It can sting to see a negative review left for others to see, and you’re right to be concerned about how it might hurt your business. Customers often check reviews online and put a lot of value on the opinions of other consumers.
According to the Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal, 81% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses in 2021, up from 63% the year before. The Local Search Ranking Factors survey from Whitespark highlights online reviews as the fourth most important factor in their ranking.
It’s not just potential customers who are reading your reviews. Google and other search engines are, too. When your business’s name comes up in a search, one of the first things searchers will see are your reviews. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on what people are saying and take steps to mitigate the damage of negative reviews.
Do Bad Reviews Affect SEO?
John Muller, a senior webmaster trends analyst at Google, was recently asked if negative search results about a brand could hurt that brand’s website from ranking in Google search. He responded that it shouldn’t. He went on to say that while there is a need for reputation management in general, negative reviews themselves are not likely to impact your website’s ranking.
That being said, there is anecdotal evidence that bad reviews can negatively affect your website’s rankings. Many studies have shown that a high number of negative reviews can lead to a drop in organic traffic.
A study from Moz found that the number one factor that correlates with lower rankings is the presence of negative reviews. Their data shows that a single one-star review could drop your organic traffic by up to 10%.
Another study, this one from Searchmetrics, found that a negative review on the first page of search results could drop a website’s ranking by up to 40%.
Of course, these studies are correlational and not causational. It could be that sites with bad reviews are more likely to have other SEO problems causing their rankings to drop.
While it’s impossible to know whether or not negative reviews are affecting your website’s ranking, it is clear that they can have an impact on potential customers.
Do Bad Google Reviews Hurt business?
Bad reviews might not be good for your website’s SEO, but they can hurt your business.
In the Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal, 65% of consumers said they would not use a business with bad reviews. In addition, 86% of consumers said they would hesitate to purchase from a business that had negative reviews, and 95% said they would avoid doing business with a company that had fake reviews.
What’re more, bad reviews can be contagious. In a study from Cornell University, researchers found that one negative review could lead to a 95% chance of getting a second negative review.
The study also found that it takes 12 positive reviews to offset the effects of one negative review.
Even if bad reviews don’t hurt your website’s ranking, they can still have a significant impact on your business.
Can Negative Reviews Help Search Engine Rankings?
Too many negative reviews can harm your business, but surprisingly, a few bad reviews might help your website’s ranking.
A study from Moz found that websites with a mix of positive and negative reviews rank higher than those with all positive or negative reviews. The study also found that sites with a high number of reviews, regardless of whether they were positive or negative, tended to rank higher than those with fewer reviews.
This is because Google and other search engines want to provide searchers with the most relevant and helpful results. That means they are more likely to rank websites with a mix of positive and negative reviews because that’s what real people say about the business.
Here’s how negative reviews can help your website’s ranking:
Increase the Overall Number of Reviews
Negative reviews help increase the overall number of reviews, which can positively impact your website’s ranking.
When a business has a lot of reviews, it signals to Google that the business is popular and relevant. That’s why sites with a high number of reviews tend to rank higher than those with fewer reviews.
Moreover, the number of reviews is a Local SEO ranking factor. That means that the more reviews you have, the better your chances of ranking in Local search results.
The key is to get more positive reviews than negative reviews. A study from Harvard Business School found that a restaurant with a 4-star rating and 100 reviews would need to get just one more positive review to see a significant increase in business.
On the other hand, a restaurant with a 4-star rating and 10 reviews would need to get 10 more positive reviews to see the same increase.
A few bad reviews will not hurt your business as long as you have a lot of positive reviews. They might even help you rank higher in Local search results.
Increase Your Credibility
Let’s face it, no business is perfect. There will always be some people who are unhappy with your product or service, no matter what you do.
The important thing is to show that you are willing to listen to feedback and make changes based on that feedback. This shows that you are committed to providing the best possible experience for your customers.
When you respond to negative reviews, you are increasing your credibility in the eyes of both your customers and Google. Responding to reviews is one of the easiest ways to increase your chances of ranking higher in local search results.
A study from BrightLocal found that businesses that respond to reviews see an average increase of 9.7% in their local search rankings.
In short, negative reviews can help increase your credibility, which can help you rank higher in Local search results.
Build Relationships with Customers
Bad reviews can be used as an opportunity to build relationships with your customers. Responding to negative reviews is one of the best ways to turn an unhappy customer into a loyal fan.
Responding to negative reviews shows that you are willing to listen to feedback and make changes based on that feedback. This shows your customers that you value their opinions and are committed to providing the best possible experience.
When you respond appropriately to negative reviews, you build trust with your customers. And when you build trust with your customers, they will likely do business with you again in the future.
Provide a More Accurate Picture of Your Business
As we mentioned, potential customers want to see a mix of positive and negative reviews before making a purchase. That’s because they want to get a more accurate picture of what your business is really like.
If you only have positive reviews, potential customers might think that you are trying to hide something. On the other hand, if you only have negative reviews, potential customers might think your business is not worth their time.
A few negative reviews can provide a more balanced view of your business, which can increase your credibility and trustworthiness.
Drive Your SEO & Content Marketing Efforts
Negative reviews can be used to improve your SEO and content marketing efforts. Negative reviews can help you better understand your audience.
When you know what your customers are looking for, you can create content that addresses their needs. This content can then be optimized for the keywords that your customers are searching for.
In addition, negative reviews can be used to create compelling content that will help you rank higher in search results. For example, if you have a lot of negative reviews about your shipping times, you could create a blog post about how you are working to improve your shipping times.
This blog post could then be optimized for the keyword “shipping times”. As a result, you would rank higher in search results for that keyword, which would drive more traffic to your website.
How to Deal With Bad Reviews?
The best way to deal with bad reviews is to use them as an opportunity to improve your business. Take the time to read each review and see if there is any truth to the complaints.
If there are, make changes to your business to provide a better experience for your customers. If there is not, take the time to respond to the review and set the record straight.
In either case, remember to stay positive and professional. Your goal should be to turn the customer’s negative experience into a positive one.
When you constructively respond to bad reviews, you can turn unhappy customers into raving fans. And when you have raving fans, they will be more likely to leave positive reviews, which can help improve your SEO and attract more customers to your business.
How to Manage All Your Reviews?
It’s important to keep track of all your positive and negative reviews. That way, you can quickly respond to negative reviews and take advantage of positive ones.
There are a few different ways to do this. You can set up Google Alerts for your business name and keywords. This will send you an email any time your business is mentioned online.
You can also install a review monitoring tool on your website. This will show you all the reviews that have been left for your business, both positive and negative.
Finally, you can check review sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook regularly. This will help you stay on top of all the reviews that have been left for your business.
Negative reviews are a natural part of doing business. But they don’t have to be a bad thing. When you know how to deal with them, they can be a good thing.
Use negative reviews as an opportunity to improve your business and drive your SEO and content marketing efforts. And when you do, you’ll be able to attract more customers and turn them into raving fans.