2019 Reputation Management SEO vs. Consumer Affairs Bad Reviews Ranking on 1st Page

hand drawing 5 yellow stars on a clear board

I work with a corporate client who had us solely focus on brand management SEO because Consumer Affairs was sitting on the first page of Google with a 1.something star rating that stood out like a sore thumb.

Something like this:

serp listing showing bad reviews for pepsi

Keep in mind, this wasn’t for just their company name + reviews but it was also sitting on the 1st page of Google for just their company name!

What’s even worse is for some reason, depending on the day, Google only decided to show six or seven results for the first page and CA was the last or second to last result.

It was an absolute eye sore for the company.

And trust me, if you’ve got a 1.2 rating like Pepsi does up there, you are not alone.  The truth is Consumer Affairs gobbles up bad reviews like a vacuum and then puts them on display like a jewelry store.

Another reason not to get discouraged:

Think about it, who’s more likely to leave a good review, a satisfied customer (probably at least 85% of your buyers) or a dissatisfied customer?

The unhappy one, of course.  And thus, we begin painting a very skewed representation of your company’s reputation online.

Also, don’t forget:

If you have any ruthless competitors, they’re more than happy to pile on with how horrible your product or service is.

We see this abuse a lot in the apartment niche with sites like ApartmentRatings.com (although they seem more legit about the feedback they accept).

For more insight on what may be happening here, check out this Moz.com post where a company owner says his company reached out to CA and CA asked for $10k to help with the reviews.

Again, I see this for all sizes of entities, from small businesses to corporate giants (especially the corporations).

So what you do about it?

Here’s the route we take: We build up the authority of other pages ranking above and below the Consumer Affairs page to push it down to page 2 and then hopefully page 3.

This is an ethical move and it works – but it does take time, usually between 3-6 months.

Why do we build up the pages ranking above CA?

We want to set a baseline for where CA starts to rank

The Problem

The longer you let a Consumer Affairs page linger on the first page, the worse it will get so it’s best to get started ASAP.


First, user engagement is becoming a bigger and bigger part of Google’s algorithm and train wreck review sites are eye candy for searchers so they get a lot of click throughs and site duration time.

As you might have guessed, CTR or click through rate, the amount of time spent on a site, the bounce rate (if a visitor leaves a website without going to another page), whether users click back and continue looking at other websites, and other related activity all counts towards user engagement.

We don’t want CA to become any more established than it already is with user engagement.

Secondly, this isn’t an overnight endeavor.

Sure, we’ll accelerate the link building and the layering of different types of links but we can’t just do this in one week and then send you a PDF report and say voila!

Google’s algorithm is way to smart for that.  It takes time for results to occur – and even when you do achieve success, you have to guard against the back-and-forth dance where they test to see if a new page is worthy (relevant enough) of ranking on the first page.

The best time to get started on this is today.  The longer you wait, the longer you put off ranking other pages.

Third, we may need to create additional web properties to use as spacers.  These take time to create and age is a big factor in web properties ranking so they’ll likely also take some time to rank.

Fourth, you’ll likely want to do this across multiple keyword searches because Consumer Affairs is very sticky and tends to show up for multiple brand keywords.

For example, I just searched for Diet Pepsi reviews and guess what website I saw again: ConsumerAffairs.com.

Why does Google love ConsumerAffairs so much?

First, one of the built-in ugly-beautiful parts of their website model is they all of their content is user generated for FREE – and lots of it.  So their website is chalk full of several hundreds – if not thousands of words – on a singular topic (your company).

Moreover, it’s fresh content as new bad reviews roll in as soon as someone gets upset and wants to pile on top of the existing compaints.

And then this content gets perpetuated because it’s of interest and people link to it which builds the page’s authority and makes it sticky in the SERPs.

And once you have this going for thousands of pages on a site, that site starts to become REALLY powerful and have instarank where all they have to do is have good on-page optimization (and believe me, they work on this) for their targeted keywords.

