How Many Leads Are Lost to Negative Search Results?

It’s no secret that people research brands before they do business with them. If you want to know how many leads are lost to negative search results and negative reviews, read on.

Consumers Do Their Research


Up to 90% of business leads research a brand online before making their purchasing decisions. When one negative search result pops up in Google, research indicates that it costs digital brands roughly 22% of potential customers. With 2 negative search results, losses double. When 3 negative items pop up in search results related to a brand, their losses can come to almost 60%. At 4 instances of negative content in search results, a business is likely to lose about 70% of their leads.

SEE ALSO: 5 Steps Towards Building Brand Credibility

How Negative Reviews Affect Digital Brands

According to the Harvard Business Review, a one-star increase in Yelp Rating leads to a 5-9% revenue increase. However, businesses must also keep in mind the skewed nature of their reviews. This is because only people who are extremely satisfied or dissatisfied with a product or services leave reviews. According to a study by HBR, people in the middle are very underrepresented.

This ultimately means that positive and negative reviews do not give an accurate representation of a brand, as they are generally comprised of extreme opinions. This is why brands need to be proactive to make sure that their reviews reflect them more accurately. Digital brands need to learn to leverage both negative and positive reviews to their advantage.

SEE ALSO: How To Use Product Reviews To Sell Your E-commerce Products

Clean Search Results Matter

While people are often distrustful of the marketing of companies themselves, they trust each other. They trust the reviews of their peers. Consumers feel that these reviews are less likely to have a bias. As the vast majority of people research brands online, and nearly a quarter of people will decide not to do business with a brand based on a single negative article, clean search results are important to any digital brand.

How to Calculate the Leads Lost Due to a Negative Article

negative search results

Since negative search results cause 22% of leads to give up on companies before even getting in touch with them, they cause digital brands to lose out of roughly 1 in 5 customers. If you want to figure out how much this is costing you, here is a formula that you can use:

(Leads x Closure Rate) x (Customer Lifetime Value) x 22% = $ Loss
If there is more than one negative search result on the first page, the losses will be higher. However, if your negative results go back farther than the first page, you are in luck. This is because few people go past the first page of Google results. In fact, The first 10 results in a search engine page receive 94% of clicks. Also, 90% of people never go past the first page of Google search results at all.

The Bright Side of Bad Press

Honesty and authenticity are the keys to successful modern digital marketing. People no longer want to buy things from faceless companies. They want to be able to support brands that they can relate to and who share their values. People want to build relationships with brands that they trust and understand.

Everything has been commodified. However, building a relationship with customers and clients can help to set your digital brand apart. As part of conveying a relatable human image, brands need to accept and even utilize negative reviews and press. They should not be afraid of damaging admission.

Damaging admission is when brands are aware of their flaws and use them to their advantage. This shows that brands are self-aware and honest, which can draw potential customers in.

Other common tactics used in the face of negative press can actually damage brands. How your brand responds to negative content is incredibly important. Often, brands will deny or refute negative reviews or press. They might even ignore them all together. They are actually missing out on an important opportunity to showcase the identity and growth of their digital brand.

Respond Strategically

Responding to negative content in a professional way is important. It shows that your company is responsive to your customers and wants to do better for them. This can actually boost the reputation of your digital brand. After all, what appears in search engine results depends on numerous factors and can even vary between devices. The overall opinion of consumers about your brand can be more difficult to change. There is no algorithm to it. It all depends on the actions your brand takes.

SEE ALSO: Digital Brand Damage Control: How to Fix Negative Content

The Avis Example

Decades ago, car rental company Avis was getting clobbered by Hertz in the market. Instead of hiding it or being ashamed of it, they made it central to their advertising.

negative search results

Flaws can make your brand seem human and relatable. You don’t want to overdo it, however. Spinning negatives into positives is key. While Avis admits that they are number 2, they also admit it to explain why they try harder. Rather than denying it or attacking others, which might alienate consumers from their brands, Avis used damaging admission to focus on their strengths. In some situations, you can do the same with the information you gain from negative search results and negative reviews.

Are Negative Search Results Impacting Your Business?

This is a tough question. It ultimately depends on how many negative search results there are for your digital brand. It also depends on how they are positioned in searches. While it is impossible to please everyone all the time, the more negative results you have on the first page of searches, the more likely it is to impact your business. However, if these negative results are lower on the first page of search results, or not on the first page at all, the impact will be a lot smaller.

Overall, reviews can be tricky to master. Only people who love or hate products or services tend to leave reviews, which skews them. While most people will have an experience somewhere in the middle, experiences like that inspire people to leave reviews less often. Despite this skewing of data, people are very likely to trust reviews.

SEE ALSO: 5 Online Review Myths You Should Know

While negative search results and content can harm businesses and cause them to lose leads, the extent of the loss depends on a few factors. How much negative content there is and how prominently it appears in search pages plays a big role.

What negative content most shapes your opinion of brands? Comment below…

Written by
Juntae DeLane

Subscribe to Our Newsletter