Client X had a negative review on a fairly prominent directory. It had been there for years. When Client X started paying attention to his business presence on the internet, he discovered this and of course came to me to fix it. Fix it?
Mistake One: people often misunderstand the permanency of the internet.
It’s not like I can go to that server, log into the database, and erase that review. I wish I could, there’s money in that somewhere. But then people would be planting dazzling reviews for themselves, scathing ones for their competition, and then the system is even more messed up. Even if I could request a review to be deleted, what would the criteria be for approval or denial? The end result is still a corrupted system. So the current fix for this is the ability to respond to the negative review. Well, sometimes you get to, if the site offers that functionality.
The same thing goes for tweets and forum posts. So many times people have posted something that has come back to bite them. So think about what you are posting – it will need to stand the test of time.
Lesson One: You can consider the information on the internet as, for all practical purposes, permanent.
The first thing I do is see if the site has a way to respond to reviews. A response has to be crafted very carefully with the right trigger words. If you are too soft or too cold in your response, you could cause more damage to your reputation. This is where language becomes very important, so learn how to use it effectively.
Then I try and bury the bad review with good ones. Wait, let me rephrase that. The first thing I try to do is bury the negative review with legitimate positive reviews. If you were not as ethical as I, you could choose the first suggestion. (But beware, sometimes there are countermeasures to thwart this kind of behavior.) Positive reviews are relatively easy to come by. The crucial factor here is making sure that the reviews get posted. This often is determined by the degree to which the reviewer feels comfortable on the internet and/or with computers. Make sure you get permission to help them with the review before they submit it, so you can replace poor words with strong ones.
The very last thing I would do is try to contact the web administrator and have them remove it. And I probably won’t ever choose this option.