20. October 2015 · Comments Off on Taking Caution With Your Online Reviews · Categories: ORM, SEO · Tags: , ,

use caution with online reviewsMany business owners spend a lot of energy and focus when it comes to earning five-star online reviews with Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and other online review websites.

Perhaps, the aggressive drive to a perfect pattern of reviews and online praise has created a few black eyes in the industry recently, including:

  • Amazon has decided to file more than 1,000 lawsuits against Fivver individual accounts who have offered fake five-star reviews to Amazon vendors and Amazon hosted online retailers. So, the person “selling” the review is in trouble and not the Amazon vendor who is probably breaking Amazon’s terms of service by buying the reviews for products they sell within the Amazon platform?!
  • The New York Attorney General has announced that it has cracked down on bogus customer reviews and has fined 19 companies for posting grand reviews while giving bad reviews to the competition.
  • Some companies have a “gag clause” in their customer agreements. Weight loss marketer Roca Labs was recently shut down by the Federal Trade Commission for false claims and for its “gag clause” which threatened retaliation against any customer who bad-mouthed Roca Labs or its products.

Some businesses choose to ignore the entire online review process. Recently, we talked to a prospective client, who not only wanted hire us to delete a negative Yelp review, but they also wanted their entire Yelp profile removed (we explained that businesses can’t delete Yelp profiles; even if a business is marked as closed, the profile remains within Yelp).

Others, however, are purely interested in earning as many positive reviews as possible, but need to take heed and avoid these temptations:

  • Never ask customers, relatives or friends for reviews. It’s “OK” to let them know you’re on Yelp or you’re trying to improve your online review profiles, but avoid asking for good reviews.
  • Never buy reviews. Online review websites frown upon such practices and may hide your purchased reviews on your profile page (especially when the reviewer’s IP address is from Jacksonville, FL and the review claims your auto repair shop in Denver is the best in town). Yelp will place a consumer warning on your profile letting customers know they suspect many of your reviews were purchased which will quickly cast a cloud of doubt over all of your reviews.
  • Never offer discounts or trade services or products for reviews. This leads to poor business practices and things can quickly go sour if someone feels they aren’t getting a fair shake in exchange for the review.

Approach the review process just like you should your business: be honest and ethical. If you receive a negative review, be polite, professional and apologize. Show you care about your business and your customers.

15. October 2015 · Comments Off on Online Reputation: A Basic Glossary · Categories: ORM · Tags: , ,

Every person, place or thing has an online reputation. However, the term “reputation” can mean different things depending on the situation.

Here’s a glossary of various meanings when it comes to “online reputation.”

Online Reputation

Your online reputation (speaking of you personally and/or your business; healthcare ORM A Basic Glossary of Termspractice, etc.), is determined by what ranks high in search engine results. Do the results reveal positive or negative information? This includes online reviews; media coverage; legal matters; blogs and more.

For example, a positive online reputation can include:

  • Consistently earning 4- and 5-star reviews.
  • Local media articles and videos that share good things about you and your company.
  • Flattering photographs in Flickr, Google Images, etc.
  • A steady stream of company-produced and published videos in YouTube and Vimeo.
  • An updated blog with a minimum of one or two helpful blog posts per week.
  • Active social media accounts and participating in online conversations in Twitter, Facebook, etc.

These all add up to creating a maintaining a positive online reputation for both individuals and companies.

Of course, a negative online reputation is quite the opposite:

  • Negative reviews left by customers with little to no attempt by the business owner or manager to communicate with unhappy customers in trying to solve a problem.
  • Media coverage that may reflect your business in a negative way to current and future customers (complaints about your company; lawsuits; investigations and other legal matters, etc.).
  • Employee complaints on GlassDoor and other employment review websites.
  • Stale and outdated information on your company website or blog (if you have a blog).
  • Lack of activity and active conversations in social media accounts.

Emergency Online Reputation

While a negative online reputation can be corrected with the right strategy – and time – an instance could arise with any business or professional which may require immediate attention.

