Are You an ExpertAre you an expert?

Recently, we attended a two-day e-commerce conference in Ohio covering a variety of topics from pricing strategies to selling and beyond.

However, in one particular workshop session, the speaker told the nearly 100-person audience that they needed to convince themselves they are the “expert.” She even went to the extreme to ask everyone to repeat (out loud) over and over again “I am the expert.”

Seriously?

This is so wrong on many levels:

  • You are NOT the expert if you need to convince yourself that you are the expert.
  • You are NOT the expert if you need a self-proclaimed marketing expert to tell you that you are an expert.
  • Repeating the phrase “I am the expert” doesn’t make you an expert in anything.
  • Chances are good if anyone claims to be an “expert” that they are only trying to either convince themselves or the prospective customer, client, etc.

Can you tell how much we can’t stand the word “expert?”

Here’s how you can really become an expert, guru, ninja, etc. in your field:

  • Walk the walk and talk the talk. Your actions; knowledge of the subject matter and helpful advice will eventually make you the “go to” person in your industry.
  • Listen, study, and learn. Stay up to date on new topics, trends and information.
  • The more you share information and other tips to help your customers and clients, the more you’ll be recognized as an actual expert.
  • Write a blog. Write articles. Consistently create and publish YouTube videos, etc. These are the kinds of things that eventually make you the expert.

Claiming, shouting and repeating that “I am an expert” in such-and-such (insert topic here) is amateurish and unprofessional. It many cases, it turns off your prospective customers.

Instead, let your posse; your customers; your clients; your Facebook Fans; your Twitter followers make you the expert. Make yourself THE person they want to seek out to help them solve a problem or find the right product or service for their business.

Conference organizers – and conference speakers – please, no more “I am the expert” lectures. OK?

 

11. March 2016 · Comments Off on Is Yelp Advertising Worth It for Your Particular Business? · Categories: Digital Marketing, ORM, SEO · Tags: , , ,

Mastering Yelp Promote Your BusinessWe’re not sure if it’s a great deal or not, but Yelp is now offering one free month of Yelp Ads when you sign up for a 12-month advertising package.

Hmmm…

If you’re really “working” Yelp – updating your business profile; adding photos; earning good reviews, etc., – you might not need to commit to a year of Yelp advertising. You also need to evaluate if Yelp Advertising is worth it for your particular business niche. And, if you’ve never tried Yelp advertising before, perhaps you should give it a go for a couple of months before seeing if it’s worth blowing 12-months of an advertising budget with Yelp.

Here’s how Yelp Ads work:

Let’s say you own a local pizza restaurant and you sign up for Yelp Ads. Then, anytime a user conducts a search for “pizza restaurants” (inside of Yelp) your ad appears within the search results. This could be beneficial especially if your business listing isn’t appearing among the top search results in your local area.

In addition, if you’re running Yelp Ads, then all ads from other pizza competitors aren’t appearing in your Yelp Business Page or within your Yelp search results.

A 12-month advertising package also earns your business an “enhanced” profile that includes a photo slideshow and a customized call to action button.  This can be helpful if you don’t have time to build a sophisticated widget and want something that stands out digitally.

Is Yelp desperate for more sales?  Based in San Francisco, Yelp has fairly expensive overhead and a large call center to support and is expanding.  Yelp is also publicly traded and required to make a profit for it’s shareholders.  Their ads can be pricey compared to other advertising media you may want to evaluate.  As always, look at your advertising and marketing expenses from all angles and by all means don’t fall for a high pressure sales tactic if you call and inquire.  Also don’t over commit by throwing your entire marketing budget at Yelp if you call after worrying about one bad Yelp review.  Budget your ad dollars across your entire marketing cycle and build up momentum and traffic across multiple digital channels.

If you’re curious, you can visit Yelp.com or call (1-844-202-8082) for more information. The 12-month advertising package offer expires March 31, 2016.

01. March 2016 · Comments Off on How to Best Work with Your Online Reputation Management Firm · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM · Tags: , , ,

Your company has hired an online reputation management firm (or consultant) to help you solve your negative reputation be it negative reviews; unfavorable mentions in the local media or a harsh complaint in the Ripoff Report website.

~ Wikimedia Commons

Problem solved right?

Not quite.

