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How to Build a Solid Reputation Management Strategy

In the competitive world of business, reputation is everything. Starting a business is one thing, but continued success and growth are made possible through a well-planned digital marketing program. And when it comes to digital marketing, nothing is more important than reputation management.

To this end, we have compiled this list of helpful tips your enterprise can take towards building a rock-solid online reputation.

1) Maintain Your Website

In this day and age, your prospective customers will search you up long before they call you up.

The precision of the Internet ensures that they will find what they are looking for— whether it’s from you or from another business in your area and industry.

Place due consideration on the importance of your website, both for recruiting new clients and for informing existing ones. Don’t just slap on a web page and call it a day! Update it frequently so that it reflects your current products and services, changes to inventory, and general information about your business.

Consider your website as your online storefront and see to its upkeep accordingly!

2) Keep an Eye on Your Competitors

Are you ahead of the pack or trailing behind?

Your services might be superior in every way to your competition— but none of that will matter if you don’t have the web presence to back it up! Check out your competitor’s websites and social media presence. Find whether they have any advantages over you and take action!

Maybe a more modern site, higher response rate, or some lead generating reviews?

Take stock of what your competition’s doing and retool your strategy.

3) Manage Your Reviews

Word of mouth has become a whole different beast online: reviews.

If your clients are providing you with reviews online—good, bad, or otherwise, this is a huge opportunity for your business.

Seize it! Answer all the questions and address any concerns in a prompt and articulate way. Don’t just thank customers for good reviews—apologize for the bad ones and take steps towards making amends. This will prove that your business cares and makes an effort to offer top-tier customer service.

Communicate as politely and as professionally as you would in person!

4) Harness the Power of Social Media

Create Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter presences that reflect your activities and services.

For those in industries like landscaping and remodeling, visual platforms like these are the perfect places to showcase jobs well done.

Be sure to post frequently, informing your clients of specials, discounts, availabilities, and the like. Even better: create open forums of discussion where your clients can offer feedback and information.

Maintain your online reputation management, and the results will speak for themselves!

5) Hire a Digital Marketer to Manage Your Online Reputation

Here at LinkNow Media, reputation management is what we do best. Whether that’s in the form of reviews, social media, web sites, or simply being up to date on the most current resources and tools, our digital marketers are leaders in the field!

You’re busy enough managing your own business. Let us do the marketing. Contact LinkNow Media for reputation management services by calling 1.888.667.7186 or email us at website@linknowmedia.com.

3 Tricks to Improve the Online Presence of Your Business

The accessibility, precision, and sheer scope of the internet has forever changed the way businesses operate.

To say that everyone is online nowadays is neither stereotype nor hyperbole – that goes for clients and enterprises alike. A business’s online presence has become equal parts storefront and calling card, permitting degrees of promotion and engagement that yesterday’s proprietors could only have dreamt of.

With the right content and approach, you can advertise the very best of your products and engage with the people interested in acquiring them.

In other words, instead of staging a presentation, start a conversation.

Just to help you out, the SEO department at LinkNow Media has assembled a simple list of three steps businesses can take towards developing their online prowess. And don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments!

1) Establish Your Presence and Maintain It

By now, you’re well aware of the power and potential of the online world. Websites, social media, and email lists are the norm among business owners.

But it doesn’t end there.

A website devoid of content, or a Facebook page without a single post, is the online equivalent of a new car without gas. It looks great—but won’t get you far. And while you’re lagging behind the competition, your clients are going to go elsewhere.

Update and maintain your website and social media profiles with the same care and regularity as you would a storefront.  Give your customers a window into your best work by taking photos and posting them online! Write blog posts, social media posts, and continuously add new landing pages to your website. Don’t forget that content is king in 2019!

It can be internal, too – feature posts about additions to your inventory, changes to offered services, or even profiles on new employees! When you keep your customers abreast, you can forget the rest.

