Guides: How Do I?Specials Review: Suppression Programs to Increase Conversion Rates

As the experts at, review the content posted to online review sites, such as, they cannot help but be concerned. After all, these reviews are not just important for how they reflect on a marketer’s ego or a business owner’s vanity. Likewise, complaints posted to online ripoff boards are much more than mere annoyances or frustrations. No, negative online feedback makes a real, bottom line difference; as unflattering reviews pile up, they can send conversion rates plummeting.

This is not so surprising, of course, for online marketers who know even a little bit about modern day consumer behaviors. Today’s consumers have a world of information at their fingertips—online search engines that can immediately locate relevant product reviews, and online review sites that can offer quick summaries of how well various products and services really work. In other words, doing consumer research has never been easier. Online shoppers are taking advantage of this, and reviews are becoming increasingly influential, as a result.

Indeed, as the pros at review these trends, it is not unreasonable to say that a spate of bad reviews can send any marketer’s conversion rates into a downward spiral—but then, nobody really contests this point. Marketers have long been accepting to the notion—infuriating though it may be—that online reviews can lead to lost sales and lost profits. What many marketers are not so certain of: How to positively and proactively deal with bad reviews.

 There are basically two schools of thought here—but only one of them is likely to have a positive impact on conversion rates. The experts at review both methodologies, in the paragraphs that follow. Review: The Importance of Suppression Programs

There is a right way and there is a wrong way to handle unwanted reviews, and it is important to first note the wrong way. The experts at review the activity of many marketers who respond to negative reviews head-on, fighting for their own dignity and for the integrity of the products they’re selling. This might sound like a sufficiently proactive response on paper, but in reality it is counterproductive.

Why? Because when there are bad reviews out there, the foremost priority should be making them less visible to consumers. Responding to reviews has the opposite effect, however. When marketers respond to reviews, it draws more attention to them, and even signals to search engines that the reviews in question are valuable and relevant. Responding to reviews means more people are going to see them—and when the reviews are dismissive of the product, that’s lethal.

For this reason, the pros at review plenty of other methods for coping with bad reviews, and the best option by far is to mount a suppression program. What is a suppression program? It essentially means that, rather than directly addressing bad reviews, marketers simply try to make them disappear. They inundate the search engine algorithms with positive content, and effectively push unwanted reviews out of the way. The reviews may not totally vanish from the face of the Internet—that’s impossible to accomplish—but search engine users (among them potential buyers) will only see the good stuff.

It is obvious why this is the preferable response to bad reviews. According to, reviews that are responded to directly actually gain more power, more stature, more influence—but a suppression program is a kind of disappearing act for unwanted reviews, leaving consumers with only honest, positive, brand-enhancing information about the products they’re considering.

And, if negative reviews have a very real and negative impact on conversions, you can rest assured that positive content also has a very real—only this time useful and affirming—impact.

This review of suppression programs does not really do full justice to how hard it is to pull this off. A suppression program is not something a marketer can do in an afternoon, nor is it necessarily something that can be done on a small-scale, DIY basis (thought it is sometimes worth trying). No, truly flooding the search engines with positive content means there must be huge volumes of compelling content developed; that the content must be well-composed, engaging, and helpful; and that it must be distributed through PR-effective syndicates and publishing platforms. Put it all together and it is obviously a tall order; no wonder so many marketers entrust their suppression programs to outside companies.

With that said, review suppression may be the only real way to dampen the impact of unsavory online criticisms. The pros at review the suppression needs of many marketing professionals, and it has found suppression to be a superior strategy.

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Mike Zammuto

Mike Zammuto is the COO of Mike is a dynamic, multi-award winning online and technology executive with a history that spans multiple successful startups, large technology firms, a top 40 web site and a leadership role with Microsoft. Mike's strength is building companies that scale and execute. Mike is an internationally recognized expert in online reputation management appearing regularly in national and international media as the face of the industry.

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  1. “negative online feedback makes a real, bottom line difference”

    I’m seeing this principle popping up everywhere, particularly in light of the legal action being threatened against Yelp and similar sites that fail to adequately monitor malicious or unjust user commenting.

