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Implement And Rank A Reviews Page To Manage Negative Reviews

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Posted by Dave Lauretti on February 1, 2016

We like to use WordPress whenever we can, and if you do, there’s a good reason to implement a reviews plugin in order to help better your business practices and increase the odds that customers will find and use your review page rather than use a review site of which you have little control over.

Installing a review plugin can also contribute to your success in the search engine results pages (SERPs) especially if the plugin utilizes schema structured data markup in it’s code. More on this later.

Provide a source for reviews on your website

It’s bound to happen at one point in time or another. For some reason you’re going to leave a bad taste in a customer’s mouth and leave him or her with the feeling of having no recourse other than to vent their objections about your business on the Internet.

This may happen whether you were right or wrong in the matter and as we know, sometimes there’s just no pleasing every customer. Regardless of what you say or do, they remain bent on letting the rest of the world know the kind of problems they feel they had with you.

Most of the time, the disgruntled customer really only wants a place to vent their frustrations and we can assume that some customers naturally believe the best place to leave a review or complaint is directly at the company’s website.

Many customers feel that leaving a review or complaint on the main company website will facilitate in getting their point across to the right people, the people who are in charge. Having the opportunity to leave a review helps the customer feel they’re in control again.

Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway: the best part about a disgruntled review being directly submitted to your website is that you’ll be in control too. A review option being provided on your website gives you control of the review content being published and allows you to mitigate any inappropriate comments or flat out lies.

Other review pages for your business that can be found

Let’s look at the various possible review posting options from the standpoint of someone wanting to write a negative review. This person who wants to write a review about your products or services has a few options available to them.

From a search engine standpoint, they’ll probably search something similar to the following:

  • they can search “business name”
  • they can search “business name reviews”
  • they can search “business name complaints”

Five star rating review for SEOThat searcher will either find the review page on your website or another review site that represents your business (i.e. Google business page, a Facebook business page, a Yelp listing, a foursquare listing).

For the aforementioned business sites, reviews can be submitted but they rarely will be taken down. They generally remain on the web until the submitter either decides to delete their review or the business listing page containing the review is removed entirely.

Trying to convince a review website owner to take down a review almost never works and if your goal is to convince the customer to delete or edit their review, you may have to jump through hoops to make it happen.

Most of the time, making any of the above attempts at mitigating the issue will prove to be a fruitless and arduous task.

For many review sites like Google business pages, there are options for the business owner to respond to the review but in the end that negative review will remain online and, as the story goes, could potentially hinder future customers from choosing you.

Some studies show that a few negative reviews are actually good for business, but in the end, I’m sure it’s safe to say we’d all prefer positive reviews and that technically, having nothing but positive reviews are not going to hurt your business in the slightest.

The above problems can be substantially curbed by the use of a reviews plugin on your website and implementing a few simple SEO strategies in order to ensure it’s found, and hopefully predominately, when someone decides they’d like to leave a rant about your business.

Rank the reviews page on your website

There are quite a number of reviews plugins on the market but for SEO purposes I would strongly suggest using WP Customer Reviews (resource). For reasons that are too many to explain in this post, I can safely say that this plugin, when implemented on a reviews and/or complaints page, will do the following:

  • add another review page concerning your business into the search results for customers to find
  • give you control over negative reviews
  • allow you to contact the review writer personally and privately to resolve your issues
  • since reviews are approved before publishing, you can build a list of complaints on which to work on as a business
  • easily allows you to direct your customers to your reviews page so you can continually build up your review posts
  • present code to the search engine that enables them to display star ratings and the number of reviews in the search results

All of the above not only helps customers make a determination as to whether to choose your products or services, but as I alluded to in an earlier paragraph, these reviews, or more specifically, the review page can, and probably will show up in the search results. If the page is ranked high, it will help impact your click-through rates and engagement processes, and thus positively contribute to your overall SEO endeavours.

Search engine review snippet

The above image is an example of the top ranked search result snippet of a review page on a corporate website. Chances are, if your review page is in the top 5 search results, customers will click on it and leave a review directly on your site, of which as I mentioned, gives you an opportunity to manage it before it goes public.

If you’ve strongly marketed and optimized your review page and it starts ranking in the first position, obviously a large portion of the traffic coming from people wanting to leave a review of your business will hit your page first.

The structured data

As I mentioned at the outset of this article, it is especially important and beneficial if your reviews plugin uses structured data in it’s code. I don’t believe that they all do.

If the plugin you use implements structured data in review formats, you can expect your listing, in the search results, to show the star ratings you see in the image above. It will also signify to the user that the page is a ratings/reviews page, and tell them the review count. Studies have shown, and search engines have pronounced that those features do, among other things, generate positive results, have high click-through rates and polish buying decisions.

How can I optimize and promote my reviews page?

Build links to the page by promoting it. Promote it in various places from time to time, and frequently ask your customers to leave you a review. Promote it on Facebook, on Twitter; place the review page link in your email signature, and even paste the URL into the business description of your business directory submissions (even if you don’t get a link from it).

This will keep your review page considered “fresh” among other things and the more people (and search engines) that can find it the better. The more people that engage your page may even give it a boost in the search results and the circle continues – promoting your pages helps your SEO endeavours and the SEO results help promote it.

Do negative reviews always need to stay public?

This is another subject all together but it may be a good idea to address it. Should negative reviews remain public? The going idea is that negative reviews are actually good for a company and replying to reviews is even better. That may be the case but every one of us (reviewer or not) knows that sometimes customers just want to rant; they get so upset at a situation and later regret their bursts of anger.

These kinds of reviews may be judged as unnecessary to respond to compared to negative reviews that are constructive and create a call to action in the company to better their services, products or policies. They’re also opportunities to give clarity to a customer as to why a situation ended as it did.

If you’re using a reviews plugin, the more harsh and unreasonable reviews should be discarded (and politely replied to in private), while the more constructive negative reviews should receive responses that portray your concern for their experience with your business and how you plan to rectify the situation.

The take home

The above mentioned strategy for intercepting and handling reviews does work. We’ve implemented a review plugin and optimized a review page for many clients over the years and for the majority of them, their review page has come in quite handy.

The objectives were never to hide negative reviews but to handle them according to a publishing policy where outright vulgar reviews are handled in private, while the rest are published and used internally for training, product or service improvement.


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