What to do if you've been listed on RipoffReport.com

Woo Hoo and Yee Haaaw! All those SEO seminars have paid off because YOU just made it to the organic first page on the Google results page. Get out the party hats and pop the champagne, ’cause you’re going to paaartaaay…But, wait. Hm. What?!? This isn’t your website. Oh, geez. it’s actually a horrible review of your business posted on RipoffReport.com. Not good. This means anyone who searches for information about your company may wind up reading an angry customer’s diatribe about horrible customer service, low-quality products, and a messy bathroom.  

Now what do you do? Is there such a thing as RipOffReport reputation management?

Yes, as a matter of fact, there is.

While websites like Ripoff Report were designed to help consumers steer clear of companies that might not be using best practices, it can often do much more harm than good. This is especially true if the things posted about you, or your company, are untrue or inaccurate. So what can you do? If you haven’t already enlisted the services of a Digital Marketing and PR firm to handle your digital marketing, now would be a good time to start searching for a good one. Reputation management is a full-time job and it can take a long time to bounce back from bad reviews located on the first page of search engine results.

What should you do if your business has been listed on Ripoff Report or another, similar site? Here are some of the digital marketing industry’s best practices for reputation management, and getting your search rankings back in the positive again.

Rebut, immediately. Rip Off, and other sites, allow a business to rebut, a.k.a. “respond professionally.” Be very careful of your wording. Be calm, honor the feelings of the Rip Off Rouser, apologize for any misunderstandings or poor customer service experience, etc. and then state your position. What you do not want is to start a back and forth argument that appears unprofessional, immature and petty. You want future customers who come across the Ripoff Report to see that you were conscientious, courteous, and mature in how you handled the situation.In some cases, you may ask that the customer contact you off the board, and you may feel inclined to treat them to a meal, offer a refund, provide a generous discount, etc. However, these types of actions should be handled privately, or you could be bombarded with more bad “fake” publicity in the hopes that free meal or products/services will be handed out.

Focus on the positives. It’s human nature to half-heartedly listen to the 99 positive comments and then fixate on the one negative piece of feedback we receive. If you are a well-respected business, with plenty of positive publicity on major review sites, like Yelp, Google Reviews, Avvo, RealSelf, etc., then you will be okay. Most customers read more than one review, and they are also aware that some people just like to complain. Your abundant positive reviews will make up for the one or two negative reviews in the bunch. That being said, make sure your business is listed under every review site under the sun so you can get the positive reviews you want to receive! Random tidbit. If you have recently experienced a Ripoff Report backlash, or are hanging your head at a fresh slew of negative press, never fear. The academic journal, Marketing Letters, conducted research investigating just how much consumers’ decisions are affected by positive/negative press online. One interesting finding was that consumers are more likely to post a positive comment or rating about a company they like if they see a negative comment/review they disagree with. So, that scathing review you’re bemoaning now might inspire a host of positive comments that will do your brand a heap o’ good!

Enlist professional help. If you feel the power of the Ripoff Report backlash, enlist the help of a professional firm. The key to getting those negative links buried is to replace them with something better. A PR firm will create a plethora of positive articles, press releases, and blog postings. They’ll make sure your company is represented on the most popular review sites to enable satisfied customers to post positive reviews. Proactive reputation management provides a foundation of web activity that will make it easy for the occasional, negative publicity to be buried, while the positive comments and postings continue to rise to the top. The added bonus is that all these extra postings will significantly bolster your SEO power.

Content, Content, Content. The best thing you can do to mitigate a Ripoff Report appearance is to have a strong, positive SEO presence before the posting ever happens. We like to focus on the positive, so we consistently promote the creation of high-quality, warm-and-fuzzy content to develop your brand in a positive light, and help you maintain a strong position on the front page of search engine results. However, following this advice also helps you to weather a negative storm. If your company hasn’t done much to develop a web presence, or cultivate active social media accounts, it will be that much harder for you to supersede any negative press you encounter.

If you are currently managing your SEO strategies in-house, and are feeling pressed for time, there’s a good chance you aren’t putting out the quantity of blogs required to compete. You may also struggle to keep up with keyword research, which can be the difference between hovering at number 15 for a keyword phrase that used to work and being ranked Number 1 for a phrase you’ve never thought of before. Maybe you set up a Facebook page, but don’t really monitor it, and never bothered to tap in to Twitter, Google + or Pinterest. Any weakness at the front end of digital and social media marketing will make your reputation management that much more daunting when something actually goes wrong.

Don’t underestimate the power of electronic word of mouth – its a powerful force to reckon with. The more you do before, during, and after a negative Ripoff Report, the simpler your reputation management recovery mission will be.

Published August 6, 2013 by David Kaufer.
Categories: Reputation Management, SEO