If something more severe occurs, such as a legal matter; product recall; several negative reviews, etc., your online reputation will most likely change as well. When this happens, you may need to take quick steps to prevent your reputation from going down the drain in a matter of days.

This action is referred to as “emergency online reputation.”

Typically, websites that contain large amounts of content usually earn higher rankings in Google and other search engines. These include digital newspapers, television and radio outlets; online review sites; courts and other legal websites (including arrest reports and mugshots). Therefore, if your “bad” news falls into one or more of these categories, it could quickly move to the Top 10 in search results almost overnight.

This means you’ll need to do everything you should have been doing all along, but you’ll need to pick up the pace; generate positive content; get it published online and increase your social networking activity.

Emergency online reputation can turn things around, but it can take up to three months (or more) to bury the negative posts appearing in search results. It all depends on the severity of your negative reputation.

On an individual level, emergency steps are required when an arrest report and mugshot photos appear in the Top 10 positions in search results, as well as lawsuits; ugly divorce proceedings; bankruptcy and other legal matters. White collar crimes such as embezzlement, fraud and insider trading troubles typically will also earn high rankings in Google. These kinds of problems make future employment difficult.

Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is the process by which you are constantly creating a positive online presence to improve and solidify your company’s reputation or your reputation as an individual.

It’s like going to the bank and getting a loan: the best time to get a loan is when you don’t need one. The best time to shop for a new car is when you don’t need one.

Online reputation management is the same thing.

By consistently writing and publishing good content about your company; its products, services and its employees, you’ll easily fight off any minor negative burp that appears on the radar.

Individuals – including high school and college students – need to always be improving their online reputation as scholarship reviews and employment opportunities are on the horizon. Clean up your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts. Remove unsavory photos and personal tags. Foul language in Twitter and blog posts also creates a bad online reputation for individuals.

An online reputation management (also called “ORM”) plan can be created within a day but the process of implementing a plan never ends. Always be on the lookout for positive content, photograph and video opportunities in improving and solidifying your reputation.

12. October 2015 · Comments Off on Yes, You Can Also Review Jails and Prisons in Yelp · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , , ,

reviewing jails on YelpRestaurants; beauty salons; chiropractors and many others can all receive good and bad reviews via customers on Yelp.com.

And so can prisons.

Lawyers, inmates and visitors have left reviews for prisons worldwide rating everything from the quality of food; power-hungry prison guards; lack of personal grooming supplies (i.e., toilet paper) to dress code policies for family members during visitation days.

Yelp allows anything or anyone to be reviewed as long as it has a physical address and the reviewer followed the site’s terms of service.

While you would almost expect every prison and most reviews to be negative, there are a few jails that regularly receive good reviews (see our video on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/byPwKWgOfOE). For example:

  • The West Hollywood Jail has three reviews (as of this blog post) with an average of 4.5 stars (out of five). Reviewer Jim A. “highly recommended this place,” while D.W. says “the exclusive West Hollywood Jail provides far better accommodations than what you might expect.”
  • The jail in Santa Monica has one five-star review as the reviewer says he spent “one relaxing night there last month.”
  • The Atlanta City Detention Center has earned 3.5 stars from three reviews. Unfortunately, the reviewer offering five stars gave a simple explanation unsuitable for printing here.

Most prisons and jail profiles on Yelp have been properly claimed and include directions; public transportation opportunities; visiting hours. Some have added a few photos.

Yelp doesn’t offer any statistics about correctional facilities in terms of how many profiles exist or how many total reviews are currently published (Yelp is currently available in 13 countries), however the “review-a-prison” idea is gaining a little bit of steam.

Prisons aside, if you want to learn more about your business and Yelp, check out our Udemy course “Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales By Mastering Yelp” at http://www.udemy.com/mastering-yelp.

09. October 2015 · Comments Off on Udemy Course Review: Make Money Shooting Sports In Your Spare Time · Categories: Training Courses · Tags: , ,

Dr. Kevin Maples makes it sound easy:

All you need is the basic equipment and passion – and his course – and you’re well on your way to becoming a sports photographer.

