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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!

Reviews Gone Wrong


Back in the day the keys to success as a business were mainly providing a superior product and offering good value and service. Fast forward to today and it’s easy to see that this is no longer the case. For a business to be successful in this day and age, customer experience is going to rank the highest.

We all know the importance of online reviews and how platforms like social media can be used to rank a customer’s experience with your business. The internet is an arena for interactive feedback and while the success of your business can be based off this type of interaction, it can also be harmed.

When it comes to reviewing a business online or engaging in interactive feedback, online discussions, or comments about a company or a service, oftentimes customers or those visiting your website will base their comments on things that may be out of your control as a business owner. When reviews are posted that have nothing to do with an actual customer experience it can easily spiral out of control.

Don’t Get Personal

Reviews are meant to based on actual customer experience and not on anything else. However, we often come across those who will write negative reviews or provide not-so-flattering commentary based on personal beliefs or on the activities or personal behaviour of employees.

Such reviews are unfair, and while business owners usually seek to hire people whose values align with those of their company, the truth is that business owners cannot control what their employees do while they are not at work.

Our personal lives are hardly personal anymore with everything being shared on social media, and customers can easily see what your employees are up to when they’re not at work. If this behaviour is deemed offensive by anyone it could unfortunately adversely impact your business in the form of negative reviews or harsh commentary.

This type of review is unfair for everyone mainly because it does not reflect an actual customer experience with your business. And while a customer may be offended by the behaviour of an employee, if that behaviour did not occur while the employee was at work, and it did not affect the customer’s experience, then it really has no bearing on your business and your company should be left out of it.

Think Before You Post

The challenge comes from the blurring of personal and public and where to draw the line. Employers should make it clear that if an employee is going to engage in any questionable behaviour that it may have a negative impact on the image of the company that they work for. And while employers can’t control what their staff does on their own free time, they can encourage them to think about what they share with the public online.

Customer Experience Wins Every Time

Customer experience should still be the main benchmark of success as a business in this age of over-sharing and instant feedback. Remember to consider this before leaving a negative review about a business based on anything else. While you may not agree with something that someone does in their personal time, is it really fair to involve the company they work for?

Five Review Sites That are not Google or Facebook


We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Online reviews are one of the most important tools for businesses online. Reviews help clients to communicate with your company, promote you, and attribute to a decent chunk of SEO as well.

The facts are as follows:

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews.
  • Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business.
  • 80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations./
  • On average reviews increase sales by 18%.

Reviews are important, and on average, a consumer will look at over 10 information sources before making a purchase. When we think of review websites, the two that are most often in our faces are Google and Facebook. However, having your business on multiple review sites will count for citations, and boost activity to rank you higher. So what other sites are out there to gather reviews?


The go-to for most business reviews, Yelp has an average monthly unique visitor count of 145 million. 135 million reviews are posted per year, and most people you run into on the street will have the app on their phone. In fact, 70% of Yelp page views come from mobile devices.

Any variety of business can be posted on Yelp, and for consumers on the go it’s an easy-to- use, and reliable review site. If you’re not already listed on Yelp, you should make it top priority!


Foursquare currently has 10 million users with three million check-ins every day. Being one of the 400,000 business owners that use Foursquare as a marketing tool won’t just get you reviews, it will get you noticed. The way it works is users can check into a location as many times as they like and every time they do, their friends will know where they are. Users can become “mayor” of locations they are at the most, and fight for this title adding a fun, competitive aspect to this marketing tool—all of which will cost you nothing!


Users looking for the best places to go on a vacation or in their own city can rely on TripAdvisor. With 390 million unique visitors, 500 million reviews and opinions, and over 4.2 million business listed, like Yelp, this is a highly useful tool for review-gathering.

Better Business Bureau

To be a part of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you will have to pay for a yearly membership. One of the oldest review and rating sites, the BBB is an authority on many businesses in North America. Listing detailed information including inception dates, a high rating relies on a list of factors including:

  • Type of business
  • Time in business
  • Complaint volume
  • Transparent practices
  • Competency licensing

The BBB is known for holding business accountable.

