How Do Negative Reviews Impact Your SEO?

by Tina Efinska November 07, 2018

You work hard to launch a new product or service and instead of praise, you receive negative reviews. Your mind starts racing with thoughts on how these reviews will impact your SEO. Does this sound familiar?

Now more than ever, consumers are trusting their online peers to determine the quality of a business. In fact, research shows that:

  • 93% of consumers use online reviews as a determinant for whether or not to purchase a product or service;
  • 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations;
  • 68% of consumers form an opinion about a product or service after reading between 1–6 online reviews;
  • Online reviews make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results

The bad reviews are not as bad as you think

The bottom line is that online reviews, whether positive or negative, MATTER. While we all strive for positive reviews, the bad ones are not as bad as you may think. And here’s why:

  • Negative reviews increase the overall number of reviews — When users search online for a local business, Google generates results that show how many stars and reviews the business has. The total number of reviews increases the online visibility of your business and contributes to localized search ranking factors. So, even a few negative reviews can help search engines to validate the legitimacy of your business. And while they should not be ignored, a few negative comments will not harm your reputation.
  • Negative reviews increase your credibility — Believe it or not, negative reviews have more credibility than positive reviews. Why is this so? When consumers see nothing but positive reviews, they tend to suspect censorship or faked reviews. After all, no one is THAT perfect. Research shows that consumers like to see a variety of good, moderate, and bad scores when trying to decide if a business is reliable. This variety leads to increased time on page and session duration — two crucial measurements for SEO optimization.
  • Negative reviews generate buzz — You may have heard the saying “a bad review is better than no review”. This is because when your business responds appropriately to negative reviews, it shows that you value feedback from your customers. Additionally, it shows that you are willing to address the issue at hand and able to manage your online reputation. No reviews, on the other hand, will not get anyone talking because there will be nothing to talk about.
  • Negative reviews allow you to develop relationships with your customers — After spending a great deal of time and effort attracting customers, you must find ways to retain them. By addressing the issue(s) behind each negative review, hopefully, you can change your customers’ minds. Diffuse the situation, offer to make up for whatever the dissatisfaction was, and try to highlight the positive whenever possible. As you read through the reviews, ask yourself:
  • What does this consumer wants that we are not delivering?
  • What questions about our products/services or our brand haven’t we answered?
  • What sort of searches will lead potential consumers to this content?

You should treat negative reviews as a conversation to better understand your customers and to build a loyal following. With any luck, you may even acquire potential consumers who will be less likely to complain.

  • Negative reviews display a more accurate image of your business — When it comes to online marketing, customers experience disappointment when their expectations are not met. However, this does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. Negative reviews help potential customers to better understand what it is that your business does and does not offer. They also help to show how your business handles customer disappointment. By providing a more balanced look at your products and/or services, you can increase engagement. That being said, a few negative reviews may even result in a positive impact on your search engine rankings.

Did you know?

  • Over 50% of customers who leave a negative review expect to receive a response from the business within 7 days;
  • By not responding to reviews, the risk of losing customers raises by 15%;

Statistics show that of the customers who received a response from a business after posting a negative review about their experience:

  • 33% turned around and posted a positive review;
  • 34% deleted their original negative review;

So, remember this the next time you are hesitant about whether or not to respond to a negative review.

Seeing the good in the bad

Hopefully, the aforementioned approaches have taught you to see that even negative reviews have a good side.

If people are not talking about your business, it is as if it does not exist. At the very least, negative reviews put your business on the map. They show that your business is responsive, trustworthy and above all, REAL. Having no reviews, on the other hand, makes it seem as if you are a ghost.

The other thing to bear in mind is that negative reviews reinforce actions for improvement. Each criticism is a chance for you to get to the bottom of potential downsides to your business. This can lead to brainstorming on how to improve your customer service, product offering, etc. As a result, listening to the feedback from your customers can help you to meet their needs better. And possibly even earn their long-term loyalty.

The fact of the matter is that negative reviews happen. It does not matter how much you try to prevent them. There is always going to be some individual dissatisfied with your product or service. So, the next time you read a negative review, do not view at it as a failure. Rather, see it as an opportunity to turn one of your frustrations into one of your biggest successes. As long as you understand how to handle each negative review appropriately, you will have more happy customers down the line. And the positive reviews will outweigh the negative ones.

Originally published at on November 7, 2018.