Manage Your Online Reputation to Boost Business

Manage Your Online Reputation to Boost Business

On Wednesday 29 August, we were joined by three top online reputation management experts to discuss the latest tricks and trends in online reviews. In our ‘Manage Your Online Reputation to Boost Business’, Myles was joined by ReviewFraud and Over The Top Marketing’s Jason Brown, PatientPop’s Joel Headley, and’s Garrett Sussman. For those who missed it, the video is available to watch below.


Video: Manage Your Online Reputation to Boost Business

Why is Online Reputation Management Important?

Joel explained how to demonstrate the importance of reputation management services to local businesses owners. “You just show them what’s happening in the marketplace. You can compare one business with no reviews and information, to another with multiple positive reviews and ask, which one would you choose? Then, it’s pretty self-evident, and that part of the platform sells itself.”

Garrett discussed how he proves the value of local businesses’ online reputation. He shared research from Moz showing how negative reviews can lose potential customers. He also shared a second study from Revoo, that found that businesses that display reviews in search results saw an 18% uplift in customers. Myles also shared a BrightLocal study that explores the impact of reviews on click-through rates to business websites.

How Can You Get More Reviews?

The panel discussed the number of reviews a business should aim for. Garrett argued that there’s no set number that businesses should aspire to – but should instead look at how many direct competitors have.

Jason explained how recently he’s been directing businesses to ask for a photo on Yelp, rather than a review, and incentivize consumers to do so. This fits within Yelp’s guidelines.

Joel discussed his reviews strategy for medical businesses. First, he makes sure businesses have Google right, since this is the most visible site. Then, he looks at Facebook, Vitals, and Healthgrades. Then he looks to others based on which sites are most represented in search results, and well as from business’s own experiences on where their customers come from.

The panel discussed the best ways to get reviews. Jason and Garrett both said that in their experiences email outreach has the best success rate, while text messaging is less popular among consumers.

Best Practices for Responding to Reviews

The main benefit of responding to reviews is based on who reads them, rather than how responses impact search results, says Joel. “Responses are your first defense, and your first opportunity to personally address a new customer or prospect in a way that demonstrates that you’re a reasonable business owner willing to do what’s best for the customer experience.” Most people reading reviews for your business are new to the business.

Garrett discussed future-proofing reviews by encouraging customers to write lengthy feedback with specific keywords. While this doesn’t seem to have a quantifiable impact now, it’s highly possible this could change in the near future.

“It’s all about customers, it’s not 5 stars or bust. It’s OK not to be perfect, as long as you continue to grow and learn,” said Jason. “Start with ‘I’m sorry’, don’t go on the defense.”

The Rules of Different Review Sites

The panel discussed different review sites’ quirks, including:

  • Yelp: Business owners feel powerless to do anything about this visible site due to the rules around review solicitation.
  • Google: Customers are becoming aware of review-gating policies, and need reassuring that these are being followed. Google is trying to clean up fake reviews, with escalations speeding up since this hit headlines, but there is still a way to go.
  • Facebook: Support is difficult for businesses here. With review ratings changing to recommendations, this could be a step in the right direction for local businesses.

Joel discussed how some review platforms are taking on-site testimonials, and republishing these on third-party review sites at scale.

Then, Garrett explained how it can be hard to get reviews removed unless they break the site’s own terms of service – including those that frown upon review gating. He added, “If you’re providing a good business and your customers love you, giving them a nudge to write the review evens the field with an authentic representation of the real-world business experience.”

What’s the future for online reputation management?

Jason Brown: “I think there will be a bigger crackdown on fake review networks, and unscrupulous companies that sell snake oil reviews. I’ve got a funny feeling that the space is going to change, and a lot of people will have their butts handed to them. And this will be a big win for consumers.”

Joel Headley: “Reputation products are really becoming a commodity in the market. Just like how citations used to provide a huge jump in ranking and SEO benefit to a local listing, that was the case early on for reviews too. This will become less true, but only because it will become a baseline of what everybody needs to do. If you’re not doing it you’re going to be left behind, but if you just do that one thing, you won’t get a huge boost. In terms of local search performance, it will be a must do, but won’t differentiate you from competitors.”

Garrett Sussman: “I don’t think it’s apocalyptic for review platforms. I’m optimistic that the powers that be will become better at discerning the fake and bought reviews, and allowing for authentic reviews. I think it will be interesting with Google and Facebook. As Google better hones their skills over making sure skills are authentic I think they’ll grow in value. For Facebook, it’s cool to see what they could do when people make a recommendation. I think there’s a lot of social potential here. We’ll also see local networks like Patch and Nextdoor start to mature and provide even more competition in terms of what’s happening locally.”