Maples’ Udemy course “Make Money Shooting Sports Photos In Your Spare Time” ($19), walks students through a two-hour, 24-lecture presentation on becoming a sports photographer.sports photography course

Overall, the course is well worth the price and Maples does a great job of explaining everything from “DSLR” to “shutter speed” and “ISO.” Even if you aren’t interested in taking sports photographs, the second section on Digital Single Lens Reflex and camera settings will help you take better photos. Period.

As far as sports photography is concerned, this course is ideal for both the beginner and the photo hobbyist as some want to take local sports pictures and sell them to publications; coaches, parents, etc., while others are shooting action photos of their children; relatives and friends for personal use.

The course never gets too technical, even for this novice photographer. Some of the best tips I quickly learned included:

  • you shouldn’t take sports action pictures in “auto mode” because the camera doesn’t know what kind of photo you’re taking.
  • how your zoom lens works.
  • shutter speed.
  • ISO.
  • Camera settings that you can forget when it comes to taking sports photos and much more.

Once you are more familiar with your camera and its various settings needed in taking pictures at sporting events, the best way to improve your photography skill is to practice. The more pictures you take (and review), the better you’ll be. For example, when taking pictures during an outdoor sporting event, you’ll need to adjust according to lighting on a sunny day that might get interrupted by clouds from time to time. At an evening football game, you might have better natural light available at kickoff, but chances are good you’ll be shooting in the dark by halftime.

Later in the course, Maples goes in-depth on how to sell your sports photos either on a freelance basis or by working under a contract. Parents may hire you to take pictures of their child during a sporting event, but you may eventually seek bigger opportunities in taking more pictures for sports clubs, schools, etc.

Maples takes the course one step further by offering some ideas on how to price your photos and suggests many online and professional photo labs for print processing (and, no, you shouldn’t print your own photos; neither should you have them processed by a one-hour photo lab and Maples gives plenty of good reasons why you should order your prints via a professional lab).

The suggested price for “Make Money Shooting Sports Photos In Your Spare Time” is an absolute steal at $19 (at the time of this blog post). However, you can save $9 bucks and start taking the course for only $10 by using the following coupon code:

http://www.udemy.com/sportsphotography/?couponCode=MWM

 

07. October 2015 · Comments Off on Online Reputation Lab: Protecting Your Business Image · Categories: ORM, Training Courses · Tags: ,

online reputation labWhether you realize it or not, your business (and you as an individual) has an online reputation.

Hopefully, it’s a positive one backed up by good customer reviews; positive news and media stories; blog posts; articles; photographs; videos and more.

However, for some, bad or impulsive decisions can almost immediately equate into a negative online reputation which may take months or years to repair.

At the same time, every individual has an online reputation, which can also be formed by social media; legal troubles; unsavory photographs, etc.

This is why we have created – and released – a new Udemy course “Online Reputation Lab: Protecting Your Business Image.”

In this 12-lecture, 90-minute course, we’ll cover:

  • Understanding the basics of online reputation for a business.
  • Understanding the basics of online reputation for an individual.
  • How to recognize online reputation problems.
  • How to strategize and create opportunities to improve a negative online reputation.
  • Creating a strong and positive online reputation management program for a business or an individual.

“In this course, we take an in-depth look at five case studies of businesses and individuals suffering through a negative online reputation problem,” says Steve Phillips, Vice President at Mountain Woods Media, LLC.

“We review a worldwide corporation; a college and three individuals. In every case, we review the problems and then we try to offer some solutions on how they can start the road to repairing their reputation,” he adds.

Currently, students can preview two course lectures for free.

The full course and more information is available at https://www.udemy.com/online-reputation-lab and retails for $99.

* * *

Mountain Woods Media, LLC is an Internet consulting and content development firm specializing in training and consulting; Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Online Reputation Management (ORM) and App Search Optimization (ASO).

 

05. October 2015 · Comments Off on Creating A Blog For Your Business · Categories: Blogging, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , , ,

Creating a blog for your business is more than starting a blog, it’s about maintaining it for the long haul.

