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Tag: Monitoring Tools

Ex-Employees Can No Longer Leave You Negative Reviews


Reviews are meant to be about customer experience, however many business owners experience the inevitable negative review coming through from an ex-employee. Employee turnover is tough enough without having to worry about what’s going to be said publicly after someone is let go or quits.

Many reviews are exaggerated or complete lies, and can bring up personal details about management and other employees which really should not be online.

But, at long last, Google has updated their policies to be more comprehensive and mark negative reviews from ex-employees as a conflict of interest.

Out With the Old

Google’s latest review update makes review guidelines more comprehensive. While the previous guidelines were vague when it came to discussing customer experience and conflict of interest, now it is quite clear.

The policies used to read:

Make sure that the reviews on your business listing, or those that you leave at a business you’ve visited, are honest representations of the customer experience. Those that aren’t may be removed.

Conflict of Interest: Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and unbiased. If you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer.

These don’t specifically say anything about ex-employees. All they state is that you must have visited the business, be stating an honest unbiased opinion, and not currently work there or own the business.

In With the New

Now, if you visit Google’s new guidelines found on Maps’ help center, you’ll find a comprehensive list of prohibited and restricted content under which “Conflict of Interest”now reads:

Maps users contributed content is most valuable when it is honest and unbiased. The following practices are not allowed:

  • Reviewing your own business
  • Posting negative content about a current or former employment experience
  • Posting negative content about a competitor to manipulate their ratings

There’s not much you can argue with that wording!

But What About Positive Reviews?

It’s clear in reading the updated content policy that this new rule only applies to negative reviews left by ex-employees. So, if you’ve received a few glowing positive reviews from employees who have since moved on to other workplaces or retired, it looks like you’re in the clear.

Ex-employees rarely feel the need to lie about a positive experience, so it’s to be assumed that Google agrees with this as an honest, unbiased experience.

Clean up That Reputation!

If your business currently has negative reviews from ex-employees sitting there tarnishing your reputation, now is the time to get in touch with Google My Business and ask that they remove the reviews.

This is a happy new year indeed!

How to Monitor Your Online Reputation


If you’ve been paying attention to the statistics about online reputation over the past year, you’ll know just how important your online reputation is.

If not, let’s start with a couple facts:

  • 97% of consumers read online reviews.
  • 85% of them trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 73% of them trust a business more if it has positive reviews.
  • 49% will not choose a business with less than a four-star rating.
  • With that in mind, you can start creating a plan to collect and monitor reviews to build your online reputation.

    The DIY Method

    The majority of business owners who are just starting out, are going to go through a period where they try to do everything on their own. While this is a heroic effort, it can leave you burned out, stressed, and ineffective.

    However, if you’re looking for the best sites to make monitoring your own online reputation a little easier, there are options out there.

    Google Alerts

    When business owners think reviews, they think Google. Not only will Google alert you to new reviews left through your Google My Business listing, but you can set Google alerts to notify you every time new posts are made online involving keywords of your choice. Plug in your company name and you’re good to go.


    Hootsuite is the ultimate home base for monitoring all of your social media in one location. Not only can you schedule posts and engage with your clients faster than ever, but when they engage with you, you’ll see them. Best of all, Hootsuite will provide you with analytics reports for every account you have running through them!

    The Stress-Free Method

    You’ve done all the legwork involved in launching your business, and now it’s up to you to run it successfully. It’s a lot to have on one person’s shoulders. The last thing you need is to deal with aspects of your business that someone else could be managing.

    By hiring a professional web development company such as LinkNow Media, you’ll be arming yourself with a professional team of SEOs who can get your company ranking high and ensure that your reputation stays positive.

    Go Forth and Gather Reviews!

    You can’t have much of an online reputation without the reviews to back you up. While there are some big “NOs” when it comes to review gathering, it’s a fact that 68% of your clients will leave a review if asked.

    Don’t go down the rabbit hole of paying for reviews, since it can come back to bite you in the form of fines. And, don’t review your own business. Fake reviews never lead anywhere good.
    Next time you have a happy customer finish conducting their business with you, let them know you’d love to hear their feedback. Soon your company will be well on its way to being the most popular kid online!

    Online Review Stats in 2017

    online reviews

    Every year surveys come out with percentages and detailed information regarding just about everything online. At LinkNow Media, we’re always interested in anything that affects SEO.
    When it comes to online reviews, your reputation is pretty important, and the latest information confirms it. We’ll give you the “too long didn’t read” right now and say: reviews still matter in 2017.