    1. You make me laugh. So you fight “fake” bad reviews with your actually-fake “good” reviews. Your output is literally meaningless and you will not be missed. Congrats and Bye.

  2. “According to, reviews that are responded to directly actually gain more power, more stature, more influence” This is the hardest thing in the world to do. You want to flip out on the negative review, defend yourself, but you can’t do that…it just makes the review so much more stronger and rank better.

  3. Leaving your reputation in the hands of the public can be dangerous, so the only real solution is to suppress uncontrolled sites and protect yourself online.

  4. Its true trying to fight negative reviews head on is the wrong way to go about it. Organic positive content that suppresses the negative reviews is the best way to win that battle.

  5. Review suppression can definitely help a business “dampen the impact” of negative remarks and reviews.

  6. It’s great that is able to Suppress negatives especially since it’s not something simple that can be done by everyone. It’s important to have handling online reviews it helps so much! Online reputation is such a priority now.

  7. Great advice to not respond directly to negative reviews. This will only draw more attention to them. Suppression is definitely the way to go. Get those reviews out of sight and out of mind.

  8. People really need to know that commenting back to negative reviews can have an opposite effect when trying to get them removed.

  9. It would be interesting to see a before and after with a control (company), and a variable (with negative content in the SERP/without) to see just how dramatic this affects conversions. Any company trying to garner traffic from the search engines is foolish not to first work on what consumers see when they look for background on the company.

  10. I think this article hits on something important. There is only so much a company can do for itself. If they want to create a department for suppression more power to them, but it would probably cost them much more in the long run than turning to a company like It’s a better idea all around to leave these kinds of things to the experts.

  11. With the ease of access to consumer sentiment these days having the cleanest, most positive online reputation possible is hugely important.

  12. out of sight, out of mind!
    once suppressed, reviews are harder to find therefore have a lesser impact and help the bottom line…easier said than done, BUT when done it’s a beautiful thing.

  13. Suppression is definitely a great way to help online reputation. It is almost impossible to completely clear a terrible online reputation, but suppression can absolutely help with “unsavory online criticisms”.

  14. Reviews have more power than some may think on the internet. If there are bad reviews about your company, your business could be destroyed because no one wants to go somewhere that has these bad reviews. With a company like being able to control their customers reviews, there is finally a way for businesses to fight back against these powerful review sites such as Yelp.

  15. I agree. A suppression program is the only really effective way to manage your reviews online. Trying to engage with the negative reviews on sites that you can’t control or “trying to put a positive spin on a negative can make things MUCH WORSE for you…….like adding fuel to the fire!

  16. My opinion for all of my clients is not to engage negative reviews. Some people are foolish enough to comment and rebut what people write on the web. What this does is drive the negative up in search results.

  17. Mike gives a strong point to understanding the dynamics of a suppression program. It is a superior solution to minimize negative content on your organization.

  18. Thanks Mike for reiterating that there are no short cuts to building a positive, strong, and sustainable online reputation. At the end of the day, what sticks is engaging and useful content that is well composed.

  19. You can’t defeat Yelp by playing their game on their field. You have to get rid of them and play your own game.

  20. A very good point about not responding to bad reviews online. Most users don’t realize they are shooting themselves in the foot by doing this.

  21. I like that the suppression program provides a two pronged attack against negatives; suppression of the negatives and promotion or boosting of strong positive content!

  22. This is great advice for dealing with negative reviews online. I like that it was pointed out that interacting with negative reviews at all is a bad practice and should be avoided if you want them to go away.

  23. Review suppression is unfortunately needed, due to the large amount of fake reviews out there. I am glad someone is taking control.

  24. Mike – great to note that responding to negative reviews is the wrong way to handle them. Suppression is key.

  25. is the expert on this. The best wait to deal with negative reviews is to suppress them.

  26. These are great tips for being both proactive and reactive. It is so exciting to watch real experts emerge in this field.

  27. It is definitely obvious that many business owners do not understand the importance of properly handling these negative reviews. Also, it is crucial to make them fully understand the complexity of the process that must be carried out to effectively deal with these reviews.

