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Tag: Google My Business

How to Take Control and Improve Your Online Reputation

In Part 2 of our online reputation series, we give you the tools you need to take control of the conversions about your business.

If you are new to the world of SEO and online marketing, you might think your company’s reputation is completely out of your hands. When so many people are just typing whatever they want into their computers, how are you supposed to stop them from writing a negative review about your business? How are you supposed to persuade them to write a good review?

If there’s one thing to be learned from our line of work here at LinkNow, it’s up to you to manage your online reputation. It is determined by how you handle every situation—good or bad.

Here are a few ways you can improve your company’s online reputation.

You Received a Negative Review. Now What?

Did you wake up to discover that a customer of yours has penned a negative review about your business? Maybe your team had a bad day and underperformed with the client. Maybe there was some misunderstanding. Maybe the client’s criticisms are unfounded and simply unfair.

In these situations, you might feel attacked and scared for your business. Your gut response might be to respond heatedly and tell this customer just how wrong they are. I mean, they’re attacking your business after all. That business is your livelihood!

We’ll tell you the same thing we tell all our clients at LinkNow: Don’t respond negatively to a negative review! Don’t lose your cool. Doing so might lead to the online equivalent of a shouting match between you and a customer. Is that something you’d want people to see when they walk through your door? Probably not.

Respond Positively to Negative Reviews

Whether they’re right or not it is always in your best interest to do two things:

  1. Publicly respond to the negative review if possible
  2. Be positive and receptive to the dissatisfied client.

Let the customer know you hear their complaints, criticisms, and concerns. When customers air grievances, they might expect a lot of things in return. While you might not be able to turn back time, you can at least let them know they’ve been heard and acknowledged. Let them know that the problem will be addressed with your staff and will not happen again.

Every business gets a negative review every now and then. If you handle it professionally and graciously, customers will chalk the issue up to a misunderstanding or isolated incident.

Ask Newcomers and Regulars for Reviews

Like we said, every business is bound to get one or two negative reviews. What helps is when there are many positive reviews on your Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook pages to make those negative reviews seem less representative of your company.

If your business has been operational since before the advent of social media, asking clients for online reviews might seem kind of strange. You might be worried that you’re being pushy. Don’t be! In the age of ‘Buy Local’, people love supporting local businesses. What better way for them to show their support than to post a glowing, thoughtful, and honest review of your business?

A Reputation Built on Reviews

Before you get customer reviews, you need an online presence. For some business owners, that is especially difficult. At LinkNow Media, we’ve helped over 10,000 small business owners spread the word about their services. Once we’ve established your online presence, you’ll have the customers you need to get those important reviews!

What Are Yelp and Google Doing to Fight Fake Reviews?

What are google and yelp doing to fight fake reviews?

Being a consumer has never been easier—and more deceiving.

Long before booking an appointment, hiring a tradesman, or ordering a meal, prospective buyers can gleefully browse through pages of listed companies offering exactly what they want.

They’ll find much more than just the basics of the business— locations, rates, contact info.

By way of the Internet, consumers can now scrutinize a company’s reputation in the form of online reviews. They’ve used the services, purchased the products, and have now gone to the trouble of reviewing their experience.

But just how trustworthy are online review sites like Google and Yelp?

What Are Fake Reviews?

As the name suggests, fake reviews are inaccurate, slanderous depictions of a business.

Fake reviews usually come in two forms. Either, they are positive reviews designed to artificially inflate a business’s reputation for the better. Or, they are negative reviews left by black hat SEO companies, jealous competitors, or disgruntled employees aiming to ruin a business’ reputation.

Fake reviews are misleading at best, and at worst, can ruin a business both on and offline.

Do Review Websites Try to Fight Fake Reviews?

Fortunately for businesses and consumers alike, review aggregators like Google and Yelp are several steps ahead of these dishonest keyboard warriors. These market giants are coming up with increasingly clever ways to detect and remove fake reviews.

