Bad Online Review? 5 Steps to Protect Your Online Reputation

Bad Review

A client recently came to me with a concern about their online reputation. In this client’s case, there were multiple negative reviews written on Glassdoor by a vindictive former employee. They were wildly untrue, but they were damaging. Collectively, it brought their company score to 2.3 stars out of 5. It was likely the reason they were struggling to entice qualified candidates to apply for their job openings in a market that should have been producing tons of results.

It’s tempting to ignore bad online reviews when they come up in hopes that they’ll fade away. But in today’s online world, reputation is everything.

When I look at online reviews, I always read the negative reviews. They impact my decision to act or not. Likely you’re the same way – as are your potential new-hires and buyers.

One of the most important factors in those negative reviews is the company’s response to it. Is the response positive and professional or is it defensive? Even worse, did they just ignore the review? A lack of response says you either don’t pay attention or you don’t care. And neither of those looks good for you.

We help our clients manage their online reputation when they run into snags like this. As we do, it’s been crystal clear that an online reputation can be carefully cultivated to be what you want it to be. But you can’t do that if you aren’t monitoring your online reviews.

You have to know what’s being said – and you have to take control. This is your reputation we’re talking about.

These 5 steps will help you take control when you get negative on-line reviews:

  1. Claim your digital space. Most websites where people can leave a review about your business offer your business the ability to “claim” your business. To do that, look for an option that says “is this your business” or “claim your business.” Then, you establish an account, add your logo and branding, company images and descriptions. When you don’t do this, anybody can post images and claim that the images are of your business.
  2. Flag false reviews. If there are negative online reviews that are false, it’s worth it to flag and challenge them, if the website gives you the opportunity to do so. Sometimes you can have reviews removed this way. Sometimes, it might take reading the website’s terms of use to understand what you can do to have inaccurate reviews removed.
  3. Yes, you should reply. There are three keys to your response. First, always thank the person for their feedback. Second, never get defensive. Finally, always keep your replies professional and courteous. If you did something wrong, own it, apologize and offer amends or offer to contact the person to make it up to them. One exception: don’t respond to personal attacks. It’s not worth the time. Most customers will see above the personal attacks, and responding to those can make you look petty and defensive, no matter how you do it.
  4. Solicit reviews from happy people. Have employees, former employees, customers all post positive reviews. It won’t override the negative review, but it will do two things: one, it will increase your average rating and two, it will add another positive opinion for your potential customers or employees to review and make more informed choices.
  5. Know what people are saying about you. There are a number of reputation management tools you can use to monitor what people are saying about you and what your overall online reputation looks like. These are really affordable and will help you stay on top of your reviews. We use, but there are many other tools you can find with a quick Google search of “online reputation tool”.
  6. Build your digital ubiquity. It is much harder for someone to assert something negative about you if you are well-established across multiple channels. When you have active and up-to-date social media accounts, executives regularly engaged on LinkedIn, and a Google My Business account, you are a clear authority. If you aren’t active today, get active. Stop looking at social media as a lead source and start thinking of it as a reputation management tool.

You don’t have to wait until you receive a bad online review to take these steps. Take charge of your online presence now and manage your reputation. That way, if someone does leave a negative review, you are already ahead of the game and able to take action swiftly to address it.

Bottom line, you can’t have a good online reputation by avoiding bad reviews. Take charge of your digital presence and those reviews will carry a lot less weight.

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