How to Improve Online Reviews: Top Tips to Increase Rankings

September 11, 2023 8 min read

Joe Manna

Joe Manna

How to turn negative reviews positive

It hurts when a customer leaves a scathing, negative review about your business. It’s easy to lash out in defense of the company that you’ve built. So, what should you do to improve your online reviews? 

In this guide, we’ll provide you with actionable steps to address critical online reviews and generate favorable reviews, as well as helpful tips to make customer reviews an asset of your brand. 

Why Are Online Reviews Important?

Managing your online reviews is vital to your company’s growth — and the more you have, the more your business will grow. This is because most shoppers will read review sites before making purchasing decisions. In fact, 79% of people trust online feedback as much as personal recommendations.

stats highlighting the importance of positive customer reviews
Positive reviews reflect positive customer experience (via Statista)

It’s especially important for local businesses to get reviews to build customer trust. 

Online reviews also help improve your SEO, as they will put you in a better light with search engines. The more reviews you have, the more likely Google will recommend your site during organic searches, eventually helping to improve your sales.

Tips to Improve Your Online Reputation

When you have a poor online reputation (or no reputation whatsoever), you can improve it in several ways. Here are some excellent tips:

Be mindful of the customer experience

The best way to get good reviews is a no-brainer: you must ensure your customers have a good experience with your product. Happy customers will ultimately reflect on your brand.

Negative reviews can offer solutions to improve your business. Start by looking at the recent feedback you have received. What are the most common complaints? Do people frequently mention high pricing or rude service? Find the areas needing improvement and provide products or services that will thrill your customers.

Monitor the reviews

Most people look at the average star rating when considering whether to buy a product or service. This is why you must keep a close eye on your ratings. There is a good chance it might become frustrating as your ratings fluctuate, but eventually, you may notice a pattern.

E-commerce businesses that respond or promote their online reviews on marketplaces like Amazon outperform those that take a passive approach.

“One of the things that we’re seeing is that successful entrants in these online marketplaces are the ones who are the most responsive to the reviews, who are most proactive in soliciting reviews, and who are doing the best job at what I would call online-marketplace hygienics.” 

Chauncey Holder
Senior Expert at McKinsey

If you don’t have the time to go through every review yourself, there are certain tools and reports within review platforms that you can use. These solutions will alert you when customers mention certain keywords or assign a low rating, allowing you to solve a problem before it becomes prevalent.

Ask for customer feedback

What’s the best way to get more reviews? Ask for them. Many customers forget to write reviews, not because they don’t like the product but because they don’t think you need them. You would be surprised at the number of happy clients who want to leave a review when asked to do so.

While you are at it, make sure to educate your customers on how to leave a review. For instance, many new customers might want to leave a review but don’t know which online review sites to use.

An email and text message follow-up can go a long way to rack up more online reviews. 

Related: Managing Customer Feedback: Why It Matters & Top Strategies

Follow up on negative reviews

No one likes getting negative reviews, but let’s face it: someone will always be unhappy with your product. Sometimes, it might be due to a person’s pickiness or something out of your control. Other times, it might be something you can fix as a business owner.

Regardless, you need to address negative feedback. Your first thought might be to leave the review there and try to ignore it. However, potential customers will see the standing review and judge you based on how you respond. If it seems that you do nothing, it won’t look good.

When responding to critical reviews, always be professional and try not to blame the customer. Apologize for their bad experience, offer a way to resolve it, and suggest they contact you offline to take the issue out of the public eye.

Showcase the positive reviews

Often, a close eye should be kept on bad product reviews. However, this does not mean you should take good reviews for granted. If you only respond to bad reviews, you may give the impression that you are only interested in putting out fires.

You must show that you care about happy existing customers as well. 

This can increase customer loyalty. One case study shows that 79% of clients expect a response within 24 hours, whether they give a good or bad review. Replying with a simple “Thank you!” won’t take much effort and will likely improve your company’s reputation.

To make this process easier, consider using a template for responding to positive reviews.

Take customer feedback seriously

It’s one thing to read and reply to a review; it’s a different matter to actively listen to it. It’s easy to go on the defensive when you see a bad review, but what if they are not entirely wrong? What if there is something you can do to make them happy?

Take a moment to cool your head and look at honest feedback. Is this a complaint that keeps coming up? If so, can you do anything to improve the customer journey? Take steps to fix the problem so it does not reappear in the future. This can help calm your nerves and prevent future negative reviews.

Personalize your responses to customer reviews

Many small businesses set up an automated response system for every review they get, good or bad. 

That said, studies show that customers are more responsive to personalized surveys. No one wants to get the same automated response everyone else got, especially if they took the time to offer constructive feedback.

