How To Estimate The Financial Impact Of Negative Online Reviews & Complaints On Your Business

If you Google your company name or personal brand and see something negative, it’s probably having an impact on your business.

And while you may field a few calls from people asking what the complaint, story, or bad review is all about, the bigger problem is the people who DON’T call, as result of seeing the bad reviews or complaints.

You can estimate how much business you may be losing by using Google’s Keyword Planner and a little math.

Before I walk you step by step through the process, you’ll need a few things:

  • Approximate close rate. What percentage of inbound leads do you convert to paying customers?
  • Lifetime value of a customer. What is one customer or client worth to your business? Consider repeat business and referrals in your estimate.

Step 1 – Open Google Keyword Planner

Start by going to

You will need to be logged into your Google account to gain access to this free tool.

If you don’t have a Google account, you can create one.

google keyword planner


Step 2 – Enter Your Keywords

Enter your company name and any basic derivations in the search box. Include any version you think someone might search for in Google. Be sure to include suffixes like LLC, LP, or MD (if you’re a doctor).

For example, if you owned a business called ABC Electric whose legal business name is ABC Electric Company and it’s registered as an LLC, I would include all three as in the example below.

google keyword planner - list company name

Step 3 – Targeting

Target the areas where you do business by clicking the “Targeting” option.

You might want to use this option if you operate a local business in order to get screen out unwanted customers.

In the example, our fictitious ABC Electric Company has locations all over the United States, but it doesn’t have any locations outside of the US. So, we don’t care about any erroneous search volume coming from other countries.

To use the Targeting filter, click “All locations” and enter your geographic location in the search box.

When Google suggests the location you want, click on the “add” button next to the location.

Note that you can choose multiple locations by repeating the process. Click Save when done.

google keyword planner - targeting

Step 4 – Get Search Volume

Click the blue button as shown.

google keyword planner - get search volume

Step 5 – Add Up Search Volume

By default, Google reports the average monthly search volume for the last 12 months. Add up the average monthly search volume of all your keywords.

In our example, you can see the total of the three versions of ABC Electric Company is 900 searches per month.

This gives us a decent estimate of how many people are Googling our business each month.

oogle keyword planner - add up search volume

Step 6 – Compute Number Of Missed Inbound Calls

In 2012, Harris Interactive conducted a survey of 2,570 adults that showed 45% of them will choose not do business with you if they find something negative about you online.

And while this survey was specific to your “personal brand name,” it gives us a good indication of the type of impact negative search results could be having on your business.

Multiply your total average monthly search volume for your keywords times .45 to get an estimate of how many people may not be contacting you.

For our example:

900 searches per month X .45 = 405 potential customers who never call

Step 7 – Compute Number Of Lost Sales

Now estimate your inbound close rate. If you close 70% of all the customers who call your office, simply multiply that rate by the number of people who never call.


405 potential customers who never call X close rate of 70% = 284 lost sales

Step 8 – Compute Lost Revenue

Now, multiply the number of lost sales by average value of one customer. Let’s assume our ABC Electric Company has determined each new customer is worth $150.


284 lost sales X $150 =  $42,600 in monthly lost revenue


The example we’ve shared is pretty extreme, but it illustrates how negative listings or bad reviews in Google could be hurting your business.

Now, you have a method for figuring a reasonable estimate of how many people aren’t contacting you due to unwanted search listings. With a little math, you can put an estimated dollar amount on how much these bad reviews and complaints could be huring your bottom line.

Should you wish to get a quote on removal or suppression of negative content about your company, please call 503-890-6663.

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