Creating a blog for your business isn’t enough to make a difference in attracting more customers to your website; gaining more sales and obtaining higher rankings in Google and other search engines.

creating a blog for your businessNow comes the part where most blogs fail as they lack content and new posts on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, we see many blogs start strong with daily blog posts featuring great local content; stories and profiles. However, the spark starts to fade and the content dries up. The blog is left alone with posts that are getting older and increasingly stale every day.

Don’t let this happen to your blog.

Instead:

  • Plan an editorial schedule for your blog. This helps you write in advance, especially when the creative juices are flowing.
  • If you have a staff, assign them to write one blog post per week or two per month, etc.
  • Consider hiring a local high school student; freelance writer or an intern to write blog posts. Many local writers are happy with a small stipend and a byline as they want to gain more writing experience and build their online portfolio.
  • Allow guest blog posts in order to fill in the gaps and boost content. In most cases, a guest blogger will contribute for no charge, but seeks one or two links within the blog pointing back to their website.
  • Use videos as blog posts. If you’re creating and publishing simple videos for YouTube (and you should), you can also use them as a blog post. If you have enough videos, consider publishing a new video to your blog every Friday, etc.

Many blogs fail due to a lack of time; lack of interest or lack of content. None of these should be an excuse. By utilizing other resources mentioned above, you’ll solve the time and content issue. The more you publish, the better your blog will be in more traffic and higher rankings

In addition, use your blog posts to create more interest in social media. Each published blog should be announced to your fans, followers and connections in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and in other social networks.

For more information on local search engine optimization (SEO), check out our course “Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website” at https://www.udemy.com/earn-more-sales-by-increasing-local-traffic-to-your-website

 

02. October 2015 · Comments Off on Don’t Worry About The ‘Haters’ When It Comes To Business Reviews · Categories: Mountain Woods Media · Tags: , , ,

HatersOnline reviews – both positive and negative – can go a long way when it comes to earning new customers and trying to maintain an ongoing positive online reputation.

Unfortunately, some businesses choose not to participate in the online review process because they fear an onslaught of bad business reviews. Let’s go ahead and put this myth aside:

  • Customers can leave reviews for your company whether you claim and confirm your business profile in Yelp, Manta and other review sites. Just because you haven’t claimed your profile, doesn’t mean it won’t be active in review websites. It’s best to participate so you can communicate with your customers and earn higher rankings by completing your profile.
  • Former employees and “haters” might indeed leave bad reviews for your business. However, review websites (such as Yelp) have algorithms in place to recognize and hide negative reviews from profile view. Even so, most intelligent customers can easily spot a fake review (good or bad).
  • Competitors might also leave your business a bad review. Yelp will automatically remove reviews that are proven to have been written by a competitor.

Overall, don’t let a few worrisome reasons keep your business from claiming, confirming and optimizing your business profile in review and mapping websites. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. For instance:

  • For each business profile you claim and optimize, you’re giving your business another opportunity to be seen by a future potential customer. Overall, there are approximately 50 good review websites that allow businesses to set up free profiles.
  • For each business profile you claim and optimize, that’s one more inbound link from a reputable website pointing back to your company’s website.
  • Many review websites, such as Yelp, rank high in Google on local search terms. Therefore, if your business can earn a higher position in Yelp, it will automatically earn a higher spot in search engine rankings.
  • Since more and more people are relying on smartphones and tablets, they are also using review apps, such as Yelp, in order to find restaurants; coffee shops; hotels and other businesses. You’ll want make sure your business is visible and up-to-date so future customers can find you in various review apps.

Learn more about online reputation management; Yelp and earning more local traffic to your website by previewing (free) these courses in Udemy.com:

“Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews”
https://www.udemy.com/online-reputation-management-negative-business-reviews

“Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales By Mastering Yelp”
https://www.udemy.com/mastering-yelp

“Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website”
https://www.udemy.com/earn-more-sales-by-increasing-local-traffic-to-your-website