Most businesses don't respond to online reviews, but that's a mistake. Paying attention to a negative review pays dividends both for your online reputation and your site's SEO ranking.
Whether you’re an e-commerce operation or out in the brick-and-mortar world, customer reviews on the web are a fact of life. That’s important, because those reviews pack a big punch with consumers, and that wallop is growing stronger.
According to a study from Power Reviews, around 99.9% of consumers say they read reviews when shopping online. And more than half of them say they read those reviews while they’re shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. Finally, 98% of consumers think that an online review is an essential resource for making any kind of purchasing decision. That’s great when all your reviews are rosy—but what do you do if some of them are negative?
According to another study conducted by Best SEO Companies, most businesses find that responding privately to a negative review is the best way to interact with an irate customer, and 41% use an outsourced reputation manager to handle that outreach. Another 44% said they’d managed to turn a negative review into a positive one, but their methods varied.
Of the survey’s 511 respondents, the most popular method was to offer a refund or a credit, with 61% leaning in that direction (respondents could choose more than one method). Another 50% agreed that some kind of incentive was the best tactic, whether a credit, a refund, or something else. But the other 50% said sending a polite counterpoint was their preferred method, and 48% felt that a little apologetic groveling and asking for another chance was most effective. Only 6% thought that ignoring an online review was the best path.
In case you’re wondering how to find reviews of your business, the survey showed that it takes some grunt work—62% of managers saying they manually searched for reviews about once a month, 25% weekly, and 10% every day. The most popular sites those managers used to look for reviews were Google (33%) and Facebook (22%).
While the numbers in the Power Reviews study certainly underlined the importance of online reviews to consumers, the Best SEO Companies survey showed those reviews are important to business marketers, too. But respondents said they were most likely to respond to in-person reviews (73%) and also those arriving via phone calls (69%) and email (67%). Only 51% said they’d respond to a social media review, and just 44% said the same of a Google review.
That’s not surprising, since over one-third of companies don’t realize that an unfavorable review can have a negative impact on your online reputation and even your SEO. Sixty-three percent of Best SEO Companies’ respondents thought only positive reviews counted that way, and 28% thought reviews had no impact at all. Both those conclusions are wrong, which makes it a problem that 36% of survey respondents said they didn’t have a staffer dedicated to handling online reviews—not even an SEO marketer.
The Google algorithm may be mysterious, but its impact on your online bottom line can be massive. And it matches every review it can find against your business’ URL and partially ranks you using a ratio of positive to negative reviews. That means small businesses especially need to spend some time finding and responding to negative online comments or risk a drop in their Google placement. Fortunately, that’s become easier now that both customer relationship management (CRM) apps and general marketing automation tools often include online reputation management features.
Sign up for What’s New Now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.

This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.
Your subscription has been confirmed. Keep an eye on your inbox!
Oliver Rist is the Executive Editor of Business at PCMag. He can be reached at [email protected] is a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.
© 1996-2021 Ziff Davis, LLC. PCMag Digital Group
PCMag, and PC Magazine are among the federally registered trademarks of Ziff Davis, LLC and may not be used by third parties without explicit permission. The display of third-party trademarks and trade names on this site does not necessarily indicate any affiliation or the endorsement of PCMag. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product or service, we may be paid a fee by that merchant.