Person responding to online reviews from Google

The Art of Responding to Positive and Negative Online Reviews

Let’s face it. Customers have more ways than ever to sing your praise or raise a little hell, thanks to online reviews and social media. Although online reviews can provide the ultimate free advertising media to boost sales, they can also have a negative impact when not managed well. How you approach your online review responses, therefore, can make or break your online reputation. Since online reviews impact both your reputation and Google ranking, we thought we’d share some tips to help you finesse the art of responding to positive and negative comments and reviews.  

How to Respond to Good Reviews

It feels good to soak up those five-star reviews. However, although you deserve to enjoy those good feelings, you can’t just sit back and relax on your proverbial laurels. You need to help build momentum by responding to those good reviews. This is a prime example of an opportunity to engage your customers. It is the perfect time to increase brand awareness while your business is being viewed in a positive light. Acknowledging positive reviews is not only polite but also shows an appreciation for customers. To help finesse your good review responses, follow these steps:

1. Be specific when expressing your gratitude

Every compliment deserves a polite thank you, which in this case, is a quick response. Showing your gratitude with specifics related to the review shows a real person is responding. Instead of a neutral, “Thanks, it means a lot” response, include a detail that makes it clear you’ve read the review, such as “Thanks, we know Sara is one of our best mechanics, and she is truly a pro with Audis like yours!” 

You can also round it up by showing a commitment to your team by saying something like, “I’ll be sure to share your review with her, it will make her day!” If there is something exciting you can share about your team, you can also say something like, “She actually just completed a course on winter vehicle safety, so I see it paid off.”  

2. Use your response to leverage keywords

When writing your response, be sure to include keywords to help search engines find you. For example, in the answer above, you could optimize it by saying,

“Thanks, we know Sara is one of our best mechanics in Smallville, and she is truly a pro with Audi repairs like yours!”

Example Google Review Response

In this case, you’ve just provided local SEO by including your business location and also fine-tuned the service to help draw attention to your Audi repair services in Smallville for searches.

3. Boost your brand humbly and subtly

Furthering your response abilities, try to find an opportunity to include your business name,

“Thanks! At Smallville Audi Repairs, we know Sara is one of the best mechanics in Smallville, and she is truly a pro with Audi repairs like yours!”

Example Google Review Response

Now you have brand awareness, local SEO and service-related keywords included in one sentence.

4. Toss in an offer

Promoting an offer is another way to make your responses more beneficial for your business as well as your customer. For example, you can showcase a special offer by saying something like,

“Did Sara mention we are providing a free snow tire install with brake inspections this fall?”

Example Google Review Response

This comes across as an exclusive offer you are sharing with the reviewer. Better yet, it also provides a heads-up for someone reading the review AND boosts SEO for searches for snow tire or brake services in Smallville.  

5. Add a call to action (CTA)

Include a subtle CTA either based on Step #4 or something more general. You could conclude with,

“Be sure to book your brake inspection before November 31st to take advantage of the offer.”

Example Google Review (Option 1)

or something more neutral like,

“Feel free to share that offer with friends, we’d love to see them get a good deal that will keep them safe this winter!”

Example Google Review (Option 2)

How to Respond to Bad Reviews

Once you get over the initial shock and hurt of a bad review, you need to act fast to respond. Follow these steps:

1. Apologize and resolve

Your first few words should have the word sorry or apologize to validate the customer’s feelings that they’ve been wronged. Make it clear you are acknowledging a misstep and that you want to make amends.

“We are so sorry we failed to meet your expectations. We are happy to refund your money (or whatever the desired resolution might be.”

Example Google Review Response

If they don’t mention their desired resolution, instead say,

“How can we make up for (name the issue)?”

Example Google Review Response

2. Market for damage control

To help stress your commitment to excellence, include a line that expresses your surprise and what customers should normally experience, such as,

“Our team is focused on customer satisfaction, and it’s difficult to hear we failed you.”

Example Google Review Response

3. Don’t allow the conversation to escalate

Include your contact information to take the conversation offline so the reviewer doesn’t have the opportunity to start a smear campaign:

“I’m the (your title) here and would love to make things right. Click here to phone me or email me so I can take action right away.”

Example Google Review Response


You need to keep it simple so you don’t draw further attention to the negative review. It also avoids getting into a heated argument trying to answer further negative comments. This is why Step #3 is key to bad review responses.

5. Don’t use your company name, location, or keywords

You aren’t doing yourself any favors by mentioning your business name, location or keywords. Keeping it simple helps avoid the negative review showing up in search results. The ideal response looks something like this:

“We are so sorry we didn’t manage to meet your expectations. Our team is focused on customer satisfaction, and it’s difficult to hear we failed you. I am the (your title) here, and you can reach me at phone number and email so I can make things right.”

Example Google Review Response

You apologized, promoted the expected customer experience, took things offline and did not mention your company name, location or keywords! 

Your Google Reviews Matter

Showing appreciation for good reviews presents an opportunity to raise brand awareness and improve SEO. Also, most customers understand even the most effective team committed to 100% customer satisfaction can receive bad reviews. Whether you’re at fault or the customer is having a bad day, knowing how to respond will help you maintain a positive online reputation.

Responding to reviews can be a challenge, especially when dealing with a particularly frustrated customer. But it is possible to respond and still build goodwill. If you need a little help with this, we’re happy to chat.