet it happens, every day.

Don’t Ignore Leech Negative Reviews—Your Customers Won’t

Like it or not, reviews are part of your brand’s online reputation.

But it’s not a part you can control.

Which is why you cannot afford to just leave one-star leech reviews alone.

You may want to ignore them—but they won’t go away unless you act.

In part two, we’ll address how to find those leeches out there on the web, and how to respond to them.

For now, we want to hear how you deal with negative reviews.

Share your thoughts in the comments down below.

About Chris Williams


Chris Williams is the machine behind many Silicon Valley businesses' marketing efforts. As Digital Marketing & Communications Manager for PlanetMagpie, he does everything from writing email newsletters to managing entire websites. A former life spent in IT support granted him a powerful communications skill: translating "tech-speak" into recognizable English language. He calls it "Translating Tech into Human."