It is, after all, in their interest to show only trustworthy reviews. If consumers couldn’t trust the reviews, they simply wouldn’t use the site. If consumers are checking reviews to figure out whether a business is trustworthy, the review site itself better be trustworthy too!

How Does Google Deal With Fake Reviews?

In the spring of 2018, Google began systematically removing all anonymous reviews from Google My Business. The idea behind the move was that anonymous reviews were more likely to be untrustworthy.

Of course, not all the anonymous reviews were fake—and there was a backlash because of it. But since reputation management is something we’re concerned with at LinkNow Media, we think this was definitely a move in the right direction. If you’d like to learn more about, you can read our article on it.

If you are a business owner, Google is unlikely to remove a review unless there is clear evidence of spam patterns. The Google My Business forum is a resource for business owners who feel that a review has been inaccurate. It’s generally a long process and one that will require a significant amount of evidence, simply because no one likes negative reviews. If you can’t lay out clear evidence of being spammed by fake reviews, Google must assume that the reviews have been left by real customers.

How Does Yelp Deal With Fake Reviews?

What sets the Yelp reviews apart from Google, is that Yelp has built an algorithm that’s designed to weed out untrustworthy reviews before they are displayed on a listing.

The algorithm decides whether a review should be recommended or not recommended. If it is recommended, it ends up as part of the total rating that’s visible on every business’ Yelp profile. If it is deemed untrustworthy, the review will end up in the ‘Not currently recommended’ section of the business listing. These reviews are still visible to the public, but you have to scroll to the bottom of the page and follow a series of links that lead to them. They are hidden.

Yelp determines whether or not a review is trustworthy based on a number of criteria. While that criteria is kept under wraps, it’s possible to make some educated guesses about what goes into it:

  • When did the reviewer sign up for Yelp?
  • How active is the reviewer?
  • How many reviews do they have?
  • What kinds of reviews have they left?

Notice that most of these are related to activity on Yelp. Yelp is a social media platform and they generate profit by having active users.

This is why, as a business owner, Yelp can be challenging to work with. If your clients are not active Yelp users, their reviews may not appear in the recommended section.

At LinkNow Media, we’re very familiar with this side of Yelp. Being a B2B online digital marketing agency, the LinkNow Media reviews are particularly susceptible to having our client’s reviews end up in the ‘Not currently recommended’ section. If you want to see over a hundred hidden 5-star LinkNow reviews, take a look at our Yelp profile!

All things considered, Yelp is making every attempt at limiting fake reviews. And this is something that’s needed to protect business’ online reputation and give consumers the information they need to make good purchasing decisions.

Yelp also enforces consequences when they find that businesses have left fake reviews on their own or their competitor’s profiles.  Yelp issues ranking penalties and monitors listings for more fake reviews in the future. They can even go so far as to remove the listing altogether.

Yelp also has what they call a “don’t ask” policy aimed. This policy is designed to punish businesses that offer discounts or other incentives in exchange for positive client reviews. For Yelp, it doesn’t matter whether the client has or has not had a real experience with the business. If clients are not willingly choosing to leave the review, the review can’t be trusted.

How Businesses Are Taking Action Against Fake Reviews

Regardless of Google and Yelp’s activities, business owners can take control of fake reviews. The best way to go about this is through professional, well-mannered replies outlining the inaccuracy of these reviews.

No business wants a bad review. Discerning between negative but truthful and an inaccurate review is no easy task, for humans or algorithms— especially given the emotionally-laden tone of many reviews.

As an SEO company specializing in managing online reputations and reviews, LinkNow Media is constantly following Google and Yelp’s review policies. So, if you have any questions regarding fake reviews on your business listing, feel free to give us a call. Our reputation management experts in the SEO department will be happy to answer any of your questions!