When you engage with an ORM firm, you should expect:

  • a project assessment.
  • a strategy on how they plan to fix your problem.
  • a project update each week.

Behind the scenes, any reputable reputation management firm is:

  • Creating new websites; blogs; social networking accounts; photography sites and more for your business or for you as an individual (if you have an individual reputation problem).
  • Writing and publishing tons of unique content on your behalf.
  • Building “white hat” links pointing to positive URLs about you and/or your company.

Reputation repair is SEO on steroids and, depending on the severity of the problem, you shouldn’t expect your reputation problem to be repaired in one hour, one day or one week. Remember: while it takes years to build a good reputation and five minutes to destroy it, it could also take months (and sometimes longer) to repair your reputation.

Businesses and individuals should support and help their online reputation management firm by:

  • Sharing pictures and videos via Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. suitable for republication.
  • Finding in their files professional white papers, how-to guides, old press releases, term papers, resumes, positive publications they have authored that could be converted into shiny, new digital content.
  • Writing and refreshing stale company blogs.
  • Increasing social media efforts in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others.

Yes, we understand that your online reputation problem can be viewed as extremely important to your bottom line or for making your next career move. However, contrary to what you might think, your situation is probably not unique and online reputation firms have usually seen your specific type of reputation problem many, many times over. Excessively emotional correspondence or a bombardment of telephone calls; e-mails and virtual meeting requests can equate into more billable hours for you and your company – none of which is helping to repair your reputation problem.  Make sure to treat your reputation project like a military strategist. Keep your hurt feelings in check, stay focused, and help your ORM firm generate an artillery barrage of positive content. It will help you win your battle quickly.

* * *

Mountain Woods Media, LLC specializes in online reputation management and repair for companies and business professionals. Contact us for more information or visit our Training page to see our online reputation courses.

 

11. February 2016 · Comments Off on Online Reputation Repair: Beating Ripoff Report · Categories: ORM, SEO · Tags: , , , , ,

Beating Ripoff ReportThe Ripoff Report (http://ripoffreport.com) is an ugly and unforgiving complaint website that allows anyone to file a report against you and/or your business. The website doesn’t ask for proof and “reviewers” can remain anonymous all in the name of harming your online reputation.

What makes matters worse, is that Google and other search engines continue to rank Ripoff Report prominently. Unfortunately, if there isn’t an online reputation management plan in place, you’ll quickly find Ripoff Report is ranked in the Top 3 of the Google search results on your personal name or business name.

In addition, if the harmed party (you or your business or an employee in your business) responds to a claim, you’re actually helping that report to earn even higher rankings in search engines because you’re adding more content to the post. More content equals more keywords; your name; your company’s name and a likely published response from the original complainer.

Several years ago, a client was mentioned in Ripoff Report. Not only was the business name published many times in the back-and-forth “discussions” but specific employee names were also published which caused this particular Ripoff Report claim to move up in search engine rankings on individual names. When the dust was settled and the complaint was resolved, many employees mentioned were now harmed by Ripoff Report.  The original complainer, though somewhat satisfied, could not even remove their original report.  The content remains forever.

What an absolute mess.

The Ripoff Report website suggests not hiring an online reputation management firm in order to fix the problem and they practically challenge anyone to file a lawsuit against them. In addition, you are offered the opportunity to file a “counterclaim” and have Ripoff Report review your matter for a $$$ fee, but there are no guarantees that the negative claim against you or your business will ever be removed.

So, how does one beat Ripoff Report?

Let’s first assume that you didn’t have an online reputation management program in place to help you avoid such trouble. Oh, someone could still file a Ripoff Report against you or your business, but a solid ORM program would likely keep these – and other false claims – from moving up in Google or other search engines.

Therefore, if you wake up tomorrow morning and see such a claim against you or your company, you need to get busy and get busy fast. This would include:

  • Investigate the Ripoff Report claim against you. Do not respond to the claim.
  • Where is it ranked in Google and other search engines on targeted keywords such as the name of your business or your name, etc.?
  • For any websites that are currently ranked lower (beneath) the Ripoff Report, you’ll need to update those websites (if you have login credentials) in order to help them move up in search results. Basically, your goal is to optimize the “good” stuff about you and your business so they’ll move up in search results and suppress Ripoff Report.
  • Write articles and blogs using the targeted keyword(s).
  • Take pictures of your company, staff, products etc. and get them published.
  • Create and publish YouTube videos and much, much more.