Consumer Affairs

Not only can you gather reviews with Consumer Affairs, you will also gain access to a wealth of resources to help you learn more about reviews, increase revenue, find brand ambassadors, and learn how to convert negative customer experiences into positive ones.

There are other prominent websites out there such as Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and GlassDoor, however these are focused on serving specific purposes or industries. If you are in the world of home renovation, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are important. If you’re hoping to gain a reputation for future employees, GlassDoor is your best friend.

In the world of online marketing there is no shortage of online review websites, but getting your business to appear on those that are most viewed is your first step to business and SEO success.

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!

How Company Reviews Affect Potential Employees


You’ve spent all this time gathering reviews and thinking about how they’re going to affect your bottom line, but what about how they affect your potential employees?

The way your company is spoken about online isn’t only going to help you to gain or lose business, it can influence who’s interested in working for you as well.

Most business owners assume that in the job market their word is law, but in a workforce that’s slowly being overtaken by Millennials, peer opinion matters a lot, and can cost you valuable employees.

Company Review Websites

I’m sure many of us remember the days of rate my teacher and rate my professor websites. Students don’t have much of a choice when it comes to choosing who teaches them what, so while serious complaints could have some affect, these acted mainly as open gossip sites—a place for frustrated students to get their emotions out.

This is not the case with company review and rating websites.


Glassdoor displays ratings and reviews for more than 600,000 companies worldwide. When you need to get the inside scoop and find out what it’s really like from the people who work there, this is how you do it.

Offering articles on the factors that play a role in salary negotiations, the types of companies you should never work for, and of course the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards, this website is the largest and most crucial site on which you as an employer will want to rank well.


Most commonly known as a networking website, Indeed also offers an anonymous review section of their website. While it’s not quite as personal as Glassdoor, ratings still hold a lot of weight on this well-known industry leader.

And Beyond

The website FairyGodBoss is an employer site strictly for women. RateMyEmployer features more than 45,000 candidate and employee reviews, and of course websites such as Google, Yelp and Facebook offer general reviews from employees and customers alike that can give future employers a pretty good idea about what a prospective employer is all about.

What it Comes Down To

While larger companies such as McDonald’s and Best Buy are going to have thousands of reviews that muddy the waters—and let’s face it, people looking for jobs at huge chains like this aren’t going to put as much weight into reviews—it’s imperative that a small business keeps up workplace morale.

When you’re looking to hire a talented new employee to head that new department, you’re going to want the best. While your ad may draw them in, any tech-savvy potential employee is going to check out your ratings right away.

If they pull up your Glassdoor page and find a post stating “Worst Job I’ve Ever Had”, they’re going to think twice.

So, what can you do about it?

Treat your employees well, but don’t sacrifice your professional atmosphere. There are great ways to build morale and keep a smile on peoples’ faces throughout the day without your office turning into a madhouse. And, get on these websites yourself!

Glassdoor offers you the ability to respond to all negative reviews. Like with any other review, the way you respond can set the tone for your business no matter what that reviewer said.

Can I Review my own Business?


In the world of online reviews, many business owners like to start the ball rolling by leaving their own company a star rating or a little review.

Sounds innocent enough, but is it?

Whether your intentions are good, or shady, reviewing your own business is a bad idea.

Nearly 80% of consumers rely on online reviews before hiring a service or purchasing a product. In fact, peer reviews are trusted as much as recommendations from family or friends. With this in mind, it can be easy to get greedy and impatient when you’re just starting out.

However, you need to keep in mind that fake reviews are unethical, and even illegal. That’s right—you can be sued for posting fake reviews. It is called “astroturfing” and websites such as Google, Yelp and Amazon have been known to sue over it.

But you might be thinking: “How is it a fake review if I state that I am the business owner, or don’t say anything and just leave five stars??”