  28. Your online reputation is about control. You can cannot control a potential customers perception of a particular review but you can control if they see it at all. Suppression is the key control measure to focus in when dealing with online reviews.

  29. When it comes to dealing with negative reviews, too many people still have a “fight fire with fire” approach which, unfortunately, just creates a bigger fire. Instead, focuses on “disengage, repopulate, and take control.” Just like a bully, if these sites become ignored, they lose their power.

  30. Mike brings up a lot of great points here. Reviews can maoke or break a business in this digital age. Moderation and proactivity are key. excels in these areas and the service is unmatched.

  31. Businesses definitely need to start taking their online reputation seriously. They may not even realize how much it has hurt their business until it is too late!

  32. Negative reviews are a like a parasite and they need to be suppressed from your search results

  33. The article is right; review suppression does not take place in an afternoon and isn’t an easy task.

  34. This Review hits the nail right on the head. Any business, from a mom and pop pizza shop to a Fortune 500 Company should realize that responding to negative reviews only does one thing…creates activity and causes the search engines to rank the negative reviews higher in SERP’s. I have seen negative reviews totally crush businesses. It’s like having a giant billboard with one star and a completely negative headline above your business. Wouldn’t you work on taking that down? Wouldn’t you want to cover it up with something positive? Well then act accordingly regarding online reviews.

  35. “This review of suppression programs does not really do full justice to how hard it is to pull this off. A suppression program is not something a marketer can do in an afternoon, nor is it necessarily something that can be done on a small-scale, DIY basis …”
    This is an excellent point. I have spoken with many small business owners who think they can do this on their own. It is a true Herculean effort behind the scenes to create the correct engaging content that is written to rank highly in the search engines. Its like the difference between going to a salon/barber shop for a haircut or doing it yourself without a mirror.

  36. I agree, suppressing websites on search engines is not easy. It is not something a marketer is going to be able to do.

  37. uses valuable suppression methods so that unwanted negative reviews disappear from the most popular search engines like Google and Bing. Potential markets hear your positive message about your offering first when they search online.

  38. Providing searchers with positive online search results gives the buyer a positive preconceived notion before they engage with you directly. This is key to boost conversions but also cuts down on charge backs. Great piece!

  39. Wow! This literally blew my mind. This really makes you revamp your Marketing approach, budget, and strategy. Thanks for all the great information.

  40. Businesses simply can’t afford to have negative reviews show their ugly faces in the search engine results pages. If I were to Google “Acme widgets” and see two results appear at the top, one with good reviews and one with bad reviews, you can bet on the fact that I’m going to pick the one with good reviews.

  41. Reviews are key to any business’ success. The more positive you can keep them, the better your business will succeed.

  42. Negative reviews will destroy a business. 80% of people use the internet to research products services and even individuals. That means you can lose more than 3/4 of your business just by one negative review, SCARY !

  43. Every business owner that discovers a negative report on their company wants to refute the statement, but that is the worst thing they can do. I agree that owners should use review suppression as an alternative.

  44. What a good read, about time a company stands up for false reviews. It is unbelievable, how sensible that information can be to any business.

  45. Bad reviews hurt companies too often. This is great advice on staying proactive and giving businesses control over their their reputation online.

  46. Review sites can be a killer. If you create a cyber wall around your “brand” you wont have to worry about it.

  47. Besides the fact that writing fake positive reviews is unethical, it is also a constant up hill battle and you choose to stoop to the level of the anonymous users trashing your company in the first place. If you step back and remove yourself and emotions from the situation then you will realize that suppression is the right way to deal with these types of slanderous attacks.

  48. Reviews are so hard to control. There are too many outlets out there that control them for you which is even worse. The best bet is to take measures to ensure you’re monitoring and managing your reviews your self.

  49. Utilizing a suppression program, rather than responding to negative reviews directly, is definitely the way to go. Responding to these negative reviews directly will only strengthen them and cause them to rank much higher on SERPs. Well said, Mike. I couldn’t agree more.

  50. Negative reviews and complaints can be such a pain in the rear for companies. Thankfully, is there trying to help and protect businesses. Go!

  51. Responding to negative reviews only brings more traffic to the negativity. Instead, work on creating new, original material. Well said, Mike.

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