Your Business Has Received Reviews On Third-Party Sites That Just Aren’t True. Now What?
Negative reviews are inevitable, but when they cross over into being patently false, that’s unfair to your employees and your business’s reputation. Here’s a closer look at what you can do to protect your recommendability.
Your business’s online reputation hinges on an array of factors. Of the most influential components of your digital reputation, online reviews play a crucial role in shaping and informing consumer opinion of your brand. That said, there’s a significant disparity between the value we as consumers put on reviews and the veracity of those reviews. On the popular eCommerce platform Amazon, for example, there are over 250 million reviews, despite the fact that only 3% to 10% of consumers take the time to write reviews on the products. Of the reviews on Amazon, more than 2 million are unverified, and efforts to verify them by third parties have shown as many as 9.1% of the unverified reviews to appear to be unnatural.
Managing untrue reviews has become a business task in and of itself, and requires a strategic approach and the right tools to ensure your team can properly protect your online reputation across not only the relevant channels for your brand, but also third-party sites where you might not even know your brand is being smeared.
Know Where and When Consumers Talk About Your Brand
The Internet is a vast landscape without borders. Even if you’ve gone online and done your due diligence claiming your brand on online directories and social media platforms, that doesn’t mean consumers haven’t found places to talk about your brand in places you might not know about. And even if you have found all of the nooks and crannies where reviews online about your brand might pop up, it’s a time-consuming follow-up to make your rounds manually to all of these sites. Instead, use Google or your search engine’s tools to set an alert to track any and all mentions of your brand, services, and products. Using this alert system, you can immediately follow up with reviews and take the appropriate actions, depending on your review moderation strategy.
Does Your Review Moderation Strategy Address Removing Reviews from Third-Party Sites?
You cannot take a passive role in handling reviews of your brand online, given the prevalence and aggressive approach bad actors take towards creating false or negative reviews. There are solid strategies for identifying and mitigating false reviews that you must take in managing your digital reputation. While you should still engage with these reviews to show other legitimate customers your process, you should also take an active role in identifying and reporting those false reviews on the platform where they appear in the attempt to have them flagged as false or even removed. In this portion of the discussion, we’re going to go over some of the procedures of popular third-party review sites for managing and ultimately removing negative reviews.
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Google and Google My Business
One of the most visible platforms for reviews, Google is also one of the most challenging platforms when it comes to having a review removed. First and most importantly, they won’t consider reviewing flagged reviews unless it breaks one of Google’s content policies. Flagging a review because you disagree or don’t appreciate the content can actually do more harm than good, as over time Google will begin to penalize your listing for false reporting. It is a good practice to tag and report reviews that are obviously spam and false, however, to help the automated algorithms improve their detection methods for spam. Google’s most important guidance for reporting false reviews is to remain patient and keep an eye on the feedback, as it could take several days to assess a review.
Amazon has some great tools for assessing review legitimacy that have extensions on web browsers, making it easy to quickly assess. However, there really are only two avenues for having false reviews removed from Amazon listings, and this has led to a significant amount of frustration on the part of sellers. The first method is for sellers to engage with the reviewers themselves and try to convince them to remove the reviews. This of course can be next to impossible if the reviews are generated by spam software or bots and designed to damage your brand reputation. In that situation, you can submit a support ticket to have the review or reviews in question removed from your product or service feed, and then wait for the system to work through the process.
Since Facebook swapped over to Recommendations, they’ve made it so that you can turn the function on or off for your page, and in the process opened the door for reporting feedback users feel to be outside of acceptable community standards. Spam and false reviews can fall under this reporting system, and since the platform has also taken a firm stance against spam and negative postings on the site itself, it makes sense that the reporting system focuses on managing “abuse” first and foremost.
Yelp takes a similar stance to Amazon in that it allows reviews to be community-driven and disputes to be first addressed between the parties. In the case where a review is legitimate and factual, but negative, the business has to find a way to engage with the reviewer and convince them to either remove the review or leave follow-up responses showing that the company addressed their issue positively. In the situation where a review has been reported, moderators or automated software might deem the content sufficiently false or irrelevant to the brand and remove it from view.
Be Proactive and Remain Positive in Managing False Reviews
Keeping a positive perception of your brand can be a time-consuming process made even more so by having to navigate the red tape of third-party sites when it comes to removing false or fake reviews. The important thing is to have a robust and fully-formed review management policy that includes engaging with the reviews about your brand, even those that might be false, to show your client base your approach and procedures around customer service and managing the consumer relationship, while behind the scenes you’re working to mitigate and remove false reviews. If you find that keeping up with the review management process is taking up too much of your team’s time, consider an outsourced marketing solutions provider who can help you develop a strategy and provide the extra hands-on to keep your reputation ahead of the competition.