Help with Your Online Reputation

Your brand’s reputation is taking a hit and it’s more than likely an unfair one.  If your reviews on Amazon matchup with CA, then you’ve probably got a product problem but that hasn’t been the case with our clients.

If you have any questions, you can email me at kris @ rivemarketing dot com.

These feedback sites really do impact sales so it’s best to be proactive in impacting the SERPs in your favor.

We’re an Extremely Aggressive Agency, Here’s Why

Digital marketer focused and working hard on office desk in front of large mac computer

Today I was on the phone with a client talking about his company’s new web design.  It had been over a week since I had submitted the latest draft over for his approval and he asked me if his slow replies were a problem.

I have a customer-centric mentality and I understand that everyone is on different timelines so I told him it wasn’t a problem – and it’s not.

But left on my own, I will have this wrapped up in a week.


Because I want to get stuff done NOW.

There is no someday for me.

There is no shuffling papers and hoping stuff magically gets finished.

I am 100% motivated to make clients happy and timeliness and quick delivery goes hand-in-hand with project completion and results.

As the owner of RIVE, this is my mentality and it gets passed down to my contractors.  We want to get to work.  We want to provide solutions.  We want happy clients and great reviews.

Our greatness doesn’t come from wishing and hoping, it comes from doing.

Besides pushing the pace and getting projects and campaigns finished on time, why else are we so aggressive?

Because aggression wins out.

All things equal, the aggressive party wins – in the real world and the digital world.

For example, I could wait to publish this blog post until I outline the content, hire a copy editor, sort through more stock photos, have enough sleep, etc. but I don’t because it’s more important to publish and get it done and move on to the next blog post.

We’ve got social media channels that need content.

The site needs more for customers to look over before they hire us.

Every day I wait to publish is a day of content age I lose with Google – and an opportunity to grow the number of pages on the site.

The same relentlessness has been in place with the creation of the entire RIVE digital empire.

  • The website has undergone 4 redesigns.
  • The social media channels didn’t have content for a month.
  • We didn’t even have Pinterest until yesterday.
  • I just added four services to the service section last week.
  • We haven’t started our ad campaigns as of the morning I write this.

The list of incompletes goes on and yet we continued on and didn’t wait until everything was in place.

It’s way better to start somewhere and GO vs. not start anywhere and try to get every last detail perfect.

Time is money and there is tremendous opportunity cost in over-planning and overthinking.  And here’s the other part: There’s so much uncertainty that it’s really not worth being defensive and delaying a campaign for a month while trying to figure out a particular course of action.

None of this is to say I advocate recklessness or sloppiness.

We’re neither.

But we do do the best we can as fast as we can and it pays LARGE dividends in terms of production/yield and ultimately attracting clients who want to outsource their marketing to RIVE.

Show me two competitors in anything – business, athletics, crafting, whatever – and I’ll always put my money on the aggressor because they’re the one taking action while their opponent is trying to adjust.

And when you combine our aggression with the intelligence, knowledge, contacts, and skill level we work with… we prove ourselves dominant.

The Simple 4-Step On-Page Optimization Checklist

older man in gray suit showing younger woman in suit something on tablet in office environment

In fighting, if you can kick and punch well, you can win your tussle 95% of the time.

With on-page optimization, if you do four things well, you’ll have better on-site SEO than 80% of the websites out there.

The Big 4:

  • Title Tag
  • URL
  • Header Tag
  • Sufficient Content

URLs – Best Practices

Your URL is the most valuable place to place your keywords.  Each page of your site – including homepage – has a URL (this is different from a domain name).  Here’s an example of a categorical URL for RIVE Marketing:

url best practices


Here are the best practices when it comes to URL structure:

  • Keep them short – as short as possible
  • Have the keywords show as close to the left side as possible
  • Take out filler words (e.g. a, an, the, and, with, etc.)
  • Limit the number of keywords you incorporate (no repetition)
  • Avoid unnecessary categories and subfolders

This last bullet point is very important because I’ve noticed it’s a recurring pattern when company’s create sites: they love to create unnecessary folders.  In the end, the category structure runs two or three levels deep and some of the lower tier URLs will end up looking like:


While a products folder is likely a good choice for site organization purposes, the content folder is not – it’s redundant, takes away valuable URL real estate from the page topic (targeted keywords), and pushes the keywords to the right, lessening their impact.