I would also consider talking to your company attorney for legal advice. If you don’t have time to battle Ripoff Report claims against you or your company, you should definitely consider hiring a professional online reputation management firm (with search engine optimization experience) to help you create more positive spin on your company and personal name in order to suppress negative news.

27. January 2016 · Comments Off on Negative Reputation – You Can Run But You Can’t Hide · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , ,

This is an online reputation example of a business who thought they could take the easy way out and run from their negative reviews; customer complaints and media coverage.

Zombieland Zombie chase via FanPop Wallpaper

Before we get into the mud, the business discussed here will remain anonymous as there’s no reason for us to make their online reputation matters worse. In addition, for the record, this isn’t a client of ours nor have we ever been retained to consult with or help improve their online reputation.

Here’s what happened:

The company, which we will refer to as “The ABC Company” is a retail establishment with a single store location on the East coast.

When searching for the company’s name in Google, the first two results are secured by The ABC Company’s domain name. From there, however, it gets worse.

50 reviews in Yelp averaging two (out of five) stars.

Two negative blogs

A complaint filed with the Ripoff Report

All on the first page of Google search results.

So, rather than try to clean up its reputation, The ABC Company opted to purchase a different domain and changed their business name slightly to “The ABCD Company.”

Guess what? That strategy never works.

You see, your negative reputation will always follow you. If you (as an individual) or your business didn’t get it right the first time, then chances are good you’re going to fail the second time.

The “new” business continued to earn poor reviews; negative complaints; media coverage as well as an onslaught of comments informing everyone that “The ABCD Company” is the same as “The ABC Company,” etc.

The “new” business has secured the top two results in Google with their new domain name, but a fresh batch of negative posts follow, including:

Back-to-back negative news stories.

Those same 50 bad Yelp reviews (reviewers helped Yelp connect the new company with the old company).

A negative blog.

A legal matter.

Two more negative blogs and a negative Facebook Page attacking the new company round out the Top 10 search results.

Overall, the reputation for the “new” firm is worse than the original company.

Where do you start?

Well, besides shuttering your doors and never going into business again, this is an online reputation problem from a very dark place. It would require the following:

  • There’s obviously more here than just an upset customer or two, so other problems exist within the company itself. Processes, products, services and staff need to be corrected; modified and re-trained internally first.
  • Develop and implement a strong public relations campaign. Only new and fresh online media coverage (print and video) can outrank old negative URLs appearing in search results.
  • Blog every day. Maybe twice a day. Work on your company and brand name.
  • Share a ton of positive photographs in social media (Twitter; Flickr; Facebook, etc.).
  • Film and share your own positive videos on YouTube and in other social networks.

This online reputation problem can be fixed, but it will have to start internally and then publicly.

 

07. January 2016 · Comments Off on How One Post Ruined Holly Jones’ Online Reputation · Categories: ORM, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , , ,

No one plans on ruining their online reputation.

However, in this case, Holly Jones of Indianapolis didn’t think before she posted her New Year’s Eve restaurant complaint on the establishment’s Facebook page.

This is a prime example of how quickly one’s reputation can be severely damaged (almost to the point of zero chance of recovery) and how a business’ posse quickly came to the rescue and defended its actions.

In a blink of an eye, the story when viral.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened:

Jones and her party were enjoying their New Year’s Eve dinner at Kilroy’s Bar and Grill in downtown Indianapolis. During the evening, a 70-year-old woman suffered a heart attack. Paramedics arrived; took the patient to the hospital, where she is recovering.

Rather than showing a little civility, mercy and care, Jones felt the need to post a message on Kilroy’s Facebook Page and blasted the restaurant; management; the suffering woman (who Jones said suffered from an overdose) and complained about her $700 bill.

Now, since the post was published on Kilroy’s Facebook page, the restaurant could have simply deleted her post. However, Kilroy’s Managing Partner Chris Burton blasted back….big time:

“This poor lady, who was celebrating New Year’s Eve with her husband and son, had to be placed on the floor of a completely packed bar and have her shirt removed in front of everyone so the paramedics could work on her. But I can completely understand why you think being intoxicated a******s that didn’t understand your bill should take priority over human life. I especially appreciate you making your server (who doesn’t curse) cry as well. I’m sure she really enjoyed working on New Year’s Eve just to deal with people such as yourself.”