Rather than giving the same standard response to everyone, personalize responses based on the feedback you receive. This can help boost your credibility and make customers more likely to engage with your brand. This will also make the search engine see you in a better light, as you’ll be actively interacting with your customers.

Follow the rules

If you go on review websites, you must know one thing: each platform has its own rules. 

For instance, it’s fine to ask for Google reviews from your customers, but Yelp frowns on it. Disregarding their rules may cause your page to get flagged.

The Federal Trade Commission also has a series of rules you must follow. First and foremost, you can’t offer financial incentives for generating positive reviews. For instance, trying to buy reviews on Yelp will negatively affect you in the long run. In addition, authentic reviews drive more customers, so playing by the rules will work in your favor.

Related: The Business Owner’s Guide to Managing Your Online Reputation

How to Drive More Customer Reviews

If you’re looking to boost your number of reviews, there are a few methods you can use:

Claim and update your Google Business Profile

The stronger your online presence, the more likely you are to attract buyers. There’s no better place to start than by updating your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). This is important because most clients search for services on Google before landing on your page.

It might be time-consuming, but make sure to add all the relevant information for your business, such as your phone number, address, description, products or services, pricing, etc.

Google likes transparent and consistent businesses, so if it sees recently updated information, it will drive clients your way. People will see that you are active and engaged online and, in return, will be more inclined to leave a review.

Plus, this will help you make a good first impression. If you keep your profile updated with your current business information, potential customers will be more likely to stick around.

Related: How to Get More Customer Reviews [Top Strategies & Ideas]

Offer small perks for reviews

While you can’t pay to get a positive customer review, nothing is wrong with offering an incentive for their time. The only condition is that it should not be specifically for good reviews but instead to encourage customers to give any kind of feedback.

For instance, if it suits your business type, you can consider giving a coupon, a voucher, access to a webinar, or a discount for their next order. However, remember that you need to be mindful of the platform you do this on.

For instance, while it may be okay to do this on your website or app, not every site allows it. Yelp often filters out the reviews given after an incentive.

Dominate your social media pages

A good way to draw reviews to your page is to make your presence known on social media. Dominate the platforms where most of your customers spend time. The most popular are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

One tried and true strategy involves alternating between informative posts and seeding customer reviews between them. This will provide value to your audience and show off social proof, telling others that your business can be trusted. You never know when someone’s feedback or word-of-mouth can influence another’s buying behavior. Make sure you post and comment as consistently as possible.

Include a customer love section on your site

Most websites have a testimonial page, which is often added by the owner and is only for the clients to read. 

You should add a designated section where customers can add reviews to draw more reviews. Doing so will make your website more likely to appear when people look up your service.

Adding a review section to your website also shows your visitors that you aren’t afraid of feedback. In addition, it’ll prove that you have nothing to hide and are open to making changes whenever necessary.

Ask for a review at the right time

There is a right time and a wrong time to ask for customer reviews. It’s important to be able to know which is which. For the most part, when it comes to getting reviews, you should ask for it when the memory is fresh in customers’ minds. This can be done by email, SMS, or any other contact channel customers prefer.

Follow up on customers who didn’t review

Many of the buyers who received a request for a review might not follow through with it. It may not always be because they don’t want to. It may be because they simply forgot about it. This is why you need to make sure you follow up on the follow-up, so to speak.

You may think your persistence will annoy them, but very few mind it. This is important because most clients only consider the newer reviews. Those older than three months are considered less relevant.

Make your website mobile-friendly

Nowadays, many people have their entire lives on their smartphones. They are quick and easy, and individuals often scroll through their phones to pass the time while commuting or on breaks. This is one unbreakable rule you must keep in mind when you are sending a review request.

So, when you send an email, ensure the link easily converts to a mobile platform. People might want to offer a review, but if they must continuously zoom in and out, they may change their minds. 

Always make it easy for your promoters to leave feedback, regardless of which platform they choose to use.

The Bottom Line

Getting an occasional bad review is normal, even for top companies. However, with good online reputation management, you should be able to present your business in a better light. Reach out to those who left bad reviews and acknowledge the customers who left good ones.

Remember that ignoring a bad review is never a good idea. Listen to your clients, address their concerns, and try to find a resolution. 

Doing so builds trust, which will increase your reviews and your sales.

Joe Manna


Joe Manna

Joe Manna was a senior content marketing manager at Nextiva. He blends his marketing acumen and deep technical background to improve people's lives with technology. His expertise helps companies large and small serve more customers. He enjoys a rich iced latte and a non-fiction business book when he's not pressing words.

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