2) Be Receptive and Accessible to Your Clientele

One advantage small businesses have against corporations is a sense of intimacy. Your clients can put a face to your name. Seize this advantage and engage with everyone who’s following your business online!

Respond to good and bad reviews promptly and in detail. Answer inquiries you receive, on your pages or via email, in an equally timely manner. Acknowledge compliments and attempt to resolve complaints.

You’ll be amazed at what you can learn about your clientele—and about your business itself. Take the feedback to heart and listen attentively to what your customers have to say.

Above all, be consistent and maintain a constant and reliable presence. By showing customers that you care about what they think you’ll forge meaningful connections that can be turned into leads.

3) Reward Existing Customers and Incentivize New Ones

The importance of repeat business and customer loyalty depends on your industry.

For instance, showing up for a one-time lawn care appointment could lead to years of frequent lawn maintenance.

Regardless of where you find yourself, acknowledge the customers who have stuck by you since day one. Consider the VIP approach and offer exclusive referral bonuses, discounts, or even a newsletter for regular customers.

In the same vein, always be on the lookout for new clients. Consider untapped markets. And never sacrifice one for the other.

Maintain online engagement with your current customers, and you’ll be opening the door to new business!

How Does Yelp’s Review Filter Work?

The best way to market your business is by managing your online reputation. It’s free. It’s easy. And all you have to do is provide high-value products and services.

For anyone who’s invested time and money into their online marketing, understanding the way review algorithms filter the trustworthy from the untrustworthy is crucial. And with the ever-increasing popularity of Yelp, it’s become more important than ever to understand how their review filter works.

With that in mind, we’re here to de-mystify the whole process and help you build your online reputation. Here’s what we currently know about Yelp’s review filter.

What Is Yelp’s Review Filter?

Yelp uses a set of criteria to weed out reviews that they deem untrustworthy. Yelp does not publish any details about their criteria, so what we do know is largely based on inference and third-party research. Nonetheless, we can be reasonably sure of the accuracy of this research.

According to Yelp, their algorithm is based on three principles: “Quality, Reliability, and User Activity.” Yelp also reports that they filter out roughly 25% of all reviews, though recent evidence suggests the figure could be considerably higher.

Why Does Yelp Filter Reviews?

Like other review-aggregating platforms like Google, Yelp uses its filter to improve the quality of its review system. By hiding untrustworthy or fake reviews, Yelp helps businesses manage their online reputations in a more effective way.

Ultimately, the goal is to make Yelp more trustworthy as a review platform. If it were filled with fake reviews no one would trust it. No one would use it. That would be the end of Yelp. Yelp doesn’t want that.

How Does Yelp’s Review Filter Work?

Yelp’s review filter divides reviews into two categories:

Recommended Reviews: are reviews that contribute to the overall rating of a business. They are also the most accessible as they’re shown on each business’s Yelp profile page.

Not Currently Recommended Reviews: are reviews that have been filtered out by the algorithm. They don’t contribute to the over all rating. However, it’s still possible to view the ‘Not Currently Recommended Reviews’ by scrolling to the bottom of the profile and clicking the link that reads “other reviews that are not currently recommended”.

One of the interesting parts of Yelp’s algorithm is that it hides reviews until it deems them to be trustworthy. And vice-versa. That means there’s always the possibility of improvement over time.

Yelp looks at each user’s activity and reviewing patterns to decide whether their reviews are trustworthy or not. The following are some of those considerations:

  • Has the reviewer’s profile been created recently?
  • Has the user written any past reviews?
  • What is the quality of the user’s past reviews?
  • Does the review contain any misinformation? Or hateful or bigoted language?
  • Is there evidence that the review was solicited?

By taking account of these criteria (and, undoubtedly, much more) Yelp determines the overall relevance of each review. The best case scenario would be if all of your best customers were also active, trusted Yelp users. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

What Can I Do to Improve My Yelp Reviews?

The best course of action is to provide amazing service and amazing products every time. That way, your clients will be inclined to leave amazing reviews without being asked.

