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Sunday, July 11, 2010

We've all been exposed to them. Some of you may even have left them after using a product or making a purchase from Online customer reviews are a part of any business today. Unfortunately, I'm usually called in once a company has experienced a number of bad reviews that tarnish their products and reputation.

The question you might be asking yourself is how to avoid bad reviews or eliminate them all together. The difficulty is that once a bad review is posted online and indexed by search engines, it may begin appearing in search results. Once there, it could be difficult (but not impossible to remove).

Here are a few strategies you can use to manage reputation and improve the customer review process:

1. Set up a customer forum on your website.
Inviting customer feedback is a great way to monitor feedback and it gives you excellent control. Don't shy away from feedback, invite it. By doing so you can recognize and address problems before they are distributed all over the internet.

2. Give your customers access to popular review sites. A bit risky you might be thinking? Not if you're selective with regard to which customers you invite to comment. Be sure that customer service representatives email a list of review sites and an invite to comment to those individuals with whom they've had a positive interaction.

3. Focus on improving the ranking of third party assets. Do you have a Squidoo lens? Article on EzineArticles? Profile on a social media site like Facebook? Use search engine optimization best practices to improve rankings of these assets to push down negative listings.

4. If a particular comment is slanderous, contact the web site on which it's posted. In some cases, particularly negative comments can be removed. However, most sites will only remove if they've broken the site posting rules. It never hurts to ask to have a listing removed however. Don't hesitate. Reach out to the site and explain why the listing should be removed and the negative impact it's having on your business.

5. Take advantage of universal search. Produce content across a number of different outlets. Generate news by submitting a press release or create instructional videos that show how to use your product. By submitting this content to various distribution sites (youtube, prweb, etc.) you can get them indexed and showing up on search results.

Don't wait until it's too late. Start managing your online reputation today. Begin by proactively soliciting feedback from your customers and asking those with positive experiences to leave comments on your forum, blog, or popular review sites. In addition, work to replace negative comments with positive online assets like social media profiles and more. Just apply basic optimization techniques and watch your reputation sore.


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