Thank you to Sterling Sky’s Colan Nielsen and BrightLocal’s Matt Coghlan for their help on the Q&A. You can follow Colan on Twitter here.

Q. How do you get reviews addressed or removed when someone is not your customer? I see PI Attorneys get negative reviews after a free consultation and when the client is not a good fit, they complain. Why wouldn’t that be as bad as a fake review? To tell a client it’s not a fit and have to deal with negative reviews online.

A. A review on Google doesn’t need to be from a paying customer. As long as someone has an experience with the business they are eligible to write a review. If the review seems off-topic you can try flagging them for review by Google. – Colan Nielsen

Q. Regarding medical reviews on social platforms, do you find it difficult for your clients to respond beyond a simple ‘Like’ due to HIPAA regulations?

A. It’s an interesting one, for more sensitive industries like healthcare I’d also look to see if you can solve the issue privately i.e by emailing or calling the customer that has left a review and try and solve off public spaces. If that’s not an option then there’s a good guide you can follow here.

Q. When you manage a practice’s reviews and reputation is it typical to have the client respond that review, or does the client dictate how you should respond to a positive or negative review?

A. It doesn’t really matter who responds. However, we always suggest that the business owner (or Doctor) isn’t the one to reply if it is negative. Too many emotions are involved. So take the time to let the emotions pass, write a draft response and let your marketing agency review it. What is important is that HIPAA rules are taken into consideration. – Colan Nielsen

Q. Speaking of industries, how would you approach getting reviews for a funeral home?

A. This is a very sensitive industry so I would tread very carefully. This I feel needs to be controlled by somebody in the business who has spent time with the customer: the last thing you want to do is ask a overwhelmed grieving family member to leave a review, that lacks real class and will backfire. Unless the customer has expressed happiness with the service though I would tread very carefully. Less direct approaches such as a link to review in an email signature might be another option to consider. Sensitive industries will never receive as many reviews as hospitality businesses, so try to benchmark your review number against competitors only. After all, they’ll be facing the same challenges. – Matt Coghlan

Q. What are your best methods for getting negative reviews removed on Google Maps?

A. The first thing you always do is flag the review from within your GMB dashboard. If the review is still live after three days, contact GMB support on Twitter. – Colan Nielsen

Q. How would you recommend responding to things that are out of your control? (E.g. wait time is lengthy.)

A. There’s always going to be instances where something out of the business’s control causes a negative experience. In your response, explain in detail: 1. All of the factors that contribute to the issue 2. What you’re doing to improve this in the future 3. Express a genuine apology and potentially offer them an incentive to return. What’s important is to educate potential customers in your response on the circumstances and how you operate as a business. – Matt Coghlan

Q. Should we respond to reviews that have no text?

A. Yes. It’s an opportunity to show your personality as a business owner to future customers. – Colan Nielsen

Q. How important are doc sites like HealthGrades and Vitals in healthcare?

A. Very important. 3rd party websites such as those are just as important to get reviews on as Google. They are typically marked up with review schema so you get the review snippets in the organic results, and they get pulled into the businesses knowledge panel. Google also pays close attention to the sentiment in 3rd party reviews. – Colan Nielsen

Q. How do you deal with legal issues in reviews? That is, someone who the company has a lawsuit leaving negative reviews? Do you respond?

A. I’d most likely avoid responding if it’s an active lawsuit. I’m no legal expert but that’s my gut feeling. Great question. – Colan Nielsen

Our Expert Webinar Panelists

Joel Headley
Joel Headley

Joel has worked with Google’s Local and Geo products since 2005. Joel is now the Director of Local Search at PatientPop, a solution for patient acquisition, retention marketing, and business insights.

Jason Brown
Jason Brown

Jason Brown is the SEO Manager at Over the Top Marketing, and a Top Contributor on the Google My Business forum, who spends his free time battling fake online business reviews with his organization Review Fraud.

Garrett Sussman
Garrett Sussman

Garrett Sussman is the Senior Content Manager at, an online review management and marketing platform. When he’s not crafting content, he’s scouting the perfect ice coffee.

Myles Anderson
Host: Myles Anderson

Myles is Founder and CEO of BrightLocal. He has worked in the local search industry since 2009 and has been a major contributor to the Local Search Ranking Factors Study. Myles has also written a regular column for Search Engine Land and has spoken at SEO conferences such as BrightonSEO and Inboundcon (Toronto).

Rosie Murphy
About the author
Rosie managed BrightLocal's delivery of research and survey pieces. She headed up data-driven content such as regular polls, webinars and whitepapers, including the Local Consumer Review Survey.

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