This post was inspired by a listener email. I decided to write about the subject because I felt like it applied to a lot of restaurant owners. The sender asked me not to use their name, but had no problem with me sharing their question and my response here. Here’s the question as I received it, but with contact information removed:
Hi Brett – Really enjoying the podcast since discovering it two weeks ago. Keep up the great work. I’ve got a question I was hoping you could help me with.
When someone types the name of my truck into Google, a blog post comes up with a bad review from when I was just getting started over a year ago. As you might expect, I don’t want people to type my name into Google and find a bad review. Is there anything I can do?
This is an issue that plaques food truck and restaurant owners. We live in a time period where everyone has the ability to publish there thoughts and opinions online… which is in general is a good thing. But it presents challenges along with it.
What You Can Do About Negative Online Reviews
Fortunately, there are a few things that can be done to if not remove, at least hide the review. I will outline what I believe to be the best options below:
Option #1: The Direct Approach
Have you tried emailing the blogger directly and invite him or her to test your truck again? If you send a polite email explaining that you just opened when they tried your restaurant or simply that you were having an off day, the writer might be interested in reviewing you again or updating that post. That’s the easiest and most direct way I know to get a review changed, but it isn’t always an option.
Option #2: Hiding and Pushing Down Bad Reviews
If option #1 doesn’t work out, it’s time to explore the other options to (if not remove) at least diminish the review that you don’t want in Google’s results. After all, if you can push down a bad listing moved from the first page of Google’s results, to the second page it’s almost as good as having it removed all together since so few people ever click to page 2 of the search listings. There are some very simple and straight forward actions you can take to accomplish this too.
1.) Buy a domain name or URL for your food truck and put up a website. If you don’t have a website for your food truck, you should. It really is essential to have one source of information that is available 24/7 about your restaurant on wheels. At the very least people can go here to find out where you’ll be located next, menu items, and a little description about yourself.
Domain names can be purchased for a little over $10 on GoDaddy.com. The nice thing about buying a domain name and putting up a website is that you’ll almost always be found in position #1 when someone searches for your food truck by completing this. So if you haven’t already, put up a simple website that explains what your restaurant is all about.
2.) Sign up for social media profiles like Facebook and Twitter. Make sure these are updated regularly with new information. Popular social media websites will almost always rank well within search results for the name of your business, especially if they are updated frequently with new posts and images overtime.
Here’s an example of how this works in the real world for The Grilled Cheese Truck. As you can see, many of the search results are dominated by Facebook and Twitter for this truck (Type “The Grilled Cheese Truck” into Google to see for yourself):
As you can see, the top results for this search include the domain name TheGrilledCheeseTruck.com and Facebook profiles. I also want to note that the businesses Twitter account is on the first page as well, but not visible in the screen shot I took. Other social media profiles that rank well, include Linkedin, Google+, YouTube channels, and crowdfunding websites like FoodStart.com or KickStarter.com.
3.) Getting reviews on local websites like Yelp.com also perform well in search results. Make sure you have a Yelp.com page and encourage your happy customers and friends to post an legit review in these places. Over time after you generate numerous reviews these pages can rank very well. Also, a lot of positive reviews can make a poor review less important.
4.) Get reviewed by food bloggers and journalists. When bloggers write about your truck their posts will often rank well too. For example when I interview food truck owners for FoodTruckEmpire.com, the posts often end up ranking on the first page of Google when you search for the name of a food truck. This is a helpful marketing activity too!
Keep Reviews in Perspective
Let’s face it. If you serve a lot of customers over time you will eventually receive a less than stellar review of your food. It happens to everyone, probably even some of your favorite restaurants. At the end of the day, one bad review shouldn’t make or break your business. So try lose too much sleep over any one person. Okay?
I hope you found this entry helpful. If you did, please share on your newly created social media profiles like Facebook and Twitter. :)