Another common mistake is including the keyword multiple times in the URL.  Keep in mind your domain name counts towards your keyword count so if you have your keyword in your domain name, you usually won’t want to use it on the folder level.

For example, my domain is rivemarketing.com.  Because of this, I will never need “marketing” in any of my folder level URLs.

Title Tag Optimization

You can locate your title tag by looking at the tab of your current browser.  If you hover over it, you can see the full tag.  In the HTML code of your site, the title goes in between the <title>[YOUR PAGE’S TITLE]</title> code.  Here’s the title for the RIVE Marketing homepage:

title tag optimization

I’ve elected to solely target my company name on my homepage and optimize for targeted keywords on my subpages.  What you write here varies on your unique situation but there are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Use keywords lightly – you don’t need to include multiple variations
  • Keep your title tight and to the point; don’t try and stuff every last keyword in there
  • Every title on your website should be completely unique
  • Only use keywords once

Header Tags

The most important header tag is the H1.  This is represented in the code as <h1>[MAIN PAGE TOPIC GOES HERE][/h1>.

You should only have one H1 on your page.  Any other headers should categorically fall in line under level of importance.  For example, all primary subheaders should be H2s and any headers underneath the H2s should be H3s and so on.

Headers help organize your site’s content for Google and Bing.  Stylistically, they often serve the same purpose (organizing content for people visiting your site) but you definitely don’t want to use headers in this manner.

For styling, adjust your CSS code.  For on-page optimization, use your H1s and H2s properly.

Taking it Further

For all of the three vital elements above, you want to remix them so they’re a little bit different from each other.  We do this so as not to appear as if we’re overoptimizing for one keyword.

For example, one of my targeted keywords is “corporate marketing”.  It would be a horrible idea for me to make “Corporate Marketing” my exact title tag, URL, and H1 – even though this would technically be correct.

What you have to remember is in Google’s eyes this is tantamount to trying to game the system so you want to appear more relaxed, more natural in what you use for your elements.  You don’t have to go crazy with this but you do have to implement some finesse.

In my example, I will go with the following:

Title: Corporate Marketing

URL: https://rivemarketing.com/corporate (note how both keywords are included in the URL because of my domain name)

H1: Advanced Marketing for Corporations


The fourth thing I look at is page content: Is there enough content for Google to chew on?

It’s great to have an optimal header, title, and URL structure on your page but if you don’t give Google some content to chew on, there’s not a compelling reason for them to rank you.

For example, let’s say I publish this blog post and it’s got all of the elements lined up but there’s only 100 words of content in the main body of the page.  Google’s not going to rank it.


There are 50 other sites with full guides on on-page optimization – some over 2,500 words – so why would Google feel compelled to show my post?  Just because I have the basics in place — nope!

The basics (Big 3 talked about above) pave the way for an opportunity to rank but if there’s nothing rank worthy then it’s not going to happen.

To put the importance of good content in perspective, I’d rather have 1,000 words of text than a perfect title, URL, and header.

Text is the most important type of content but it’s not the only kind.

Media rich content is important.  By media rich, I mean your text is loaded with video and images (graphics, illustrations, pictures, photos, etc.)  Diverse content appeals more to Google as they know great content includes multimedia so you want to at least include some images in your content.  Of course, YouTube videos work well.

As a simple guide, if you have 1,000 words, 2 images, and a video in each page, you’re doing really well.  Couple that with the Big 3 above, and you’re cooking.

Of course, there is a lot more to on-page SEO like keyword density, LSI keywords, fresh content, alt tags, image file names, and authority links.

And then there’s on-site SEO (optimizing your site on a broader level) which includes siloing, schema, sitemap, and establishing topical relevance.

But when you’re evaluating the different pages on your website, if you can start with a good faith effort on the four things above, you’ll see an instant impact on your rankings.

