What to do if You Think a Competitor is Buying Online Reviews
The world of online reputation management isn’t always a fair one. In addition to making sure you’re doing everything you can to provide current and future customers with a realistic picture about your business, you also need to keep an eye out for what your competitors might be doing to hurt you.
No, this doesn’t mean that you should spend time every day going to their website to see if anything has changed. I’m talking about, paying attention to suspicious activity happening on your review profiles. It could potentially be linked to a competitor running a campaign against you!
Competitive Cat and Mouse Games Are Nothing New
Companies placing online ads (and offline ones too) targeting their competitor’s brand isn’t unheard of. This short of activity has been happening since the beginning of capitalism. In fact, some would say targeting a competitive brand is a good way for smaller companies to get their name out there.
Of course, these sort of cat and mouse games are alive and well on the internet. From targeting people who have liked your Facebook page, to people searching for you competitor on Google, there’s no shortage of ways that you can try and capitalize off of a competitor’s name.
This sort of behavior usually amounts to nothing more than a harmless game of one-upping, but in a worst case scenario, it could get nasty. You could walk up one day to discover that a competitor has been buying fake online reviews to tarnish your business’s reputation.
We hope this never happens, but just in case, we want to help you understand the situation and what you can do to prevent negative reviews online bought by your competitors from hurting you.
What Does It Mean If a Competitor Is Running a Fake Online Review Campaign Against You
When a competitor is running a fake online review campaign against you, it means that someone has purposefully set out (and paid) to ruin your online reputation through the use of fake negative reviews.
These campaigns may be run by a competitor who isn’t on your radar at all, or the person down the street whose business is struggling and they feel “forced” to desperate measures to try and boost their own business.
These reviews are often outlandish or are a simple, blank one-star rating that would be difficult to get taken down by review platforms, like Yelp, or Google. Even if these platforms filter out the reviews, they will still impact your overall ratings negatively.
That’s why it’s important to monitor online reviews, which will give you the chance to catch large or small scale negative review attacks quickly.
Whatever the case may be, you and your business are still at risk and are still victims of the negative consequences these campaigns create.
The Telltale Signs That Someone is Running a Negative Review Campaign Against Your Business
Whether you previously had a review-generating method in place or not, there are a few signs that could tell you if a competitor is running a campaign against you.
- You have a sudden influx of (negative) online reviews
- Your regular stream of positive reviews is being interrupted with new, negative reviews that specifically target aspects of your business (like you, staff, or the quality of your items)
- The suspicious online reviews being left on your profile are pointing potential customers to another business in the area that’s “better”
What to do if You Think a Competitor is Buying Online Reviews Against You
So, if you think that someone is buying negative reviews to use against you – there are a few things you should do to try and solve the problem.
Research Other Competitors in the Area
One of the first things you’ll want to do is check out the profiles of your competitors. In some brazen cases, you’ll notice that all of your competitors will have a slew of similar negative reviews on their profiles….except for one.
If you notice that everyone else has negative reviews, including yourself, and one person has an untarnished reputation, that business may be the culprit.
It seems almost comical that this is an occurrence that business owners have to worry about, but it’s one that happens all too often.
Business owners who are in hot water with their own company will sometimes take to the web to purchase a slew of negative reviews to be left on their competitor’s profiles. In the best case scenario (for them), people doing research online will see a bunch of businesses with horrible, dramatic negative reviews and one business (theirs) who has a great reputation.
In those cases, this dastardly company will look like the oasis they’ll want to do business with.
If you have completed your research and turned up some interesting information, such as one business having a perfect rating while everyone else’s has plummeted, make note of that.
Similarly, you will want to take screenshots of the negative reviews you believe are fake and part of this campaign against you. Doing this ensures that you have a papertrail and timeline to work with.
Know the Rules for Each Review Platform
Being an informed business owner is key at this stage. If you do have a negative campaign being run against you by a competitor, you will want to check and see if any of the reviews left on your profile violate the content rules for each site.
For example, reviews that use profane language or are threatening are strictly prohibited.
Make sure you know all the details you can about the situation, and have all of your evidence organized, before moving on to contacting these platforms.
Ultimately, it may prove impossible to get these negative reviews removed and it may seem like the competitor has “won.”
However, making sure you have an on-going online reputation management strategy can help protect you from serious and long-term damage. Tools like RepCheckup work to ensure you have real reviews from customers, and an overall rating that reflects the quality of your business, so that a few negative reviews won’t cause your rating to plummet from a 4 to a 1.