The Best Customer Review Sites for Your Business

The Best Customer Review Sites for Your Business

It is great if your business gets a good customer review. It means you’ve succeeded in satisfying your client’s needs, and maybe you even exceeded their expectations. Customer reviews are also great for those internet-searching clients looking to find the best businesses in their area. Many consumers rely on customer feedback to help them make decisions. 90% of consumers, in fact, will seek out customer reviews for your business for they give you a call or step in your door. Many of these consumers trust the reviews of anonymous customers as much as they trust the reviews of their own friends and family!

That’s why it is important to know which review sites to direct your energy towards, and which ones to ignore. As you can imagine, there are a variety of customer review sites at your fingertips. Some are so obvious you might overlook them, while others might surprise you. Here are a few of the best:

Google My Business Reviews

To fully utilize the power of Google, every business owner should claim their business on Google My Business. Once your business is claimed and verified, you can edit this listing and optimize it to your heart’s content—the more reflective of your business it is, the better. When someone Googles your business, this listing will be the first thing they see. The average consumer still holds Google in high esteem—and rightly so. A claimed and optimized Google listing will be enticing to reviewers, and those reviews will be the first thing potential customers see when they Google your company!

Yelp Reviews

You’ve probably heard of this one too. Yelp is one of the most popular customer review sites in the world. Every business needs to have a Yelp presence these days. On average, this platform gets about 142 million users per month. Consumers usually take those one or two negative Yelp reviews with a grain of salt, while always being more persuaded by the positive reviews. Encourage your customers to leave you a good review!

Facebook Reviews

This is a great platform for customers to communicate with you and other consumers. Everyone uses Facebook now, so if your company hasn’t utilized Facebook, we strongly advise you to do so soon. Consumers who don’t even rely on more popular customer review sites might stumble upon your business while browsing through Facebook. If you have a strong Facebook presence and your page is full of positive reviews, you’ll be a standout company in their eyes.

Reviews on Your Own Website

Yes, we can mention Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Better Business Bureau, and many other customer review sites for your B2B and B2C company, but none of these provide you with the same control a website does. With your own website, you can publicize your best reviews, your awards, accreditation, and more. A sleek, well-designed website with glowing testimonials and customer reviews will give any consumer the assurance they need.

Unexpected Turns: How to Turn Negative Reviews Into New Opportunities

Turning a Negative Into a Positive

Few things in life as a small business owner in the 21st century inspire more dread than a bad review. If you’ve been paying any attention to our blog posts here at LinkNow Media, you’ll know that we’re obsessed with reviews and “how they can impact your SEO” . And in fact, most consumers take reviews into account when they are searching for information on products.

So when your business gets a dreaded one-star review, it can feel like the end of the world. But it absolutely isn’t. In fact, it might just be the best thing that happens to your business this week.

When Life Hands You Lemons, Paint Them Gold

The first step to reclaiming your company’s reputation after a bad review?

DON’T PANIC.

Take a deep breath. Now is not the time to let powerful emotions take sway. And you will be experiencing powerful emotions! After all, your business isn’t only your livelihood, it’s so much more than that. It’s your raison d’etre. It’s what gets you bounding out of bed in the morning. When someone leaves a bad review, it feels personal.

What we see time and time again in dealing with small business owners is an immediate defensive response. The business owner will reply to the review, but immediately attack the reviewer’s character. This person is a liar. We never worked with them. This customer was mentally unwell!

Never do this.

It does not matter whether or not you and the client had a disagreement. The customer might even be lying (more on that below). Never ever attack the customer as a review response strategy.
It will immediately make you, the business owner, look like someone who leverages their power in order to get their way. Because you have to remember here that, from the outside, it looks like you have the power here, and that this customer is merely trying to make amends for how they were treated.

What do you do instead?

Reach out, with compassion and humility. You do not have to admit to anything you did not do, but you can apologize for the fact the customer had a negative experience.
Be kind but remain in control. Which means diplomatically expressing your condolences and promising to make amends in some regard. Maybe that means offering a discount on future services. Or maybe it requires something more serious like a policy review.

But remember that you are the face and voice of your business. Remember: magnanimity is something that looks good on absolutely everybody.

