Case Study: How did Ron handle a flood of fake negative reviews ?
In various professional forums focused on reputation management, a recurring question arises with different phrasings: How can one effectively manage a barrage of negative reviews aimed at damaging business activity? Here’s a case study based on the experience of Ron, whos Google listing was under a massive attack of negative reviews
How it all started:
Ron (pseudonym), a contractor specializing in renovations, approached us when he found himself in a state of despair due to a sudden decline in inquiries received by his company. This decline coincided with an onslaught of negative ratings on Google from alleged "customers" whom he had never encountered nor served.
Ron describes it as an ongoing nightmare that worsened over time, leaving him feeling helpless. However, his situation took a turn when he discovered ReviewZerZ, an online reviews marketplace that ultimately saved his company.
Prior to the attack Ron experienced, his company held an exceptional Google rating of 4.7 stars on Google! (out of a perfect 5 stars), based on 138 reviews accumulated over a period of 5 years. Then, everything changed…
Ron recalls, "One day, I received two one-star reviews. I didn't recognize the reviewers; I had never provided them with any service, and I hadn't received any phone calls with complaints. It came out of nowhere."
The following day, another negative review emerged, once again accompanied by a one-star rating and an extremely critical comment. This pattern continued, with damaging reviews pouring in daily for several weeks, causing the average star rating to drop to 2.8 stars.
Ron attempted to find a way to contact the reviewers, but it proved impossible. He reached out to Google through the management interface, only to receive what seemed like a generic response stating that their investigation did not uncover any unusual activity and that the reviews were considered legitimate.
What exactly does "legit" mean?
How did Google arrive at this conclusion without truly delving into the matter or reaching out to Ron?
Ron firmly believed that someone deliberately orchestrated the placement of these reviews to harm his business. It could have been his competitors, resorting to dirty tactics in an attempt to tarnish his reputation and attract fleeing customers, or it might have been someone with a personal vendetta against him. Regardless, the new circumstances were unbearable and highly frustrating.
So, what could be done?
Ron realized that he had no option but to fight back vigorously and explore every possible avenue to restore his reputation. With the assistance of an external consultant, he devised an action plan aimed at rectifying his Google listing.Upon our request, Ron shared the steps he took to combat the onslaught of criticism and rebuild his severely damaged business reputation:
- Addressing every criticism: He responded to each written critique, explicitly stating that the review was fake, authored by someone who was not an actual customer of the business. He invited the reviewer to contact his company. While some reviews were subsequently deleted following these responses, it proved insufficient.
- Reporting to Google on each and every fake review written - Well that did'nt really help...
- Counterattack: Initially skeptical when the consultant suggested this approach to counter the negative reviews, Ron discovered its effectiveness. For each negative review associated with the attack, he reported them as illegitimate through members of the Reviewzerz site community. It's important to note that the reason for reporting the reviews as illegitimate should be consistent in all reports when asked by Google and provide the same reason to reject the review. This action successfully eliminated over 50% of the negative reviews and proved highly effective. At this point, the business's star rating on Google had already risen to 3.5 stars. Although there was significant improvement, further work was required to restore the company's appeal.
- Positive reviews campaign: Ron adopted the same tactics employed against him, but with positive intentions. He utilized ReviwZerZ.com to engage genuine "Google Guides." Ron contacted approximately 150 individuals using the Reviewzerz marketplace, requesting them to write positive reviews with a perfect star rating. Gradually, the company's star rating improved and fully recovered.
Ron faced a significant challenge when Google responded briefly and refused to remove the defamatory reviews. However, this obstacle motivated him to take proactive steps to restore the company's reputation. He chose to become an engaged customer in the Reviewzerz marketplace. As a result, the company's reputation was successfully restored, and the flow of customers from Google resumed.