After all, Yelp does not encourage you to solicit reviews. And while you can try work around their policy to generate reviews, you may find yourself in deep water if Yelp decides to punish you for it.

Another trick is to ask your clients to be more active on Yelp. Not by leaving reviews on your business, but by leaving reviews for other businesses. It may seem counter-intuitive but it will lend more clout to their reviews and make it less likely for Yelp to filter them out. That way, the reviews that best reflect your business will have a greater chance of landing on your page.

 

Do you have a story about your Yelp reviews or a fresh perspective on Yelp’s algorithm? Leave a comment below!

And if you need a hand with managing your online reputation, get LinkNow’s local SEO team on the job!

Use Reviews to Boost Your Ranking on Google Maps

Online reviews have forever revolutionized the way businesses operate.

Each time a prospective client or consumer searches for a service your business offers, they’ll be met with a multitude of different choices— all in their vicinity. Whether good or bad, your reviews will summarize and highlight your business’s products or service in the interest of informing future customers.

And not only is there a strong correlation between good reviews and new leads, but there’s also a connection between the way businesses rank and the kinds of reviews they get.  While you may not be able to control the tone of your business’s reviews—other than offering clients the best service and the best products you can—there are little things you can do to make sure your reviews get you the ranking you need!

Let’s have a look at a few ideas.

1) Positive Reviews Will Help You Rank

Offer the quality of services and products your clients will be delighted to rave about!

Reviews are formatted in the traditional one-to-five star ranking scale. While you obviously can’t specifically solicit great reviews, if you run the best business you can, the reviews will speak for themselves.

Here’s the thing: you’re much more likely to hear from unsatisfied customers than from satisfied ones. That sounds like an incentive to me!

With an array of glowing, five-star reviews, the clients will come flocking in!

2) Long (Positive) Reviews Make You Appear Trustworthy to Google

Did you know that reviews with words rank better than those without?

Long, detailed reviews will do more than inform future clients about the quality of your products and services. They’ll also show Google that your products are worth a conversation. The simple fact that someone has put their time and energy into writing a detailed positive review, makes your company appear trustworthy for Google.

3) Encourage Your Clients to Become Local Guides for Google

Google lends more weight to reviews left by active users. Google calls these active reviewers Local Guides. By acquiring reviews from these Local Guides, you’ll start ranking a lot faster!

Problem is, it’s not like you can go out there looking for Local Guides to review your product. So, encourage your clients to leave reviews on other businesses as well. With as few as 3 reviews, a Google user will become a trustworthy source in Google’s eyes.

4) Encourage Your Clients to Be Specific About the Services They’re Reviewing

Like the content on your business’s website, online reviews have keyword ranking potential. That means that when your clients leave reviews with specific references to the products or services you offer, you could actually improve your ranking for those keywords.

The more detailed, pertinent, and industry-relevant your business’s reviews are, the better.

5) The More Reviews the Better

This one’s really simple: the more reviews you get, the more likely people are to trust your total rating. The same applies to Google. The more people that are engaged with your Google My Business account, the more authority you’ll build up.

6) Google Loves Reviews with Images

Most of us are visual people. For this reason, it’s wonderful for your business and for prospective clients for your customers to enclose a picture or two with a review. It’s common enough for restaurants where taking pictures of food is practically a subculture—but it applies to all types of businesses!

Are you clients bursting with pride over their stunning new landscape or their gorgeous kitchen remodel? Have them show it off— and with it, your business’s craftsmanship!

7) Respond to All Your Reviews—Fast

Most importantly, interact with your reviews—and your reviewers. Not just the good ones!

The promptness of your reply and the quality of your response are both criteria that Google uses to rank businesses in local search. Be polite, detailed, and concise.

In the case of a complimentary review, thank the client for their patronage and for taking the time to review, and tell them you look forward to serving them again.

For a not-so-complimentary review, offer a genuine apology and seize the opportunity to remedy the situation. It will look so much better than an unanswered post!