    So, don’t think you can get out of encouraging and monitoring them any time soon.

    Who is Reading What?

    In 2016, 95% of consumers were using the internet to look up local businesses. If you think that’s high though, 2017 has seen a 2% increase, up to 97%! If you currently run a business that doesn’t have an online presence, you’re making a big mistake.

    Half of these consumers are looking for local businesses online at least once a month. Imagine how much business you’re missing out on if you’re not there to be found!
    But, maybe your industry doesn’t really do that whole online thing? We doubt it. Among the top industries that have their clients reading reviews are:

      • Restaurants
      • Hotels
      • Healthcare
      • Clothing stores
      • Car dealerships
      • Tradesmen
      • Pest control
      • Cars for hire
      • Accountants
      • Locksmiths

    And that’s just to name a few. So, where should you be collecting reviews? Facebook and Yelp unsurprisingly tied at 20% of consumers trusting them the most, followed closely by Google at 16% and the Better Business Bureau at 15%.

    And, how many of these browsers turn into conversions? 68% of US consumers are more likely to use a business with positive reviews, with 40% citing negative reviews as a reason not to frequent a local business.

    Best of all, the number of consumers who will actually visit a business after reading a review has grown by 10% from last year, to 17%.

    Focus on Quantity and Quality

    Factors that have also grown in importance since 2016 are the quantity and quality of reviews. There’s no way you can just sit back and coast when it comes to this powerful SEO builder.
    54% of consumers rank star rating as the most important factor, with quantity coming in second at 46%—up 11% from last year. Consumers also want to see you getting involved. Up 10% from 2016, 30% now want to see you responding.

    Therefore, our best advice to you is to keep doing what you’re doing. But do it a lot more. You still need to be drumming up reviews and monitoring them, providing professional responses to both positive and negative, but the importance of review building and etiquette has only become more important.

    Feeling overwhelmed? You can always put the reins in the hands of an experienced SEO team like the one at LinkNow Media!

    When Social Media Goes Wrong

    social media

    Social media can be a helpful tool for many businesses when it comes to adding a little extra to their SEO and providing a great platform for business-client interaction. Sure, building a Facebook page won’t lead to direct ranking, but the potential for link building is big, as well as building an audience. /

    However, if one or two things go wrong, social media can have big real-world consequences for your business—whether you’re on it or not!

    Ease of Sharing

    The same thing that you can benefit so much from can be your downfall as well. How many times have we seen people in the public eye sticking their foot in their mouth via Twitter? Or having an old post from years ago brought up and criticized?

    It’s always important to think before speaking, but in the case of social media, the record of what you say will live on forever. Even if you delete it, realizing after the fact that something you just said didn’t go over so well, is often too late.

    Staff Representation

    Before the age of social media, business owners would wonder what their employees really thought about their jobs. Were they enjoying it? Saying negative things to friends and family? Well, now anyone can have their say—and make it public.

    The way your staff represents you online is important. Especially if they have a big following.

    While it’s usually advised that employees be careful what they say online, it goes both ways. Reputation is important. Don’t lose yours by being a bad boss and getting called out for it online.

    Everyone has Their Say

    Which brings us to reviews. Staff, customers and anyone you can think of can have their say online. Even if you’ve avoided putting your business on directories and social media pages, if you’ve got a bad reputation, it will get out.

    All it takes is one angry client or staff member to start the ball rolling and list you online. Then, whether you like it or not, you’re there for good and the only way to fight back is by taking control of your social media presence and communicating with bad reviewers.

    Case Studies

    It can be entertaining to look at businesses failing on social media, until it’s your business in the hot seat. Paying attention to what others did wrong can help you avoid making the same mistakes.


    Posting an outdated map of Russia omitting Kaliningrad which was annexed following World War II, Coca-Cola had a brand-new hashtag following them around: #BanCocaCola. Applied to images and videos of people pouring their Coke bottles down the toilet, it wasn’t the greatest marketing move.

    MTV Australia

    Tweeting a suggestion requesting English subtitles on actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria at the Golden Globes doesn’t seem like the greatest idea. But MTV Australia thought it was a good plan. Needless to say, they suffered a PR nightmare.