Investing in Web Properties: The Service That Buys Into Digital Real Estate

tablet, phone, coffee, and pen on top of papers with nice graphs

The companies I provide marketing advice to are focused on their website – and for good reason – but as they advance, I inevitably recommend they build multiple web properties to strengthen their digital castle.

I usually get a “yeah, but…” reaction and their attention diverts to something else.

Instead of switching topics, let’s talk about this digital development and why it’s so strategically sound.

A web property in this context is any website and/or page you own.

Social media channels definitely work. For example, your Twitter page is a property. Same for Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.

As you already know, it’s wise to invest resources (time, money, energy) into these pages because the platforms can be leveraged to garner sales and/or eyeballs.

That said, when I talk about investing in web properties, I’m referring to the creation of independent websites that support your existing agenda.

The giant media companies are already doing this. In fact, Glen Allsopp of Viper Chill wrote an excellent article on how 16 companies are dominating Google SERPs (search engine results pages).

The end result of this search domination is a grocery store of information where we think we have all of these diverse choices of info to choose from when we’re really looking at a very few voices/messages repackaged.

Take a look at this screenshot from Glen’s post:

search results for hair colour ideas search that show hearst media owning 5 of the top 7 results and time 1

Hearst media is dominating this niche with four web properties spanning five of the top seven search results.

It’s brilliant strategy and one I advocate.

Here are the big 3 advantages:
Relatively cheap to buy up some of the most valuable real estate in the world
Brand management
You control the narrative

Making Money with Multiple Properties

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In the SEO community, the prevailing wisdom is once you rank #1 for a lucrative and/or important keyword, you don’t stop there, you proceed to rank multiple properties and own the Google real estate, displacing the competition and taking the lion’s share of the market.

For example, if you rank #1 for a targeted keyword like “crypto insurance” and it’s generating $150,000/month in recurring revenue, then you should proceed to rank websites for #2 and #3, etc. and take full control of the market. While #2 and #3 won’t make as much money (all things equal), it’s still available money that is yours for the taking.

Brand Management via Displacement

Of course, another benefit is making sure you’re in control of what shows up under searches for your brand name.

We all know how brutal review sites can be. Most products/services don’t receive reviews when things go right but any perceived mistake can earn negative responses from disgruntled customers and paint an inaccurate picture of your brand and ultimately tank sales.


You have 10,000 customers of your product.

80% or 8,000 think your product is amazing and worthy of 5 stars.

1,500 are fairly happy and would give 3-4 stars.

But another 500 are upset and ready to lash out and do so on an authority review site that just so happens to rank high in Google for your brand name. Of the 100 reviews on your company’s page, 70 are 1 stars and dramatically shift the way a prospective customer sees your company and product and they decide not to buy.

Unfair representation, yes. Real affect on your brand: tremendous.

In this scenario, it’s a good idea to have multiple web properties to move up in Google and thereby displace a review site like ConsumerAffairs.com, RippedOffReport.com, PissedConsumer.com, BBB.org, etc. to where it much more harmlessly shows up on page 2.

While you aren’t increasing sales per se, you are paving the way for would be sales to take place.

What sites or pages can we move up to page 1?

Branded websites associated with your company/brand are the best route. But social properties like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram can also be moved.

Controlling The Narrative

Similarly, sometimes you just want to control the information. We’ve talked about brand management but information extends well beyond that into other stuff, usually around generic keywords but there are no limits here.

In these instances, it’s best to have alternate branded properties (like Hearst media) that disseminate information that best fits your agenda.

Next Level Strategy

To enhance your web properties, you can acquire premium domain names to build them on. This can help both in terms of branding, credibility, and search engine optimization or SEO.

Hypothetically, imagine if Hoover was to acquire Vacuum.com and build out a content site on that. That would be powerful both in terms of immediately credibility (people recognize a great domain and know you have to be serious to build upon it) and SEO as any searches with the keyword “vacuum” in them would be more likely to include Vacuum.com once aged and developed.