Need Help Managing Your Google Reviews? LinkNow Media Can Help!

 At LinkNow Media, reviews and reputation management are our specialties! After almost a decade of success in digital marketing, we have the answers you’re looking for. Ask us anything in the comments below or give us a call at 1-888-667-7186.

Let’s work together to get ranking!

How to Respond to Negative Google Reviews

As a company, generating good online reviews is a great way to drum up business and showcase the value of your services. Of course, not all the reviews you get will be positive, and it’s essential to develop a reputation-management strategy that lets you effectively respond to those that are less than favourable.

With that in mind, we at LinkNow Media have devised the following 5-stage process to help business owners respond to negative reviews.

Five Steps to Writing a Successful Negative Review Response

1.      Evaluate internally

Before responding to a negative review, it’s first important to evaluate its validity. Discuss it with your colleagues: Does it contain any constructive criticism that may help you improve your business practices? Is there anything you could have done differently to change that person’s experience? Even if the reviewer has embellished some aspects of their review, there might be a kernel of truth that could help you improve your business.

By developing an internal evaluation procedure, you’ll be able to approach such reviews with a clear mind and a cooler head. It’ll stop you from posting whatever first pops into your mind. Instead, you’ll be able to focus on the potentially valid criticism a reviewer might have and respond to it appropriately.

2.      Respond publicly

As enticing as it might be, don’t start by reaching out to a reviewer privately. Other viewers need to see that you are addressing such reviews so that they understand you’re trying to redress the problem. Ultimately, it’s best just to respond to the negative review directly on your Google My Business page.

Accessing Your Google My Business Reviews:

  1. Go to business.google.com and sign into Google My Business.
  2. Click on the three horizontal bars in the top left-hand corner of the page.
  3. When you find a review you want to respond to, click “View and reply” (or “Respond now” if on a mobile device).

3.      Empathize

Customers can tell when your response is half-hearted. If you all you post is fluff without substance, they’ll take notice. Worse still, they might think you don’t care about your business.

Show reviewers that you care. Address them by name, thank them for their review, and if possible, highlight something positive they mentioned about your business. If necessary, apologize when you could have done something to improve their experience.

4.      Offer solutions

It’s important to offer customers a solution to their problem. We’re not saying you have to bend over backwards with discounts and full refunds, but you should provide them with something that’s actionable. At the very least, give them the opportunity to reach out to you personally and address their grievances one-on-one.

5.      Move the conversation offline

When you’re offering solutions that require further discussion, it’s best to move the conversation offline. Leave the customer your contact information and let them get back to you. With the ball in their court, you’ve done everything that you can—at least for the time being.

4 Reasons Reviews Are Better for Conversions than Ads

In Part 3 of our reputation management series, we explore the idea that reviews convert better than ads.

For Part 1, click here to learn how to use reviews to generate leads!

For Part 2, click here to control and improve your online reputation!

The digital age has made it easier than ever to access information and yet it often feels impossible to find the right information. With the sheer volume of marketing data that Google churns out on a second-to-second basis, it’s no wonder business owners struggle to navigate those great swaths of information to create an effective advertising strategy.

Fortunately, a safe and reliable solution exists: reviews!

While advertising is still a cornerstone of any sound marketing strategy, generating reviews is more important than ever these days. Plus, it’s an easy and cost-effective way to expand your reach without having to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on advertising. Here are four reasons why you should prioritize generating reviews over advertisements.

1. Reviews are Free Advertisements

Your reviews are a showcase of your achievements. Each one you receive advertises your services and the value you offer to your customers—free of charge. And by letting Google know of your recent activity, they help build your online footprint, improve your business’ online searchability, and generate clicks on your website.

2. Consumers Trust Reviews

82% of U.S. adults read online reviews before buying something for the first time. By and large, consumers consider reviews a trustworthy and reputable source of information. The same cannot be said for ads, which are often perceived as too biased to inform one’s decision-making process. In fact, it’s often unclear what impact—if any—a particular advertisement has on a consumers’ decisions and on a business’ conversation rates.