In the case of a five-star rating, it’s true you can probably get away with it. But if anyone realizes you are the business owner, your credibility is shot. If you reviewed your own company with five stars, who’s to say you didn’t talk other friends and family members into leaving biased reviews, or even pay for fake reviews?

    A fake review can be any of the following:

    • Asking someone who is not a customer to write a review.

    • Paying someone to write a review, even if they are a customer.

    • Asking an employee to review your company (it’s different if they review and state that the review is about their experience as an employee).

    • Creating a fake profile to review your company.

    • Reviewing your company as yourself, the business owner.

    That’s right, even if you state that you are the business owner and you’re just stopping in to leave a positive review, it’s counted as fake.

    Because you have added to your rating. Whether you’re up-front about who you are or not, you have successfully altered the rating of your business and that is the goal of fake reviews.

    In 2016, Amazon sued 1,000 fake reviewers in an attempt to crack down on this practice. They stated that these false reviewers were tarnishing their brand with inauthenticity.

    No one is invulnerable to this sort of crackdown.

    So, how do you get started with reviews? There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that clients leave a review. Mention it on your website by linking to your business page, or put a sign up in your brick and mortar business.

    But next time you’re considering somehow leaving a review for your own business, just say no.

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.

How to Spot a Fake Review

fake reviews

In an age where reviews are key when it comes to how millennials and many others spend their hard-earned money, fake reviews have been cropping up left and right.

No, it’s not ok or even legal to hire someone to leave fake reviews for your company, but people still do it. So, how do you pick out what’s real and what’s fake?

There are some great websites that will help you such as Fakespot, but there are also tips you can keep in mind as you browse when you don’t want to go to the extra effort of plugging products into searches!

Check the Language

Fake reviews are most often found in the one-star or five-star category. Companies paying to bump up their sales or bring down a competitor’s sales will be looking for extreme praise or criticism. On a website like Amazon, start off by only looking at two to four-star reviews. Many fake reviewers are also paid per word, so their reviews may be quite short, and often in slightly “off” language. For example, when discussing price they will mention the currency while an average American leaving the same review would simply state the price.

Check the Timing

A surefire way to spot fake reviews is if a product or service has received multiple reviews in a short timespan. When a company is lacking reviews and pays to get a batch online right away, the reviewer they’ve hired will post them in swift succession from multiple fake accounts. While there are a lot of avid reviewers out there, most consumers wait until they really have something to say to leave their own review and so a constant stream of legitimate reviews is a highly unlikely occurrence.

Creep the Reviewer

Does their profile photo look like it came out of a picture frame or an art book? Take a look at the reviewer’s profile and see what sort of reviews they’re leaving. If the products are all over the place and reviews are constant, that’s a good sign that they’re a fake account. You can even search their full name if they’re using it on Google and see what sort of web presence they have. A reverse image search will reveal if that photo they’re using is a stock photo, or real. In the case of Amazon, you can also check to see if they in fact purchased the product they are reviewing. If not? Likely fake.

While angry, negative reviews can be fun to read, a lot of the time they’re fake. A one-star with emotional language that doesn’t really tell you much about the product itself is likely a freelancer, or friend/family member of a direct competitor trying to bring the competition down a peg.

Does a review sound like someone’s mother wrote it? No one’s that devoted to their vacuum cleaner. Switch to some middle-ground reviews and find the real, un-biased opinion.

Happy hunting!

Twitter is Doubling Their Character Limit


On September 27th it was announced that Twitter is testing the expansion of their famous 140-character post limit, not just adding in a couple words, but doubling it to 280 characters.

Known for its concise nature, many Twitter users are wondering if this expansion is a good idea.

Twitter company owners however have some pretty good reasoning behind their decision, which is currently being tested out on a randomly selected group.

The original 140-character limit was chosen arbitrarily, based on the current SMS text limit, which is 160 characters. Leaving 20 characters open for usernames, Twitter was born.

A limit of 280 characters was chosen to make tweeting easier for those posting in languages affected by “cramming”. This includes any language except Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Where nine percent of English speakers fill the 140 limit every time, only four percent of Japanese users do so.

