How to Tactfully Respond to Negative Reviews—And Improve Your SEO While You’re Doing It

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The great news about negative reviews is that they are actually an opportunity for your business to learn and improve.

You’ve worked hard to boost your website’s visibility in search rankings, investing in high-quality content and avoiding Google’s penalties. But despite all that hard work, a few bad reviews can knock you down below your competitors, costing valuable website visits and eventually impacting your bottom line.

But there is something you can do to help reverse any damage bad reviews can do. According to Google, responding to reviews creates a two-way conversation between your business and its customers that can make a big difference, especially in local search results.

The below tips will help you make the most of the opportunity, turning bad reviews into a brand boost.

How Negative Reviews Hurt SEO

Negative reviews can appear on a variety of websites, including Fiverr, your business’s Facebook page and platforms like Yelp. As a business owner, you have no control over these reviews, although Facebook allows you to report a review that falls outside its community guidelines. These sites are favorites of customers, often showing prominently on the first page of search rankings alongside your website and social media pages.

In addition to making your business look bad on page one, though, negative reviews impact your search results in more direct ways. First, they can kill customer interest in learning more about your company, which reduces the number of clicks and conversions your website has.

You’ll also be less likely to appear on sites that recommend your brand, reducing the number of backlinks that are so valuable to boosting search rankings.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

As most successful responses to negative reviews demonstrate, the best thing to do is apologize and try to make the situation right. This may mean offering a full refund or a discount on a future purchase.

Avoid responding negatively at all costs, even if the customer is making boldly inaccurate claims. If the customer becomes combative after your response, don’t engage. Any response can reflect negatively on you at that point.

The first step toward making things right is to be aware as soon as possible that a negative review has been posted. This will minimize the damage the review can do to your reputation, since customers will see your response and know that you’re willing to make things right. Make review site monitoring a part of your ongoing social media marketing process.

Don’t Forget Positive Reviews

Customer service is an important part of winning and retaining customers. Unfortunately, it’s an art that can be lost as businesses struggle to get their brand messaging out. Social media provides the perfect opportunity to interact with your customers, and that interaction can boost your search rankings. It leads to more posts on each of your pages, as well as upping the potential for links and keyword mentions that will win search algorithms.

One way to increase customer interactions online is by responding to positive reviews as well as negative. The biggest goal is to show appreciation, so the response should start with an enthusiastic thank you. You can also invite reviewers to come back for a new special you’re offering or simply ask them to share the review with their own online followers.

The key is to be both friendly and professional at all times since others reading your response will see it as a sign that you care about your customers.

Here are a few tips to help you improve your local SEO through your reviews:

  • Regularly monitor review sites, as well as social media, to catch reviews as soon as they’re posted.
  • Respond to all reviews, positive or negative, in a positive, professional manner.
  • Never engage in a battle with a disgruntled customer.

How do you respond to online reviews? Have you seen results from doing so? Let us know in the comments below.

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