The way people search for information online has only further cemented this behaviour. More and more, people these days search for reviews when looking for a service. Consequently, Google tends to rank those review pages higher, which makes your business easier to find and more reputable for consumers.

3. Reviews Improve Customer Relationships

Reviews let you open a direct line of communication with your customers. By thanking customers for positive reviews, you show them that you value their support and help build a lasting relationship with them. And by addressing negative reviews, you demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and improving your business model. Reviews help you start a clear dialogue with your customers, in turn cultivating meaningful long-term relationships with them.

4. Reviews Help You Improve

Online reviews are a way for you to solicit genuine constructive feedback for your business. While not all of them will necessarily help you improve your business model, you are bound to find kernels of truth within them that do help. You’ll discover not only what you’re doing right, but also what you can work on to improve your business and make it more marketable to consumers.

Reviews will also help you reflect on the true value of your services. You’ll be able to find out what your consumers want out of your service and how to set yourself apart from your competitors. That way, you can continue to develop your marketing strategy to better reflect the needs of your customers.

Altogether, generating reviews is a reliable, safe, and cost-effective solution to generation leads and building trust with your clients. If you want further information about improving your business’ online reputation, feel free to leave a reply below!

Click here for Part 1 of our reputation management series.

Click here for Part 2 of our reputation management series.

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.

For Part 1, click here to learn how to use reviews to generate leads.

For Part 3, click here to find out why reviews convert better than ads.

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!

Click here to read Part 3 of our reputation management series!

December Fake Review Attack Affects Hundreds of Small Businesses

Throughout the past months, we’ve been writing a lot about the ways that review platforms like Yelp and Google control fake reviews. Google, for example, began systematically deleting anonymous reviews last spring in an effort to make it more difficult for black hat SEOs to do negative SEO attacks.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite solve the problem. Although Google users can no longer post anonymously, they can still create fake profiles and use them to target the competition.

This is exactly what happened in early December, when small businesses across the U.S. and the world were suddenly bombarded with fake 4-star reviews.

Read on if you want to learn how to protect yourself from the next attack.

What We Know About The December Fake Review Attack

Although no one knows who was behind the fake review attack or what their endgame was, we do know a few things.

It appears that around 37 fake profiles were used to leave over 3 million 4-star Google reviews. When you divide it up, the average profile left around 81 000 ratings—in a matter of days. The small business owners affected by the attack were left confused and worried about their rank on Google.

After all, even though the reviews were all 4-star, many business owners speculated about whether they’d be punished for artificially inflating their rating.

Luckily, the sheer scale of the attack was enough to set Google in motion straight away. Within 5 days they had taken all (or nearly all) of the fake reviews offline. But even though the ratings returned to normal those affected still don’t have the answers they need.

Possible Motives For The Attack

After reviewing the affected businesses, it’s still unclear why they were targeted and not others. In many ways it appears to have been random. The only thing that connects all the victims together is that they were typically small businesses.

Many people asked why 4-star reviews were used for the attack rather than 1 or 2-star reviews. Perhaps it was an attempt to veil the attack in the hopes that Google would punish many of those businesses for inflating their ratings.

Although it’s pure speculation, there’s also the possibility that this was a kind of test operation—an attempt to work out a plan of action for another attack that would be subtler and on a larger scale. It’s hard to say exactly, but we’re happy it’s been taken care of.

It could’ve also been an attempt show that Google reviews are not so legitimate as they’d like them to appear. Vulnerabilities like the ones the attack made visible, serve to disrupt Google’s own trustworthiness­­—and the irony isn’t lost on us!

Why Is It Important To Understand Fake Reviews?

At LinkNow Media, reviews and ratings form a large part of our reputation management strategy. From the point of view of conversion, we know that most clients will check Google reviews before making a purchase.