    Tay Tweets

    Probably the most famous social media mess-up of recent years, Microsoft launched their AI Twitter bot and encouraged the people of the internet to help it learn. Well, if you know the people of the internet, you can guess what happened. Tay turned into a sexist, racist jerk in less than 24 hours.

    The Final Words

    Like many marketing tools, the powers of social media can be used for good, or evil. Compose carefully, research well and don’t let the trolls teach your account to be just like them.

    A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

    Receiving Fake Reviews From Competitors

    In this day and age, dishonest companies have been able to stoop to new lows by attempting to damage their competitor’s reputation online with fake reviews.

    While it may not be immediately obvious that a competitor is attacking you, a quick check through their other reviews should give you a clue. They are likely attacking other similar businesses in the area. If negative reviews are posted on other competitor’s pages within a tight timeframe, you’ve got the start of a case.

    Fake and negative reviews are tricky to deal with. Always do your research before dealing with them, or you may be responding inappropriately to someone who is simply expressing their displeasure. Remember—there is such thing as a legitimate negative review. Take these as constructive criticism, and respond politely.

    Tact at All Times

    When responding to a fake negative review from your competitor, practice tact at all times. Whether this negative review is legitimate or not, treat it with the same respect. Follow these steps to compose a polite and professional response:


    Literally. Breathing exercises will calm you down, so take a few deep breaths.

    Don’t take it personally.

    A difficult one, but part of being a professional.

    Address the issue.

    Start your response off by repeating their complaint. For example: I understand that you (insert situation here).

    State your core values.

    Inform the reviewer of your business’ core values and why they don’t match with what happened.

    Make a game plan.

    Tell the reviewer what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If this is a competitor leaving a fake review, you likely will not actually do this because the situation did not occur. But, existing and potential customers will appreciate seeing what you would do if it really had happened.

    Say thank you.

    Thank the negative reviewer for their constructive criticism and invite them back to experience your business again in a better light sometime in the future.

    Even if you expect this review to be removed, there will be wait time. Writing a proper response is of value to your future clients. Don’t lose business and allow your competitor to accomplish what they came to your review page for in the first place.

    Keep on Keeping on

    Being a business owner will always come with its ups and downs. This is what professionalism is all about! Practice being a professional adult at all times, flag inappropriate reviews and represent yourself well.

    Should Google not agree with your report, you can always escalate the situation, encourage friends and family to flag the reviews as well, and tweet @GoogleSmallBiz to hurry the process along.

    Like with school yard bullying, a reaction is always what a troll wants, so give them a minimal one. In the end, you make your own reputation in the business world and can overcome anything by keeping a cool head.

    Online Presence: Tips for Startups

    start up

    We’ve talked a few times about the importance of responding to online reviews. Whether you’re dealing with a favorable opinion or harsh criticism, it’s important that you acknowledge your customers and respond appropriately. However, before you can respond to any reviews, you first need to be aware that you’ve received reviews. This can be a difficult and time-consuming task for a new business owner juggling several responsibilities. Who has time to keep up with all that? Luckily, there are many tools available that will help you keep up with what people are saying about your business, such as:

    Which Monitor Tool is Best?

    Some of these tools are more robust than others, so you’ll want to research each one to determine which is best suited for your business. As a startup, it’s in your best interest to go with a more dynamic tool. No one knows who you are, and that means you’ll need a strong web presence from the get-go.

    Why Monitoring is Important for New Businesses

    People trust online reviews in the same way they trust personal recommendations, but you’re not going to earn trust overnight. Establishing solid relationships with your customers takes time and effort, and it starts online. These days, people are expecting to see a company response, so you can’t afford to not reply. This is your chance to show your customers that you are approachable and can relate to their situation, whether it’s good or bad. It’s also an opportunity to spread the word about how people can get in touch with you, whether that’s by phone, email, or social media.

    Why Do You Need A Strong Online Presence?

    How people perceive your company is everything, and the stakes are higher for startups. You don’t have the chance to establish yourself then transition online. You’re doing these things tandem, and it can be a lot to handle. Monitoring tools like the ones listed above can make the process of responding a lot less tedious.

    Having a strong online presence is an important factor in the success of your business, and having a conversation with your customers in the comments section on review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Trip Advisor is a huge part of that. It’s unfortunate that so many startups fail in the first 5 years simply because business owners struggle when it comes to managing their online presence.


    This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are always looking for new tools that help small business owners manage their online presence, so stay tuned.

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