Burton went on and told Jones that she was “cold hearted and nasty” and that he wouldn’t lose a second of sleep over her pledge never to return to Kilroy’s.

However, the fire storm was just getting started.

Enter local media, Twitter and here you go. Even at 2 a.m., the story was trending (#HollyJones). Holly Jones was getting blasted by those who never knew her; never met her; never had been to Kilroy’s; never had been to Indianapolis or, even been to the United States for that matter. Other Facebook users with the name “Holly Jones” were getting hate mail and anonymous threatening phone calls.

Jones took down her Facebook Page (claiming it had been hacked) and it appears she also lost her job as a hair stylist. Burton and his fans donated $14,000 in funds for medical bills of the heart attack victim

Did Holly Jones deserve it? Did she pick a fight with Kilroy’s and is now paying a huge price for her public post?  Did the restaurant manager go too far? Are the tables finally turning on restaurant review trolls?

Holly Jones

Some of the ongoing reviews and conversations on Kilroy’s Facebook Page from January 5, 2016

 

29. December 2015 · Comments Off on Yes, Angie’s List Lets You Get Negative Reviews Removed for Your Business · Categories: ORM · Tags: , , , , ,

by Leigh Drake, President, Mountain Woods Media, LLC

We frequently hear from clients within the first line of their messages that we “must remove” the negative review of their business within search results. We spend a significant amount of time with clients educating them about the online reputation process and stand by our routine counsel that it is still almost impossible to have negative reviews removed … that bad press must be pushed down in search engines with good press.

However, this week, the Consumerist blog outlined how you can get negative reviews removed from Angie’s List once your dispute with a company is properly resolved.

Angies's List Removes Negative Reviews

 

In the article entitled “Angie of Angie’s List Defends Policy of Removing Negative Reviews If Customers Get Refunds” Ashlee Kieler details the Angie’s List process and terms of services for businesses if premium membership customers receive refunds from businesses for poor service performance. Angie’s List has taken a bit of a hit from some consumers declaring unfair censorship; however, Angie Hicks, the company founder, defends the resolution process saying that it has been an effective tool for 20 years. Stating that their goal is not to be a complaint site, the premium membership customers who choose to go through the resolution system are well informed that their negative review will be removed from the business’ listing should a resolution or refund be met. And although the negative review will be removed, the customer does have the opportunity to submit updated feedback about the business as long as it is positive.

While that agreement doesn’t specify at that point that the new review must be positive, a separate affirmative check box to start the resolution process does address the new review: “I understand that if the service provider resolves the issue to my satisfaction, the review will be deleted, and I will have the opportunity to update my review with a positive one.” – The Consumerist, December 14, 2015

In terms of businesses having an opportunity for a second chance, this seems like a reasonable process that keeps the marketplace civil giving both businesses and customers an opportunity to reach resolution and move forward, and perhaps make the internet a more welcoming place for review exchanges.

The Angie’s List company does heavily monitor consumer reviews – perhaps better than any other purveyor – and has a strong telephone availability for both business and consumer members. By using their call center team, it has allowed them to sniff out bad actors and provide review and resolution guidance.

09. December 2015 · Comments Off on Google Plus Dropping Small Business Reviews · Categories: ORM, SEO · Tags: , , ,

Google Plus Dropping Small Business ReviewsIt’s not like many were that excited about using Google+ anyhow, so it comes to no surprise few are shedding tears over the Google+ update removing local business reviews.

Yes, small businesses will probably continue to update, improve and optimize their Google+ page. After all, anything you can do to help your business on any Google platform is a good thing. Right?

However, small businesses like – and need – local reviews to help promote their products and services. It’s almost like Google isn’t that interested in small businesses anymore.

Google says reviews are still visible and accessible on Google Search and Google Maps, which is probably the real way most prospects and customers find your business. Business owners will now be able to respond to reviews in “Google My Business.”

Again, do you get the feeling Google is pushing small businesses away from Google+ and making business owners do something else in order to respond to online reviews?