The problem is not just related to conversion either. It’s also about trust. A lot of web traffic is the result of business listing website clicks. Business owners with untrustworthy reviews may experience sudden traffic drops simply due to clients opting for the competition.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Google establishes rankings with the trustworthiness of your online presence in mind. If you have fake reviews on Google (and elsewhere), you could find yourself running into problems with your rankings.

Conclusion

Keep track of who is reviewing your listings and what they are saying. Be vigilant. All the time. Every day.

If you notice suspicious activity, report it to Google. Take a look through SEO blogs to see if anyone’s talking about an attack. If you’re not sure about it or would like some advice, call LinkNow Media to speak with one of our SEO experts!

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!

Is There a Connection Between Reviews and Ranking?

As we wrote about last week, trust has become a leading ranking factor on Google’s SERP. By following the idea that trust is becoming a leading factor in rankings generally, we couldn’t help but wonder:

How much weight does Google give to reviews and ratings in local search rankings?

Since reviews are one of the first things you see when you search for businesses on Google Maps, you’d expect to find a correlation. But with so much other mobile data going into local rankings, we’ve only been able to speculate. Till now.

A recent study from BrightLocal suggests that there might be a correlation.

Join us as we delve into the connection between ratings and rankings in local search.

Reviewing the Stats

The study found that businesses in the top 10 position on Google Maps searches, had similarly high ratings across the board:

  • Businesses in positions 1-3 had an average of 4.47 stars
  • Businesses in positions 4-6 had an average of 4.6 stars
  • Businesses in positions 7-10 had an average of 4.45 stars

Overall, businesses in the top 10 positions had an average of 4.42 stars. All of this bodes well for businesses looking to drum up some extra leads with great reviews.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that 61% of local businesses have an average rating of between 4 and 5. This means that the competition is strong on Google—fall below 4 stars and you could be in trouble.

(We can’t help bragging a little bit here: the LinkNow Media reviews on Google give us a 4.5-star rating!)

One of the surprising things the study found was that about 20% of businesses in the top 1-3 positions don’t have any reviews at all. That means that while there does appear to be a correlation between ratings and rankings, it’s unlikely to be a cause-effect relationship.

Reviews Are One Ranking Factor Among Many

The findings tell us that while reviews are an important part of ranking, there are many other factors that go into it too. We can say that you’re more likely to rank well on Local and Maps searches if you have lots of good reviews. But we can’t say that your ranking is caused by those reviews.

We’re always hesitant to find a causal connection between rankings and reviews. We know, after all, that Google processes an enormous amount of data to establish local rankings. Aside from reviews, some of those local ranking factors include:

  • The physical proximity of a mobile user to the business
  • Categories and keywords used in the business title
  • Citations on listing websites like Yellow Pages and Yelp
  • Mentions and links from social media
  • Consumer behaviours on mobile like click-through rates and frequency of phone number clicks
  • Quality images of your business, products, and services

Because Google’s search engine can process so much information, we believe that it’s time to forget about finding a cause-effect relation that will unlock your way to the top position. While reviews (and reputation management) are definitely important ranking factors, establishing a trustworthy online presence requires a multi-pronged approach.

Conclusion: It’s All About Trust

We believe that the reason positive reviews are correlated to high rankings is that they indicate to both Google and Google’s users that a business can be trusted. Notice however that many of the other ranking factors listed above also point to trust as an important factor in local ranking.

For example, alongside good reviews, you should have quality images that show Google and your potential clients that your products and services are as good as you advertise. You should have business listings with accurate information about your business. You should have people talking about you and you should be talking about yourself. You should use accurate keywords and categories to describe your business so that it’s clear what you’re selling.

The main takeaway from all this is that it’s important to think of your ranking on the SERP, Google Local, and Google Maps, as the result of your overall presence in the online ecosystem. Quit looking for the ‘thing you’re doing wrong’. Work on establishing a trustworthy online presence with every tool available at your disposal!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Just get the professionals at LinkNow Media on your side. Our SEO experts can help you build an SEO strategy that’s perfect for your business.

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