With 328 million users, it’s surprising to say that Twitter has never turned a profit. With that in mind, of course there is some monetary thinking behind this new change. By encouraging English speakers to tweet more often, and say more, investors will see a rise in users and activity.

The company also hopes to put an end to multi-message tweet storms.

Twitter Facts

At 11 years old, Twitter has accomplished a lot in its lifetime. With 328 million active users and 1.3 billion accounts created, it’s clear why it’s one of the most prominent social media platforms out there.

  • 500 million users visit the site every month without logging in.
  • 29.2% of social media users in the United States are Twitter users.
  • 83% of the world’s leaders on Twitter.
  • 500 million tweets are sent every day.
  • It took three years, two months, and one day to go from the first tweet to the billionth.
  • 65.8% of US companies with 100+ employees use Twitter for marketing.
  • Twitter is an important platform and staying up to date with what’s going on with it will keep you at the top of your online marketing game.

    But Will it Happen?

    Twitter has played around with the character limit in the past. There was a brief moment in 2015 where a 10,000-character limit was considered—yes, for real.

    More recently the removal of @ replies, photos, videos and quotes from the character count didn’t throw users into a panic. However, the doubling of the character limit has.

    Negative reactions came quickly, with users expressing their love for the brevity of Twitter. The platform encourages the editing of thoughts to boil them down to their purest form, and that is attractive. Concerns include the potential of an even bigger platform for Internet “trolls” to bash fellow users.

    So, will the 280-character limit become a reality for all Twitter users soon? We’ll have to wait and see.

    The Better Business Bureau vs. Peer Reviews


    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) was founded in 1912 and created to focus on advancing marketplace trust. An unbiased authority, their accreditation of businesses across the United States and Canada have held a lot of weight when it comes to displaying the quality of a business.

    Ranked F – A+ and providing basic information on a business such as founding date, as well as customer reviews, it’s a great website to gain valuable information. Factors that affect a BBB accreditation are:

    1. Build trust

    2. Advertise honestly

    3. Tell the truth

    4. Be transparent

    5. Honor promises

    6. Be responsive

    7. Safeguard privacy

    8. Embody integrity

    These are all excellent things for businesses to aspire towards.

    However, over the years, the BBB is losing its standing as the first resource discerning customers turn to. While businesses still proudly display their accreditation, and rightly so, consumers are starting to turn more to online reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook.

    So, what does the BBB offer their members that free reviews do not?

    Right out the gate, you’re going to have to look at your client demographic. The baby boomer generation grew up seeing the BBB as a standard of excellence. A business could be ruined with the right misconduct complaints. If they are your target, the $500 yearly BBB membership could be a valuable investment.

    Once you’re a member, you start off with an A rating which is pretty good. This could go up with good reviews, or down with bad. You’ll receive a logo that you can place on your site, the backlink is good quality SEO, and your membership fee is tax deductible.

    The biggest difference between the BBB and other review websites is status and history. Accreditation looks great but when it comes to sheer quantity of opinions and SEO value you would be better off encouraging reviews across other platforms, especially if you have a younger audience.

    In Conclusion

    So, in the end, do we believe in the relevancy of the Better Business Bureau in 2017? YES we do! A membership just may not be for every business, especially those just starting out.

    Like with any marketing tactic it’s important to weigh your options and look at your target market. Online reviews are an amazing sounding board for your customers to tell other people what they think about the products/services you offer, and for you to respond to their feedback.

    When you read about what’s affecting SEO, you’re not going to find the BBB listed anywhere but you are going to find a lot of stats about reviews.

    It’s a fact that over 80% of your current and future clients are reading reviews and taking them seriously, and they’re not hunting for the ones on the BBB.

    However, the BBB provides a long-standing pedigree that is appealing to many browsers who want to know more about your website. If you’re able to make the investment, we recommend you try it out. But until you’re able to, just keep building those reviews!

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