Did you know that 75% of Internet users don’t bother scrolling past the first page of search results and consequently, the first five search results get over 75% of the clicks?
So what exactly do you do when, say, you get a horrible review online and it’s the first thing that pops up when prospects search for your business or services?
You get one chance to make a first impression. Pushing negative business reviews way down SERPs (search engine results pages) may be a long shot, but it’s definitely worth your effort. Leaving damaging negative reviews front and center will turn off would-be clients and cost you for as long as the reviews are visible.
While there are no direct and concrete steps that will instantaneously work, there are certain actions that you can take to push these unsightly reviews way down in the search results. Here are a few steps that work:
1. Appease the reviewer and ask to have their reviews taken down or updated.
As easy as this sounds it’s probably the hardest step to take for most since it requires proactively reaching out to your frustrated client whose anger has dealt a blow to the reputation of your business.
But as the old adage goes, ask and you shall receive.
Reaching out to a client that has left you a negative review gives you a chance to get to the bottom of the issue and find out if there is anything you can do to rectify it. More often than not, you’ll find that clients are willing to forgive if they feel you are sincere about your effort to resolve the situation.
Apart from the possibility of having the review taken down or updated to reflect your efforts, you are also showing your clients (and prospects) that you value their business.
2. Set up your social media accounts and maintain an active presence.
If the goal is to push reviews down results pages, you have to keep an active digital presence. The more recent and relevant activities and content you have online, the better the chance of them appearing in queries way ahead of your negative reviews.
Creating and maintaining active social media profiles will be the easiest way to get your name several places online and start giving Google pages to link to.
The best part is that you have control of these pages, so you can control what information people can see when these profiles appear on results pages.
Posting regularly on the profiles you create plays a huge factor. Using a social media management tool such as HubSpot’s Social Inbox, Sprout, or Hootsuite will allow you to easily post to several accounts at once, engage with your audience, and deal with any comments or questions coming from your followers.
The top social profiles you should setup and maintain include: Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Additionally, you can also create secondary accounts on social media platforms such as: Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Flickr, Foursquare, Vine, Vimeo, SlideShare, Del.icio.us, Digg, Tumblr, and Medium.
3. Own your domain and other relevant domains.
If you can own a domain that actually reflects the name of your business, do so. If this is something that you already own, try to purchase domains that are other versions of your business name.
Be sure to add content to the website and use it to link to all of your social media profiles. Google will consider the site with your name in the URL an authority, especially as you add links and content. You should also link these domains to your main one.
4. Publish content regularly.
You should publish content regularly to give search engines new pages to index. Think of blogs, press releases, ebooks, white papers, videos, etc.
If you can create and publish multimedia content, do so. Google loves images and videos. Be sure to optimize these by placing your business name in the ALT Texts and titles, and don’t forget to post them on your website and social media channels. If you have video content, be sure to upload them on YouTube. Google tends to favor multimedia content uploaded on their own platforms.
5. Keep an active engagement online.
News articles, industry blogs, and other influential websites often do well in search engine results. If you can get a good backlink from trustworthy digital outlets, the content will have a greater chance of appearing before your negative reviews. You can do this by asking to guest blog, creating compelling content that can be featured on trustworthy websites, and keeping an actively engaged presence online by commenting on posts.
Be sure to use your business name to register for outlets you will be active on and leave positive, informative, and well-written comments. Since comment results can rise to the top of Google easily, be mindful of what you say and always use proper spelling and grammar.
The tips above will certainly help, but you still have to monitor changing search activity. One of the easiest ways to do this is by setting up Google alerts for your business so you are aware of items that appear online about your business — both the good and the not-so-stellar ones.