SERM Help: What should I do about bad online reviews about my company?

Image from SXC.hu

Here is a great search engine reputation management (SERM) question that was recently submitted:

“Due to the current client, unfortunately, my company had to close. Since then I have launched a new company under a new name offering similar services and some of my old clients have got wind of this.

This has lead to them leaving bad reviews online about my new company and when you search for my new business name on Google, these bad reviews are appearing on the first page under my website. So my question is, what can I do?”

Firstly, what is search engine reputation management (SERM)?

Wikipedia gives this great explanation:

Search Engine Reputation Management (or SERM) tactics are often employed by companies and increasingly by individuals who seek to proactively shield their brands or reputations from damaging content brought to light through search engine queries. Some use these same tactics reactively, in attempts to minimize damage inflicted by inflammatory (or “flame”) websites (and blogs) launched by consumers and, as some believe, competitors.

So what can be done?

There are various methods which can be used to push these bad reviews off page one on Google using various SEO techniques.

1. Exact match domain names

It is well known through out the SEO industry that exact match domain names rank well with a small amount of exact match link building, not only in Google, but also in Bing and Yahoo (Note: Yahoo is now powered by Bing). Setting up other sites with the business name in the URL and getting these above bad reviews is a very popular SERM technique.

2. Social media sites

YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and many more social sites allow you to choose a profile name. Typically social sites rank well for niche terms (such as business names). One thing with these is, you have to use the sites and update them according, simply setting them up and doing nothing with them isn’t enough.

3. Business directory websites

As a link building strategy, I always advise to get listed on sites such as Yell.com, FreeIndex, LinkedIn and many other local business directories. Again, these can rank well and from your social sites you can link to your business profile page which will help with rankings.

4. Press releases

Similar to social sites, setting up profiles on article sites and publishing press releases is another great way to rank well. Not only can you choose a profile name for the account but many of these sites allow links which gives you the opportunity to link to your main site, micro sites using exact match domain names and social sites. Like the above, using Ezine, journalism.co.uk and many more can rank well.

5. Respond to the comments

The web is becoming increasing social, and with many review websites like TripAdvisor, Gather and SiteJabber, it is easy for consumers to leave reviews, good and bad. In my opinion, if a bad review is left about you’re company, tackle it head on with a solution, it will show to potential customers that you are willing to offer a fix to the problem and you offer good customer service.

If you suspect that the comments are not legitimate, you could always contact the website, explaining the situation and asking them to review the comments.

The #1 tip for SERM…

Whatever you decide to do to combat bad online reviews using SERM, always link build against the networks, sites and press releases you do. I’ve mentioned this before, but simply setting up a site isn’t enough, Google needs signals to determine what the sites etc are about, and link building is one of the best ways.

and finally…

Have you had a similar experience or struggling with the same problem? Leave your comments below.

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