Spam and Negative Reviews

negative reviews - spam graphic by Michal Zacharzewski, PolandThis morning, an email advised me that my website has one or more “negative reviews” and I can pay a business to counter the negative effects of those reviews.

In other words, another company (and probably a dozen or so) have launched a new campaign to create anxiety among website owners.  Ick.

If you receive a similar email (or two or three or 100), it’s okay to ignore them.  They’re spam. They’re intended to scare you into hiring the services of the advertiser.

I raise an eyebrow at this kind of nonsense, but I know that some website owners will panic and hire the advertiser.  If spam (unsolicited — and often unwanted — emails) didn’t work, we’d receive only good & interesting emails.

Here’s more information, if you’re still a little anxious.

The spam/email included this information:

Google is now using business reviews to determine business ranking. A search for your business shows at least one negative review.

We can help you.

[Their contact info was here.]

How does posting positive reviews help in your businesses Google ranking?

1. Positive reviews increase your business rank by linking important and relevant websites to your website.
2. A constant stream of positive reviews improves your online reputation.
3. Positive reviews drive traffic to your business.
4. Positive reviews restore a tarnished reputation by pushing down negative reviews and links.
5. Helps protect against competitors or anyone else from attempting to run your ranking.

Those “negative reviews” aren’t anything new and could mean almost anything.

Ever since Google created Sidewiki, which allows anyone to post anything about a webpage they’re looking at, there will be snarky comments and negative reviews by idiots… and perhaps a few people with legitimate gripes.

(Frankly, if you’re not doing things that are innovative enough to fail sometimes — or at least generate a little controversy — you need to be more courageous.)

And, that “at least one negative review” might have been posted by the spammers, to have something to startle the website owner.

Note: If your site uses WordPress, you can block Sidewiki comments — including positive and negative reviews — with this free plugin.

But that “negative review” might be some general comment about artists, posted in a thread that you commented at, too.

Or… gosh, “negative reviews” could be almost anything, from (in my case) “Aisling was having a bad hair day,” to “She doesn’t teach by-the-numbers workshops,” to  “Worst. Art. Ever.”

Since I’ve been posting my art online for about 15 years now, I’d be amazed if I didn’t have negative reviews!

Anyway, when I saw this stupid email about “negative reviews,” I sighed in exasperation.  I think this is the new incarnation of companies who get paid to post backlinks.  (Don’t pay for them, either.)

If a spammer emails you with alarming news about negative reviews, flag the email as spam and forget about it.  Negative reviews can mean anything, and — unless they’re overwhelmingly awful (and you’d already know about that) — you can safely ignore them.

If you have a good website, Google will love you (and so will your readers) whether or not you actually have negative reviews.

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