SEO and Reputation Management vs. Consumer Affairs Reviews

Have you ever noticed “review” sites have a way of turning into complaint hubs that majorly skew your company or brand’s reputation in Google?

I mean, because they’re not really reviews are they? They’re more just like a complaints hub for everybody to pile on your company.

Check out the SERPs (search engine results pages) for “Costo reviews”:

costco search results in google is showing a 2.3 rating for Costco and basically has them at a 1 star.

I chose Costco as an example for this article because having been an executive member for a decade, I know them to be a rock solid corporation with a very liberal return policy that should satisfy even the most fervent of agitated customers.

And yet that’s not the picture we get with a quick Google search. Instead, we quickly see a collection of individuals who feel they’ve been wronged.

And many certainly have had bad experiences - but what we’re not seeing is the millions who have had a pleasant experience in dealing with the wholesale retailer.

If your company or business is feeling the effects of unduly harsh reviews, believe me, you’re not alone.

Besides Trust Pilot and Consumer Affairs, sites like Yelp,,,, etc. are more than happy to broadcast unhappy experiences.

And the worst part is… many of them - especially and - rank particularly high in Google because they’re authoritative, powerful sites with good on-page SEO.

Oh, make no mistake, they’re not ranking high by accident.

First of all, their leave-a-review business model works out quite lovely for them in terms of search engine optimization:

  1. They get continually fresh, free content with brand and/or company keywords naturally sprinkled in.
  2. They get good user engagement (a newer ranking factor that’s gaining favor by Google’s algorithm) because people want to see the bad reviews and then proceed to gawk at the 18-wheeler sprawled out on the side of the road (stories bashing said company).
  3. People link to the pages because of the incredible stories.
  4. Competitors surely don’t mind leaving a few anonymous reviews to pile on. I mean, a few extra Macho Man elbows from the top turnbuckle never hurt anyone, right?

(Well only the company at-hand but they were already dead when we got here.)

It’s a problem, a real big problem.

One of my clients actually had Consumer Affairs ranking on the first page for just their company name alone - yikes!

How to remove Consumer Affairs from Google Results

I know you were hoping for there to be some Google complaint form where you can put in a URL that’s muddying up your brand reputation and then have Google quickly remove it from the search results within 1-3 business days.

That luxury does not exist.  If it did, you wouldn’t see so many complaint sites showing up for large companies.

The best path to removing a negative page in 2019 is to promote the pages surrounding it.  I’ll explain more in the section below.

So how did we push to page 2 of Google?

We consistently and strategically linked to everyone else around

Obviously we’d push a positive blog post result but even neutral sites like, we’d promote.

Because this is much more about just not having a customer seeing something horrible as soon as they open up your shop door vs. daintily organizing everything in your store ever so perfectly like Marie Kondo would.

We really just don’t want a dozen bloody fish carcasses flopping around right off the bat.

The Bullet Points

  • Set a baseline. If there are any sites above a bad review listing, we want to fortify them. God forbid those get overtaken.
  • Pick out 10–15 independent sites, preferably websites with authority, content, and backlinks that have the ability to rank as high as position #1.
  • Immediately begin to build a diverse and strong backlink portfolio to those websites.
  • Start layering in tier-2 links that point to the new links.
  • Record everything including original rank, date created, and anchor text used.
  • Rinse and repeat for 4–6 months.

Yeah, you read that right. It takes time. This is not an overnight pay some geek to do it real fast type of deal.

Can you get results faster?

Sure, but don’t bank on it. If you hire an SEO agency and you’re not popping champagne in 2 weeks, it’s not because they’re holding out the goods on you.

(Stick around and keep reading, I’ll tell you some cheap tricks to hack an immediate push down to maybe get the bad review guys below the fold.)

Review sites like are highly authoritative which basically means they’re really sticky in Google.

And…and even when you think you’ve vanquished a Trust Pilot or whoever, Google’s probably still going to dance with the rankings while they sort things out.

It’s just the nature of the beast. As you may have already noticed Google puts some sites in default God mode and any little article they publish insta-ranks.

For example, in the marketing world, Neil Patel just runs away with everything. He’s got a few sites going and whenever he publishes content, it owns the first page for all sorts of related and semi-related keywords.

As another example, look at Amazon, is there any retail product on earth they don’t show up in Google for? Again, #godmode.

Check out what comes up if you search “car cleaning kit”:

search results for car cleaning kit in google

A similar power is being wielded here: Google loves Consumer Affairs so if they publish a page on your company, it’s going to rank by default because CA is in their gilded circle.

To combat this unheralded love, you have to work 10x as hard promoting a bunch of other independent sites. One tip worth noting here: Typically the sites that already rank the highest are the best to target.

Another heads up if you’re eyeballing your social properties as a means of displacing the Pissed Consumers of the world: Many of them won’t get you there.

For your company or brand name alone, Facebook is definitely doable, that is you can rank it on the 1st page.

After that, it depends what social properties Google deems relevant for your organic search results.

A big factor for Twitter being in your top 10 is whether Google inserts your Twitter news feed inside the organic results like so:

lockheed martin twitter feed result

If this is the case, then you’re a LOT less likely to see your simple Twitter account listing taking up virtual real estate in the SERPs.

The Social Others

From experience, I can tell you Instagram is a lot harder to rank on the first page of Google. It very much depends on the niche. If you’re searching for a social influencer, yeah they’re going to rank but for most companies, usually not.

YouTube channels are definitely more accepted by Big G but, again, it depends on the applicability of the channel.
Google Plus - forget about it.

LinkedIn - forget about it, probably.

And here’s another determining factor: How many search results does a search for your company yield?

Google has begun limiting certain first page results to 6 or 7 organic spots!

If this is the case for your SERPs, you’re definitely not going to have many social properties show above page 2. This is especially true for larger corporate entities.

Hacking Kinda

A lot of people are lazy when they search. Unfortunately people that search for “company + reviews” are more diligent but we’ve got to do what we can in the interim so here are three hacks to help you in the near term:

  • Buy an ad spot on the top of the page with Google Adwords.
  • Create a reviews page on your main website (e.g., - since you are the authority for your company/brand, this will usually rank above other results
  • Buy an in-depth review/editorial from a big blogger or authority site in your niche or news outlet

Yeah, I get it, these aren’t ideal.

One, you might not want to pay just to show up for your own keywords in Google (lots of strategy wrinkles here on why you might want to but that’s another bed time story).

Two, any reviews on your site either are or look like they are controlled by you which is totally inauthentic.

Three, this single article will probably cost you $750 - $5,000 (if it’s actually from an authority site).

But hey, if you employ these three hacks maybe you get or or whoever below the fold when someone searches.

Hypothetically, this is potentially three more top spots in Google you could right away.

At the very least, you keep those ugly 1.2 star ratings from being the first thing people see.

That’s it. I hope this helps with your reputation management in Big G.

If you’d like to consult with me about your rankings, you can email me at kris {at} rivemarketing {dot} com