Guide to Online User Reviews, how to get good ones and what to do about bad ones

An increasingly large proportion of people will not buy anything without reading the online reviews first, in the USA it’s over 90%, and 70% trust the validity of reviews written by strangers.

Do you know what people are saying about your business online?

At one time you could rely on the only online information about your business being the friendly stuff you had put on your website. Even if you had entertained press ‘reviewers’ you have probably been able to ensure that negative comments were few, you could sort any problems out before publication.

Now things are different; on the Internet anyone and everyone can be a reviewer, websites like Amazon want us to review every item we buy, search engines like Google tout for, and point us atreviews every time we do a search. And specialist review sites like,, and a whole myriad of local review sites want and will publish any reviews they can get their hands on. They often don’t care if it is accurate or not.

Consider Google, it searches for reviews of every business right across the billions of pages it has indexed. So even if only one review of your business exists on an obscure local review site, Google can find if and put it prominently on the first page when someone searches for ‘XYZ boats review’ or even ‘XYZ boats’. Other search engines do the same.

Try it, see what people are saying about you!

Don’t think this is all going to go away either, far too much money is tied up in Review sites and Search Engine reviews, because that is what people want to read; remember people trust what strangers say about XYZ Boats more than what XYZ Boats says about itself! And why not?

So online reviews are here to stay, and a single, no doubt untypical, negative review can cost your business thousands in lost bookings if people base what they think about you on that review.

So you must make sure you have good Company reviews on the Internet.

Firstly let your satisfied customers know that you’d be really pleased if they went to the trouble of posting a positive review. Do it while they are still with you; identify them, cultivate them, encourage them by giving them a list of review sites they could use, even let them use your office computer to submit them! Enter them for a prize draw perhaps.

Also post your own reviews! All review sites like the company to post information about the business, what you provide and who you are. And its good practice so you can describe the process to your customers.

Also we can help by putting a Customer Reviews page on your website. Even if you already have customer comments spread across the site a Reviews page can be optimised so it comes up when someone searches for ‘XYZ Boats reviews’ and balances that one bad review.

Make sure that your ‘Contact Us’ page encourages feedback, encouraging people to keep in touch equates with trustworthiness.

But what do you do about bad reviews?

Firstly of course, run the business in such a way that you don’t have any! Identify any dissatisfied customers before they leave you, put things right if you can, at least placate them and keep the dialogue open so the first thing they do when they get home is not write you a stinking online review.

If a bad review does get online do not ignore it. That shows you don’t care, and it will attract other bad reviews. Respond positively, show you listen and care, show you have learned and corrected any issues.

If you feel the review is unjustified most websites do have mechanisms for you to ask to have the comment removed. You may feel that the review is not typical, or is out of date. But the best way to deal with bad reviews is to get a lot more good reviews!

More ways to manage your company's Internet presence

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Your Action Plan

  • ✔ Get your good reviews onto the internet

  • ✔ Get customers to complete a simple satisfaction survey while still on the boat

  • ✔ Identify problems before they leave and sort out, placate or agree to keep talking

  • ✔ Identify positive people and encourage to them do reviews now or very soon

  • ✔ Help them by providing links to review sites

  • ✔ Add Reviews page to your website containing customer comments

  • ✔ Monitor and manage what is said about you on internet

  • ✔ Put ‘your company name review’ into the search engines and check

  • ✔ Set up a Google Alert for your company name and common keywords

  • ✔ Respond to negatives, don’t ignore

  • ✔ Get involved with social media, listen to what people say, show how helpful you are!

  • ✔ Add Contacts page to website (if not already there) encouraging feedback

  • ✔ Make sure future clients don’t suffer the same problems

  • ✔ Ensure all your staff realise the importance of avoiding bad reviews

  • ✔ Get a Google Maps listing if you don’t have one already

  • Do something now, not next week or next winter when it may be too late!

  • Contact us for some expert help!

Who Displays Reviews?

Search Engines
Google and Bing trawl for reviews from a wide range of sites across the internet and often give them prominence on the first page of search results. Reviews are often the second of the search terms that Google 'autocomplete' suggests. Local search on Google Places and Bing Local include links to reviews and their star ratings right alongside your listing.
Local Review Websites
There are many sites such as,, and which cover the country, and sometimes world, at local level. In addition there are truly local directory sites, local papers, community groups etc. All carry reviews and all are likely to have those reviews picked up and repeated by the major search engines.
Travel Review Sites is the best know worldwide travel review site but there are many more,, and most national papers have travel reviews online.
Social Media Reviews
Don't forget that most discussion online goes on in the form of twitter tweets and Facebook pages. A good review on Facebook can quickly spread to thousands of likeminded people, equally a bad review. And search engines are increasingly listing reviews found on social media sites.

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