In a Nutshell

Developing web properties to add to your company’s digital portfolio is an ultra savvy strategic move that allows you to invest in digital growth, insulate your company against the competition, and build a very valuable asset.

As you can see, major corporations are already implementing this strategy. No matter what niche you’re in, you should be too.

Single Keyword Ad Group (SKAG) Campaigns and Why We Use Them

google adwords ppc for corporations help

At RIVE, efficiency is essential. All of our campaigns must be efficient but you can imagine how crucial it is for a company running a $100,000 Adwords campaign to be precise.

This is why we make Single Keyword Ad Group or SKAG campaigns the foundation, the starting point for our Adwords services.

With a SKAG campaign every single keyword has its own ad group divided into broad modified, exact, and phrase matches. And that is the entire ad group.

Why are SKAGs so beneficial?

» You can’t distill your PPC (pay per click) campaign any further which means you gather intimate knowledge (including accurate search volume) on exactly how your campaign is performing for each keyword and each match of that keyword.

» Super targeted which means you can align your landing page(s) and this -> higher Quality Score, more traffic, lower CPC (cost per click), better conversions (you will need an amazing landing page that converts which, btw, we make and split test for our clients).

» You avoid unoptimized keywords for the most part and you can prune searches that don’t aren’t converting as the campaign continues with negative keywords (where you don’t bid any time your targeted keyword is paired with one you don’t want – e.g. free)

» Ultra fast launch: Start showing up in Google and receiving traffic (and leads) the same day the campaign begins.

What You’re Doing Wrong

Take a look at this screenshot for a “DFW commercial real estate” search:

dfw real estate search results showing paid ads at the top with one ad for open door outlined in red its headline reads sell your home to opendoor | hassle free sale in dallas

As you can see, OpenDoor.com wants to advertise to people selling their home in Dallas. While they’ve properly geo targeted my search, they’re losing money and embracing a low Quality Score with a swing and a miss ad.

This ad is untargeted which means their campaign is too broad and needs to be optimized.

With proper consulting and implementation or just outsourcing to an intelligent marketing agency like RIVE, Open Door’s advertising will be in much better shape.

Think about this too: This is just their Dallas ad. They’re likely making this mistake across the United States, costing them thousands on autopilot every month!

Need help with your company’s PPC bidding?

Outsource to RIVE. We’re dynamic thinkers who can intelligently take apart and reconstruct your paid advertising.

Email kris@rivemarketing.com or call 1-800-SEO-9029 with your problem.

An SEO Agency You Can Trust…For Real

kris rivenburgh sitting at end of conference room table in white shirt

There is a lot of lying in marketing and SEO – marketers, they can’t help themselves.

A lot of the biggest names that we all know and don’t love are flat out con artists.

It doesn’t have to be this way and with me it never will be.

I believe in delivering value. I believe in the Sears Craftsman guarantee. I believe that you do everything possible to fulfill your end of the bargain to a client. I am a consumer advocate.

When it comes to anything in life, I don’t want money unless it’s earned money.

To me, it doesn’t count if I ripoff someone; how could I ever want ill-begotten money?

For example, Jerry Jones (owner of the Dallas Cowboys) takes free money from the city of Arlington, the people of Arlington so that he can make money off Jerry World (ATT Stadium).

In the process, the city is depleted and the citizenry loses. Millions of dollars that could have gone to beautification, education, civic jobs, roads, parks, etc. instead get rerouted to Jerry’s piggy bank.

How can he live like that? How can he count his income as money earned?

I couldn’t.

All this is to say ethical threads run through every fiber of RIVE Marketing.

Trustworthy SEO

For example, when it comes to SEO, I alert every client beforehand that I can’t control Google but we do have processes in place to give us the best chance possible to rank your site.

There are no long term contracts and everything works month-to-month so you can always get a refund on your previous payment if you decide you no longer want to go forward with search engine optimization.

Ethical Web Design

Our web design is also 100% satisfaction guaranteed and the guarantee is inherent in the process.

We’ll take down your input, ideas, and websites you like and then create a first draft to present.

