Your businesses’ reputation can be jeopardized with just one bad statement. And with the prolific use of reviews, it’s almost bound to happen. Without a strategy in place, you’ll be scrambling for a fix and may end up making the wrong move.


In this podcast, Joe Hamilton, CEO of Big Sea, talks about:

  • What reputation management is and why you need it
  • What to do if you’re hit with a bad review
  • How to use Yelp in your strategy

Listen to the 5-minute podcast below to hear what Joe has to say about creating a reputation management strategy.

From the Depths

Fast Five: Reputation Management, Bad Reviews, and You

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“The best reputation management is offensive reputation management.”


Hi, this is Joe Hamilton with Big Sea.

Today I’m going to share a few thoughts about reputation management.

First, what is reputation management? It’s a strategy to reduce the risk of, or mitigate the damage done by, negative comments left online that appear in search results.

The first critical thing to understand about reputation management and those search results, is that it’s almost always impossible to get them taken down. Google will not take down any search results unless they are a clear violation of intellectual property, something that is actuable that you can sue for, and opinions do not fall under that umbrella. Thus, it’s almost always left to the original poster to take them down. That’s the person who did the complaining in the first place, so obviously, they’re not eager to do that.

Thus, the traditional strategy is to try to push those search results down and off the first page by creating new content that ranks above the negative content to shove it down. There are ten search results on every Google results page, and thus you need to have ten pieces of content that rank above that one piece to get it moved off the first page.

This is a lot easier to do before it happens, than after.

Which brings me to my first key strategy. The best reputation management is offensive reputation management. Know that, you need to own the first ten spots on Google search results. That means just your website isn’t enough, and just your website and your LinkedIn profile, and a couple of social media profiles are not enough. You need ten solid pieces of content that you rank for not only your name, but it’s also important to have your leadership’s name there as well because those will also often get searches.

That can be done through:

  • using microsites
  • adding profiles onto sites that offer profiles
  • filling out all the social media platforms
  • doing landing pages
  • making sure that the content is optimized for your company’s name and for the names that you want to rank for

Considering that it can often be a tall task to move the results off of the first page, the next thing to consider is how to respond to negative comments. Should you ignore them, and hope that they’ll be ignored by searchers and eventually go away? Or should you engage with the poster?

Typically, our philosophy is that you should engage with the poster.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, if you make things right, they may choose to take down the negative post and that’s a huge win. Taking it a step further, if you really make things right, you may turn them into an evangelist. Plenty of folks who have negative experiences with companies end up being champions for that company because the company handled the issue so well, it made them feel valued and appreciated. But when you do post and engage with that person, the key thing to remember is the most important audience for that engagement is your next customer.

When you write to the disgruntled client, know that you’re really writing to the next hundred people who may choose your service. That means, at all cost, don’t give that disgruntled person any more incentive to continue disparaging you. Don’t get in the weeds with them. Don’t point out how they were wrong or how they were illogical. Don’t do anything but kill them with kindness. Because, even if you never get them back as a client, there will be plenty of people who read that post and feel your appreciation and positive intentions for your customers and may choose you.

My third and final strategy draws from the first two and looks specifically at handling large radial review sites, like Yelp.

These sites are very well optimized and have loads of content and are almost impossible to get off the first page, unless you’ve done a spectacular job of offensive reputation management and you’ve claimed those top ten spots. But you can still use the same strategies. Specifically, from strategy one, you can facilitate positive content, positive reviews on the Yelp site to help move down the negative ones and also to dilute them.

You can apply strategy two by thoughtfully and respectfully answering the negative reviews and again remembering that you’ll do your best to win back that client, but you’re really showing your next client how much you care about them and doing business the right way.

This means, you’ve got to institute an intentional plan that facilitates getting those reviews up there. That means follow up emails with links to Yelp, with links to Google Plus, with links to whatever review site or rating site is appropriate for your business. And asking for them, because people left to their own devices won’t think to do it. But if you put it in front of them in an email, and they’re happy, they’ll click on it, they’ll type a few words, and be on with their day.

Set up a system so that you can help your clients express their gratitude for your good service and help to mitigate and dilute those few and far between negative reviews.

To recap the three strategies:

  1. Get offensive, put content up there, own the top ten spots on Google search results for all your most appropriate keywords.
  2. Respond respectfully to any negative comments with your next customer in mind.
  3. Have an intentional plan to facilitate getting positive reviews on the appropriate sites for you to help dilute the power of any negative reviews and move them down with loads of positive reviews.

If you need help with any of this, feel free to reach out. We’ve got a great team. We do this all the time and we can certainly help you. Appreciate you listening. Until next time this is Joe Hamilton from Big Sea. Take care.