If you need to take time to get into the right headspace to do this, then do so.Remember that customers aren’t looking for an instant response, but the right response.

But I can still hear you saying, the review really is fake! I’ve never had that customer!

It doesn’t matter. Respond graciously. If it’s false, respond graciously and quietly report the review.

And don’t lose sleep. You’ll be okay. And soon, people will know your business as kind and professional under fire, which is worth its weight in gold stars.

Chaos: The World of Online Reviews

Chaos Online Reviews

The world of online reviews can be a chaotic one. So, is it really that necessary to be a part of it? For many business, they are losing interest and dropping the option for reviews altogether on websites like Facebook where this is possible.

Larger companies such as conventions find themselves inundated with reviews from false reviewers, disappointed attendees who didn’t have lofty needs met, and more. Knowing that they’re still guaranteed a large attendance, why bother leaving those pesky reviews up?

And, with mega review site Yelp itself clocking in at 57% of their reviews being one star, it’s clear that the community is not impressed. And Yelp is not the only one. There are a lot of online business owners out there who think review website aren’t doing their job when it comes to quality control.

Control Your Feedback

While it’s impossible to have full control over your online reviews, there are steps you can take to ensure your review section online is not a total disaster. It all starts with vigilance.

If you’re just starting out and have the time to man your own reviews, make sure that you set up notifications so you can see them as the roll in. If you are a larger company that gets multiple reviews in a week or even day, you’re going to need a dedicated employee for this task.

Response is everything when it comes to reviews. If you have received a negative review from a genuine client of whom you can comment on their experience and offer a solution, do it as quickly as possible. If you have received a review not left by a genuine customer, you can calmly and professionally express your side of the story.

And, the report button is your friend. Most recently, Google reviews updated their terms of service to state that ex-employees cannot leave negative reviews. If you’re dealing with those, send a report to Google straight away!

The Power is in Your Hands… Sort Of

It’s a tough fact of life that online reviews are always going to be a bit of a mess. In a world where an argument to remove a review is very much “he said she said,” it’s not easy for moderators on websites such as Yelp to make decisions in your favor.

But the power is still in your hands, and reviews are still useful to your business.

The stats still are there. Ninety-two percent of consumers in 2018 are reading online reviews when looking for local businesses and 42% of these consumers won’t use business with less than a three-star rating.

Business owners may not have complete control over the state of their reviews, but they can always do their best to represent themselves properly.

The most anyone can do is their best, so stay on top of your reviews, run your business ethically, and remember: the customer is always right. Unless they’re not really your customer and have a personal vendetta against you. 😉

How Online Reviews Impact Your Local SEO

More and more businesses are realizing the importance of online reviews when it comes to promoting their product or service, but did you know reviews also affect your Search Engine Optimization? SEO is just as crucial to the promotion of a business in 2017 because it means a boost in your ranking. For example, if someone is searching for a hair salon there are many options. But if you have the best SEO, they’ll find you first.

When you’re trying to beef up your SEO online reviews are critical to this process. Search engines love fresh user generated content, and customers love social proof. In fact, 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Search engines like Google or Bing are in the business of creating fast and accurate search results, and the input from real people in the form of reviews is a great way to do this. In a recent study by Moz it was determined that reviews make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank results.

Factors that can play into your business’ SEO include a variety of signals such as linking, keywords and categories, with reviews coming in before social media in terms of boosting your business!

Google favors high-rated sites, and in a world where customers spend 31% more on a business with good reviews, you’ll want to get a review gathering strategy in place if you don’t already have one!

A good way to do this is request that happy customers leave a review. If you’re selling online, include your request in a thank you email. At a physical store, create a flyer you can drop in a customer’s bag along with their merchandise. You can even create a landing page on your website linking to review sites for the ultimate ease of access.

Review sites that will get the results you’re looking for include:

Google My Business/

Yelp

Foursquare

Citysearch

YP.com

Try the Review Handout Generator by Whitespark and Phil Rozek if you need an easy way to create handouts for your store, then wait for the reviews to start flowing!

