Online Reviews – the Good, the Bad & the Ugly – 5 Small Business Tips

Do you want positive online reviews for your small business and want to know how to manage negative reviews?


Online reviews can be a massive marketing opportunity for small business – whether it’s a Google Places or Map review, Yelp, True Local or on Social Media they have the power of making or breaking a business. Online reviews for almost any type of business are an accepted form or word-of-mouth referrals and a social proof tool.

Many people will check reviews before making any purchase decisions, paying close attention to the most positive and most negative reviews.

A recent report from Sensis found that online blogs and reviews remain a fairly widespread influence on purchasing decisions with 60% of survey respondents claiming to read them before making a purchase.

More than 50% of the survey respondents look at up to five reviews before making a purchasing decision, some will read even more.

Another benefit of online reviews can be improving your search engine optimisation, especially when it comes to Google reviews. So when you type into google a business category eg. tax accountant, google will return local search results in the right hand column (on a desktop) with a map, for the most positively reviewed tax accountants.

So how do you make the most out of online reviews and avoid the potential pitfalls of negative reviews? Here are our 5 top tips.

  1. Don’t underestimate the effect of reviews – it doesn’t matter whether you want to be reviewed or not, people will take it upon themselves to review you online so you need to accept it and turn it to your advantage.
  2. Ask for reviews – it’s completely acceptable to ask customers to give you a review. If you have a few negative reviews, its particularly important to get some customers to give you some good reviews.
  3. Be responsive and acknowledge reviews – thank people for their positive reviews. If someone has shared a negative experience online, respond ASAP in a professional way, thanking them for their feedback and responding respectfully to the points they have made and how you will address them. It helps to do this publicly so others can see you take feedback seriously and you act on it.
  4. Don’t take it personally – it can be really difficult sometimes not to take negative feedback personally. Especially if you don’t agree with the review or you believe the feedback is unjust, but it’s not going to help to ignore it, or get into a public ‘he said, she said’ spat online. Stay professional!
  5. Take action on inappropriate reviews – sometimes reviews are completely inappropriate. For example it may be a case of mistaken identity – this can be the case with franchises where one location is reviewed but it was actually a completely different business they used. Some reviewers can use what is defamatory or unlawful language or claims. In this case it’s appropriate to take action. Look for a link on the site to report abuse and ask them to remove the review.

For more detail on each of the above tips, watch the below video, which is an extract from the HOWTO Market My Small Business Course. See below for more information.

Watch our FREE video on online reviews now – no email address required.


HOWTOMARKETINGTM is an In Just 5 sister brand, wholly owned by the same company, and specialises in self-paced, online marketing courses for small business owners.