How Is Your Reputation Holding Up In Google's Search Results?You know, if there are listings in Google's search results that are hurting your business, you might think that there is nothing you can do about that. But let me assure you that given the will and the desire, there is plenty you can do about those search engine results that may be hurting your business.
So many people look at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a game of influencing the keywords that are important to their business, but they don't realize that SEO can also be used to diminish the negatives in the search results.
Are You Losing Business As Result Of A Bad Review In Google?
Remember that guy who bought your product 3 years ago, and he did not follow the instructions for use, and then complained about how your product let him down? He could be hurting your business right now.
How do you measure the sales that your business is losing, because some guy complained on some website about how your product or service is "crap".
A Real World Example
Ah... I remember when I was selling TV's for a living.
There was this fellow who came into the store and bought a 52-inch projection screen TV. We had a bonded delivery crew on hand to help people get their purchases home, but although this guy had just spent $2400 on a television set, he decided that he did not want to pay $40 for delivery of his new TV set. I bet you can see where this story is going...
So, we loaded his new TV in the back of his pickup, and he proceeded to tie down his TV in the back of his pickup truck.
He thanked us for his TV and started the drive home.
45 minutes later, our most recent happy customer pulled into the parking lot, toting a big-screen TV box.
As we went to meet him at the door, we could hear the glass falling as the box moved across the floor.
He was pissed! And to our surprise, we were at fault!
You might be asking yourself why we were at fault. That is a good question, one I even posed at the time.
We were at fault, because we did not offer free delivery!
A gust of wind had caught his box, snapping the twine that he had used to tie it down, blowing his $2400 Phillips Big-Screen TV onto the highway.
He said it was our fault, because we should have given him free delivery. Never mind that we had already given him a $300 discount on the purchase of his TV.
We had offered him bonded delivery, but he refused, and now it was our fault that his TV was broken.
The store where we worked was one of those chains that keep all of the power to make things right at the home office. We could not simply exchange his TV, without permission from our superiors. If we had authorized the exchange with the guy, without the District Manager's permission, the company would have taken the cost of the Television out of the salesperson's and the manager's paycheck.
I was the assistant manager, and I was NOT going to pay for this guy's broken television. The company did not pay me enough to fix this problem for them, out of my own pocket.
We called the DM. Of course, even though we worked until 10 at night, the DM went home at 6pm. So, we kept dialing his cell phone number, until he answered the phone. ;-)
He was pissed, but that was okay. We were already dealing with "pissed", so we did not mind two people pissed at the same time.
Thank God I was not the manager in charge that night. Thank God for small favors...
Our District Manager said the guy was tough out of luck. I am glad I don't work for those clowns anymore.
I agree that it should not have been our responsibility, but surely we could find a solution for this guy. After all, he just spent $2400 with us.
Nope. The District Manager said No, then he said No, and he said No again.
So, the DM hung up telling us not to call him again that evening. And we were left with the poor guy who had just signed a two-year finance contract on a TV that was busted to hell.
Yes, I bet the guy pays for delivery next time. But the story does not end here...
It Wasn't Your Fault, But It Is Your Problem...
The story now moves online. It moves into the newspaper. It moves onto our sales floor for more than a week. It goes ballistic...
The customer went home that night, and turned to the power of the Internet with his complaint. A few days later, he followed his Internet complaints with a paid advert in the local newspaper. Our store was getting skewered.
The guy was in the store every day, throwing a tantrum. And he was spending his money and his time to skewer us for letting him make a foolish decision.
It just worked out well for him. On about his tenth trip to the store, throwing his daily tantrum in front of people who were looking to buy a TV, he just happened to arrive on a day that the DM was in the building. Ah... A new face behind the counter. The customer picked out the new face in the building as being someone over us. And wham, he let the District Manager have it, with both barrels...
Persistence paid off in this case.
He overwhelmed the District Manager with his complaints.
The District Manager broke down and did only what the District Manager could do for our customer. He used his privileged status to type in the appropriate commands into the computer and make things right for this guy.
In the end, we got him a new television for the price of delivery to his house.
The store ate the cost of the new television. (I ended up paying a portion of the TV anyway, because the bookkeeping department deducted the price of the television from the sales sheets for the month, so some of my monthly bonus was lost when that man's television was cut from the store's profits.)
The victory that we received was that the guy was not in the store every day scaring away our customers.
But that victory came only after we took a serious hit in our Reputation Management. Every person that guy talked to for the ten days after his purchase, up until he got his replacement, knew that he had a bad experience with us. What is more, everyone who read his paid advert in the newspaper knew that he had a problem with our store. Even more, who knows how long his complaint survived online...
* You know what they say, "What is posted online, stays online."
I left my job at that store in 2005. That store closed in 2008.
I am not going to say that the store closed on account of that guy's complaints. But I am willing to say that the store was hurt by the guy's complaints. He did manage to drive a lot of prospective customers out of our store, during his daily rants. (I just checked and could not find his complaints online anymore.)
I am willing to bet that the store closed due to the recession. It closed about the same time that Circuit City bit the dust.
I think this story clearly illustrates that a problem does not have to be your fault, in order for your business to pay a high price, as a result of the problem.
Does Applebee's Really Suck?
To help illustrate the extent of this problem, I just typed into Google the name of my favorite restaurant, Applebee's, the name of my town, and the word "sucks".
I saw dozens of Google search results that were in effect saying that my favorite restaurant "sucks". Many of them went to describe this restaurant as having the "worst food ever."
Now to be sure, restaurants everywhere suffer from this treatment. And the big name brand restaurants can survive, because their large customer base has a different opinion.
But what if you are a local restaurant or an obscure Internet company?
As an permanent online fixture, I tend to be jaded about the complaints I read about others. But I have to admit, while one or two complaints will not sway me, several complaints in the search results will even cause "me" to hesitate.
Can you afford for jaded internet marketers like myself to hesitate?
You can bet that if we "jaded internet marketers" are hesitating to purchase what you sell, those "who are not internet marketers by profession" are running away from you!
Fixing The Problem...
You are already aware that by utilizing SEO techniques that you can help your website rank better for some keywords in Google and the other search engines.
But did you know that you can also create a wealth of positive reviews for your business on a variety of web pages, and to get those positive reviews to rank higher in the search engines than the negative reviews?
This is how we help our customers.
We use our SEO expertise to get the positive reviews of our client's website to outrank the negative reviews of our client's website.
If we get enough positive reviews to occupy the top of the search results for the target keywords, then those negative reviews of our client's website will be buried on page two, three, four, five or six of Google's search results.
* If people will NEVER SEE the negative reviews of your website, product or service, then as far as most people are aware, there ARE NOT ANY negative reviews. If there are no negatives about your business, then everything must be positive.
You are in control of your business' reputation online, if only you are willing take the reins and force the negatives down in Google's search results.
We know that not everything in the search results is true or honest. After all, the guy with the broken TV was blaming us for his bad judgment. We know that you may not deserve what is in Google's search results that is affecting your online reputation in a negative way.
If you don't let us help you get the negatives out of the sight of your prospective customers, then do it yourself or hire another company to do it for you. Because as long as those negative reviews exist in Google's search results, there is a good chance that someone is going to let those negative comments prevent them from buying from you!