One of the most unfair aspects of online review sites is the ability for malicious people to game the system and post defamatory and false reviews about your business. Anyone can visit a site and post a review on just about any business and even if a site has a registration system, it is still so easy to use a false identity. Although review sites are trying to put measures in place to tame this practice, small business owners are still vulnerable to malicious reviews from disgruntled ex-employees, jealous competitors, bitter friends and relatives or anyone with a grudge against them.
Here are a few tips on how to handle malicious reviews
1. First ascertain if the negative review has any truth to it. Use your business records and information from your staff to authenticate if things really happened the way the reviewer said they did.
2. If the negative review is indeed malicious, it is best to respond to it on the website where it was submitted making it clear that your research has found no evidence of the incident occurring and if the reviewer can get in touch with your company for further assistance. In this way you have set the record straight, give your side of the story and put the ball in the reviewersí court, all in the public domain.
3. If a review is incredibly negative and makes a personal attack on you or your employees that is totally untrue, you may want to consider removing the negative review from your website. This step should be done AFTER you have done everything necessary to rectify the situation. Getting negative reviews removed from external sites such as review sites and blogs involves asking the webmaster of the site to remove the offending content. Armed with your facts from the first two steps, the webmaster may agree to remove the content from the site or remove keywords from the content that show up in the search results such as your company name or make the page a no-follow so that search engines do not index that page. There is also the option of submitting a free legal request to the Google Team which may be helpful if the offending content is a Google Image or a YouTube video.
4. The final tip if all else fails to work is to flood the negative reviews with lots of positive ones. Implement a customer review campaign and point as many of your customers to submit genuine reviews online especially on review sites such as Google Places, Yelp or whichever review site dominates search engine results for your company keywords. In this way the negative review will actually appear as the act of a malicious person due to the high number of positive reviews surrounding it.