Google has been – and will continue to be – very confusing with its online review process. Google Maps; Google Places; Google Plus; Google+ Local and now – poof! – no more reviews but you can go here and here and here.

No wonder why small business owners struggle with online reviews and trying to maintain a good online reputation for their company.

Remember, Google+ was supposed to be the Facebook killer giving individuals and businesses an alternative. Google+ never caught on as many asked the same question over and over “why do I need to be here?”

Don’t let Google’s small business strategy and failures with Google+ worry you. Focus instead on those online review websites that are increasing website traffic and helping you earn higher rankings in search engines (i.e., Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and many others).

24. November 2015 · Comments Off on Buy a Course, Get Free Consulting · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , , , ,

How to get Free Consulting with Mountain Woods Media, LLCWhile there are huge advantages in e-learning and taking a course online, it’s always nice to have the option to ask additional questions and seek further help.

This is especially true if you’re facing battling a negative online reputation; want to improve your business reviews, or prefer to have a second opinion on your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

It’s because of these reasons, that we have decided to offer free consulting – yes, free – to anyone who purchases one of our courses on Udemy.com.

Here’s how our free consulting offer works:

  • Purchase any of our nine (9) Udemy courses. You can find a complete list here: http://bit.ly/1R3XQKX
  • Complete at least 10% of the course.
  • Receive an invitation link to connect with us on our private Slack.com account.
  • Consulting is limited to the topic relating to the purchased course.

Once you sign up for one of our courses, we’ll be sending you a “thank you” e-mail and remind you of our free consulting offer.

Slack.com invitations are sent out weekly to those who have completed the minimum requirements.

Consulting can include questions; evaluations; analysis; tips; tactics and ideas – anything that we can do to help you with your project or problem (other than actually doing the work for you, of course!).

Our Udemy courses are updated regularly as we are adding new lectures; new content, and updated lectures.

18. November 2015 · Comments Off on Creating an Online Reputation Management Plan · Categories: ORM, SEO, Training Courses · Tags: , ,

online reputation management planningToo often, businesses and individuals only react when something bad has happened.

A flat tire, for example, may have been prevented by replacing your bald, worn tires a week ago. The snow blower can’t start because the spark plug is old, etc.

The same is true with your online reputation. A negative review; news story or legal matter pops up and, before you know it, Google is ranking the “bad” news before the good stuff. Only then, do you kick it into high gear; high a freelancer who owns a magic wand who can sprinkle fairy dust on your reputation problem and make everything better again.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as emergency online reputation management. Just like search engine optimization, ORM takes time. Repairs aren’t going to be easy. It won’t be fast and it probably won’t be cheap.

Therefore, the best way to prevent negative information from creeping up in search engines is to have a strong online reputation management program in place. This way, the “good” stuff will already be in place; will be indexed by Google and other search engines and you’ll have a better chance of keeping negative items pushed down in search results.

Your online reputation management plan should include the following steps. However, remember: ORM is like search engine optimization. It never ends. You should always be working to make improvements and updates to make sure your reputation is up-to-date; fresh and solid. Old news and stale content won’t work when it comes to online reputation management (or SEO for that matter).

  • Make sure you have claimed; confirmed, and optimized your online business profile with online review websites. These include sites such as Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and many others. We offer a complete list of the “Top 25” review websites in our courses “Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews” (URL) and “Online Reputation Management: Earning Positive Reviews” (URL).
  • Write and publish a blog and keep it fresh with two or three blog posts per week. Great content usually beats any online reputation management problem.
  • Write and publish press releases on your website. This can be a blog post or you can publish your press release on a “media” page.
  • Participate daily in social media, including LinkedIn (business and person); Facebook; Twitter and many others.
  • Take pictures of everything and publish photos on your website and in your blog. Share them in your social media networks; on Flickr; Google Photos, etc.
  • Videos are big and they are getting bigger. Try to do at least one (1) video per week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Information and advice offered in the video is far more important than the graphics and flashy backgrounds. Publish your videos on your YouTube Channel and share them via your social media networks. Also, give consideration to Vimeo for video publication.

Your company’s reputation is extremely important to potential customers. They want to feel good about who they are buying from and doing business with on a regular basis. It is a valuable business asset and should be treated with care.