Every business gets negative reviews. They can come from many sources, and some have little to do with the reality of your business’ operations. For good or ill, though, you must pay attention to these reviews. Below are just a few ways that negative reviews can impact your business in the long run.

Long Memories

It’s entirely possible that a customer’s first interaction with your business will be online. If the first thing that a potential customer sees about your business is a negative review, that’s going to be the most pertinent information he or she will obtain. This potential customer won’t generally keep looking around for more information—but he or she will remember what was seen. This, in turn, is going to create a negative association with your business that most potential customers would be hard-pressed to shake. As such, negative reviews can stick around in the memories of your customers for quite some time.

Nothing Goes Away

It’s bad enough that customers remember reviews—even worse is the fact that the reviews never really go away. If you’re not enlisting solid SEO reputation management services, those negative reviews can end up being the best-known information about your business for years at a time. If you have a business that is infrequently reviewed, one bad review from several years ago might be the most widely-seen information about your business posted online. As this information sticks around, you are looking at something that’s almost the equivalent of a bad review posted every day.

Losing Footing

Finally, having bad reviews up online is basically a free advertisement for your competitors. When your potential customers see a bad review, they rarely stop looking for the product or service for which they were searching. Instead, they go somewhere else. This allows your competitors to gain traction and take a great deal of your market share without having to do any of the heavy lifting on their own. Having negative reviews up online is a surefire way to lose footing in the business world without making any bad choices.

It’s incredibly important to pay attention to bad reviews and to do what you can to manage your online reputation. Failure to do so isn’t just going to give you a temporary hit to your reputation—it can have significant long-term consequences. Always make sure that you address these reviews quickly and competently so that you regain the ground that they cost you.