As authors, we open ourselves up to public criticism via our work. As bloggers, it's a given that we will offend someone, even if our blog is simply informational. Sometimes, people offer sincere criticism, while others are a little more sinister in their motives. Today, I have tapped Rich Gorman, from reputationchanger.com, to give his take on how to protect our online reputation.
Something specific to authors is negative reviews. After you read Rich's post, I encourage you to look at these posts that touch on online reviews and author criticism directly.
How to Deal With Negative Reviews of Our Books By Phyllis Zimbler Miller
5 Tips In Responding To Criticism By Tony Eldridge
Online Review Sites, and What They Mean for Book Marketers
By Rich Gorman
How does a consumer make an informed, prudent purchasing decision? The answer, more and more often, is by reading online reviews. Statistics reveal, time and time again, that online reviews carry a great deal of weight with consumers. In fact, many consumers trust online reviews as much or more than they do the recommendations from their own friends or family members.
This is true for all kinds of products and services. Take restaurants, for example. Thanks to sites like Yelp—as well as the advent of mobile technology—a consumer can obtain ratings of local eateries quickly and easily, even while on the go. Those ratings and reviews are massively influential in shaping consumer opinion.
Of course, the same is true for books. The days of Amazon.com being the only real hotspot for online book reviews are long gone; these days, consumers have innumerable options for finding opinions on new releases, and ultimately deciding whether those new releases are worthwhile.
The Problems with Online Reviews
It goes without saying, by now, that the Internet is pretty wonderful, and offers a lot of advantages—and that one of its biggest perks is the full freedom of expression that it provides. The Internet allows people to post anything they want, about any topic they want, which is, on some level, a good thing.
But it can also be a bad thing, because, well, people can post anything they want—including whatever they want to say about a book, or even about the author, personally. That’s the double-edged sword that the book marketer faces: An online reviewer can post a review that is baseless, completely ungrounded in fact. A reviewer can even post reviews that are simply unreasonable and defamatory.
These reviews can come from a number of sources. What many businesses are discovering, in the Age of Yelp, is that online reviews can come from consumers, but also from disgruntled ex-employees or even from business competitors. The same is true in the book marketing world: Book reviews can come from any source.
As such, even the best authors (maybe especially the best authors) can find themselves hit by bad reviews, at any given moment—and because reviews are so influential in shaping consumer behavior, they can lead to major damage, including lost sales. The question is, what can a book marketer do about these bad reviews?
Suppressing Bad Reviews
The bad news is that there is no way to coerce readers into leaving only good reviews. Bad reviews can happen at any moment, and there is nothing that can be done to prevent them. What’s more, once they are out in the open, there is no way to delete or undo them.
What can be done is review suppression. Here’s the bottom line: The average search engine user does not click past the first page of Google results, certainly not all the way to page 4 or 5. A negative review on page 1 of a Google search is going to be detrimental to book sales, then, but a review on the fourth page is unlikely to have any real effect.
The task of the book marketer is to suppress those negative reviews, keeping them off the first page of Google, rendering them non-issues. This is done by inundating the search engines with positive content, flushing the negatives out of the way.
How to Suppress
Where to begin? Social media is always a good starting point. Creating social media profiles, linked to the author’s name and/or the title of the book, helps to populate that first page of Google search results. An author’s blog can also be helpful; make sure to use Wordpress as the blogging platform, as it gets better Google rankings than its competitors (including Blogger and Tumblr).
Authors and book marketers should also snatch up all of the exact-match domains, associated with the writer’s name of the book title. For example, you should make sure that you own YourBookTitle.com, .net, and .org, and the same for the author name. Even if all of these domains are not used, simply having them is a helpful defensive move—because it ensures that these high-ranking domains cannot be used against you!
Some of them, of course, should be used. That’s the single best way to keep those negative reviews out of the limelight—by replacing them with positive, engaging content. Using these exact-match domains to publish book snippets, author profiles and interviews, or positive press from readers and reviewers can go a long way toward keeping those bad reviews at bay.
This is an ongoing process: Negative reviews are an ever-present threat, which means that there is always a need for maintaining this strong, defensive wall of positive content. By doing so, however, book marketers and authors can minimize the dangerous effects of unwanted publicity, and of bad reviews.
personal reputation management online and direct response marketing, he also operates the official blog for the Direct Response industry where he shares his thoughts on Direct Response Marketing.
Tony Eldridge is the author of The Samson Effect, an action/adventure novel that Clive Cussler calls a "first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure." He is also the author of the Twitter marketing book, Conducting Effective Twitter Contests. His new novel, The Lottery Ticket, was just recently released on Kindle.