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3 Tricks for Burying Bad Reviews

April 4, 2023

Burying Bad Reviews
5 min

A new 1-star review. You knew it was coming.

Your team really dropped the ball, and the customer was rightly upset. You apologized, did your best to fix the problem, and tried to move on.

But that review is still sitting there at the top of your Google Business Profile, a glaring sore on your otherwise sterling reputation.

In this article, we’ll teach you a few tricks that can help move your good reviews back up to the top of your profile, and hide that bad review in the weeds!

Negative reviews aren’t always a bad thing! If you respond to your bad reviews in a calm, reasoned manner, they can even be beneficial.

Customers don’t trust a business with a perfect 5-star rating. If your rating is in the 4.4-4.8 range, you seem more trustworthy than a business with only 5-star reviews, because they’re clearly doing something to keep their rating so high.

A calm, professional response can also show prospective customers that you’ll treat them right if they do business with you - even if everything doesn’t go according to plan.

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You still don’t want that bad review to be the first thing a potential customer sees, though. So, how do you ensure your good reviews show up before your bad ones?

First off, many business owners want to remove reviews they consider unfair - but this is unlikely to work. Only the hosting company (Google, Yelp, Apple, etc) has the power to remove a review, so you’ll have to petition them to take the review down. They don’t want to take reviews down every time an owner complains - they only remove harassment and fake reviews, theoretically.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask them to take down fake or abusive reviews. You absolutely should! You just can’t count on this tactic to make all bad reviews go away.

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Instead, we need to convince Google (and Yelp and Apple) to show the good! We can do this by making the good reviews more relevant and recent than the negative ones so they show up first. We call this burying the negative reviews - burying them in a heap of good reviews!

Before we start on that, though, we need to understand how Google et. al. decide which reviews to show.

How Does Google Rank Reviews?

Before we can start manipulating the order of reviews, we’ve got to know how they get sorted in the first place. Here are the four factors that determine how your reviews are ordered!

Google ranks reviews by recency

This is the main reason your new 1-star review can be so problematic! As soon as the unhappy customer leaves that 1-star review, Google will usually put it on top of your other reviews.

Sometimes you’ll get some good reviews right after a bad one, and you won’t have to worry about it for long. If you’re a smaller business though, your reviews may be few and far between, so the most recent bad review is stuck to your e-window for weeks or even months!

Google prioritizes reviews with photos

Just like with your general self storage website SEO, Google loves photos. This is because searchers love photos - sites with more images get more clicks, and Google tries to show relevant images to your customers.

That means reviews that include photos are going to be prioritized as more relevant than those without. You should encourage your happy tenants to include photos with their reviews whenever feasible!

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Google likes longer, more specific reviews

Part of the reason negative reviews seem to show up more often than positive ones is that bad reviewers are often more long-winded. They’ve got a story to tell, while happy customers generally post something like “Good facility. Friendly staff.” and call it a day.

Negative reviewers are also going to be more specific, which Google also finds more useful. They’ve got a particular bone to pick (and many of them pick it thoroughly). This makes it tough to get your good reviews ahead of your bad ones, even if the good ones are more numerous. Encourage happy customers to be specific and leave at least 200 characters of review!

Google chooses local reviewers and keywords

This one is actually good news for us! People who review businesses frequently can become ‘Local Guides,’ and their reviews are highlighted over other reviewers. These people are more likely to leave accurate, positive reviews - i.e., they leave reviews even if they’re not pissed off about something.

Google will also sort reviews based on keywords. So, if someone finds your business by searching specifically for “climate-controlled storage” and a specific reviewer mentions your climate control, those reviews will be prioritized. This isn’t helpful in controlling negative reviews necessarily, but it is cool!

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How Do I Bury Negative Self Storage Reviews?

So, with all of this in mind, we can see the best ways to bury negative reviews! 

Get New Good Reviews

The big problem with these negative reviews is that they get shown first because they’re the most recent, the most thorough, and the most relevant. To get bad reviews out of that first spot, get newer, better, more thorough good reviews!

If you’re a small local business, chances are you know a few customers that would be happy to help you out. Think of your favorite customers, the ones you chat with when they come in, or the ones you’ve gone above and beyond to help - see if there’s anyone you could ask for a review!

Asking them in person is best, but you can reach out electronically too. Text instead of email if you can, as your customers are more likely to open a text message.

Ask Tenants to Update Their Good Reviews

Maybe all of your best tenants have already left good reviews - they can still be useful! If you’ve got friendly tenants who have already reviewed your business, ask them to update their review.

These updates make the more recent. This functions similarly to having a tenant leave a new review - the time of the update counts as the time of the whole review. So even if your best tenants have all left good reviews, you can still get them to help you drown out the bad ones.

Ask Tenants to Add Photos to Their Reviews

Same as the above - but if you can get tenants to include new photos with their review, that’s a super-charged way to get that review to rank above the others! Remember, Google doesn’t want you to pay for reviews, or compensate the reviewer in any way - it needs to be because the tenant genuinely likes your business.

Other consumers are likely to be able to tell an insincere review over a real one too. Paying for reviews (or updates) may seem like a simple, easy way to approach this problem, but doing it the right way is better for your business over time.

It’s all well and good for your local SEO guy to say “bad reviews aren’t all bad!” 

It’s entirely different to be staring down an irate customer’s review as the online billboard for your business.

With this knowledge, you can bury those bad reviews under an avalanche of good ones!

For more on this subject, check out our guide on how to ask for reviews!

Learn more about the importance of reviews, and how to handle them, with these: 

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