Asking for reviews can be a bit of a scary process, considering you can land on a customer who’s not happy with their interaction. But don’t worry—even negative reviews keep your business active from a search engine’s point of view, and as long as you respond to all negative reviews in a calm and professional manner, you’ll be just fine.

Finally, on your quest for reviews, don’t be tempted into paying for fake reviews. This is considered fraud and you could be in big financial trouble for doing it. Not to mention, it’s just better to have legitimate reviews for your business. Even if they’re criticizing you, you can learn something from unhappy customers.

No matter the size or type of business you run, online reviews are imperative to keeping it running successfully. So, go and gather reviews and see just how good the results are!

Mike M.

I wanted to thank you for the good work LinkNow Media has been doing for Mathers Electric’s Google Listings.

I googled Electricians Tallahassee FL and we came up on the first page, real close to the top. We have a 5 star rating and 10 excellent google
Reviews. I did not see another electric company with a 5 star rating. Before I started using LinkNow Media I could not get this to happen.

No matter how much I payed other companies. We now get most of our new business from the Web (Google).

Sincerely and forever grateful, Mike Mathers

President of Mathers Electric Co., Inc.

Make the Most Out of Your Google My Business Page

milkMilk or cream? T-shirt or sweater? Stay or leave? Romance or comedy? Every day, each one of us makes hundreds of decisions, both big and small. Sometimes, it can seem as though we decide in the blink of an eye. Other times, however, we weigh the pros and cons of each and flip back and forth on our decision for what feels like an eternity. Whether we are going with our intuition, or mulling over past experiences and considering the short- and long-term effects of our choice, there are a ton of factors that play into our decision-making process.  When it comes to making decisions on the internet, the process is no different.

Let’s say you’re looking for a home cleaning company in your home-town of Portland, Maine. If you don’t have any recommendations from friends or colleagues, you’re likely relying on the internet to find a residential cleaner near you. When you type “residential cleaning company in Portland” into Google, you will be shown which cleaning businesses are available to you in your area, along with some basic information, like their address, phone number, hours of operation, and rating. The higher the rating a company has, the more likely you are to head to their website.

Optimize Your Google My Business Page

Just as you search for services, other people are taking similar steps to find businesses. So, if you rely on getting visitors to get to your website from local search traffic, then reviews from Google My Business should be a priority. Here are few tips for a better optimized page:

Citations Management

When people are talking about citations, they are referring to any mentions of your business’s name, address, and phone number online. This information is listed on customer review sites, like Yelp and Angie’s List, and social media platforms, like Facebook. It’s important that this information is consistent across the board, or else Google will doubt the validity of your business. Any discrepancy, such as your address appearing as 705 Main Street one place and 705 Main on another, could hurt your ranking. If you don’t have a physical location, here’s advice from Google on the best way to handle it.

Category Selection

It important that you select the right category for your business-type. This might sound like a no-brainer, but for companies that offer more than one service this can prove to be difficult. If you’re unsure, read up on Google’s guidelines for representing your business.

Images

Never under estimate the power of visuals. Adding photos of your business to your page is the best way to show off your business’s human-side. Be sure to include photos of your staff in action and the interior of your business, if possible. You also have the option of providing people with a virtual tour of your business by enlisting a Google-improved photographer.

Ask for Reviews

Yelp uses a recommendation software specifically designed to flag comments that appear to be fraudulent. We’ve looked at this in the past, and mentioned how it seems to be more lenient with negative reviews, hiding many legitimate reviews from satisfied customers. This isn’t the case with Google My Business, so don’t be shy about encouraging a happy customer to rate your business and share their experience. Be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them taking the time to share their kind words by writing a response comment. Of course, not every comment is going to be a glowing review. It is important that you respond to harsh criticism too, whether that means offering an apology or clearing up a miscommunication.

Those are just a handle of ways you can better optimize your Google My Business Page. At LinkNow Media, we are sure to look into this topic again.

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