After you review the draft, you’ll let us know what edits you’d like to make and we’ll continue until you’re completely satisfied with your new website.

It’s Different Here

When you hire a marketing agency, your guard is way up and understandably so. The good news is with RIVE you will be taken care of and you can rest easy knowing we work hard to make sure you receive a great value.

Why Does SEO Cost a Few Dollars?

kris rivenburgh looking thoughtfully at microsoft surface computer on conference room table

Whether you pay $1,500 – $150,000 a month for SEO, you might wonder why search engine optimization costs what it does.

Here are The Big 3 reasons:

1. Link building

Most authoritative links (the ones that actually break the Google ice and move your website up in the rankings) are not free. In fact, quite the opposite: they cost a lot of money. Even the good links that are “free” incur cost in the process of outreach: hunting them down and trying over and over until someone agrees.amazon visa credit card

Opportunity Cost

Whenever a link is placed on a website for purely ranking purposes (this is not referring to links on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.), it comes at a price of another link because only so many should be placed on a blog-style site. This means that backlinks are essentially rented whether or not, as an agency, you’re paying another site to place them or you’ve got your own network of sites.

2. Skill level

Try finding someone on the streets that knows how to rank in Google – they’re not there. It’s rare to find someone who’s competent and knowledgeable so anyone who can do the work is going to command a premium on the market. This means even SEOs who need help with workload have to pay a price to hire help for their agency.

3. On-Page Optimization

While link building is the sexy component of SEO that most people dwell on, optimizing your site between thetags is just as important and it takes a lot of time and, again, skilled energy. High quality content creation is something that really helps move your site in the SERPs (search engine results pages) but takes a significant time investment from someone who is talented enough to write for real people while finessing the angles so search spiders gobble up what they see.

Round Up

The more complex (and difficult) the campaign is, the more The Big 3 above are going to cost and the higher your bill will be.

For every page and keyword you’re trying to rank for, it adds to the workload and digital resources involved and thus adds to the price.

Beware of companies that don’t charge enough because it usually means they’re skimping somewhere in the process and you’ll end up paying for it with poor quality links, suboptimized on-page, and/or weak content.

SEO is an investment into your business that can yield a substantial ROI both in the short and long term. To decide whether it’s worth it to hire an agency, get a quote from 3-5 different online marketing agencies, average the estimates, and then pit that average against how much money you expect to make from increased sales.

Be Not Perfect, Get Amazing Results

kris rivenburgh in conference room leaning against chair

Never try to be perfect.

It’s one of the top 3 lessons I’ve ever learned in my life.

But why?

Because perfection absolutely decimates results.

For example, two days ago, I was researching the best noise cancelling headphones. The best two options on the market were Bose and Sony but both had their pros and cons.

black bose headphones

Neither manufacturer had created the perfect headphones but both were great products, garnering hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.

Now imagine if Sony or Bose had sat their trying to iron out every last wrinkle – they’d be getting crushed while their competitor was taking in 100% of the premium market sales.

Eventually would they come out with the best product?

Maybe, but by then they’d have lost out on everything and would be left to pick up the scraps. And even then, who’s to say their rival wouldn’t have come out with a new and improved version of their own.

When it comes to your marketing campaign, this illustration should ring like a church bell on Sunday: Don’t try to be perfect!

Instead, do the best you can as fast as you can; be great but don’t worry about being perfect.

When you’ve built up a nice infrastructure and revenue base, then it’s time to start scrutinizing the finer details.

Until then, just get started with a strong effort.

The only time to deviate from this plan is on things that are really hard to change later on: company name, domain name, site structure (editing URL categories is a massive undertaking), etc.

But otherwise, just go for it.

How many times have we seen the biggest of companies evolve as they grew?

Seemingly every time.

Look at Google: Their logo has morphed, their algorithm is much improved, they’ve tried and failed with Google+, they’ve shut down Google RSS reader – and still they’ve succeeded because their core business process has remained great.

You can always change later. For now, put as many points on the board as you can and you’ll be ahead of the pack.