There are millions of reviews to read out there on the internet. Some are good, some are bad and some ugly. Businesses rely on positive online reviews now more than ever as they have become an integral part of the sales cycle. However, now that online reviews have become more of a commodity, the quality and validity of reviews has come into question.
Businesses are willing to do just about anything to get positive reviews. Online testimonials and reviews are key factors impacting the degree of trust that consumers form with the brands they are researching. With this inflated value placed on words of praise, we recommend taking them with a grain of salt. Companies are not above paying for copywriters to spin gold from their keyboards, after all.
The darker side of this commodification of online reviews arises when it comes to negative reviews. It can be difficult to determine what`s true and what isn`t. It can be extremely disappointing to find a company and become invested in what you see (whether it`s their amazing product that you want, or a service that you really need) only to find out that their online reputation is, well, crap. The thing is, if they do have some seriously bad reviews, they may not be their fault. Find out how to read reviews and get to the truth about a company below.
Dark and dirty are words that can be used to describe negative SEO. Negative SEO works to diminish a company`s reputation by posting bad things about them on review sites all over the internet. It also includes poor quality link stuffing on the websites of others and several additional factors to hinder one`s competition online.
Some companies invest in negative SEO out of desperation and others out of aggression. With the internet lending itself well to anonymity, there is very little a business can do if they are on the receiving end of this type of attack. Links can be removed, but reviews are extremely difficult – if not impossible – to get rid of.
So how can you tell if you are reading a real review or a fake one? Keep reading.
Place, Time & Writing Style
Important things to consider are: the author, the time and the style of writing. It is common to find negative SEO companies overseas. If a review is a result of negative SEO, it is a good idea to consider the time of day that the review was posted. Was it 3AM? This could indicate that the review wasn`t local. If you are a looking at a local business, you will know that this review could be untrue.
Also consider the writing style. Is it written with proper grammar? If it is really poor quality it has probably been purchased. Spam reviews rarely come out of North American businesses, unless they are from high school kids in their parent`s basements. Most negative SEO providers also use Blackhat SEO practices.
Blackhat includes software that spins content (rearranges it automatically) and posts it to review websites and blogs. This is another reason why the grammar or phrasing might seem a little strange if you are reading a fake review. The software does work, but it`s less than ideal.
Rumor or Reality?
Consider the phrasing in the arguments you are reading. Are the reviewers talking about their own direct experience with the company, or, are they discussing things that they have heard? Obviously speculation is far less authentic than actual experience or engagement with a business.
Also, what is their point exactly? Are they suggesting that they should have gotten free service or some form of payment? Even if a bad review is written by a real customer, it doesn`t always mean it`s justified. If it is written in a rational, logical way in order to educate others about a specific flaw in a business that`s one thing. If you find a review like this, believe it because it`s probably true.
On the other hand, if a customer is USING ALL CAPS, speaking in generalities or mentioning money over and over it might be a good idea to question what they are saying. Does this customer seem rational? Reliable? Reasonable? Or, do they seem like they are out to get revenge at all costs? Cases of people seeking revenge are not typically a good indication of a business`s overall merits, and are usually in response to more rare, isolated incidents in which the company in question has not provided the necessary customer service to diffuse the bomb.
People are emotional creatures, and this type of thing really can happen anytime. Maybe that customer service rep spilled her coffee all over herself seconds before interacting with a hot headed customer; her patience at an all time low. Presto! The perfect storm to set the stage for some online slander. Obviously the larger your business is, the greater the chances are that these interactions could happen to you.
Wisdek offers consultations for online reputation management as well as provides it as a service. If you feel like you have been hit by some Negative SEO there are several things we can do to help you. Our link Disavowing services work wonders to remove things that are holding your business back from thriving online. Contact us today to learn more about what you can do to mitigate negative reviews, how you can encourage more positive reviews, and to find out if you have been hit by Negative SEO.
Courtney Dale & Alex Noudelman
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November 13, 2013
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Tony and Bruna Cooper